Tuesday Shorts Talk: “Runaway Brain”

Tuesday Shorts Talk is a weekly discussion of an animated short film, featuring classics and lesser known works.

Only one of five theatrically released animated Mickey Mouse shorts over a period of 60 years, “Runaway Brain” is something of an anomaly in the Disney shorts cannon. After the theatrically animated short basically died away in the mid-1960’s in favor of animated television, any animated short was a rarity. Shown in 1995 before A Goofy Movie, viewers were treated to this:

From the opening scenes of the short, what immediately stands out is the high animation quality. Very rarely does traditionally hand-drawn animation look this good. The color effects are superb, from the tv-screen illuminated house in the beginning to the red city skyline when Mickey rescues Minnie near the end.

Brilliant color-usage and animation aside, “Runaway Brain” presents a post-modern Mickey Mouse; one that gets distracted by Disney-themed video games and has pictures of himself as Steamboat Willie in his wallet-photo album. This is Mickey Mouse of the 1990s; edgy, cool, aware of his illustrious past, and of the times.

This Mickey Mouse in “Runaway Brian” is not the squeaky clean version of him presented today. For example, there are a few mild sexual innuendoes in this short, namely Mickey’s quote: “[Minnie] likes my body and my mind; in the same place that is.” Did Mickey just say Minnie likes his body? Yes, he did. Perhaps this was one of his last depictions as a relatable, normal person (mouse) before he became the “Ah, SWELL! Your dreams will all come true!” version he is now. (I know Mickey has always been like this, but that is his only personality today.)

The time and effort placed into “Runaway Brain” is apparent in its high quality. It’s a fun story with familiar characters given a modern twist. Though not widely recognized today, this short is a testament to the brilliance that Disney is capable of.

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