Until this short, Goofy had always been accompanied by Donald and/or Mickey. Unlike the others, he reallys tarted as a bit player. Even though Donald didn’t star in his first cartoon, it was a major enough role. Whereas Goofy, as we’ve covered before, was originally Dippy Dawg and originally just a laughing audience member in a short with the other two, plus various other characters who became less important to the Disney mythos than he. And yet Goofy as he is now is almost completely unrecognizable, even though, at the same time, the progression is quite clear.
Goofy is going fishing. He rows onto a pond happily. But he doesn’t have a fishing pole. What he has is a large cardboard box full of holes, from which he removes a grasshopper, dubbed Wilbur. Wilbur lures the fish to Goofy’s boat,where Goofy holds out a net. Wilbur is small enough to jump through the holes in the net; the fish are not. So far, so good. But when an over-large fish gets caught in the net and tears it out completely, Wilbur’s overconfidence will be his downfall.
Goofy, in this era, is good-hearted but dumb. There are worse things; we’ve seen Goofy cartoons that are less pleasant. There’s not much to this one, just Goofy and a grasshopper and various denizens of a large pond/small lake. But I can see how an audience would find it amusing enough, which isn’t true of some of the other cartoons I’ve seen from Disney. It’s light, but better light and amusing than memorable because it’s awful, which the last Goofy cartoon we did certainly qualifies as.
Disney later retconned Wilbur to be a cricket relative of Jiminy, and goodness knows I am not enough of an entomologist to know the difference between a cricket and a grasshopper. Especially not when as loosely animated as the bugs are both in this short and in the movie. One of the things Disney animators discovered while working on Pinocchio,after all, was that a realistic cricket was not fun and cute.
The climax of the cartoon is absolutely ludicrous, and I’m not sure how old I was when I first knew that. I saw it many times as a child,and I always felt as though the animators had basically written themselves into a corner with the ending. That impression has not changed since then. What do you do, when your whole plot is that Goofy has despite himself come up with a relatively clever way of catching fish?
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