Nominally, this is a Mickey Mouse cartoon; I don’t write about those often. I find Mickey boring, more often than not. I understand why Disney has worked so hard all these years to keep him under copyright—I am firmly of the opinion that the fight is going to be keeping him as a trademark now. (For one thing, it must have occurred to them that more works in the public domain is more works they can adapt without paying for rights.) I even understand why you’d want to adapt Mickey, if you could; there have got to be plenty of people who would pay to see new Mickey Mouse shorts. I just don’t really understand why.
This is the first time Disney’s big five characters appeared in the same short. We even briefly see Horace and Clarabelle—and in the background at the same time. Mickey is teaching Minnie how to skate. Goofy is fishing with chewing tobacco. Donald is putting skates on Pluto while he sleeps and teasing him onto the ice. Then Donald’s strapped a kite to his back and is sailing off in a windstorm.
Yes, I can see what’s caught your attention. So Goofy has taken a plug of chewing tobacco. He is shaving bits off it and dropping them into the water. The fish go for it and start chewing it. Then, they realize they have to spit, but they can’t spit in the water, so they see the spittoon Goofy has set up on the ice, surface, and spit into it. Then, Goofy plans to brain them with a stick. It is mad and also not successful. I can’t imagine why he thought it would be.
Meanwhile, Donald is acting to type. Pluto is sleeping peacefully next to a small fire on the bank of the frozen river where they’re all cavorting. Nothing wrong with that—honestly, he might as well have been left at home, for all of me. But Donald decides that what would be fun is a light spot of animal cruelty. He finds two extra pairs of ice skates and straps them to Pluto’s paws, then hides and wakes him up by meowing at him. Because sure. Then they didn’t know how to resolve it and put Donald in danger instead and expected us to care.
And while Mickey is certainly doing things, they’re not interesting things. He’s showing off his skating aptitude—and incidentally proving to me, at least, that the river is not safe and no one should be skating on it because that is a very large stretch of open water—and that’s fine, I guess, and it’s something a character does in an even better Disney cartoon. In fact, they clearly borrowed a fair amount of the Mickey and Minnie bits for the later cartoon. Alas, that one doesn’t have anyone fishing in a way that’s guaranteed not to work.