Apr 26, 2015

Review: More Kittens (1936)

Did you really think that Walt Disney and co. would just walk away from the success they had with Three Orphan Kittens? Doesn't really sound like Disney to me, but that's probably my modern cynicism getting in the way. After all, it's just a coincidence that three of the seven Silly Symphonies in 1936 were sequels right? But I digress, with three of the cutest protagonists around and an Academy Award for Best Short Subject the year before, it made perfect sense to do a sequel. Who doesn't want more kittens anyway?

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At a Glance


Genre: animation, comedy, short
Directed by: David Hand, Wilfred Jackson
Produced by: Walt Disney
Written by: William Cottrell, Joe Grant, Bob Kuwahara
Music by: Frank Churchill
Running time: 8 minutes
Production company: Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by: United Artists
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: Lillian Randolph 

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Synopsis


Tired of the three kittens causing so much trouble in the house, the housekeeper (voice: Lillian Randolph) chases them outside into the yard for some peace and quiet. There they meet Bolivar the St. Bernard as well as a few other animals hanging around. It's no surprise however that trouble easily finds the three kittens anyway.

Review


Disney hasn't done away with the racist housekeeper just yet as she makes another appearance alongside those pesky kittens. Interestingly enough, the character was most likely the inspiration for the also quite outdated and racist Mammy Two-Shoes character from the Tom and Jerry cartoons. Her trademark is that you never see her above the waist as she shouts mostly incomprehensible dialogue at the three kittens. It's far from a very dignified take on African-American housekeepers, that's for sure.

Anyway, we're not here to discuss the casually racist elements of Disney animated short films. So how is More Kittens overall? Well compared to Three Orphan Kittens, MK feels like a bit of a throwaway to be honest. Not that it's terrible, but it certainly feels like a bit of a subpar effort after TOK. Sure the kittens are still cute and they get into a bunch of trouble, but it never quite reaches the heights already set by its predecessor.

One of my main complaints is that the animation seems like a step back. Not only that, but the background design in some of the scenes seem a bit disappointingly flat from what I know Disney was capable of at the time. It's because of things like this that have me thinking that More Kittens was just thrown out there as an easy way for animators to not have to put in too much work and ride into the box office on the success of Three Orphan Kittens. I suppose that Disney was also trying to not take the spotlight away from Disney's real effort at winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Short which was The Country Cousin.

The real highlight of More Kittens in fact is Bolivar the St. Bernard. The Disney animators get very creative with his skin folds and do a great job at painting him to be some kind of gentle giant for the three kittens. For a movie that's called More Kittens though, that's a bit disappointing. Their antics just aren't quite as pleasurable to watch a second time around unfortunately.

More Kittens is a pleasant way to pass eight minutes, but it's a definite downgrade compared to Three Orphan Kittens. The laughs and "awws" are fewer and farther apart and the quality of the whole production isn't quite as good as it could've been. While it's not the mailed in travesty it could've been, More Kittens is missing the cuteness that defined its predecessor.

Rating


6/10

Related Reviews:


Three Orphan Kittens (1935)