May 9, 2015

Review: The Country Cousin (1936)

In 1936, Disney's The Country Cousin was up against MGM's The Old Mill Pond and Paramount Pictures' Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards. At this point, Disney had already taken home the award four years in a row with its Silly Symphony films since animated short films were actually included as a category. Any guesses as to who won that year?


At a Glance

Genre: animation, short, comedy
Directed by: Wilfred Jackson
Produced by: Walt Disney
Written by: Dick Rickard
Music by: Leigh Harline
Running time: 9 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: N/A



Abner Countrymouse is invited by his cousin Monty Citymouse to "stop being a hick" and to come live in the city with him. Excited at the prospect of finally living it up and leaving his simple country life behind, Abner arrives in the city and finds Monty's home. It becomes increasingly clear however that Abner is in no way prepared for city life.


Abner's ignorance contrasts in amusing fashion with Monty's high-class and cautious savvy. Abner is extremely clumsy and doesn't seem to have any idea how to not draw attention to himself. Poor Monty tries hard to be patient, but it must get pretty annoying to incessantly shush your dumb cousin. It's a bit shocking actually that Abner has somehow avoided getting eaten by all the wild country animals. The only thing I can think of is that he's got a patient country brother who's happy to finally be rid of him.

Probably one of my favourite things in The Country Cousin is when Monty shows Abner just how great city life can be. How great? Try a table weighed down by massive amounts of cheese, fruit, meat and desserts. The contrast of Abner and Monty continues to be showcased as the two mice dig in. Abner's "country-style eating" is on full display to great effect as he gorges himself on cheese and celery. He does try to emulate the polite mannerisms of Monty when he can, but the result is pretty lacking.

The music in The Country Cousin is used to good effect as it usually is in Silly Symphony. Even the sound effects are great though. Things like Abner crunching on celery, blowing his nose or drowning himself in champagne are some good examples. The animation overall is also quite impressive as well, especially the hectic final minute or so which moves at a very quick pace.

Although I can't say whether or not Disney deserved to win the Academy Award for Best Short Film with The Country Cousin, there's very little wrong with it. It looks good, sounds good and the humour works well. We're not quite at Three Little Pigs level of funny, but TCC isn't far off. If anything, it proves just how consistent Disney really was.



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