May 28, 2015

Review: The Milky Way (1940)

For the first time since the creation of the award itself, Disney did not take home an Academy Award for Best Short Film in 1940. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer did however with their short The Milky Way. Looking back on it today, it's probably seen as maybe a bit of a contentious choice. After all, 1940 was the year of the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon called A Wild Hare as well as another MGM short that lay the groundwork for Tom and Jerry. Small fish those ain't. At least The Milky Way is cute?


At a Glance

Genre: animation, short, fantasy
Directed by: Rudolf Ising
Produced by: Fred Quimby
Written by: Maurice Day
Music by: Scott Bradley
Running time: 8 minutes
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Rudolf Ising Productions
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: Bernice Hansen




Three little kittens (voice: Bernice Hansen) timidly enter their home to announce to their mother (voice: Bernice Hansen) that they have lost their mittens. Not impressed, she announces that there will be no milk for them tonight and that they're to go straight to bed. With stomachs growling, the three kittens hatch a plan to go up to the Milky Way and get their fill of milk.


With a story based on a nursery rhyme, The Milky Way is unbelievably cute in every way. From the music, to the milk gags and to Bernice Hansen's voice acting, it's all a little too cute really. You either can choose to be annoyed by all the cuteness, or you can just accept it like I did. While I'll admit that I'd probably be completely sick of The Milky Way if I watched it multiple times in a row, I'm not planning on doing that and I can accept the film for what it is. An extremely cute fantasy adventure with kittens going up to the Milky Way and what's not to like about that?

The best thing about The Milky Way without a doubt is the sequence of when the kittens arrive at the Milky Way. It turns out that it's a veritable cat-fantasy land of all the milk you can imagine. Milk in bottles, milk in bowls, evaporated milk, milk geysers and much much more. Lowers levels of the Milky Way are dedicated to other transformed milk products like cheese for example. It's honestly enough to make you really crave a glass of milk actually.

The jokes and gags are of the cute, harmless kind and in a way The Milky Way reminds me of Disney's The Country Cousin. The way in which Abner Countrymouse digs into a human-sized feast of epic proportions is pretty similar to what the kittens get to do in TMW, just that they're in the Milky Way with milk as far as the eye can see.

Did The Milky Way deserve to win an Academy Award? It's certainly debatable, especially given what it was up against. At the same time though, it's cute, the animation is pretty decent and it's very imaginative and clever. I will admit that for the cuteness though, it does probably overdo it a little bit. For those with hearts of stone or a particular dislike for cute animals with small voices, don't even try.



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