Saturday Matinee #115, Wreck-It Week: "Croissant De Triomphe" (March 12, 2013)
Published March 16, 2013
by Albert Gutierrez
Doesn't Mickey Mouse look adorable sitting there on his little Vespa and crying out, "Allons-y!" before racing to Minnie's rescue? I have to admit, this is Mickey at his cutest. But he's also doing much of what we expect him to do: save the day. That's the character he's become. No longer the mischievous little miscreant who turns animals into instruments, Mickey Mouse has come a long way. He helps people, he resuces Minnie, and he brings croissants to irate diners. One could say it's his duty. And here at From Screen to Theme, during Wreck-It Week, we could say it's his... HERO'S DUTY.
Rather than spoil this newly-released short for you, we will only be providing a half-summary.
It is a beautiful day in Paris, as Minnie is managing her cafe. However, most of her patrons wish to have a croissant with their coffee. But, alas, Minnie has run out! She calls frantically to Daisy, who runs her own patisserie. Send more croissants! It's Mickey to the rescue, and he boards his little green vespa to bring croissants to Minnie. Will he make it? What will he encounter? And, omagosh, can we understand French?
"Croissant de Triomphe" is the first of nineteen planned shorts for television and internet distribution. The short debuted online less than a week ago, and two more are already planned for release. The first, "Yodelberg," features Mickey and Minnie at a mountaintop chalet. The second, "No Service," takes us to the beach where Mickey and Donald are admonished for not wearing shirts or shoes. The look for these shorts are reminiscent of the "Melody" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" design, which stylizes these characters based on shapes rather than the more detailed and traditional look. It's an aesthetic that may take getting used to, although I fell in love with it immediately. Mickey has always been a character of evolution, going from trickster and scamp to hero. He's been radically re-designed a few times already, although most will point to Fred Moore's 1939 re-design as the definitive look of Mickey, refusing to accept anything else. Personally, I'm glad to see Mickey looking a bit out-of-the-box. It suits the entire look of this short film, and I'm very excited to see what else Disney has to offer in this design.
What remains to be seen is if this design will sit well with audiences in the long run. After all, when Warner Bros. tried to re-design the Looney Tunes as "Loonatics," there was an overwhelming amount of negative response. In a sense, Disney has faced some of that as well. I remember reading quite a few Amazon.com reviews for Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas (2004), which was the first major project to feature CGI Mickey and friends. Some reviews were mixed, others made no qualms that they hated the look. I think one even mentioned that it made their children cry. In retrospect, some of those complaints were justified, but others are still over-the-top. I've purposely avoided reading anything online about the response to this short, perhaps so I can live in some optimism that this radical new design stick around for awhile. Mickey Mouse is a jack of all trades, his appearance should reflect that occasionally. If we wanted Mickey Mouse to stay the same, we'd still be watching a rubbery black-and-white rapscallion who delights in cruelty to animals.
Truth be told, for me, the best thing about this short is not the radical new design, but the wonderful little nods to Disney's past. The minor characters all look like something out of Silly Symphonies, the cops harken back to old "Goofy" shorts in which multiple renditions of him taught us sports, and we even have a cameo from some fairy tale royalty. This short is a celebration of everything Disney did right in the past, while presenting it to an audience in a bold, new way. It is the "keep moving forward" that Walt followed. We see that present here, along with that sense of, "I know where I'm going, 'cause I know where I've been." This is not just some wink-winky nod to the past in a "remember this?" fashion. This is taking the past and appropriating it for a contemporary audience. I can't think of a better tribute.
Naturally, this short is not available on DVD or Blu-Ray anywhere. But fear not! This web-exclusive is available for viewing from Disney's official web site, and will surely make the rounds on Disney Channel sooner rather than later:
Croissant de Triomphe on Disney Video
(Please note: the above links are currently only available for U.S. readers. For non-U.S. readers, a quick visit to YouTube will lead you to the short.)