Saturday Matinee #132: "Yodelberg" (June 29, 2013)
Published July 13, 2013
by Albert Gutierrez
Happy July once more! I think I've just about had enough sun now; bring back my rain! Maybe this heat isn't as fun as I thought. Fortunately, Mickey knows of some great ways to cool off. Namely, he'll go to a wintry location. Although winter-themed shorts will traditionally see airtime in a winter month, the wonder that is "Christmas in July" allows us to celebrate and cool down in different ways. Thank goodness Mickey's new short sends us to the Swiss Alps, his first time there since 1936's "Alpine Climbers." So sit back, pour yourself a cup of Swiss Miss, and join us in the wonderful world of "Yodelberg"!
Rather than spoil this newly-released short for you, we will only be providing a half-summary.
Mickey Mouse emerges from a Swiss chalet, wearing lovely suspenders and ridiculously adorable green socks. He's heard the enchanting trills of beloved Minnie, who resides atop a Swiss mountain. Although Mickey would love nothing more than to yodel along with her, to do so may cause an avalanche! In fact, any extreme noise - be it the crunch of corn chips, a visually unpleasant belch, or a fleet of cuckoo clocks - has the potential to ruin his plans. How shall he reach Minnie?
"Yodelberg" serves as the third short released in the new "Mickey Mouse" cartoon series. As with previous and future shorts, we see a unique geographical location. This time, it's the Swiss Alps, one of Disney's few-but-exciting forays into the world of neutral Europe. Previously, Mickey took Donald and Pluto on a climbing expedition in the aforementioned 1936 short "Alpine Climbers," which saw an uncommon trio (Goofy must have not been invited). Each one had their own mission; of the three my favorite was always Donald's quest for the edelweiss flower. Over twenty years later, Disney went on location to Zermatt, Switzerland in order to film 1959's Third Man on the Mountain, which led to Disneyland's tie-in with Matterhorn Bobsleds. It's been some time since I've seen either ("Alpine Climbers" or Third Man on the Mountain), so I can't remember if anybody yodels.
Yodeling itself is few and far between in Disney animation. Not many Disney Animated Classics feature the musical art form, aside from "The Silly Song" in 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and "Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo" in 2004's Home on the Range. With "Yodelberg," less emphasis is on the singing, and more on the general idea of any extreme noise. As a result, the singing gets restricted to just the beginning and end; something to make non-fans grateful. Of course, the intent of the short isn't to showcase yodeling, but to see how gags could be played without any noise at all.
With the rate of release for these new shorts, I expect all nineteen will be out by the year's end. Disney hasn't yet commissioned a second batch, as it would all depend on the viewership figures for the shorts. Personally, as much as I like these shorts, their brevity (most will retain the 3.5 minute running time) does hinder some of my appreciation. I know quantity shouldn't outweigh quality in these shorts, but since I grew up with Disney shorts running an average 5 to 8 minutes, I feel like viewers are getting the short end of the stick by producing these shorts within a 3.5 minute running time.
Some would be quick to blame these 3.5-minute impositions on the shorter attention spans of younger generations, which is both a valid concern, as well as an uninformed-ageist assumption. After all, the Lumi�re brothers made a career of 50-second films (their actualit�s) in the early years of cinema. Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery runs 12 minutes. Marty, the 1955 recipient of the Academy Award for Best Picture, runs 94 minutes. Film can be engaging at any length, so long as it benefits the story at hand. Attention spans is not determined by generation, but by any individual's own environment. Collective experience within the same environment should not be indicative of any generation as a whole.
As with "No Service," "Yodelberg" made its television debut on June 29. Thus, you can surely catch it making the rounds on Disney Channel anytime, while also watching online if you desire: