First Theatrical Release: April 20, 1946
First Home Viewing Release: June 6, 2000
My Rating: 2/5 stars
Where I Found It: The library’s DVD collection
Bechdel Test Score: Exempt, for lack of dialog by which to judge the third prong.
I almost forgot to write an entry about this perfectly forgettable movie.
The concept is similar to Fantasia, except without the luscious animation or the culturally significant music. Make Mine Music is the dumbed-down version of Fantasia, using simplistic storytelling and “contemporary” (at the time) music — most of which didn’t do anything for me — and the “cartoony” animation style that typifies the era of Disney “package films.”
It wasn’t agony to sit through this one the way it was The Three Caballeros, but there were a few moments to make my inner feminist flinch, such as
These scenes are both from the short, “All the Cats Join In,” which I REALLY wish featured actual cats. This was the only part of the film I’d seen prior to last Sunday, and I distinctly remember not thinking anything was “wrong” with the girl’s butt before the eraser intruded. So glad Disney taught my four-year-old self to start criticizing the female body. Thanks for that one, Disney.
Of course, I couldn’t watch this without hearing “Rock This Town,” which was how I first experienced it.
And then there was this winning line from “Casey at the Bat”
The ladies don’t understand baseball a bit / They don’t know a strike from a foul from a hit
But they still attend the games “just to see Casey.”
I begin immediately prejudiced toward sports segments, and the sexism definitely didn’t help.
Still, this movie is mostly benign, except perhaps the last short, “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met.”
This segment about a whale who sings opera was strangely compelling. The immensely talented Nelson Eddy does all the voices as the story unfolds, and I liked that the style was more akin to what one would see in a “musical” than in a “musical review.” My husband and I disagreed about whether the whale was creepy (me) or endearing (Ivan). What made me uncomfortable was the fact that he doesn’t really look like a whale — it doesn’t seem that his mouth is in the right place when he stands up and sings. [Making this the second Disney movie with a very un-whale-like whale, following Pinocchio. Will it take them all the way until 1989 with The Little Mermaid to get whales right? Will there be more attempts in the interim?] Still, I started to come around to Ivan’s side at the charmingly creepy spectacle of the whale in various costumes, performing to a sold-out crowd. Now, that is a show I would like to see!
But then, just as I’m starting to get attached to this bizarro guy, he’s killed by a harpoon.
Yes, that’s right. A whaler, convinced that he has “swallowed three opera singers” kills him. Never realizing that he was immensely talented. Never allowing him to attain his dream of being recognized for his stunning and diverse voice. Disney, who gave us “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” now slaps us in the face with a whale who not only has his dreamed killed by a brutish human, but is also literally killed by that human.
He then goes on to sing “sold-out” shows in heaven, but that doesn’t really cut it in the happy ending department as far as I’m concerned. Sure, we might want to give kids some hope about the afterlife and the whale’s fate, but do we really want to convey the message that DYING is a viable option for making your dreams come true?
I was shocked at age 33; I could imagine the difficulty of explaining it to a four-year-old who had just burst into tears at the moment of the whale’s demise. Yes, adults should definitely watch Disney films with or before the children in their lives. You’ll want to go into this sort of thing prepared.
And as I mentioned above, this is the LAST short in the whole film, so that’s the final message. Die, and your dreams will come true.
[Ivan objects that he thought the short was touching. Perhaps it’s a spoof on the opera genre, which so often ends in tragedy, although this was lost on me upon first watching and probably would be on kids as well.]
But that will not be MY final message! I, instead, leave you with another of the high notes of a mostly dull movie: a cat with my dear husband’s name!