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Writing Credits:

Not Rated.

Standard 1.33:1
English Digital Mono

Runtime: 326 min.
Price: $32.99
Release Date: 12/3/2002

DVD One:
• “The Essential Goof” Featurette
• “Pinto Colvig: The Man Behind the Goof” Featurette
• Leonard Maltin Introduction

DVD Two:
• “A Conversation with Goofy’s Voice: Bill Farmer”
• Poster Gallery
• Memorabilia Gallery
• Goofy Through the Years Gallery
• Leonard Maltin Introduction


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The Complete Goofy: Walt Disney Treasures (1944)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 3, 2003)

Confession time: of Disney’s Big Three cartoon stars, Goofy always seemed the least appealing to me. Without question, Donald Duck remains my favorite, as the cantankerous and irascible fowl provides a consistently lively and amusing presence. Despite his milquetoast personality, many of Mickey Mouse’s cartoons work well due to their variety. Whereas you almost always know what’ll you get from Donald, Mickey seems substantially more malleable, which lends a greater degree of variation to his efforts.

As for Goofy, like Donald, he presents a somewhat one-note character. Not that discrepancies don’t occur, but it seems fairly inevitable that the Goof will always portray a good-natured simpleton in his cartoons. For me, that personality simply lacks much life. Though reasonably charming, Goofy’s inherent dopiness makes him less than compelling to me.

Those impressions came from the costarring roles in which I’d seen Goofy. However, The Complete Goofy includes only his lead parts, which casts him in a different light. This also means that this package’s title seems somewhat misleading. While it does appear to consist of almost all the shorts released with Goofy in the starring role, it omits scads of others that featured him as a supporting character. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to purchase Mickey Mouse In Black and White if you want to watch Goofy’s debut.

Despite these semantic quibbles, Complete packs an extensive roster of cartoons. It presents a whopping 46 shorts, and these span a period of 22 years. We start with Goofy’s first lead role in 1939’s “Goofy and Wilbur” and progress all the way to his final starring short, 1961’s “Aquamania”.

As seen in “Wilbur”, Goofy behaved almost exactly the way I expected based on prior co-starring shorts. A gently entertaining cartoon, Goofy actually still seems to play a supporting role, as the flick emphasizes Wilbur the grasshopper. This makes it mildly amusing but it seems like less than an auspicious debut as a lead actor.

With the next short – 1940’s “Goofy’s Glider” – Disney established a formula that would pervade Goofy’s starring roles. The studio produced a slew of cartoons best known under the “How to...” banner. That title wouldn’t officially appear until 1942’s “How to Play Baseball”, but “Glider” as well as 1941’s “The Art of Skiing” and “The Art of Self-Defense” and others would use the same motif. In these, Goofy attempts to learn a new skill, and an off-screen narrator instructs him in the appropriate methods. However, Goofy invariably makes mistakes that lead to potentially comic material.

That style heavily dominates Goofy’s canon. After between “Glider” and 1947’s “Foul Trouble”, almost each of the shorts features narration, and the majority of them work from the “How to...” framework. Some of them loosen it; for example, “Tiger Trouble” includes a little information about Africa and tigers, but it seems less fact-heavy when compared to the standard “How to...” release. “Californy ’er Bust” compares to the others mainly because it uses some narration; it lacks the standard instructional bent of the “How to...” features.

One other aspect shared by a lot of these shorts relates to its lead actor. To discuss these as “Goofy” roles actually seems incorrect to a degree. To be sure, they all include a character who looks like Goofy, but most of the time the resemblance remains skin-deep. A lot of the time the entire cast consists of Goofy clones. Unlike other Disney shorts, these show nothing other than characters who look a lot like the Goof, but none of them act like him.

That points out one of the reasons I don’t much like the Goofy cartoons: the lack of counterpoint. As I noted, many of these shorts include no characters other than Goofy. The only time we see another Disney star occurs in 1943’s “Victory Vehicles”, though Mickey Mouse’s original foe Pete shows up in 1952’s “Two-Gun Goofy” and “How to Be a Detective”. That stands as a contrast to the cartoons that star other Disney major characters, as they often feature additional notables.

This doesn’t happen in Goofy’s shorts, and this leaves him isolated. The lack of a foil or counterpoint creates a serious void. Many of the Goofy cartoons lack focus and feel lifeless because they lack personality. Sure, the character who looks like Goofy adopts a number of different personae, but they all seem artificial. Of course, the other characters were very malleable over the years and took on various tendencies as necessary, but at least they remained themselves; Goofy turned into any number of roles depending on the story.

This led Goofy in some odd directions. During the shorts from the Forties, the “How to...” theme dominates. Even when not formally part of that series, the cartoons demonstrate a very similar format: a narrator relates events while the Goofy lookalike reacts to those stimuli. Actually, the shorts show some variety even when they appear as part of the run. For example, “How to Play Football” includes none of the descriptive instruction included in prior “How to...” features, as it simply shows us a football game. Other shorts like “The Olympic Champ” follow the “How to...” model but don’t use the title.

Whether in the “How to...” vein or not, the vast majority of the shorts in this set provide narration, and that gets very old after a while. The commentary makes many of them seem a lot alike, and they lose personality. It also restricts where the events can go and keeps them from going much of anywhere. I don’t think any Goofy shorts between 1939’s “Goofy and Wilbur” and 1947’s “Foul Hunting” lacked narration, and later explanation-free shorts would occur infrequently.

I understand why the “How to...” formula seemed so appealing to the filmmakers, though. It makes it really easy to churn out a lot of shorts. Take a sport or other endeavor, provide dry recitation of textbook methods to execute that activity, and show Goofy’s erroneous interpretation. Lather, rinse, repeat, and you have scads of cartoons! Granted, the formula veers from that course quite a lot, but it feels clear that formula dictated a lot of these cartoons.

In the Fifties, we still got some shorts in the “How to...” vein, but they went in an unusual path. Goofy turned into George Geef, stereotypical Fifties office worker. This allowed the shorts to enter new territory, as Geef depicted the harried life of the Average Joe. Depending on the needs of the scenario, Geef had a demanding wife, an obnoxious son, and a dog or three; the animals changed with various shorts.

The Geef adventures dominate the Fifties and offer many odd anomalies. For one, Goofy’s ears show up in some shorts and not others. In addition, sometimes he speaks in the classic Pinto Colvig voice, whereas other times he displays totally different vocals. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to these changes, though the Goofy sound mostly appears toward the end of the character’s run. Perhaps the folks at Disney felt sentimental for the old Goofy and tried to make him return.

Despite the presence of Geef instead of Goof, I must say that the Fifties shorts seem much more entertaining than the Forties entries. The whole “How to...” formula got really old, and I found most of that era’s cartoons to appear tiresome and flat. Occasional signs of life occur, and a few standout shorts appear. I’d pick “Baggage Buster”, “How to Play Baseball”, “Tiger Trouble”, and “Californy ‘er Bust” as the best of the decade. Many of the others just all melted together.

As for the Fifties, the animation suffered in that era, but the humor improved. The satirical bent of the Geef shorts provided some life that seemed absent in the tepid spoofs of the “How to...” cartoons. I never quite accepted Goof as Geef, but the material appeared fairly lively and even cynical at times, such as during “Motor Mania”. The fact that most of the Fifties efforts ran shorter than those from the Forties probably helped, as they more infrequently wore out their welcomes.

Unfortunately, as I noted, the animation significantly declined during the Fifties. Speech imagery seemed especially problematic. Not only did lines often not much mouth movements, but also occasionally characters spoke with no motion at all! These concerns made the shorts look somewhat cheap at times, though Disney’s work still remained superior to pretty much everyone else’s, at least in regard to animation quality.

At the end of the day, I simply must acknowledge that Goofy does little for me. The Complete Goofy includes a wealth of shorts, and some seem quite entertaining and inventive. However, the series becomes bogged down with formulaic material after a while, and the absence of additional non-Goofy characters seems like a weakness. Fans of the Goof should adore this set, but I don’t know if it’ll win over many others.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B / Bonus B-

The Complete Goofy appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite the advanced age of the cartoons, they consistently looked very good.

With material of this vintage, print flaws usually cause the most substantial problems. However, Goofy seemed surprisingly clean from start to finish. The worst concern related to light grain, which presented a small distraction, but it showed up pretty frequently. The shorts also appeared slightly dirty at times. Nonetheless, they displayed almost no signs of grit, speckles, scratches, or other issues that one would normally find in older films. The cartoons looked nicely fresh given their advanced age.

Sharpness consistently looked better than adequate. Some of the shorts displayed minor softness, but those concerns remained fairly insubstantial. As a whole, the cartoons came across as well defined and clear. Jagged edges and moiré effects also presented no problems, but I did notice some slight edge enhancement at times. A few shorts also displayed an odd streaky glow that came from the tops of characters’ heads.

Colors appeared generally positive. The grain and dirt made them seem slightly dingy at times, but usually the tones came across as nicely vivid and bright. The cartoons mostly featured hues that looked as lively as we’d expect of this sort of material. Black levels were deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy in the few scenes that featured low-light material.

On a positive note, the quality of the picture improved noticeably as the years passed. While the early cartoons still looked quite good, the later ones – particularly those on DVD Two – presented very solid visuals. At their worst, the elements of The Complete Goofy still definitely surpassed those of most older films, but the more modern – though still fairly aged – shorts led me to give the set a “B+” for image.

The monaural audio of The Complete Goofy also seemed fairly solid given the age of the material. Dialogue – which appeared mostly via narration – occasionally displayed some slight edginess and could sound a bit brittle. However, speech usually came across as acceptably natural and distinct, and I encountered no issues related to edginess. Effects sounded mildly distorted on occasion, but they also showed no substantial problems. They lacked great dynamic range, but they were reasonably clean and accurate.

Finally, music seemed a little rough at times. Nonetheless, the score and songs heard during the cartoons mostly sounded bright and lively, and the minor distortion created no real issues. Between the music and the effects, some moderate bass response appeared at times. Nothing terribly deep showed up, but the low-end seemed more than acceptable for films so old. The majority of the shorts suffered from no problems related to hum, popping, or other noise, as those issues seemed almost totally absent from the cartoons.

Although the improvements seemed more modest, the sound quality also improved noticeably as the shorts became newer. They still didn’t appear particularly special, but the more recent cartoons presented somewhat cleaner and more vibrant material. In the end, The Complete Goofy provided audio that has held up fairly well over the decades.

As with all the “Walt Disney Treasures” releases, The Complete Goofy features a smattering of supplements. On DVD One, we start with an introduction from Leonard Maltin. In this informative 135-second piece, the film historian gives us a quick history of Goofy and also provides the origins of the “How to...” series.

A few other Maltin introductions precede particular shorts. For “Victory Vehicles”, Maltin offers a 95-second discussion to place the cartoon into historical context. Maltin gives us some notes to place the treatment of Indians during “Californy ‘er Bust” into perspective as well.

In a cool extra called The Essential Goof, we hear parts of a lecture given by animator Art Babbitt. The six and a half minute featurette recreates a presentation he gave to other Disney artists. It relates Babbitt’s thoughts on who Goofy is and how to approach him. Along with the narration, we see some clips from shorts and archival images. Babbitt’s speech seems well thought out and fascinating, and this program offers a great look at the development of Goofy’s character.

Next we find Pinto Colvig: The Man Behind the Goof. In this five-minute, 32-second featurette, Leonard Maltin leads us through a biography of the voice artist. We learn about Colvig’s career, which includes his other roles – such as Practical Pig and two of Snow White’s seven dwarfs – as well as the falling out that led to his brief departure from the studio. “Colvig” offers a brief but informative piece.

Like many Disney DVDs, Goofy opens with an ad. This one touts the “Disney Treasures” line. Oddly, however, it touts last year’s four releases and doesn’t mention the 2002 batch.

As we move to DVD Two, we start with another introduction from Maltin. This one lasts 118 seconds, as he discusses the transformation the character underwent in the Fifties. He also adds additional intros before two of this disc’s shorts. “Teachers Are People” tries to explain the short’s depiction of school violence with this 46-second piece, and Maltin also identifies its narrator. Prior to “For Whom the Bulls Toil”, Maltin provides a 59-second note about the short’s treatment of Mexicans, and he adds some notes about artist Eyvind Earle.

An interview called A Conversation With Goofy’s Voice: Bill Farmer lasts 13 minutes, 53 seconds and involves Maltin with the actor. Farmer covers his origins in the business and his early career as well as how he landed the gig as Goofy. Farmer also goes over a few other elements in this charming and informative chat.

Next we discover three different sets of stillframes. ThePoster Gallery includes 36 ads, and it offers a very nice collection of these materials. In the Memorabilia Gallery, we see 13 frames that feature covers of books, albums, comic books and sheet music. Finally, the Goofy Through the Years Gallery mostly shows story sketches from various shorts as well as some backgrounds. This section includes the years 1940 (22 images), 1941 (27), 1942 (45), 1944 (26), 1945 (16), 1948 (13), 1951 (nine), and 1953 (13).

Each of these galleries also includes some audio material. 15 of the “Poster” frames include sound, and 31 of those in “Through the Years” provide audio. Unfortunately, all 46 of those soundbites feature nothing more than Farmer in character as he tosses out inane remarks like “Gawrsh!” and “Hey, that’s me!” The audio portion of these two galleries is an annoying waster of time.

We get commentary for five stills in the “Memorabilia Gallery”, but those remarks seem much more useful. These images feature information from Maltin, who tells us some historical notes and add to our understanding of Goofy, unlike the pointless Goofy gags.

Finally, the DVD’s booklet includes a short text overview from Maltin as well as some archival images. An insert card also displays a reproduction of the poster for “The Olympic Champ”.

Before I watched The Complete Goofy, I didn’t care much for the character. After I watched The Complete Goofy, I didn’t care much for the character. Goofy occasionally provides some entertainment, but I think he works better as a supporting personality, especially since these shorts often focus exclusively on him with no other actors. The DVDs feature very positive picture quality along with good sound and a decent little roster of extras. With well over five hours of shorts, The Complete Goofy provides a nice set for fans of the character.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 26
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