A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Fun and Fancy Free is a 1947 in-color Walt Disney animated compilation of two shorts, one about Bongo the escaped circus bear, the other a version of Jack and the Beanstalk adapted to feature Mickey Mouse, Jiminy Cricket, Donald Duck, and Goofy, and live-action narration by famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummies, Charlies McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. There's lots of cartoon violence and peril that may frighten the youngest viewers, including scary thunderstorms, angry bears, and a powerful giant. One story shows three characters who are starving. Be aware that a gleeful musical sequence states repeatedly that bears show love "with a slap," and animated bears proceed to slug each other, supposedly in the name of romantic love.
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What's the story?
FUN AND FANCY FREE links together mostly animated stories with figures familiar to 1947 audiences, including the popular Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket, voiced by Walt Disney, Clarence Nash, and Pinto Colvig, and Cliff Edwards respectively, and live-action performance by the famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppets Mortimer Snerd and Charlie McCarthy. Bergen narrates the story of what happens when Happy Valley turns into Gruesome Gulch after a giant steals the magic harp that keeps everyone in the valley so cheerful and prosperous. Bergen spews multisyllabic sentences -- Mortimer doesn't always understand and Charlie mocks his pretension, all of which is meant to entertain both grownups and children at the same time. When Mortimer fears for the poor giant's welfare, Bergen tries to soothe him by explaining that the giant isn't real but rather "a metaphysical phenomenon of your subconscious mind, a phantasmagoria of your mental faculties." The story of a circus bear named Bongo is narrated by the singer Dinah Shore who trills that "When bears are in love, they say it with a slap." The cartoon bears actually slug and wallop each other for comic effect while halos of hearts fly above. Now that the seriousness of domestic violence is a commonplace subject of discussion on every talk show, this "cute" joke about hitting people we love may alarm some parents working to teach their small kids to "use your words" for expressing strong feelings.
Is it any good?
This isn't one of the best Disney works, but the hand-drawn, frame-by-frame animation is a good example of the Disney accomplishment and finesse. The artistic achievement of balancing and bouncing the rubbery Goofy on a huge block of undulating pink Jell-O is easy to appreciate. Kids who can handle the peril and cartoon violence will enjoy Fun and Fancy Free.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's a good idea to show love to anyone by hitting them. Do you think the song in Fun and Fancy Free about hitting those we love is meant to be funny?
Bongo longs to escape from the circus but when he breaks out he finds that freedom has problems, too. What are some of the troubles he encounters?
Edgar Bergen explains to Mortimer that giants are "figments of the imagination." Do you think giants are real? Do you think it's fun to make up things to be afraid of?
- In theaters: September 27, 1947
- On DVD or streaming: June 20, 2000
- Cast: Walt Disney, Clarence Nash, Pinto Colvig, Edgar Bergen, Dinah Shore
- Directors: Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske
- Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 73 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: December 17, 2019
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