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Wild Waves
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10 from N/A votes
Release: 15 Aug 1929 /

Wild Waves

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Director: Burt Gillett,
Stars: , ,
Synopsis: Mickey Mouse is a singing lifeguard. Minnie Mouse is the damsel he must rescue before she is swept out to sea.

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Critic Reviews

This early Mickey Mouse cartoon is aptly titled. It's set at the seashore, and in shot after shot the wild surf crashes against the rocks, ebbs, rolls back, then hits the shore again with redoubled force. The waves are beautiful but dangerous, as we find in due course when they overpower our star performers and fling them every which way. The ocean itself has personality in this short, and that's impressive for a cartoon of this vintage. You've got to give the Disney animators credit for not playing it safe; recreating the violent motion of the sea was challenging in the era of black & white cel animation, but nevertheless they chose to give the customers their money's worth with a show of difficult water effects. They make it look easy, and still manage to maintain a light and amusing tone.

The credit for the generally high quality of the early Mickeys belongs primarily to one man, legendary animator Ub Iwerks, who drew most of the studio's initial talkie output practically solo. The opening title card for these seminal works reads "A Walt Disney Comic by Ub Iwerks," a singular credit Disney would never grant any other employee. Iwerks was a key figure in putting the Disney Studio on the map and making the mouse world famous, but he chafed under Walt's dominance and left the studio not long after Wild Waves was released in the summer of 1929.

But that's real world stuff. Back in Cartoon Land, this particular entry begins with a terrific shot of Lifeguard Mickey sitting atop his tall chair, strumming his guitar and singing for an audience of two seals, a pelican, and other assorted water fowl. The waves crash as Mickey's listeners all sway to the music in perfect synchronized style, while even his chair bobs to the rhythm on alarmingly rubbery legs. Minnie is introduced in the mildly risqué fashion still permissible at this time, with the kind of gag that would soon become verboten: she's changing into her bathing suit in one of those old-fashioned "bathing machines" that looks like an outhouse on wheels. We hear her singing but she's not visible. Then, on a clothesline leading out the window, we watch as her slip, her bra, and her panties appear on the line, one by one, to flap in the breeze. Minnie appears in the doorway in her swimsuit with a "Ta-daaaa!" gesture, skips into the surf, and is promptly swallowed by a wave and carried screaming out to sea. Mickey, of course, tosses his guitar aside and comes to the rescue. He is hindered by more of those diabolical waves, but eventually manages to haul Minnie ashore. When she begins to weep he attempts to amuse her by dancing a hornpipe, and this sets off a general beach musicale, complete with dancing penguins, barking seals, a harp solo played on a fish-net, and a walrus who sings in a basso voice.

Wild Waves is a sweet little cartoon that doesn't appear on anyone's list of Disney "classics." It's just another routine Mickey Mouse short, but in a sense that makes it all the more impressive. The Disney cartoons from this period are primitive compared to what would follow in the '30s, but they're highly entertaining, often surprising, and miles ahead of what anyone else was making at the time.

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