Silly Symphonies

film 17 of 61

Just Dogs

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

Pluto’s first starring role, or his first solo appearance anyway. In it we find that captivity gives way to liberty, which as it turns out, isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. Underneath plot it’s how we desire independence—adulthood—and then encounter pitfalls that give us some second thoughts. That’s a pretty standard, reasonably productive kid theme. Maybe it’s deeper: the pride cycle, or the natural dog, misbehaving. Our protagonist misbehaves too, and maybe most of all. This can be a very productive situation for child-and-parent viewers. We love you more than anything. But stop that.

Pluto’s design is very appealing. Again, his behaviour is not, so much. That ingratiating little pug guy is much more attractive. Leads us to a question: why do some characters—individuals, institutions, franchises, nations?—prosper, while others just disappear? Mysteries! The explanations for which we’ll often never know. And the difference between success and oblivion can be so knife-edged!

In conclusion the sweet little pug-child wins over the big bullying dog—yes, Pluto, the future star— because in addition to digging up and giving over that huge bone he also vanquishes all of the opposition. This is obviously more than faintly Rudolf-ish, which seems to really bug me every time I run into it. Another careless, not quite seemly Disney film.