Silly Symphonies

film 35 of 61

The Flying Mouse

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

Let’s start by being positive. The birds are pretty, and there’s a happy little bath sequence. Otherwise, The Flying Mouse is not only poor, it’s actually dangerous. The lesson is a kids’ lit/didactic commonplace, and it’s okay. Beware of what you wish for. It’s not the lesson so much, but the means by which it is communicated.

A little butterfly is menaced by goggle-eyed spider, saved by our sensitive protagonist, then transformed into an ineptly rendered beautiful fairy. In this guise she grants her rescuer a wish, and he suddenly sprouts wings. When he starts to fly the birds are nonplussed and the mice are frightened. That’s still good, potentially. And the now-wingéd protagonist’s flight into the dark forest, where he falls into wicked company, could have some resonance too.

But why did he have to be a black bat? Worse, why do the bat and the spider have to be so exaggeratedly bad? And why so easily defeated? That easy defeat is directly related to the kids at the beginning of this film—coded as the kids we like, mind you—who laughed our hero to scorn when he got a pre-wing spanking. A lot of the discourse of bullying is similarly simplistic, which is to say that it doesn’t always cause the nice prosperous and privileged kids who contribute to suicides but never go so far as to beat anyone up to consider their complicity. This problem is much older than Chris Columbus and John Hughes, by the way. When was it that enmity entered in?