Silly Symphonies

film 61 of 61

The Ugly Duckling

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 6, 2015

Good looking, and much better than their first attempt at this thing. But in the end this version is simultaneously adept and uninspiring. Is it the calculation of the thing? The situation is obviously poignant, but they rather lay it on. You resent it. Maybe they were so distracted by the features that they’d given up on the shorts. The argument between the duck parents is pretty interesting! At the appearance of this other DNA’d baby, the dad just leaves! Darn it, that embrace by the swan mother is affecting. (Swans are awful birds in real life, by the way.)

It’s too bad that our protagonist snubs the duck family at the end—it’s glancing, but it’s definitely there. The producers of this film might have made him a sweet-natured, forgiving child. He certainly looks like he was headed in that direction. You know—sorrowful, and acquainted with grief. Turning the cheek and empathy would have been a natural next step. Not only fun for the kids, but good for them on top of that. Instead we get good guys and bad guys, and bratty self-justification as well. It is a strand in the fabric of the didactic film, so I guess it’s historically significant, if morally lacking.