Reviews: Walt Disneys Extreme Sports Fun
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Walt Disney's Extreme Sports Fun

Region 4 DVD Review by Dan Porceddu
February 11, 2005

In January 2005, four "Walt Disney's Classic Cartoon Favorites" DVDs were released, a series line geared towards people who don't want the more expensive (but better-valued) and exhaustive DVD sets from the excellent "Walt Disney Treasures" series. With the exception of the Chip 'n' Dale DVD in the January releases, this series line mostly went unnoticed by classic animation enthusiasts. However, the second "wave" in this line, slated for May 31, contains two more exciting-sounding releases, "Extreme Music Fun" and "Extreme Sports Fun." Although details, and even cover art, for these two DVDs in the United States aren't available at this time, we might be able to guess the contents a few weeks early before any official announcements by checking out Disney's international releases.

The Region 4 (Australia and New Zealand) DVD release of "Extreme Sports Fun" has been out for some time. If you have a region-free DVD player or plan to get one, you might want to check out a few other Australian Disney DVDs too, like "Melody Time," which contains the infamous "Pecos Bill" segment uncensored, or if you missed out on some of the older Walt Disney Treasures you can get "Silly Symphonies" and "Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 1" in Region 4 too, albeit without the colletable tins.

Soccermania' Title Card

This release contains eight cartoons. Seven of them are already available on other Walt Disney Treasures. The one cartoon that isn't is "Soccermania," a rarely-seen gem from 1987. Running just over twenty minutes, and starring Goofy, Uncle Scrooge, and the Beagle Boys, this DVD is worth getting if you've never seen the short. (Of course, if you can't get a region-free player, or don't want to pay high international shipping costs, your best bet is to wait on the official announcement on the contents of the American DVD version.)

Here's the full list of cartoons: "The Olympic Champ" (1942) with Goofy, "Canine Caddy" (1941) with Pluto, "Soccermania" (1987) with Sport Goofy, "Tennis Racquet" (1949) with Goofy, "Goofy Gymnastics" (1949), "How To Ride A Horse" with Goofy*, "Hockey Champ" (1939) with Donald Duck, and "Aquamania" (1961) with Goofy.

*"How To Ride A Horse" is not on the COMPLETE GOOFY Walt Disney Treasure set. Rather, it's on the BEHIND THE SCENES Treasure as a part of the 1941 feature film "The Reluctant Dragon." It wasn't released as a stand-alone cartoon until the end of the decade. The version that appears on this DVD is the stand-alone version; apart from the fact that a brief shot of the opening credits is seen from a small screen in "The Reluctant Dragon" before panning into the actual cartoon, there's no other difference between the version on the Treasure and this "Extreme Sports Fun" DVD.

Scrooge McDuck

The seven cartoons already available on Walt Disney Treasures DVDs look pretty much the same as they do on their respective Treasure set. "Soccermania" is generally a good print too, with no noticable interruptions or screen dirt. The short has been called a pilot for "Duck Tales." I haven't seen the "Duck Tales" series in a few years, but I think the animation in this short is generally superior to the TV series. At times the animation is more reminiscent of the style used by Disney in the 1960s (e.g. "Aquamania") rather than their 1990s TV shows.

Like many "Duck Tales" episodes, the short does have a moral (don't cheat), though the cartoon is never too sappy and it remains amusing throughout. Huey, Lewie, and Dewey come to Uncle Scrooge asking him to sponsor their team by buying a trophy for $1.49. Scrooge, outraged by the hefty price tag, instead gives the three nephews an old, dusty trophy. It turns out that the trophy is worth millions of dollars, and when Scrooge finds out he goes beserk. He asks the nephews for it back and they say he has to sponsor the winning team in order to get the trophy. So he's forced to sponsor their soccer team, which is made up of the three nephews and several other cartoony animals (possibly from "Bedknobs and Broomsticks"). Sport Goofy in turn is the coach of their team. But the plot thickens when the Beagle Boys decide to get the trophy by entering the soccer competition. They win various games and get up to the final game between them and the nephews' team. To ensure that they can cheat without the helpless nephews being able to do anything, the Beagle Boys kidnap Sport Goofy and tie him up. Goofy gets untied with a knife, comes to the soccer game, and saves the day, while Scrooge gets his trophy back. Another thing to keep your eyes open for is a cameo by a prototype of Roger Rabbit ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit" came out in 1988). You'll see him in the cheering crowd with a bunch of other un-named animals.

Goofy and the Beagle Boys

Among the other shorts on the disc, I think that "How To Ride A Horse" and "Aquamania" are the best, though all of the Goofy shorts on here are amusing. The selection of Goofy cartoons on this disc isn't quite ideal to my particular tastes, but none of the shorts on here, in my opinion, are misses. I had always preferred the 1950s Goofy cartoons where, as Leonard Maltin has said, Goofy became the "ultimate 1950s everyman," as a suburban homeowner and dad. I consider the majority of the Goofy cartoons from that time period among the best and funniest shorts that Walt Disney ever produced. "Aquamania," the last official Goofy cartoon if you don't count the two educational subjects from 1965, is the only cartoon on the disc from this genre of Goofy shorts. "Goofy Gymnastics" and "Tennis Racquet," both from 1949, are from an intermediate period where the switch from sports star to "everyman" was beginning to take place, and I find both shorts quite enjoyable compared to the "How To" cartoons of the earlier 1940s. I've never been a big fan of the "How To" shorts, but "How To Ride A Horse" is one of the best from the series and definitely worth a look if you have THE COMPLETE GOOFY and not "The Reluctant Dragon." (A few more exceptions to my dislike of "How To" cartoons are "How To Sleep" and "How To Dance," both from 1953, when the Disney studio briefly resurrected the series after Goofy's "everyman" character was well-established.)

For someone who missed out on THE COMPLETE GOOFY and can't afford to pay the outrageous price tag it's given on eBay these days, you may want to look for this DVD come May 31 and pick it up if it's a good price. For someone like me, who already has THE COMPLETE GOOFY, I'd recommend picking it up anyway, in order to get "Soccermania" and the stand-alone "How To Ride A Horse."

The Region 4 DVD's language options are sure to be different than the American version. You get English, Czech, Hungarian, and Greek audio tracks (all Dolby 2.0), and for subtitles you get those four plus Slovenian. The running time for the entire disc is about 77 minutes, and like any Disney DVD in Australia, it's bona fide Region 4, not a region free release (like the Roger Ramjet set that Australia has had for quite some time; the American version of that set came out on February 8, 2005). The special features are "Goofy's Gold Medal Trivia" and "Disney Sports Locker Game." If you play the latter and do it correctly (which isn't a hard task), you get a "special surprise," which is just a very brief clip from "Soccermania." This disc does not have any previews or trailers, something the American disc will be almost definitely have. Other than the two games, the disc is bare-bones.

All in all, this disc is a decent compilation of themed shorts, but if it weren't for "Soccermania," I'd have trouble recommending it since the cartoons are available elsewhere. But for the casual Disney or Goofy fan this disc is sure to please.

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