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A great deal of the humour comes from the personalities of Goofy
and Dolores. They both care about each other, but Goofy must make the
elephant do something she does not want to, i.e take a bath, while she
does everything she can to get out of it. They both display a degree
of cunning which is a lot of fun to watch.
I find the funniest part to be when Dolores disguises herself as
a clown and Goofy greets 'him' with a "Good morning, Sir!", not finding
the fact that this clown is preposterously enormous strange in the least!
Soon after, Dolores fills his clothes with water from a hose, giving
him a hugely bloated appearance. Poor Goofy can't quite work out what's
going on and scratches his head saying, "Sumthin' wrong here!". This
phrase was one of Goofy's catchphrases in the classic shorts, but he
never seems to say it in his more recent appearances on screen. This
is a pity because this saying demonstrates how Goofy is often not quite
able to realise what is going on around him, which is a key part of
Loved his song and dance at the beginning. Just another example of
why Goofy rocks.
The water inflation bit fascinated me. Ever since I saw it when I
was like 2 or 3-I've longed to be the first to do it to a female character.
Makes me wonder why Disney hasn't reused it on one yet. Oh how great
it'd be to see a girl like Gadget going through the same trouble!
After all, in situations like this, we expect to see Donald Duck. He’s the one who would be able to properly express the frustrations and anxiety of trying to bathe a giant elephant. You would expect the garbled invective to flow freely from our favorite duck. Instead, we get the contrast of a cheerful Goofy meandering his way around the elephant and getting foiled at every turn.
In a way, that’s what makes The Big Wash work. Goofy’s lack of irritation makes this humorous in a way that Donald could not. He smiles as the elephant fills his pants with water to the point of bursting, or as he ends up on his behind in the mud. Goofy is able to shrug it off and keep trying to wash Dolores the elephant. He even sings a song while he does it.
Where I felt this short did not measure up was in the gags. After all, we’ve seen Pluto try to avoid a bath before in a couple of shorts, and have seen his ways of getting out of it. By comparison, Dolores the elephant should have some very different and original things to try. Honestly, though, everything that the elephant tries is less amusing than it could be.
Goofy’s antics aside, it’s not a short that uses him to his best ability. Goofy works best when he is the foil to the narrator or is demonstrating some kind of every day idea. Goofy is the every man at this point in his career, and not many of us can relate to having to bathe an elephant. While well intentioned, The Big Wash comes off all wet. (I had to do it.)