As the title would suggest, music is a big part of this movie. There are nine (or ten? we’ll discuss this later) short segments, some longer, some shorter, with various moods and tones, but all of them revolve around music. It’s like a modernized version of Fantasia, featuring popular artists from the time. Starting with the opening credits, it felt like I was going to watch an old MGM musical or something rather than an animated children’s film.
Going through the movie, I’ve noticed that there are two kinds of segments–one is more abstract, less linear, set to music alone without any kind of story, while the other is usually longer, with some kind of narration (either spoken or sung) and an actual storyline. The more abstract segments seem to be generally less child-oriented, but they’re spread out between the longer segments, so the whole thing comes together really nicely. Let’s go through this piece by piece:
- Blue Bayou: We start (kind of? we’ll get to that later) with a Fantasia reject–well, the animation, anyway. It was supposed to be set to Clair de Lune, but here, we have something jazzy and moody to go with a very mellow scene. It’s pretty, but it seemed to me to be a weak beginning if we want the kids to keep watching (and there’s a reason for that! but we’ll get to that later).
- All the Cats Join in: And we’re talking cat as in “that dude is one cool cat.” Set to music by Benny Goodman, there’s a fun short scene with teenagers going down to the…malt shop or wherever and having a fun 1940s kind of time. Again, cute, but not particularly memorable.
- Without You: Another short, moody piece set to pretty music. The animation is lovely, as is the song, but I can practically hear my 5-year-old-self yawning. It’s not very upbeat, but it’s actually really pretty.
- Casey at the Bat: At last! We get to a longer segment with a storyline. This is one I vaguely remember watching on the Disney Channel when I was younger and there was no such thing as Miley Cyrus. While I did scoff a bit at the line “the ladies don’t understand baseball a bit” (I’m sure carmhelga would take umbrage with that), this segment is one of the highlights of the movie. The baseball scenes are fun, and there’s a lot of humor. Honestly, though, the ending used to depress me. I mean, I guess Casey deserves it, but the ending was always such a downer to me.
- Two Silhouettes: Back to the pretty, pointless scenes. Dinah Shore sings while two shadowy dancers…dance. But it’s all right, because this part is sandwiched between two of the best segments in the movie…
- Peter and the Wolf: Okay, this one’s my favorite. Narrated by Sterling Holloway–
Actually, can I take a minute to talk about Sterling Holloway? Dude is awesome. He’s Winnie the Pooh, the Cheshire Cat, Kaa from The Jungle Book, AND MORE. It’s fun when celebrities do animated voices, but I have a soft spot for actual voice actors who pop up in multiple things, and it’s like, “hey! I know that guy’s voice!” and then you look him up, and he’s voiced everyone you’ve ever loved. That’s Sterling Holloway. He also narrated the penguin short in The Three Caballeros, and he was the stork at the beginning of Dumbo, and he’s the voice of adult Flower in Bambi. He’ll pop up in later movies, too, and I will be just as excited. I just love that guy’s voice. Anyway–
Narrated by Sterling Holloway, this segment tells the story of Peter and his animal friends going after the wolf. It’s awesome and fun and suspenseful. Really! I feared for their lives! I really thought two of them were dead at one point! I was prepared to be like OH MY GOD THEY ALL DIE, but no, it’s all good. I’m pretty sure there’s also a Tiny Toons version of Peter and the Wolf, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube.
- After You’ve Gone: Aaaaand back to the musical interludes. This one’s pretty neat, though. Instead of being kind of sad and moody, the music is upbeat, and there are anthropomorphized musical instruments dancing around. It’s fun and creative without being trippy like The Three Caballeros.
- Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet: This might be my second favorite. Narrated in song by The Andrews Sisters, this segment is about two hats who fall in love and then are separated. It’s ADORABLE. I was just AWWWW’ing all over the place. It’s a neat mixture of both music and animation telling the story. Also, fun fact: in the French version, Edith Piaf sings/narrates. You can find that version right here.
- The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met: All right, this is the last one, and it’s EPIC. Nelson Eddy does ALL OF THE VOICES. And there are quite a few voices, some of whom sing opera. This is another one I remember seeing on the Disney Channel, and…it’s another one with a big ol’ downer of an ending. It’s about a whale who sings opera. The intro titles call it the “tragic story” of the whale, and at first I was like, “ha ha, irony?” BUT NO. This one doesn’t end well. And then the movie ends.
- The Martins and the Coys: Okay, this is what I was being all cryptic about before. This segment is the REAL first scene in the movie, and it makes way more sense that way, because it’s one of the storytelling ones rather than an abstract musical sequence. The beginning seems weirdly paced without this first scene, but it’s been cut out of the movie because of gun violence and because it’s offensive to hillbillies or whatever. I watched it on YouTube, and honestly, the comic gun violence isn’t anything worse than what you’d see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Whatever, Disney. I think the movie works better with this included. Also, it has a wonderful twist ending that made me chuckle.
Make Mine Music is good stuff. There are ups and downs, but the downs are strategically placed so they’re not a problem. Also, it didn’t make me feel like I was on acid the way The Three Caballeros did, so that’s a plus.
Favorite scene: Peter and the Wolf!
Because of Sterling Holloway, and because it’s a classic story, and because I REALLY THOUGHT THEY WERE ALL GOING TO DIE.
Next time: Fun and Fancy Free!