Donald and Pluto are both at the beach and Donald is trying to tease Pluto but ends up getting a taste of his own medicine in the 1939 Walt Disney Animation Studios short, “Beach Picnic.” While Pluto is just trying to have fun, Donald uses an inflatable to trick him. Meanwhile, an ant colony has discovered the picnic lunch Donald brought to the beach and starts walking off with it. It’s a lot of fun but has some very questionable parts to it.
Let’s start with the good. I love seeing members of the Sensational Six interact with each other in the early shorts. Donald is a bit mean so it’s fun to see him get his comeuppance. While the pranks he plays on Pluto are a bit funny, it’s a lot funnier to see Donald get a taste of his own medicine when the prank goes awry. Plus, Pluto spends a lot of shorts connected to Mickey, so it’s nice to see a short with him and one of the other members of Mickey’s close friends without Mickey in the short. It helps build the world of Disney.
Unfortunately, there’s some bad that can’t be overlooked. The appearance of the ants causes quite a few problems. They are drawn up with their heads colored red and looking similar to the old caricatures Native Americans. The best thing I can say about the depiction is that it’s racially insensitive. I’m happy the short is available. I’m happy a disclaimer addressing the controversy is at the beginning. I don’t want things locked away forever just because they’ve aged poorly. I’m all in favor of showing off our warts and working to improve ourselves and we can’t do that if we shun our past mistakes. The caricature is bad. It was wrong in 1939 and it’s wrong now. But, with it available, we can learn to do better.
Overall, this is a good short. It’s mostly fun. Even with the questionable drawing of the ants, the segment featuring them isn’t all bad. There is a lot of funny interactions between the ants and Donald once they stop the war chant. There’s more good than bad and that’s the most important thing.
Ranking: 3 stars
What did you think of “Beach Picnic?”