I only had a chance to see the new Goofy short, "How to Hook up your Home Theater," once before Disney made YouTube take it down, so here's a review based on a first impression. The review: "It's great! Go see it! It's a credit to everybody who worked on it!" And that really is my opinion. This is a big, big event for Disney. I was deliriously happy to see that they still have the muscle to do funny, full animation shorts in the Jack Kinney style. Let's hope the studio treats these animators real nice, and continues to put them on challenging, funny projects.
My longer review, intended only for other artists who are sympathetic with the film, is a little more critical. Take what I say here with a big grain of salt. I'm comparing this film to an imaginary version made with unlimited time and money, in a dream studio surrounded by fields of unicorns and griffins.
OK then, a couple of technical things to start: The character outlines might have been thicker, maybe imitating the thick and thin you get from ink lines. Also, the pacing was too fast. The gags were all great so maybe the crew couldn't bring themselves to cut any of them, but it would have been nice to linger over some of the terrific animation.
Still nitpicking, I'll mention that the cartooning in the new film might have been stronger. Here's (above) a detail by John Sibley from an one of the old, vintage Goofies (Goofys?). Wow! The drawing has so much life and energy! I miss that in the new film. To be fair I'll add that Sibley was a cartoonist of rare ability, even compared to his buddies in the forties.
In most ways the new cartoon is solidly Jack Kinney, but there's an occasional Reitherman influence. Reitherman was a good animator but a poor director and he didn't understand Goofy. Kinney's Goofy is not, and never was, a lanky, good-natured, enthusiastic bungler, as Reitherman believed. No character worth his salt reduces down to something as simple as that.
Kinney's Goofy was first and foremost a vehicle for creative, imaginative, full animation. He was conceived to make us aware of how funny a walk can be, or how funny it is that we have hands that can pick things up, and faces that can make expressions. In some respects the character was a blank slate made to absorb the personalities of the funniest people who worked on him. He was a vehicle through which the audience could appreciate their own good natures, their own bodies, and the weirdness of world around them. He was all that first...then, and only then, was he Reitherman's lanky bungler.
The colors in the interior of the house might have been a little darker and more contrasty. Compare the background in the new cartoon where Goofy sits in his easy chair (way up above, second from the top), to this vintage background (above). The old BG immediately above is darker. Even the 40s Goofies (Goofys?) used light colors sometimes, but my favorite Goofy backgrounds were slightly ominous, as if he was living in Hell.
When you think about it, that's exactly where the Kinney character was living. His was a stylized world where everybody mysteriously looked like him, neighbors hated each other, and nothing ever worked. We admired his heroism, because Goofy somehow managed to be happy in this bizarre world. I loved the new cartoon but I'd have loved it even more if it had a greater awareness of...this thing.
Here's (above) a well-done scene...
...well-done, but maybe it still needs something.You can't fault the staging. This (the four drawings above) is a really nice reveal. The problem is that it needs a topper.
I wish I could see the film again. I can't remember what Goofy did with the remotes. The thing I want to gripe about here is that I should have remembered it. What Goofy did should have been so memorable that I couldn't have forgotten it even if I'd tried. Goofy is a star and stars require star scenes. That sounds like a lot to ask for, but the best moments in the best films manage to pull it off. What we do in Hollywood isn't supposed to be easy.
So, to sum up, my criticism of the film is that it was paced too fast and didn't play sufficiently to subtext. It straightforwardly set out to what the title promised, which in my opinion is always a mistake. Films that do that risk being too predictable.
Does any of this matter? Not really. The film was still great, and definitely fun to watch. It was packed with the kind of gags that look good in animation. There were so many possible pitfalls and the film managed to avoid 99% of them, which is amazing for a crew that's not accustomed to working with the character. Disney should make more Goofies with this crew and consult them about the other projects in the studio, which would benefit from the input of these people.