A Year in Shorts Day 189: "When Magoo Flew"
You know what we genuinely haven’t talked about in a long time? Mr. Magoo! Man, it’s been ages since we’ve watched that nearsighted old bastard. It might be hard to believe now, but Mr. Magoo was quite a hit in his day, racking up a respectable number of Oscar nominations for himself, and even a couple of wins! And today’s entry, the 1954 short When Magoo Flew, certainly makes a good argument as to why that is!
Last time we talked about Mr. Magoo, we went to some... strange places, so I'll try to keep us on track. Like Magoo's Puddle Jumper, When Magoo Flew was directed by Pete Burness and released by UPA, although thankfully Magoo's nephew is nowhere to be seen. In this short, Mr. Magoo decides to go to the movies, but winds up accidentally going to the airport across the street. Having a movie theater across the street from an airport sounds like an absolutely terrible idea (it's bad enough having a movie theater next to a train station, believe me), but I suppose you need these things for the film to happen.
And honestly, these hijinks are worth the little contrivances necessary to make them happen. You see, in addition to accidentally boarding a plane (oh the days before 9/11), Magoo also manages to sit next to a fugitive bank robber and mistake the door for an elevator, leading him to the outside of the plane. It's all patently absurd stuff of course, but one doesn't go to a Mr. Magoo short for the realism of course. You come for the wacky shenanigans, which this short is full of, and Mr. Magoo's nonplussed grousing, which is always entertaining. Thrown on top of that UPA's pleasant trademark style, and you're in for a good time.
In the pantheon of classic cartoon characters, Mr. Magoo isn't held in the same esteem as your Looney Tunes or Tom ad Jerry. And that's something of a shame. Look, I don't think the Mr. Magoo shorts are masterpieces. And I certainly don't agree with the advertising saying he's the funniest cartoon character of them all. But he's got an undeniable charm to him, and his shorts have a look that's all their own. If you haven't given the old man a shot, I definitely recommend checking out some of his shorts. And what better place to start than with one which won him an Oscar?
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