Mickey Mouse in “Runaway Brain” (1995) SHORT FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
In this Mickey Mouse short that played before ” A Goofy Movie” in cinemas, Mickey accidentally makes Minnie think that he’s taking her to Hawaii for their anniversary! In order to make the money for the vacation, Mickey agrees to take a job for the a sinister scientist, but it turns out that the lunatic just wants to switch the mouse’s brain with a brutish monster called Julius. When Julius finds out about Mickey’s girlfriend, he hunts down Minnie in Mickey’s body.
This was a very controversial cartoon when it came out. Many criticised it for giving a much darker take on the Mickey Mouse legacy. I was so disturbed by Runaway Brain TV spots as a kid, that I assumed it was the first ever Mickey Mouse short to be given a “12” rating haha! Before you tease me, keep in mind that I was only 4 years old!
It is quite a departure from Mickey’s wholesome brand. The short opens with Mickey straight up lying to Minnie about already have anniversary plans! That’s something that’s quite out of character for him, and a trait that you’d expect from a more abrasive animated character. However, that’s not exactly why the short shocked people back then.
What alarmed audiences the most was the character of Julius. This huge beastly creature was like a giant mutated version of Mickey’s rival Pete. What pushed the bar even further for this character, was seeing him in the body of the cute Mickey Mouse! Suddenly, an American treasure was being portrayed as a snarling and drooling monster.
Fun Fact! Julius ended up being referenced in a Kingdom Hearts game, so maybe Disney does treasure him with pride in spite of the controversy behind him, and it’s great to see a modern video game keeping this obscure cartoon alive in some way.
On the one hand, I can see why these things might upset younger children, especially those who felt attached to the character of Mickey. However, I think it’s important to put some trust and faith in children’s intelligence before attacking the cartoon. Most kids are smart enough to know that this isn’t the Mickey they love, but an evil mindless presence inside his body. I actually showed this cartoon to my best friend’s daughter, and she seemed to be fine with it!
Sure, maybe the short MIGHT give some kids nightmares, but that wasn’t the intent of the filmmakers, they just wanted to entertain families with a fun horror inspired cartoon. Some kids will LOVE how this film challenges their preconceptions, because there are children out there getting to an age where they want something darker or edgier, but aren’t ready for more mature horror films, and I think this is the perfect starter pack for them.
The reason I love this Mickey Mouse short personally, is because it takes so many risks with Disney’s golden boy mascot! With over 67 years of Mickey Mouse content already made by this point, maybe it was time to shake things up? I have nothing against wholesome innocence, but reinvention and freshness are key ingredients to keeping a character from getting stale.
I’d say that my only criticism against this short, would be that Mickey doesn’t get to admit that he never planned to take Minnie to Hawaii, and explain that it was all a big misunderstanding. This could have perhaps taught kids about telling the truth. He sort of gets away with pulling off his lie, and that does kind of rub me the wrong way. Besides that though, I still love this short.