D50: The Three Caballeros

The Three Caballeros continues Disney’s decade of releasing pretty much only anthologies, and concludes his goodwill project from the US government to Latin America. Like Saludos Amigos, the movie is a series of shorts highlighting what is best about Latin America, whether it is its music, customs, or whatever. But instead of being told in a pseudo documentary manner, things are held together this time by Donald Duck. When the movie opens, he receives a package from his friends in Latin America. Inside, there are three gifts, and as he opens each one, he will get the gift of knowledge by learning about different cultures.

The first gift a film project with a film reel on rare birds. We first see a short about a penguin in the South Pole who hates the cold and attempts to leave his home for the warmer waters of the equator. Then we get some info on other birds, and then a short on a young gaucho who catches a flying donkey and trains it to enter a race.  This whole segment is pretty useless. There are some really good character designs, and a few striking sequences, but that’s it. It’s forgettable, but forgivable.

The second present is a book, and inside it there is none other than Jose Carioca, the cigar-smoking Brazilian parrot we met in Saludos Amigos. His purpose here is to sort of sing a love song to Baia, Brazil and introduce Donald to the rich musical heritage of the era. He does so by putting him into a fun, live-action samba musical number. I really enjoyed this segment, mostly due to the music. Oh, and Jose is the coolest.

By this point, I liked the movie a lot. But the following segment almost made me put it on my top three Disney movies so far. Here, we are introduced to Panchito Pistoles,a rather stereotypical Mexican rooster. His purpose here is to educate Donald about many things in Mexican culture. For example, he learns about the story of how Mexico City was built and why, and he gets to see some rather awesome traditional dances. For a while there, this segment really got to me. It even made me a little nostalgic about the old country as it reminded me that there are so many awesome things about Mexico, such as its rich culture and great places to visit. This is all easy to forget since the country has turned into a shithole.

But then the last 15 minutes or so brings it down quite a bit. This part was chaotic, loud, obnoxious, and had absolutely nothing to do with the subject. I might have liked it if it had been some sort of representation about how chaotic a night in Mexico City can be, but the music is not even purely Mexican, it’s just a mixture of a bunch of types of music that just don’t gel together. Because of this, it stands barely above Saludos Amigos, and still far from the quality of the first five Disney features.

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