In Too Deep Disney vs Warner Bros #2: Jack and the Beanstalk
Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Disney vs Warner Bros, where I put these two studios at each other’s throats to see who comes out on top.
Now Disney’s biggest claim to fame are their fairytales. The studio is practically built off the practice. Disney and fairytales go together hand in hand. But Warner Bros is no slouch either, what with their countless adaptations. So, the only fair way of judging these two studios is taking the adaptation of the exact same source material and seeing how it plays out. So without further ado…
But first, a quick aside. Believe it or not, Warner Bros has done the Jack and the Beanstalk story twice with Bugs Bunny. First we have Jack Wabbit and the Beanstalk then, over a hundred Bugs Bunny shorts later, we have Beanstalk Bunny. While both are good shorts (though the latter takes a lot of the jokes from the former), I’m going with the latter for the sole reason that I like it more and think it’s the better short. Not surprising considering the studio had twelve years to get better at it. While it’d probably be fairer to compare Beanstalk Bunny with Mickey and the Beanstalk from Fun and Fancy Free (if only because they share the same number of characters and are more similar in tone to one another), this way round gives me more to talk about and focuses more strictly on shorts about the same length.
Original: The story is a rather simple one as far as the pop culture version goes. Jack trades his cow for magic beans, which in turn create a giant beanstalk. Jack climbs up said beanstalk to find the land of the giants. While there he steals either a magic harp or a goose that lays golden eggs (or both) and defeats the giant by chopping down the beanstalk as the giant climbs down, killing it. Moral of the story: Breaking into someone’s home to steal something and then kill them is a-okay kids.
Disney’s Giantland: This short is a bit interesting when it comes to faithfulness. The outline is there: Mickey Mouse climbs a beanstalk, meets an evil giant, spends his time trying to escape said giant, before setting fire to the beanstalk so that the giant falls to his death. It’s the story in the nutshell, and it doesn’t do much to deviate from it. It tells the simplest story it can and lets the gags do the rest.
Warner Bros’ Beanstalk Bunny: Similar to its Disney counterpart, but with a few extra details. One, we see the cow being traded for the magic beans (although Jack is the one that does the trading this time), two, we get a greater reference to the monetary award found within the original story and, most importantly, three, the cast continually refers to the story as Jack and the Beanstalk. So if nothing else it’s dedicated to keeping the original more intact, even if it keeps making fun of it along the way.
Winner: Beanstalk Bunny ultimately has more elements found in the original text than its Disney rival does. Not a lot more, mind you, but since they refer to the original more often, that seals the win for them.
And hoo boy, is this where the battle to end all battles begin.
Giantland: So in this corner, at 87 years old and counting, we have Mickey Mouse. Now long-time readers will remember my very detailed breakdown of the Mickey Mouse character over the course of his lifetime, so it’ll be little surprise when I say that I like him in this short. Voiced by Walt Disney, the little scamp is just great in this role. He says virtually nothing the entire short, but boy howdy if he isn’t fun to watch him run around trying to escape the giant. This giant is a very real threat to him, one of which Mickey is very rightfully scared of. I kid you not, I was curious when watching this short to see how Mickey found victory within the jaws of defeat (and no, that’s not a figure of expression in this short). This is Mickey at his best: Scared, but still brave at the same time. Clever and resourceful, but not over-powered. He’s intelligent and witty, but not cocky and boastful. This is who Mickey Mouse should be, and a short that needs to be shown to modern day Disney executives to remind them why Mickey Mouse is so beloved.
Beanstalk Bunny: Meanwhile, on the other hand… Look, I’ll be straight: I love Bugs Bunny. Not only do we share the same birthday, I think the character is just fantastic. A deadpan Everyman who constantly outwits his enemies and keeps his cool while doing it. Bugs Bunny is the character I want to be like, and this short just proves it. Much of what I said about Mickey can be applied here as well, but with an extra level of snark and wit that I love about the character so much. He is great fun to watch in this.
Winner: â€¦ It’s a shame that such a monumental decision comes so early in the blog. I mean I could go into depth about these two characters, and I probably will at some point. But focusing strictly on these two shorts, with no outside context, the better and more interesting character is…Mickey Mouse in Giantland. I know, I know, I’m as shocked as you are, but Mickey Mouse is just that little bit more interesting in this short than Bugs. Maybe it’s because of the way he reacts to danger, the way he uses objects in his surroundings to his advantage, maybe it’s just that cleverness of what makes that character wonderful… suffice it to say, as much as I prefer Bugs Bunny in general, Mickey Mouse wins here.
Giantland: The Giant… Ooh do we have a beauty of a villain here. I mean this guy is just fantastic. He looks amazing. When you think ‘giant’, he is the first image that comes to mind. Far better than the giant in Disney’s other adaptation of this tale, this guy is big, bad, and beautiful. You truly feel the scale of this giant when he comes lumbering on screen. He feels big, which is the most important part of what a giant needs. He is just fantastic.
Beanstalk Bunny: The giant is played by Elmer Fudd and I bolded the Elmer Fudd part because that’s essentially what it is: Elmer Fudd playing a giant rather than a hunter. And Elmer Fudd is great and all, but it does highlight the difference between Disney and Warner Bros. Disney tends to make its antagonists genuinely threatening. Warner Bros tends to makes its antagonists complete idiots who are there to be the butt of the jokes. So seeing Elmer Fudd as a giant… it’s basically just seeing Elmer Fudd, but slightly bigger than usual.
Winner: To the surprise of absolutely no one who can read, Giantland walks away with the gold medal. The giant is a beautiful work of animation that needs to be more remembered, since it’d make a great boss in any future Disney game.
Giantland: Mickey’s Nephews make their first on-screen debut, of which he has a lot of… So either he’s got a lot of brothers or sisters, or he has one extremely active brother or sister. Although considering almost all the kids are the same age, they’re either all… what’s the name for when 14 babies are born at the same time? Double septuplets? Quadecaplets? So either one poor female mouse went through hell, or Mickey has more relatives than we’ve ever seen. Anyway, those are the only side characters in this story.
Beanstalk Bunny: Daffy Duck has a large role to play, almost at the point where he’s the second protagonist (and would probably be the protagonist if Bugs’ name wasn’t in the title). But since Daffy Duck is a side character by all accounts, he’s fantastic in this as always. Cunning, greedy, foolish to the nth degree… Yeah it’s Daffy, what more do I need to say?
Winner: To the surprise of absolutely no one (again), Beanstalk Bunny walks away with the win due to the power of Daffy Duck. Unlike Mickey’s Nephews, Daffy actually has an important part to play in this story.
Giantland: Give me a moment while I gush about this film’s visuals. Because this films visuals… ooh are they amazing. They really do work well within the short. The giant’s first appearance and stroll across the landscape is a cinematic tour de force, and the way everything is set up within the giant’s castle shows real foresight by the animators. Even though this short is in black and white, it still looks great and plays with the varying shades of grey really quite well.
Beanstalk Bunny: Well the short… looks pretty much the same as every other Looney Tunes short out there. That’s not to say that that’s a bad thing, far from it. The animation is as top notch as usual. There’s just nothing particularly special about it. It’s so okay it’s average, is probably the best way of putting it. Again, not terrible, nothing to write home about either.
Winner: Once again Giantland walks away with the win, mostly coming down to how well everything is set out in the giant’s castle. It really does work wonders within the context of the short, and should be a must watch for anyone interested in seeing how things of different sizes can be animated next to each other.
Giantland: Giantland is pretty funny, with a lot of visual humour going on throughout it. Mostly seeing poor Mickey struggle to survive is funny in of itself, but a lot of clever uses of playing with scale helps sell this thing very well. It’s a funny short, but not in a laugh out loud way. More in a chuckle at the cleverness of the animation.
Beanstalk Bunny: You have Bugs, Daffy and Elmer Fudd in the same short together. It’s hard to do that and not to be entertained. The characters work well off each other and bring many laughs to the table. This short is just a hoot to watch.
Winner: Again, no surprise, but Beanstalk Bunny is just funnier due to the brilliant of the characters within it. Giantland has the funnier animation, but Beanstalk Bunny is just funnier in terms of character dialogue. A very easy win for the Warner Bros crew.
The Film Factor
Giantland: Giantland is a beautiful piece of work, no doubt about it. It’s beautifully animated, got some great visual gags, and on the whole works well as a piece of short animation. It drags a bit here and there, but it does well building the tension of whether Mickey’s going to get out of this one alive or not.
Beanstalk Bunny: Beanstalk Bunny is a very funny short, proving why these characters have survived to this very day. A lot of clever visual gags, as well as a set of characters that play off each other beautifully. The animation isn’t anything spectacular, but works well enough with what the short is trying to do.
Winner: It’s a close race, but at the end of the day, Giantland is just a better short. Both shorts are funny, yes, but Giantland is just so much better animated and does more with the concept of Jack and the Beanstalk. There might not be in the way of plot or wordplay, but since it’s more of an exercise in the strengths of animation, it walks away with the win.
Well with a score of 4-3, it’s safe to say that Disney’s Giantland walks away with the win. I highly urge going to go check it out, if for nothing else than to see a good Mickey Mouse short back when the character had some, well, character. Beanstalk Bunny is worth a watch as well, but Giantland takes the win in this round.
So there you have it. My look at the second of five shorts on my list. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.