Runaway Brain is a 1995 American animated comedy short film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. Featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, the short centers on Mickey attempting to earn money to pay for an anniversary gift for Minnie. He applies as a lab assistant for Dr. Frankenollie but finds he is looking for a donor to switch brains with the monster he created. Featuring animation by animator Andreas Deja, it was first released in 1995 attached to North American theatrical showings of A Kid in King Arthur's Court, in 1996 attached to international theatrical showings of A Goofy Movie and in 1999 attached to Australian theatrical showings of Toy Story 2. It would be the final original Mickey Mouse theatrical animated short until Get a Horse! in 2013.
Theatrical release poster with A Goofy Movie
|Directed by||Chris Bailey|
|Produced by||Ron Tippe|
|Story by||Tim Hauser|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Animation by||Andreas Deja|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures Distribution|
Although it received a mixed reception from audiences, the short was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 68th Academy Awards, losing to the Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave. Later references to the cartoon have been made in Disney related media such as the video game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
On a dark and stormy evening, Minnie comes home to find Mickey playing a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs video game and becomes angry over Mickey having forgotten that this night is the anniversary of their first date. Mickey comes up with the last-minute idea to take her to a miniature golf course and shows her a newspaper ad for it, but she instead notices another ad for a trip to Hawaii, which costs $999.99, and mistakes it for Mickey's gift. Mickey frets over how he can make enough money for the trip when Pluto shows him an ad to work with a mad scientist named Dr. Frankenollie for a day of "mindless work" that would pay $999.99.
Upon reaching the home of the primate-like Dr. Frankenollie, Mickey is dropped down a trapdoor into Frankenollie's laboratory; the doctor reveals a plan to switch Mickey's brain with that of his enormous monster Julius. The experiment causes an explosion that kills Frankenollie, but the brain transfer is a success, with Mickey's mind ending up in Julius' giant body and Julius in control of Mickey's body.
The dimwitted and insane Julius finds Mickey's wallet and notices a photo of Minnie, whom he instantly becomes smitten with. He escapes from the laboratory and finds Minnie while she is shopping for swimsuits; Minnie immediately mistakes Julius for Mickey. Mickey arrives in Julius' body to save Minnie, but Minnie mistakes Mickey for a monster and screams for help, until Mickey convinces her of who he is and places her on the top of a skyscraper.
Julius continues to pursue Minnie, leading to a battle between Mickey and Julius during which they land on a telephone line and get zapped, switching their minds back to their original bodies. Mickey continues to fight Julius, the two of them reaching the top of the tower, where Mickey manages to rescue Minnie as well as tie Julius down with rope. Mickey uses a huge billboard for a Hawaiian vacation getaway to suspend Julius over the city streets, with the giant reeling up and down like a yo-yo.
Finally, Mickey and Minnie travel to Hawaii together on an inflatable boat pulled by Julius as he swims after the photo of Minnie in Mickey's wallet, which is attached to a fishing line manned by Mickey.
The beginning of the cartoon shows Mickey playing a satirical version of fighting games such as the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter series, with Dopey and the Wicked Witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) fighting each other. The general plot of the cartoon refers back to the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein, with Dr. Frankenollie and Julius being heavily inspired by Victor Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster. The composite name "Frankenollie" comes from Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, those animators being two of Disney's famous "Nine Old Men".
Mickey's wallet contains a photo of him piloting the boat from Steamboat Willie (1928). Mickey also whistles music from Steamboat Willie before he goes into the laboratory. The wallet also features a library card from the fictional 'Guillard County Library', a reference to actor/director/producer/writer Stuart Gillard. The theme song from Steamboat Willie was also used for the closing credits.
Warner Bros.' seminal horror film The Exorcist (1973) is referenced in a shot where Mickey first arrives at Frankenollie's laboratory, the imagery mirroring Father Merrin's arrival at Regan MacNeil's house.
Zazu from The Lion King (1994) briefly appears twice; once when Mickey is sucked down into the laboratory and again when Julius roars at Mickey.
One of the objects seen when Mickey gets sucked down into the lab is a pink slip with the initials "JK" on it. This is a reference to Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was fired from Disney the previous year and went on to form DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.
Release and receptionEdit
In terms of general reception, the macabre nature of the animation's plot brought criticism from some Disney fans due to the contrast with the previously light tone of Mickey Mouse cartoons. Andy Mooney, then chairman of Disney's consumer products unit, remarked to the Los Angeles Times in 2003 that "the very fact that Mickey was possessed was very disturbing" to some audiences, though the character "overcomes that".
The film was screened out of competition at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. It was first released in North America on August 11, 1995 with A Kid in King Arthur's Court, then on September 12, 1996 with The Hunchback of Notre Dame in Australia and on 18 October 1996 attached to A Goofy Movie in the UK. The short was to be re-released with 101 Dalmatians, which was sent to theaters with the short attached in 1996, but Disney asked theater owners to cut the short off all film prints and replace it with trailers for then upcoming Disney films, including Hercules and George of the Jungle. In July 1997, Disney attached it to George of the Jungle.
Runaway Brain was released almost a decade later on DVD as part of the Walt Disney Treasures collection Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Vol. 2 in 2004. It is also available as a Movies Anywhere-exclusive digital download with the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection (but is not included on the Blu-Ray/DVD disc set).
In other mediaEdit
- Verrier, Richard (July 23, 2003). "M-I-C-K-E-Y: He's the Leader of the Brand". Los Angeles Times.
- "Festival de Cannes: Runaway Brain". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
- "Whither Runaway Brain?". groups.google.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
- Press release for Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection.