Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (2022)

The Walt Disney Co. hasn’t done very much since it acquired the trademark to the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit character in 2006 – for those unfamiliar with the back story, Walt Disney created Oswald for Universal Pictures in 1927 and made 27 silent black-and-white shorts. But Disney lost the rights to the character, at which point he created a new character called Mickey Mouse.

A new Oswald short – the first produced by the Disney studio in nearly 95 years – was released online two weeks ago under the title “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.” In this adventure, Oswald finds himself in a movie theater where his girlfriend Ortensia is on the screen awaiting to kiss a missing lover. Oswald realizes he’s supposed to be in the movie, but has some trouble figuring out how to get into the silver screen picture.

Hand-drawn in black-and-white, this film as presented as a silent work with a piano score soundtrack and a few deliberate scratches to make it look like an unrestored work from yesteryear. Alas, the film is barely over a minute’s running time – it is difficult to comprehend why Disney would create such a wisp of a film.

In its favor, though, the film recalls the surreal slapstick reminiscent of the original Oswald cartoons, with a few dismemberment sight gags highlighting the absurdity of the situation. It is hard to imagine any of the classic Disney characters taking a page from Oswald’s borderline-Dadaist antics, especially when he accidentally replaces his head with a cannonball.

While it is fun to see the Oswald character again, perhaps Disney can give him more to do than occupy a minute’s worth of mischief?