Disney recently released five classic titles on blu-ray, with this double feature of Adventures of Ichabod & Mr Toad and Fun & Fancy Free being one of them. The others are Tarzan, Hercules, The Three Musketeers, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. This release is more like an anthology of animated episodes than like a double feature of films. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad makes up the first feature but it's comprised of two completely unrelated episodes.
The first is a story about Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows. Mr Toad is made out to be an adventurer who is apparently very rich... so a much less sexy Lara Croft. Except Mr. Toad isn't very bright and goes into these "manias" where he becomes completely obsessed with something and usually ends up destroying public and private property along the way. In this story he becomes obsessed with motor cars and trades his entire estate for one. His friends try to stop him but Mr. Toads a jerk who doesn't give a crap about anyone but himself. Well, then Toad is accused of stealing the car and is thrown in prison for life. His friends break him out for some unknown reason and adventure ensues as they try to get Mr. Toads estate back. I didn't really care for this film as I didn't give a crap about Mr. Toad and felt he should be locked up for being a menace to society.
The next story is based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I have never read the book so I'm not aware the story in it, only that a schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane encounters a headless horseman at some point, so I don't really know how Disney's story compares. Ichabod Crane comes to town and despite his looks ends up winning the charms of most of the ladies in the town. But when he spies some chick who is supposed to be considered the most beautiful of the town, he starts trying to woo her and ends up in competition with another suitor named Bram Bones. Bram tells a scary story about a headless horseman to get Ichabod all freaked out, and it works. The horseman and the fright were quite delightful, but they don't come into play until the very end of the story and unfortunately the rest just wasn't all that interesting.
Fun & Fancy Free also contains two separate stories. The first is about a circus bear who escapes from his circus train to live out in the woods, but being a circus bear he has none of the skills that wild bears have. Thus, it's a fish out of water story. We see him struggle to survive and then fit in with a bear clan he finds, then he discovers Lulu and falls in love. But like with Ichabod, she has a larger more dominant male interested in her. Lulu definitely wants Bongo over the other guy, but Bongo's lack of understanding of mating rituals makes that a bit complicated.
Finally, we have a story about Jack and the Beanstalk featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. The three are starving so Micky goes to town to sell their cow but comes back with magic beans that grow into a giant beanstalk which whisks the trio into a land above the sky where they encounter a stolen magical harp and a not-so-bright giant named Willie. I think this was probably the most enjoyable of the shows, even though it was interrupted several times to live action scenes of the guy who is telling the story.
Being a Disney release, everything looks really nice, especially see as how old they all are. I wish we could get Disney to clean up Ghostbusters as that movie has a lot of grain, especially in the darker scenes. For extras, there a movie called The Reluctant Dragon on the blu-ray. Calling it an extra seems odd, though, as it's more like a full-length feature. Well, almost, it's something like 70 minutes. This is something I had never seen before and it's more like a general behind-the-scenes of how Disney movies get made, but done in a movie format and not a documentary format with talking heads. On the DVD there is The Story Behind Fun and Fancy Free which is a making-of that's about 15 minutes long and interesting to watch.
This was a well put together collection and I was okay watching through it all once, but I don't think this is something I would personally want to own. You do get a really nice amount of content for the price so if you do like these episodes then you can't go wrong getting this. Otherwise, I'd advise renting it first.
Film Clip: Merrily On Our Way
Now, I'd like to take a moment to mention the Bedknobs and Broomsticks release. I've already reviewed the movie back in 2009 and since it's the same movie with many of the same extra features I don't see much point in doing a completely separate review when you can just go and read that one. Visually, the blu-ray edition looks fantastic. As one would expect with Disney, they did a great job of cleaning up such an old film. And that goes not just for the visuals, but for the audio as well. All the special features were on the DVD I previously reviewed are included here, plus this blu-ray release contains some deleted and extended songs and some deleted and extended scenes. Since I didn't care much for the movie, I can't really say this release would be worth getting if you already have the DVD version.