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This is one of earliest entries in Walt Disney's Alice in Cartoonland series, and it's different from the others I've encountered. The distinctive gimmick of the series was that Alice, a real girl, would interact with cartoon animals. In the shorts I've seen most of the footage is animated, looking very much like typical cartoons of the period, only with the live-action Alice popping up at odd moments. Here, however, the first half of the short is entirely live action. After a few minutes, you may begin to wonder how this qualifies as a "Cartoonland" short.
The film begins with the introduction of Alice's dog, in an amusing sequence as he wakes up, drops his alarm clock into a garbage bin, and shimmies into his harness. Next we meet Alice herself (blonde Virginia Davis) who travels with the dog in a kiddie car to the beach. There they chat with a friendly sailor, who tells them about the time his ship was pulled to the bottom of the sea by an octopus. The tall tale he relates is animated, but in a very rudimentary fashion, like something drawn on a chalkboard. When the sailor is called away, Alice and her dog climb into a beached sailboat and promptly fall asleep.
The girl and her dog are charming, and the tone is akin to an Our Gang comedy. As Alice falls asleep however, the cartoon proper begins. She dreams she's on a ship at sea, tossed about by a wild storm. Abruptly, her ship sinks straight to the bottom. Alice swims out of the wreckage unharmed, and observes the sea creatures around her. Some fish are having a party, playing music and dancing. We also find some very odd looking creatures, zoo animals such as elephants, giraffes, etc., only with mermaid-like fins. A fish in a cop uniform directs traffic. (There's a gag that would return in many subsequent cartoons.) But danger rears its ugly head: first, a sinister octopus appears and threatens Alice, then a large fish attempts to swallow her whole. Just as things look bleak, naturally enough, Alice awakens and finds that all is well.
This is a pleasant short for the most part, although one macabre gag took me by surprise: it's a shock when the octopus seizes an inoffensive fish, slices him in two, and gobbles up half his remains. Whoa, that's pretty harsh! Otherwise, the humor is low-key and innocuous. Alice's Day at Sea is lightly amusing, not especially memorable, but of interest to animation buffs, and anyone curious about the early days of the Disney phenomenon.
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