Currently showing in theaters with National Treasure: Book of Secrets, this new animated vignette is the first in a series of new cartoon short subjects that were commissioned by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull shortly after taking the reins at Walt Disney Feature Animation. It is wonderful marriage of nostalgia to contemporary popular culture, applying the formula from the classic 1940s and 1950s era Goofy "How-To" cartoons to digital age home electronics. It's a fun and very often hilarious combination.
Like its predecessors such as How to Be a Detective, How to Swim or Home Made Home, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater comes out of the gate fast and never slows down until the end credits. It pays immediate homage to the original Sport Goofy films with a direct connection to How to Play Football, by utilizing the original stadium background from that 1944 production and expounding similar pratfall-filled gameplay. But the shorts contemporary sensibilities soon emerge. For, while the mid-20th century everyman clearly loved football, his early 21st century counterpart loves it equally as well but just translated to a mammoth television screen with all the accompanying home theater bells and whistles.
With his ever present off-screen narrator, the Goof explores the world of home entertainment via both sharp witticisms and broad physical comedy. The moment Goofy walks into the Shiny Stuff superstore and subsequently (and hilariously) professes his love for a wall-sized television, you realize that this animation golden age superstar has definitely embraced the modern age. The short pokes fun at numerous home theater conventions, including delivery windows, instruction manuals, tangled cables and universal remotes.
And for the quintessential Disney geek such as myself, there are plenty of hidden details and inside jokes. References can be found to Mickey Mouse, Dopey and even a supporting character from Pinocchio. In addition, quick but distinct homages are paid to both John Lasseter and Walt Disney himself. But especially notable was use of the original early era design styles of both the opening title cards and the end credits. It is both a testament to, and a celebration of, the Disney Studio's legacy of cartoon shorts, of which How to Hook Up Your Home Theater is a most welcome addition.