If you didn’t know Disney bought Fox yet, you will after watching Playdate with Destiny—a new Simpsons short playing before Pixar’s latest, Onward. The bookends are overt brand management with a “Disney presents” at the start and a silhouette of Mickey sitting amongst Gracie Film’s usual patrons during its post-credits bumper. It’s an undeniably smart move to pair properties in such a visible fashion and I have to imagine it won’t be the last time it happens (just wait until Simpsons characters become Easter eggs alongside the usual stable of Disney treats). The important question is therefore whether Matt Groening’s new overlord will impact creative decisions. Using David Silverman‘s short as an early indicator reveals that the day for such intrusions hasn’t arrived … yet.
Written by Tom Gammill and Max Pross (both long-time producers on the show), the story details a day out on the playground courtesy of Marge and Maggie. The former—ever the responsible parent—takes her toddler to the “safe” park in order to read on the bench with the other mothers while their children frolic without a care in the world. It’s here that Maggie meets a new friend: a suave young man for whom she’s instantly smitten. What follows is a whirlwind daydream of romance tropes subverted by the more absurd reality of their actions (eating strawberries revealed as eating sand, etc.) until the time to return home arrives. They hope to meet again and continue their G-rated courtship, but tomorrow brings an unforeseen complication.
It shouldn’t be difficult to guess the wrinkle considering Maggie has an oaf of a father who probably can’t read well enough to see he’s passed the “good” park en route to the “bad.” Not to be deterred, she does what’s necessary to ensure a reunion despite Homer—complete with a well-worn but no less effective sight gag at the climax. It’s one joke of many that keeps things light to ensure nobody strays too far towards the problematic territory that Silverman and company could easily fall into with babies falling in love and doing adult activities to earn laughs in the process. That they flirt with that line is a welcome result, though, since it maintains its Simpsons stripes above Disney’s. I’ll take that victory.