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Walt Disney's Funny Factory DVDs: V1: With Mickey V2: With Donald V3: With Goofy V4: With Huey, Dewey, and Louie

Funny Factory with Donald (Volume 2) DVD Review

Buy Funny Factory with Donald from Amazon.com Funny Factory: Volume 2 - With Donald
DVD Details

Running Time: 54 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Digital Mono (English, French)
Subtitles: English (Enhanced for Hearing Impaired); Closed Captioned

DVD Release Date: January 17, 2006
Originally Released Between 1938 and 1953
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
White Keepcase with Side Snaps

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By Aaron Wallace

After years of dormancy on TV and in theaters, the classic animated shorts that once carried the
Disney studio and made it a beloved institution found new life with the rise of the DVD market. The Walt Disney Treasures line presents for the first time complete chronological collections of those shorts, though they come in limited issue that quickly results in intimidating price tags for those who don't snatch them up upon release. To remedy that, Disney harked back to the days of VHS, when themed presentations of a few select shorts were issued to home video. The Classic Cartoon Favorites discs entice an even wider audience of retail consumers with these timeless goodies, offering around an hour of Disney cartoons with a low price and no frills. They've happily been a success and as such, Disney introduces a new line this week: Funny Factory. This new release type is essentially the very same as the Classic Cartoon Favorites, only with a little more flair to the DVD itself.

The first volume of Funny Factory centered around Disney's central star, Mickey Mouse, while the second volume (released at the same time) features the shining star who took his place in the spotlight during the 1940s and '50s: Donald Duck. Donald's trademark temper and tendency to land himself in impossible situations make for a good time. The hour of comedy presented here is a solid one and is sure to please those who aren't looking for the kind of comprehensive collection offered by the Treasures sets. Even long-time collectors may take interest, as two of the shorts haven't made their way to DVD until now (though they are undoubtedly on their way in future installments of the Treasures).

There's no questioning the superiority of Walt Disney Treasures as the ultimate way to collect and consume Disney's vintage animation. Given that these kind of releases come in waves that are spaced out from one another, though, they make an acceptable substitute for those who don't want to pay a lot at once, even if they pay more per cartoon. It should be noted, however, that at the time of Funny Factory's initial release, pricing isn't quite the ominous concern with Donald's filmography as it is with other stars like Mickey. Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 2 is still hot off the presses and can likely be found at local retailers and certainly online for around $25 and while the first volume is growing increasingly scarce, even it isn't yet impossible to track down. Though $25 is at least 2.5 times more than you'll likely pay for Funny Factory, it also brings with it nearly 4 times the amount of content.

The seven cartoons included on this disc are profiled in greater detail below:

Donald shows off his muscles at the carnival in "Canvas Back Duck." Gus finds his cousin, Donald. "Daddy Duck" is one of the better shorts on the set, even if the audio/video quality isn't quite up to par.

"Canvas Back Duck" (1953) (7:10)

A young heckler agitates Donald's nephews by insisting that their uncle is a relative weakling. Donald finds the notion that anyone's uncle could defeat him in combat hilarious, so he agrees to prove himself without realizing that the uncle in question is a professional boxer (Pegleg Pete). This makes its DVD debut on this disc.

"Donald's Cousin Gus" (1939) (7:31)

Donald is happy to take in his cousin, Gus, for a brief stay until he the intrusive visitor proves to be demanding and devours all of Donald's food.

"Daddy Duck" (1948) (6:40)

Donald tries his hand at fatherhood when he adopts a baby rabbit. The two get along wonderfully, even when one of Donald's playful pranks backfires. This short also makes its Region 1 DVD debut here.

Insects really don't like Donald, do they? Donald's mistaken for a different kind of bird in "Contrary Condor." Donald needs quiet on the course.

"Window Cleaners (1940) (8:24)

Donald has a job as a skyscraper window cleaner, an awfully high-risk profession for such a clumsy duck. The comedy takes full advantage of that dangerous pairing,
especially when a particularly pesky bee decides to give Donald a hard time.

"Self Control" (1938) (8:50)

Donald takes a day of leisure and uses it to practice self-control with the help of a radio program aimed at solving that very problem. When outdoor distractions rise, however, Donald finds that controlling one's temper is easier said than done.

"Contrary Condor" (1944) (8:05)

A mother bird in the Andes mountains mistakes climber Donald for one of her baby birds and carries him back to the next to take care of as one of her own. A narrator lends a nature documentary tone that provides a humorous contrast to the obviously silly proceedings between the mother Condor and Donald.

Donald's Golf Game (1938) (7:43)

Donald's having fun on the golf course, but his nephews, currently serving as caddies to their uncle, are left bored. To amuse themselves, they disrupt his concentration with an assortment of pranks and gags.

Red duck! Don't adjust your picture settings. Pete's in for a surprise in "Canvas Back Duck."

VIDEO and AUDIO

The five shorts that previously appeared on one of Donald's Treasures installments have been cleaned up in accordance with Treasures standards and, as such, look colorful and clean save for some mild grain and the very occasional artifact that is to be expected with such aged material. An exception is "Contrary Condor" from Donald Volume Two, which has obviously undergone restoration work but exhibits a little more grain than its earlier counterparts, as was the case in the Treasures presentation. The two shorts making their DVD debut haven't yet received that same effort and it shows, as their rough appearance is much more plagued by artifacts, grain, and visual inconsistencies in brightness and color. They're not painful to look at, but may try the patience of some aficionados. Each short was animated in the Academy Ratio and is appropriately presented in the pretty-close 1.33:1 ratio.

The shorts are presented in two-channel Dolby Digital Mono. The sound is mostly satisfactory with clean presentations of music and dialogue. The two unrestored shorts crackle a little more and show off a little less clarity than their Treasure-ized counterparts, but aren't too bothersome either.

The individual cartoons can be selected from a clipboard  hung up inside the Funny Factory. In this bonus feature/Easter egg, chattering teeth realize that they aren't very good at racing, but a winner prevails nonetheless.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, and DESIGN

Funny Factory surprisingly exhibits one of Disney's most inspired menu designs to date. The animated 4x3 main menu begins with a journey through the outer layers of the Funny Factory and ends up inside the factory itself. The standard options are all there, but some clever remote controlling will uncover some not-so-hidden Easter eggs all around. Most of these trigger sight or sound gags within the factory. One, however, leads to what can probably count as a bonus feature (something the Classic Cartoon Favorites
have never had). Basically, you and up to three other players can pick a pair of chattering teeth within the factory and let them race (requiring no further interactivity on the players' parts) to determine a winner for whatever score you're trying to settle. The game's fun, amusing, and a nice touch, but also takes too long to get in and out of, making a desire to revisit unlikely. The cartoon selection and set-up screens have one extra gag each inside them as well.

"Disney's FastPlay" is annoying but a fact of life for those studio discs that might especially interest a younger audience. With no bonus features (aside from the Easter eggs), it plays the previews that would start any Disney disc prior to playing all the shorts in succession, and finishes by playing a second string of previews (those found on page two of the main menu's sneak peeks). The first round of promos consists of Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition, Bambi II, and Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin and the second previews Dumbo: Special Edition (which tells us nothing about this release other than that it is coming), Chicken Little, and The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition.

If you choose to bypass "FastPlay" (a preferable course of action), then you'll have the option of selecting the shorts individually or playing them all at once. Inside the numbered keepcase, there are ads for upcoming Disney DVD releases, a guide to the first two waves of Classic Cartoon Favorites, and a chapter selection card.

The creative Funny Factory With Donald main menu That's not how you clean a window, Donald.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

For the reasons outlined above, Funny Factory and the other releases like it aren't the most efficient ways to collect all of Disney's shorts. For those not looking to spend much money at once or who aren't interested in owning an entire collection, though, they aren't a bad alternative. That's especially true for Funny Factory, which presents nearly an hour of great Donald Duck entertainment (five restored shorts and two that are only available on this disc) with an impressive menu design. Not bad for $10 or less, which is what the $14.99 SRP will get you in most stores, and certainly worth consideration by the casual fan.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Walt Disney Treasures DVDs with Donald Duck Shorts:
The Chronological Donald, Volume One The Chronological Donald, Volume Two

Related Reviews:
Funny Factory: Volume 1 - With Mickey Funny Factory: Volume 4 - With Huey, Dewey & Louie Funny Factory: Volume 3 - With Goofy
Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume One Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Two
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 2 - Starring Donald Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 8 - Holiday Celebration with Mickey & Pals
DuckTales: Volume 1 Quack Pack: Volume 1 Fantasia & Fantasia 2000: The Fantasia Anthology
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas Disney Learning Adventures: Mickey and the Beanstalk
Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers Fun and Fancy Free Timeless Tales: Volume Three (with The Wise Little Hen)

Related Preorders:
Quack Pack: Volume 1 (Press Release; Release Date: February 14, 2006)
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 11 - Best Pals: Donald and Daisy (Press Release with Shorts List; Release Date: April 11, 2006)
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 10 - Best Pals: Mickey and Minnie (Press Release with Shorts List; Release Date: April 11, 2006)
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 12 - Best Pals: Mickey and Pluto (Press Release with Shorts List; Release Date: April 11, 2006)

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Reviewed January 17, 2006.