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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 Huey, Dewey & Louie (Volume 4) DVD Review

Buy Funny Factory with Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Amazon.com Funny Factory: Volume 4 - With Huey, Dewey & Louie
DVD Details

Running Time: 57 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Digital Mono (English, French)
Subtitles: English (Enhanced for Hearing Impaired); Closed Captioned

DVD Release Date: November 21, 2006
Originally Released Between 1938 and 1953
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
White Keepcase

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By Albert Gutierrez

One of the best DVD lines to come from Disney would have to be the Walt Disney Treasures series. Each year brings a wave of three or four DVD sets that provide collectors with vintage and worthwhile live-action or animated material from the Disney vaults. These releases are of the highest quality for Disney DVD, and are the highlight of many a Disney fan's collection. But while the Walt Disney Treasures line is great for animation and Disney aficionados, it comes at a high price, especially for those who decided to start collecting them after the sets' initial (and perhaps only) print run.
Over the last two years, as an effort to appease some new collectors and as an alternative for casual Disney consumers, Disney has wisely been putting out cheaper releases with a small sampling of themed cartoons. The first series, Classic Cartoon Favorites, was comprised of twelve volumes focused on specific characters or broad genres, and were considered a success by sales numbers.

Sensing that 60-minute cartoon compilation DVDs were popular, other lines grew, such as Timeless Tales, It's A Small World of Fun, and Funny Factory. With this month's new wave, it is that last series -- Walt Disney's Funny Factory -- which has become the most employed in 2006. Volume 4 - With Huey, Dewey & Louie, one of the line's two new discs, is devoted to those rambunctious little nephews of Donald Duck. The trio never had a series of shorts devoted solely to themselves; they most often were paired with their uncle Donald for a wild and crazy adventure, therefore their shorts canon is limited to a mere twenty-five (compared to Donald's nearly two hundred). Most fans likely know them from their popular television series, "DuckTales", which incidentally was treated to a second DVD volume of episodes a mere week before this release.

The shorts presented on Funny Factory: Volume 4 are some of the best featuring Donald's nephews, though I was somewhat displeased at the exclusion of some classic ones like "Donald Duck and the Gorilla" and "Trick or Treat." Most likely, this was done to avoid more double-dipping since half the shorts here have appeared on DVD before. What we're given is a rather great selection of Huey, Dewey and Louie shorts, and an interesting look at how they've evolved. Early shorts (well, just one here) always had the ducks distinguished by what color they wore: Huey opted for red, Dewey donned orange garb, and Louie preferred green. Soon, it became easier to simply have them wear the same outfit. Unfortunately, this made the brothers interchangeable; they functioned more as a trio of the same characters rather than having individual personalities. When "DuckTales" premiered, they had returned to wearing different colors, though Dewey decided somewhere that blue was more his color, but unique characteristics remained minimal.

The shorts here present the three as a foil to Donald, which is what they mainly are, often because he deserves it. Sometimes, the triplets can be just plain vicious, and many shorts offer "eye for an eye" revenge-type plots (such as "Straight Shooters" and "Donald's Off Day"). Still, at the heart of these characters is such a loyal camaraderie among the brothers that you'll more often than not support their actions towards Donald, no matter how harsh they are to him.

The eight shorts presented in Funny Factory: Volume 4 - With Huey, Dewey & Louie are as follows:

Huey, Dewey, and Louie stand at attention in "Straight Shooters." In "Sea Scouts", Huey, Dewey, or Louie looks up at the gloomy skies while the other two row quickly towards "Unca Donald." One has to wonder if Donald Duck is staring at them in envy for being able to fit in the toy train.

"Donald's Nephews" (1938) (7:59)

In their first appearance, Huey, Dewey, and Louie visit their uncle Donald for a day. Despite a letter from their mother that the trio are little angels, they prove to be anything but, as they disrupt music time, fight at the dinner table, and play a variety of practical jokes on the ever-suffering Donald before leaving his desecrated house.

"Straight Shooters" (1947) (6:33)

Donald manages a shooting gallery at a local carnival and, to avoid handing out the candy box prize, cons his nephews into shooting with dummy guns. They catch on and decide to con Donald with a fortune-teller of their making.

"Sea Scouts" (1939) (7:58)

Sailing with his nephews, Donald first has trouble leaving the docks, then has trouble getting back to land. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are nowhere near helpful, and neither is a camouflaged-colored shark (who looks remarkably similar to the one from Peculiar Penguins).

"Donald's Off Day" (1944) (7:31)

Donald plans to go golfing on his day off, but bad weather leaves him at home with his nephews. Reading a couple medical journals lead to paranoid hypochondria and Huey, Dewey, and Louie take advantage of the situation by making him think he is dying.

Charlie the Lonesome Cougar in a rare cameo with Huey...or is that Dewey...um...Louie? Huey, Dewey, and Louie stare in amazement at their babyfied uncle playing in the water. And now it's their turn to end up in the water, as seen in "Lucky Number."

"Lion Around" (1950) (6:58)

While hunting, Huey, Dewey, and Louie impersonate a mountain lion to scare Uncle Donald and try to steal his pie. After a run-in with a real live lion, the three scatter and hide without warning Donald, who then butts heads with the lion believing it to be his nephews.

"Soup's On" (1948) (6:57)

Donald makes soup and roasted turkey for supper but refuses to let the boys have any until they clean themselves up.
They fake a washing, and Donald locks them in their room, where they easily escape and steal the food, leading to a chase in which Donald believes he's been killed by a boulder to the head.

"Don's Fountain of Youth" (1953) (6:24)

In perhaps the most amusing (and my favorite) short on the disc, Donald pretends to have discovered the Fountain of Youth and regress to a baby's state of mind, leading Huey, Dewey, and Louie to take care of him.

"Lucky Number" (1951) (6:39)

Donald believes that he lost in a drawing for a new car, but an error leads to him actually holding the winning ticket. Huey, Dewey, and Louie keep it from him, though, and decide to surprise him by picking up the car.

"I'm Huey!" "I'm Dewey!" "And I'm Louie!"  Not that it matters, the three are pretty much the same person multiplied. "Unca Donald!  Let us in, we want to watch Funny Factory too!"

VIDEO and AUDIO

Of the eight shorts present, four have been released on DVD before, three appearing in Walt Disney Treasures sets (Volumes One and Two of The Chronological Donald), and one on the Gold Collection disc of The Three Caballeros. The three from the Treasures sets appear to be the same restored transfers, and the fourth is of equally acceptable quality, which makes one optimistic for the other four. Unfortunately, aside from strong and vibrant colors, the quality of the prints is not particularly stunning, and a couple are abundant in dirt and grain. "Straight Shooters" is perhaps the best of the bunch, with strong color quality, despite a sizable amount of dirt and grain throughout.
Disney
On the flipside, "Lion Around" has a slightly off-color washed out look, though there is not as much noticeable dirt or flecks. All the shorts were animated and presented in the Academy Ratio (approximated in 1.33:1 fullscreen), and quite a few have minor pillarboxing that is not noticeable on a standard TV thanks to overscan.

The shorts are presented in their original monaural soundtracks. No ambient noise or hissing was detected, surprisingly given the shorts' ages. Thus, it makes it easier for viewers to misunderstand not only Donald, but Huey, Dewey, AND Louie! And with an alternate French mono soundtrack available for the shorts, it means we get to misunderstand these mallards in a whole other language! One positive note about the French track: in some shorts, the voices are less muffled and slightly clearer than the original English tracks, likely due to the fact that they were dubbed years after the shorts' production with better sound technology. Also, I've noticed that when watching a few of the shorts that it's truly hard to distinguish what they're saying regardless what language it's in. Thank goodness for subtitles. It's easy to spot the hidden Mickey ears, but how many of you can see the hidden Mickey profile? The Cartoon Selection page offers four cartoons at a time, with two hidden sight gags.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING, and DESIGN

While no substantial bonus features are included (as expected), we do get a few nice little sight gags throughout the 4x3 menus, which are wonderfully animated. The Main Menu is exactly the same as previous "Funny Factory" releases, but features a silhouette of the trio working the lever that runs this particular funny factory. Throughout the main menu are seven sight gags,
and two more can be found on the first cartoon selection page. Unlike Volumes One and Two, though, I could not find any set-top game, which is a pity as even that could be a welcome addition to the otherwise barebones package.

As the ever-reliable reminder that DVDs can be just like VHS, this disc comes equipped with "Disney's FastPlay", allowing those who wish to, can slip the disc in the player and wait for it to play itself. I don't despise this feature and can understand its practicality (especially for the younger audience this disc is aimed at), I just wish it wasn't quite so... in-your-face. With the FastPlay option turned on, you'll start with previews for Peter Pan: Platinum Edition, Meet the Robinsons, the forthcoming The Fox and the Hound 2, and the already-released Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales. All of these previews can be accessed through the main menu as well, where one can also find previews for Disney DVD Game World, Robin Hood: Special (a.k.a. Most Wanted) Edition, Enchanted Tales: A Kingdom of Kindness, Cars, and Air Buddies.

The shorts are presented in such a random order that it somewhat works for the whole theme of "Funny Factory." After all, there are no plot points to be lost or spoiled if they were in chronological order, as each short is a self-contained story that can easily take place before or after one another. Each short can be played on its own from the Cartoon Selection menu, or with the handy-dandy "Play All" option. Taking a page from Criterion and 20th Century Fox, Funny Factory spines are numbered, perhaps as a way to hook collectors into buying the entire series rather than just their favorite characters. The DVD case contains a simple two-sided insert which promotes all four "Funny Factory" DVDs and serves up a Cartoon Listing with runtimes. Disc art is translucent and repeats the colorful cover art, which features Huey, Dewey, and Louie sliding down a roll of film, with Donald standing to the side.

Our first glimpse of Donald's nephews -- what little angels they are...or so we're led to believe. In "Don's Fountain of Youth", Unca Donald deprives the boys of their aptly-titled "Book".

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The eight cartoons here only amount to about one-third of the Huey, Dewey, and Louie shorts that were made (a severe underrepresentation of the rambunctious threesome), which means that investing in every Chronological Donald Treasures set is still the best (and only) way to obtain the dynamic ducks' complete canon. But, of course, this DVD isn't meant for completists; it is best suited for a casual fan. With a low SRP of $15, a compilation like this can frequently be found for far less, be it $10 in a Wal-Mart or $7 online. Given the fact that we'll likely never see a Treasures set devoted solely to Donald's nephews (it'd be a double-dip of mega proportions), this disc is great as a sampling of some of their best work, a nice companion to fans of "DuckTales", and as an inexpensive way to introduce new viewers to the antics of three crazy little ducks. Thus, it is recommended, but only for extreme collectors and casual fans.

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Related Reviews:
DuckTales: Volume 1 Quack Pack: Volume 1 Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume 1
Funny Factory with Mickey (Volume 1) Funny Factory with Donald (Volume 2) Funny Factory with Goofy (Volume 3)
Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume 2 Walt Disney Treasures: Walt Disney on the Front Lines
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 5 - Extreme Sports Fun Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 7 - Extreme Adventure Fun
Sing Along Songs: Happy Haunting - Party at Disneyland Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 2 - Starring Donald
The Three Caballeros The Black Cauldron The Great Mouse Detective
It's a Small World of Fun! Volume 1 The Gummi Bears: Volume 1 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales

Disney DVDs featuring Huey, Dewey, & Louie:
DuckTales: Volume 1 DuckTales: Volume 2 Quack Pack: Volume 1
Walt Disney Treasures:The Chronological Donald, Volume One Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Two
Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines The Three Caballeros: Gold Collection
The Black Cauldron: Gold Collection The Great Mouse Detective
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Extreme Adventure Fun Classic Cartoon Favorites: Extreme Sports Fun

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Reviewed November 28, 2006.