Thursday, April 1, 2010

Donald's Golf Game

When you’re doing a project like this, you have to be prepared for some wild shifts in tone. After all, the serious nature of shorts like The Old Mill can be followed by more crazy Donald Duck antics, or a Mickey Mouse tour de force. This is one of those moments, as Donald’s Golf Game comes right after Farmyard Symphony.

Sure, both are irreverent and fun in tone, but Farmyard Symphony was a pastoral, peaceful short, and Donald’s Golf Game is packed with fun gags and wall to wall entertainment. It’s not fast moving, but the gags are quick and witty, and it’s just a fun, enjoyable short.

Donald’s nephews are becoming more and more part of the supporting cast for his shorts, as they appear again here as his caddies. It’s a logical place to put them, and makes for great comedy. The boys are always mean to Donald, but they do so in a very light hearted and humorous way. They could easily devolve into mean spirited pranksters, but because their exploits are handled so deftly, the boys are more than one note jokes.

As you might imagine from the title, this short is all about Donald trying to improve his golf game. Well, that might not be fair, because we never get to see Donald’s game, since he doesn’t really get to hit the ball throughout the short. That is his main source of frustration, which we know is the real driving force behind any Donald Duck short.

Some of the gags invented here to keep Donald from hitting the ball are incredibly inventive. The boys have a box of trick golf clubs that they keep giving Donald, which is some great stuff. One of them turns into a net, another becomes a boomerang, and so on.

Even better is the main trick they play on Donald, inserting a grasshopper into his golf ball after he swings and lands in the green. Donald chases the ball as it hops around the greens, including into a nearby pond. I don’t really know what to say about it except you have to see it. It’s funny in a way that only Donald can be.

The finale, when Donald is prone on the green next to the hole, is classic as well. The boys start hitting balls at him, causing various kinds of distress. The Donald shorts at this point are not high class entertainment or artistry, but more populist and escapist fare. That works, though, as it provides the viewer with a comfortable, fun place to view some top shelf animation. Donald’s Golf Game is a great example of that.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

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