Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Window Cleaners

Donald and Pluto are teamed up again in Window Cleaners, but in what must violate some unwritten law of the universe, this time Pluto does not take over the short. No, Donald gets the majority of the screen time and the gags in this one, and the short is better for it.

The idea is easy – Donald is a window washer on a skyscraper. The execution is somewhat different, though, as Pluto is charged with hoisting Donald up the side of the building. Pluto is dragging a rope through a crossbar in a sort of pulley system, until he gets distracted by a tick or flea and drops the rope. Donald goes flying and lands on a statue in the first big gag of the short.

Much like Donald’s Vacation, we get to see a few different sides of Donald in this short. In the beginning, he is the happy, singing Donald who goes about his work with not a care in the world, seemingly. Until he gets dropped by Pluto, of course. Then, things start building towards a more and more angry Donald.

This is a fantastic way to construct a Donald short, and a pattern that I imagine we will see more of going forward. Staring Donald as a sort of “every man” who is just trying to work and keeps getting interrupted is a brilliant conceit. Because he is so irritable, it’s fun to watch the building anger.

Pluto’s main role in this short is to sleep. After Donald finally gets up the building, he tries to get Pluto to send up some more water, but to no avail. Pluto is sleeping at the bottom of the building, and Donald can’t wake him up. He even yells down the storm drain, only to have Pluto block it and the hot air blow up in his face.

When he finally does get things going, it’s not long before Donald has an encounter with a bee. This takes up the majority of the second half of the short, as the bee tries in vain to penetrate Donald’s defenses. First there is a bucket, then Donald gets tied up in the ropes on the pulley and blows on the bee as hard as he can.

The final gag, though, shows the bee getting his revenge, as he staggers to the bottom of the platform Donald is on and heroically lifts his stinger up to get Donald. This sequence of the bee is a fantastic piece of work. The bee’s struggle to get himself up after Donald blew him down is so believable and inspiring, even though it’s supposed to be funny.

Window Cleaners is a fun short, although it does not work quite the same as some of the better Donald shorts. We do get some great angry Donald stuff here, but the gags are a little slower. This one focuses on some storytelling efforts that are quite good (like the heroic bee) but at the expense of comedy. Still a worthwhile short, though.

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