As I watched Donald’s Happy Birthday, I couldn’t help but get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It’s a short that for whatever reason recalls my childhood. I don’t recall watching it when I was younger, but everything about this cartoon felt familiar, like a comfy blanket. It’s the kind of feeling I really love to associate with Disney shorts, because they’re supposed to make you feel good.
I think part of that feeling comes from the simplicity and fun of this idea. It’s Donald’s birthday, but his nephews have no money to get him a present. The rest of the short is all about figuring out how to get around that, and get Donald his present without revealing what they’re up to. It’s an old style of story where there’s a twist that makes it a simple case of misunderstanding.
Not only that, there’s a bunch of fantastic comedy to this short that seemingly has been missing in some of the recent efforts. The wild energy of the nephews is part of the fun as they are running around frantically to complete their chores to get money from Donald. Then they’re trying to finish their shopping, but Donald keeps getting in the way. It’s a mad dash for both Donald and the boys, which makes it even more fun to watch.
This is a case of Donald doing what he does best as a character. He jumps to conclusions, makes rash decisions about what he should do for the boys, and ends up costing himself instead of making things better. Donald is a character designed for this sort of thing – getting in over his head and instead of trying to get out of it, just digging himself a deeper hole.
There’s so many great moments in this short that it’s hard to think of them all, even though it’s only several minutes long. Donald making the boys smoke all of the cigars they bought for him is one that comes to mind. Another is the fun way that the kids try to hide their money from Donald so he won’t see what they’re up to, but it doesn’t work. There’s just so much fun packed into this seven minutes that you have to watch it to enjoy.