Ah, Chip and Dale, you always know how to get under Donald’s skin. In Test Pilot Donald, though, the chipmunk finally find a reason other than food to oppose the duck. It makes this feel fresh and new compared to the other Donald Duck shorts, with great gags that add to the legend around the conflicts between them.
My favorite gag in the entire short is how it opens. Remember, the title of the short is Test Pilot Donald. So it opens with a shot of Donald pulling up on the control stick, then quick cuts of the plane going toward the ground. Back and forth it goes between Donald struggling to pull the plane out of the dive and the scenes of the plane heading toward the ground. Then, as the plane pulls up safely, we get to see the real story – Donald is flying a model airplane, and seated safely in a chair on the ground.
That gag sort of sets the tone for what turns out to be a very funny short. Once the plane ends up landing in Chip and Dale’s tree, Dale decides to jump in and check out the toy from the inside. You can see where this might be going. In what may be the most detailed model plane ever, Dale takes flight, and is able to counteract Donald’s remote control with the switches and controls inside the model. Watching them struggle back and forth is hilarious.
Even once they land the plane, the fun doesn’t stop. We get to see Dale under the hood of the plane, trying to fix it from the crash landing. I laughed out loud to see Donald handing him a tiny wrench during this sequence. Where did the little wrench come from? And it took Donald a full minute to figure out that he was helping the chipmunk rather than chasing him off. That’s the kind of ignorance that serves Donald best as a character.
The kicker is finally seeing Donald get what’s coming to him when the plane chases him around the woods. It’s the kind of wacky, fast paced action we saw in the beginning of the Disney shorts, but was lacking from recent efforts. Chip and Dale sitting in their tree and watching Donald get flown around in circles is the closing shot of the short and it’s quite funny. This is one that makes me laugh from start to finish, and something you should definitely watch.