Short Review: Donald Duck Stars in First Walt Disney Animation Studios Short in 57 Years – “D.I.Y. Duck”

It’s been 57 years since Walt Disney Animation Studios produced a standalone Donald Duck short. If that timespan seems wrong to you, that’s likely because Disney Television Animation produced quite a few in the late 90s/early 00s, a few of which received a theatrical release. But when it comes to the animation studio that Walt Disney founded in 1923, aside from the “Pomp and Circumstance” sequence of Fantasia 2000, the duck has only been featured in the studio’s output as part of an ensemble of characters, including last year’s Once Upon a Studio. That ends on June 9th, 2024 (the 90th anniversary of Donald Duck’s debut in the Silly Symphony short The Wise Little Hen) with the release of D.I.Y. Duck on Disney+.



Donald Duck is enjoying a relaxing day at home when his lamp’s lightbulb burns out. It’s one thing after another as Donald embarks on a seemingly endless series of home repairs, becoming angrier and angrier each time. Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one but Donald Duck!

Written, directed, and partially animated by soon-to-be Disney Legend Mark Henn, D.I.Y. Duck instantly draws similarities to 2007’s How to Hook Up Your Home Theater. While the short doesn’t feel quite as modern as Goofy stumbling through a world of big-screen TVs, subwoofers, and surround sound, seeing Donald Duck drive up to the Toontown equivalent of Home Depot is something you wouldn’t see in his midcentury shorts. But in all fairness, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater was created at a time when Walt Disney Animation Studios was creating a new short for each feature animated film in theaters. That’s no longer the case, and a more fair comparison for D.I.Y. Duck is the 2022 short Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, directed by Eric Goldberg, the scope of which is more in line with this film.

D.I.Y. Duck takes a queue from Get a Horse! (2013), which recycled Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse recordings to speak for the “Little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter.” In D.I.Y. Duck, Donald isn’t voiced by his contemporary actors (Disney Legend Tony Anselmo and Emmy-winner Daniel Ross) but by the man responsible for creating the iconic duck’s indistinguishable manner of speech, Clarence “Ducky” Nash (also a Disney Legend). With Donald mostly reacting to frustrations, it’s less obvious where the lines were sourced from than they were in Get a Horse!



In addition to the title cards and end credits, Mark Henn and his team of artists have taken great care to replicate the watercolor look of the classic Donald Duck shorts. Backgrounds are kept fairly simple and stylistic, and the colors also evoke the era. While Donald Duck is the only character in the film, it also pits him against his own worst enemy – his temper.

I wish D.I.Y. Duck were a little longer. With a runtime of 2 minutes and 55 seconds, it seems a bit unfair that a character who once eclipsed Mickey Mouse in popularity (and still does in some parts of the world) gets less than half the runtime of Goofy’s How to Hook Up Your Home Theater and Mickey Mouse’s Get a Horse! I also found the recycled soundtrack a bit distracting, sourcing not just classic Donald Duck music queues but also well-known bits of score from Disney’s midcentury stable of composers like Oliver Wallace (Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Lady and the Tramp) and George Bruns (Sleeping Beauty).

Minor nitpicks aside, D.I.Y. Duck is a delight. A contemporary Donald Duck short celebrating 90 years of unlucky laughter, I recommend watching it once for the comedy of it all, and then another time to hunt for some fun hidden Easter Eggs, some of which call back to Donald Duck’s history, while others feel a little more personal to Mark Henn.

I give D.I.Y. Donald 4 out of 5 broken light bulbs.

D.I.Y. Donald premieres Sunday, June 9th, on Disney+, joined by two newly restored classic Donald Duck shorts – Crazy Over Daisy and Out on a Limb.

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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).