Walt Disney's Funny Factory with Goofy, Volume Three
Walt Disney's Funny Factory with Huey, Dewey and Louie, Volume Four
While Huey, Dewey and Louie had healthy, well-developed personas in the comic books, they never really found their footing in the movies. While they held their own in comic adventures, in their early shorts they were relegated to acting as foils for Donald. It's not a bad role, it's just one that's really underdeveloped and unexplored. Plus, the child-causing-trouble theme runs thin when replayed over and over. What we see in each of these shorts is a very predictable series of antagonistic situations and eventual resolutions. Because they have nothing to do but bother Donald, the boys have very bland and interchangeable personalities. The viewer has no reason to invest any time or emotion in them. The only reason these films work as more than just studies in animation is the strength of the character of Donald Duck.
It would have been very interesting to see if these characters, in these situations, could have broken free of their conforming, structured Disney stories and look and been given a treatment more along the lines of MGM's Tom and Jerry. Essentially both are the same—little guy(s) makes big guy crazy. What Tom and Jerry did, though, was keep that as simple as possible and put all the effort into the gags. Disney in many ways cluttered their shorts up with the studio's standard ultra-realism. The "fun" seems scripted and many times stilted, as opposed to the free-flowing nature of the MGM work.
When these Huey, Dewey and Louie shorts were first released theatrically there was enough space between them that their duplicative nature must have seemed minimal to audiences. But when you take them one after the other the patterns quickly become recognizable and the shallowness of Huey, Dewey and Louie as characters becomes tiring.
One positive for this DVD is that four of the titles presented here, all directed by Jack Hannah, receive their first DVD treatment: Straight Shooters (1947), Soup's On (1948), Lion Around (1950) and Lucky Number (1951).
On top of these four shorts this set also contains Donald's Nephews (directed by Jack King, 1938), Sea Scouts (Dick Lundy, 1939), Donald's Off Day (Jack Hannah, 1944) and Don's Fountain of Youth (Jack Hannah, 1953). Of the lot perhaps Donald's Nephews comes off the best. This is the first appearance of the boys and there is a freshness here that is missing from many of the later shorts.
If you really want to see these characters hit their potential, it's highly recommend that you skip this DVD and watch DuckTales, the late-1980s television series that freed the boys from their Uncle Donald and allowed them to become fully realized animated characters of their own.
DVD Features: 4:3 aspect ratio; English and French language tracks; English subtitles; Region 1.