D.I.Y. Duck: Donald Duck In First Standalone Short Since 1961

Donald Duck in D.I.Y. DUCK. © 2024 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

To celebrate 90 years of the iconic Disney character, Donald Duck is starring in his first standalone short since 1961, titled D.I.Y. Duck.

Disney Legend Mark Henn–who will officially receive the honor during August’s D23: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event–writes and directs the nearly 3-minute short film. The short is a big occasion as The Litterbug marked the last starring role for Donald Duck (Clarence “Ducky” Nash) a standalone short. Of course, that short got the theatrical treatment for its debut. This is one of Henn’s final projects for the studio, given his recent retirement after a 43-year career. He’s going out on a high after supervising animation for the likes of Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Young Simba, Mulan and Tiana. Outside of those duties, he also directed a 200 short film, John Henry.

D.I.Y. Duck is produced by Dorothy McKim, and was created by the hand-drawn animation team at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Jennifer Lee, Disney Animation’s chief creative officer, executive produced.

Given the D.IY. in the title, it’s no surprise that Donald Duck is attempting to make home repairs himself. What should be a simple act of replacing a light bulb only grows out of control. Donald Duck frustratingly drives to and from the D.I.Y. store every time that something goes wrong. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. The ending is just perfect, even if it may be predictable. But again, I expect nothing less than this from Walt Disney Animation Studios. What makes it better is that they pull Clarence “Ducky” Nash’s voicework from archival recordings. The man made his debut as Donald back in The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934. Today’s technology is a blessing in this extent, allowing Nash to reprise this role some 90 years later.

“For Donald, I tried to come up with a situation that would be funny and contemporary, yet timeless,” says Henn. “The headache of home repairs are something that modern audiences can identify with, and Donald is the perfect everyman. It also lent itself to some opportunities for really broad animation. We had a really talented group of up-and-coming 2D animators (who had started two years ago as trainees), and they jumped at the chance to animate one of Disney’s greatest characters.”

“Throughout his career, Mark has been one of our animation experts on the ‘sensational six’ (Mickey, Donald, Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto),” adds producer Dorothy McKim. “He knows these characters inside and out. When he approached me with the idea, having already storyboarded, written and laid out the entire short, it just took on a life of its own and we knew we had to make it.”

Much like Nash’s voicework, Disney Legend Oliver Wallace’s score also comes by way of previous features and shorts. We have music editor Earl Ghaffari to thank for this. Editor Brian Millman had the hard part of watching previous Donald Duck shorts to find the right quack and other sounds.

Following its debut on Disney+ and elsewhere, Henn’s film will get the big screen treatment during Disney Animation’s annual presentation at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 14. In addition to being honored as a Disney Legend, he is also being inducted into the Annecy Walk of Fame. But in the meantime, D.I.Y. Duck is one heck of a way to end his run at the Walt Disney Animation Studios.

CAST: Clarence “Ducky” Nash

D.I.Y. Duck will stream on Disney+ beginning June 9. Disney Channel will have multiple airings of the short throughout June 9. Freeform will air the short Sunday, June 9 at 5:15 pm. DisneyNOW will have the short for 30 days beginning June 9. Grade: 5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.