By Zach Johnson
Leave it to Goofy to find the fun in staying home!
Goofy’s back in a trio of all-new, hand-drawn animated shorts from Walt Disney Animation Studios, offering hilariously relatable insights on How to Stay at Home with such topics as mastering the skills of “How to Wear a Mask,” “Learning to Cook,” and “Binge Watching.” Like most people, Goofy spent the last year and a half staying at home… so it seemed only fitting to Eric Goldberg (the Genie in Aladdin, co-director Pocahontas) that Goofy could provide some good-natured lessons in How to Stay at Home and show how to make the best of a challenging situation.
Last fall, Goldberg pitched several shorts to Disney Animation chief creative officer Jennifer Lee and president Clark Spencer, who recognized that Goofy was the perfect “everyman” to relive some of the common experiences we’ve had during these unprecedented and unusual times. Goldberg directed all three of the films in the series and is the supervising animator on “How to Wear a Mask,” while fellow Disney Animation veterans Mark Henn and Randy Haycock are the supervising animators of “Binge Watching” and “Learning to Cook,” respectively. The Walt Disney Animation Studios Presents Goofy in How to Stay at Home series, streaming exclusively on Disney+ beginning August 11, is produced by Emmy Award® winner Dorothy McKim (Prep & Landing, Meet the Robinsons). Disney Legend Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy since 1987, provides the charismatic and clumsy character’s familiar vocals, while actor Corey Burton is the narrator of each short.
Staying at home has been difficult for many of us, “but I think Goofy gives us an opportunity to have a little fun with it,” Goldberg tells D23 in an exclusive interview. “There are so many stories of people saying they baked bread for the first time or they were learning to cook. And I know personally, I did indulge in binge watching! It affected all of us, but we’ve exaggerated certain things in these shorts; I don’t have as much trouble putting on a mask as Goofy does!”
Disney Animation veteran McKim, who worked with Goldberg on the 2013 animated short Get a Horse!, assembled a team of 10 people to work on the How to Stay at Home series. Like Goofy, their days were also spent at home—which made for a unique production pipeline. For example, in the beginning, technical director Brandon Bloch would hand-deliver scenes to the animators’ homes individually. “He would literally go to Eric’s house to pick up the scene, then bring it over to Mark’s house,” McKim shares with D23. “It’s just such a nice, small community of artists.”
Nearly nine months in the making, the new How to Stay at Home shorts are inspired by Disney Animation’s years of spectacular storytelling. “We’re taking our cues from those great ’40s cartoons, the ‘How To’ cartoons that Jack Kinney directed, which were always so funny and so well done,” says Goldberg. “By the same token, I think we went for a slightly more modern-looking style. We didn’t want it to feel like it came directly from 1942. So, the backgrounds that clean up and background artist Lureline Weatherly did are more graphic, and we put a slightly thicker outline on Goofy—just to bring it into today’s world a little bit more. But the spirit of it hopefully remains the same. One of the things that was really fun is we got to use a lot of the original Jimmy MacDonald sound effects. Our editor, Brian Millman, found them and cut them in, along with music from the original Goofy cartoons. I had my wish list of the cartoons I wanted, and somehow Dorothy managed to get the permissions. And we had a great editor in Kendall Demarest. They all sound authentic, which makes me very happy.”
Before the shorts premiere on Disney+ next month, Goldberg and McKim kindly share details about each of them—and share a few fun facts—exclusively with D23 Members:
“How to Wear a Mask”
Goofy demonstrates the fine art of putting on a face mask as he prepares to leave the house and venture into the outside world. Despite his earnest efforts, Goofy becomes inextricably tangled in the mask before finally finding the perfect fit. “Goofy is such a great physical character,” says Goldberg. “There are so many great physical cartoons that Goofy was in, like Olympic Champ, Goofy Gymnastics, and The Art of Self-Defense, where the narrator is describing all the things Goofy is supposed to do—but, of course, he can’t.” This short continues that tradition. “Goofy’s having fun with it; we’re not making fun of wearing a mask,” McKim notes. “We can all relate to him, and we can have a little chuckle about it.”
Fun Fact: A “jaunty” melody from How to Play Baseball (1942) is sampled, per Goldberg.
“Learning to Cook”
It’s a recipe for comedy and disaster when Goofy uses everything but the kitchen sink—along with any and all ingredients in his understocked pantry and refrigerator—to concoct something original and uniquely Goofy. “Goofy will always do something based on his own cracked logic,” says Goldberg. After the narrator explains that a master chef can make anything taste delicious using whatever they have on hand, Goofy is emboldened to do just that—even if it leads to a “bizarro food tower,” Goldberg says. “One of the great things about Goofy is that he always comes up smiling. It doesn’t matter if he makes a completely ridiculous mistake. It’s like, ‘Yes, I’m eating a piece of tin can with beans in it. Boy, this tastes great!’ So, you can always count on that character to keep smiling, no matter what.”
Fun Fact: Not only does Goofy wear the same outfit from Mickey’s Birthday Party (1942), according to Goldberg, but “Learning to Cook” uses the same music from the classic short.
Goofy sticks his neck out to show viewers what it means to be truly flexible when binge watching takes precedence over… well, just about everything! Goofy is remarkably able to multitask and juggle a variety of household activities simultaneously—in a way that only Goofy can. By the time he sits down to watch his favorite show, his gaze is fixated on the screen. “I thought it would be funny for Goofy to settle down with a slack-jawed expression and keep it there for the entire show,” says Goldberg. “Talking about it with Mark, I said, ‘His bottom half acts like Goofy; you’ve got to animate that part as if it’s Goofy, even though the top remains completely stationary.’’ Clean up artist Rachel Bibb had the most technically challenging job, says Goldberg, “because there are all sorts of takeovers to keep his head still and keep his body moving, putting down the glass and putting pizza in his mouth. It was very technically oriented, and Rachel was great at keeping that straight.”
Fun Fact: The squash and stretch effect “highlights hand-drawn animation at its finest,” says McKim.