This, the first feature-length exercise from Disney's recently established Movietoons division - devoted to reintroducing the less reverent approach to animation of 50 years ago - succeeds in fairly spectacular style.
The storyline is simple enough: Scrooge McDuck (Donald's colossally wealthy archaeologist uncle) has discovered the lost treasure of Collie Baba and in amongst it is a lamp, the genie of which is released when Webbigal Vanderquack (a young chum of Donald's scampish nephews Huey, Louie and Dewey) cleans her cute little teapot. Enter Merlock, a wizard hungover from a bygone age, who, thanks to his magic amulet can turn himself into animals of his choosing. As it stands, Merlock's as mad as hell because his amulet is in fact the lamp's lid and if he can put the two together he'll have ultimate power over just about everything. Both parties get into an imaginitive chase, culminating in quite a scrap.
This old-style zaniness and knockabout comedy is exactly as pointlessly frantic as it should be and is kept well out of creakiness by a subtle blending in of modern references: they may fly about in a 30s-style plane and dress as they have done for half a century, but the young ducks have a computer in their room, when the genie appears they wish for a CD player, and - when scuttling away hidden under a large basket - remark "Hey dudes, it's turtle time", before a quick chorus of "Cowabunga".
It's this sort of detailing that will ensure the necessary credibility to interest kids of the 90s, but will look familiar enough not to exclude their parents, while the film's brevity won't over-extend the presumably shorter attention spans of the fans of Ducktales-the-TV-show. In an era in which animation is returning as a cinematic mainstay, Disney once again appears to be leading the way with this little gem.