MICKEYâ€™S CHRISTMAS CAROL REVIEW
Christmastime is here again! I truly believe all those clichÃ©s about how Christmas is a time of giving and being with the ones we hold dear. I celebrate Christmas for these reasons (seeing as Iâ€™m not a Christian, but an agnostic with Buddhist leanings). I celebrate the ideas, kindness and selflessness that Santa Claus represents. This is also why Charles Dickensâ€™s classic story ofÂ A Christmas CarolÂ is my favorite Christmas story. It shows us that even in the hearts of men as cold and hollow as Ebenezer Scrooge that itâ€™s never too late to change as well as the kindness and love that resides in everyone. This tale has been told and retold so many times, but we all have our favorites. As a child I was introduced to the story either by this one or the Muppet one. I canâ€™t remember, but I had fond memories of this short and over time I lost my copy and hadnâ€™t seen it for awhile. Then I bought the Disney Treasures tin box collection of Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2 with virtually all of his featurettes in the 80s and 90s and cartoons from 1939 to his last one in 1953 and Christmas Carol was included. So I sat down and watched the short to reconnect with a childhood gem. Unfortunately when I finished watching it the magic that came from my childhood had severely faded (it didnâ€™t go away, but faded). I donâ€™t think it did the story enough justice, but there are excellent things about it. Itâ€™s still enjoyable, but nowhere near the best adaptation of this classic.
I have decided to not have a story section because virtually everyone knows what the story is about due to the enormous amount of adaptations as well as the original novel thatâ€™s still in print. Now virtually all of my criticisms can be summed up into one technical flaw that is easily overlooked and is so damaging that it infects everything and creates what Iâ€™m going to address in this section and that is THIS SHORT IS WAY TOO SHORT!!!!!!!!!!! Thatâ€™s pretty much it. This should have been a full length feature. Due to the fact that this is super short many crucial story moments regarding Scroogeâ€™s past and experiences with the spirits is needlessly removed. There was no reason to simplify the story. The story is simple enough as it is. The spirits only show Scrooge one event and are so fast theyâ€™re over in the blink of an eye. I donâ€™t think any spirit took over 5 minutes of screentime. These are like drive by hauntings and Scrooge as well as the audience doesnâ€™t feel the emotional impact that those scenes are supposed to have. Itâ€™s practically banking on the fact we have seen other adaptations and we can fill in the blanks on our own. Which is very ironic because every kid born around or after this short came out saw this one first. Due to the storyâ€™s rushed nature it severely loses the emotional impact that the spirits are supposed to have on Scrooge and the audience. This short still has quite a bit of heart, but nowhere near the amount it should have. This is the main reason why it just doesnâ€™t live up to the best of the other versions. True the short still works, but there is a big difference between â€œworksâ€ and â€œgreatâ€.
Like Moviefan12 I am also going to comment on the opening credits. I completely agree with Moviefan12 on this. It does an excellent job of creating atmosphere and creates a warm and welcoming feeling to get you in the mood to watch the short. I also like the effect on the background to make it look like parchment paper adding a storybook feel to everything. Itâ€™s great.
For the most part I really like the characters that show up here. I have a few nitpicks about certain characterizations because I want the Disney characters to play Christmas Carol characters not be themselves inside the story of Christmas Carol (i.e. Scrooge McDuck being maniacal about his greed while the character of Ebenezer Scrooge is more understated and sees greed and his actions as necessary forces of the world as well as being antisocial and never wanting customers). Still a lot of the characters that appear are quite good.
SCROOGE MCDUCK as EBENEZER SCROOGE: voiced by Alan Young
Scrooge is great at playingâ€¦ wellâ€¦ Scrooge. Yes I have nitpicks about some characterization in the portrayal, but there is no other Disney character who could play Ebenezer. Alan Young is also very good and offers elements of guilt and sorrow in the performance when the rushed script doesnâ€™t. This performance is what makes the audience forgive him and what sells his redemption and it most definitely works. I should also make a side note that I agree with Moviefan12 on Daisyâ€™s role. Sheâ€™s nice and itâ€™s also very sad when Scrooge breaks her heart. Even though she was only onscreen for about 1 minute the fact that she leaves even a slight impact on us is a great achievement.
MICKEY MOUSE as BOB CRATCHIT: voiced by Wayne Allwine (his first performance as MICKEY!!!!!)
Mickey was also perfect for his role because he is a lot of what Bob Cratchit is; simply a very kind soul. Mark Hennâ€™s wonderful animation of the character clearly shows Mickeyâ€™s emotions and makes the character very expressive.Â Â One of the greatest moments of Mickey animation ever (and the whole short) is where Mickey puts down Tiny Timâ€™s crutch at the childâ€™s tombstone. To see Mickey with such pain and sorrow on his face is as beautiful as it is sad. One of the finest moments of Disney animation and Mark Henn should be commended for it. I will also talk briefly about Tiny Tim. I have only found two Tiny Tims to be likeable and not annoying and this is one of them (the other is Kermitâ€™s nephew Robin from the Muppet adaptation of the story). Now granted heâ€™s not onscreen long enough to be annoying, but I only wish he had more scenes with Mickey. If the film gave us more time with him we could get an understanding of Mickeyâ€™s relationship with his son and we could truly see the love and kindness that touched a heart as cold as Scroogeâ€™s.
GOOFY as JACOB MARLEY: voiced by Hal Smith
Now this character is extremely miscast. Jacob Marley is a nasty character. Heâ€™s mean and cruel and I can not believe for one millisecond that Goofy is Jacob Marley. I can suspend my disbelief by a lot, but this? Youâ€™re asking way too much of me. The only way that this can possibly work is if Goofy was playing the role of Jacob Marley as Mr. Wheeler from Motor Mania. Now I can see that. I can see Mr. Wheeler robbing the widows and swindling the poor, but normal Goofy? Not a chance. I love you Goofy, but youâ€™re not Marley. Actually I would have thought Honest John from Pinocchio would have been perfect for Marley and Goofy could have been Fezziwig. Goofyâ€™s default personality would have suited Fezziwig better. If you can get the Robin Hood kids to be extras in the short then you can Honest John to be Marley.
DONALD DUCK: as NEPHEW FRED: voiced by Clarence Nash (for the last time unfortunately)
Now that I whined and complained about Goofy being miscast Iâ€™m actually going to defend Donald as Nephew Fred. Aside from the fact that Donald is actually Scrooge McDuckâ€™s nephew Donaldâ€™s default personality is nice and charming. He only loses his temper when you push his buttons or is having a really bad day. Also he never (at least to my knowledge) loses his cool at Scrooge. He does this most likely because he respects his elders and wouldnâ€™t get angry at him. Thatâ€™s why heâ€™s just fine as Fred.
JIMINY CRICKET as THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST: voiced by Eddie Carroll
Now this was the perfect choice to portray the Ghost of Christmas Past. I love how we get that first person shot of Jiminy hopping onto Scroogeâ€™s end table just like he approached Gepettoâ€™s house in Pinocchio. Jiminy does what he does best showing Scrooge his past mistakes so he can reflect on them. Jiminy makes Scrooge take a look at his conscience. Unfortunately he doesnâ€™t get to do much except fly Scrooge to Fezziwigâ€™s and show him the day he lost Isabelle. He does get a few good lines in, but is severely underused because of the rushed story.
WILLIE THE GIANT AS THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: voiced by Will Ryan
Now this may seem like a miscast because he was a villain in his original film, but his default personality isnâ€™t exactly evil and he certainly looks the part of the second spirit. There are really great gags with Willie such as â€œI smellâ€¦ I smellâ€¦ a stingy little Englishman!â€ I love that line! We may have already seen most of these gags from Willie, but they still work mainly because at this time Willie hadnâ€™t been seen in about 40 years. Unfortunately he, like the other spirits is whisked away at a momentâ€™s notice and only shows Scrooge one event!
PETE AS THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME: voiced by Will Ryan
This is also a perfect choice. He has that foreboding presence that this spirit should have, but I do have one major problem and itâ€™s not a technical one itâ€™s more of how I personally view the character. I do not want this spirit to have a face. I think that is a huge mistake. The reason why the spirit is hooded in the first place is because he represents the future. The future is not set in stone and by not giving the spirit a face it shows an element of hope that change is possible despite the spiritâ€™s unsettling appearance. That face could be anything you want it to be and it all depends on the choices we make in our lives. By having the short actually show Peteâ€™s face this totally ruins what the spirit represents. Another problem I have is the scene where Scrooge is in his grave and his coffin opens to reveal the fires of Hell. I know the short was trying to create a scary scene, but again it completely misses the emotional mark. This is NOT supposed to be a scary scene. Itâ€™s supposed to be a very emotional scene where the ice around Scroogeâ€™s heart completely shatters (there have been cracks throughout his encounters with the spirits, but this is the last straw) and has an emotional breakdown. This is the beautiful scene where he makes the oath that he â€œwill honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons they teachâ€. Here we get Scrooge saying almost as an afterthought â€œIâ€™ll changeâ€. Really? Yeah FAIL!!!
The musical score is just fine, but the main musical draw is the opening and closing song â€œO What A Merry Christmas Dayâ€. This is a great song. Can it get very sappy? Yes, but I love it and is the perfect song for this short.
I believe that the animation is very good! If you read the credits itâ€™s a whoâ€™s who of old and new animators such as Glen Keane, Mark Henn, Randy Cartwright, John Lasseter, and Erik Larson as a consultant. Itâ€™s just great! Also another thing I really like is the scene transitions. They do create a fluidity to the short and my personal favorite is when the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come shows up. Pete is up above kind of like God and heâ€™s off screen and he blows his cigar smoke onto Scrooge to create the fog and when Scrooge is trying to see he ends up in the cemetery. That was cool! I thought that was awesome!
There are really good things about this short. There are some excellent things about this short. Unfortunately due to the fact that it is a short it is already at a serious disadvantage compared to other adaptations and doesnâ€™t convey the story and themes as effectively as it could or should. Join me next time where I look at how this story is really done by looking at my favorite Christmas movie as well as my favorite Muppet movie! You guessed it! Next time is the Muppet Christmas Carol!!