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Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/5/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/29/2013
I've been an avid reader for all of my life, but I've never gotten into so-called "classic literature". Maybe it was the flowery language, the settings, or the stories, but I've never been a fan of these book and was always very resistant when they were assigned in school. However, one classic tale that I truly love is Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. A story with a great moral lesson set at Christmas which contains one of the scariest ghosts in literature -- what's not to like? Beyond the creative nature of the story itself (which was clearly ahead of its time), one of the most impressive things about A Christmas Carol is how its been adapted to film and television over and over again in many unique ways. Disney has never been one to miss a bandwagon, so it wasn't surprising when Mickey's Christmas Carol arrived in 1983.
Mickey's Christmas Carol takes place in 19th century London. Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck -- voiced by Alan Young) is a bitter old skinflint who runs a money lending business and charges outrageous interest rates. He loves money more than anything else and he hates Christmas. He mistreats his one employee, Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse -- voiced by Wayne Allwine), and won't allow him to properly heat the office. Scrooge even dismisses his own nephew, Fred (Donald Duck -- voiced by Clarence Nash), who offers an invitation to Christmas dinner. When Scrooge goes home on Christmas Eve, he's visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley (Goofy -- voiced by Hal Smith), who warns Scrooge that he must change his ways, or else he'll suffer in the afterlife. Marley also informs Scrooge that he'll be visited by three more spirits, who will help to show the error of his ways. Will these ghostly visits change Scrooge?
Mickey's Christmas Carol is an odd entry into the list of A Christmas Carol adaptations, as it is very hit or miss. The makers of the piece apparently assume that most viewers will already be familiar with the source material, so it doesn't dwell on details. For example, the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket -- Eddy Carroll) goes by very quickly and it's only goal seems to be to illustrate that Scrooge was once in love with a woman before he fell in love with money. However, Mickey's Christmas Carol also uses the fact that we know the story to its advantage by inserting well-known Disney characters into key roles. Obviously, Scrooge McDuck was a given to play Ebenezer Scrooge, but other choices, such as Goofy for Jacob Marley are somewhat surprising. The oddest choice is Donald Duck as Fred. Who would accept a lunch invitation from Donald Duck?
The drawback to Mickey's Christmas Carol is that it's simply too short. At 26 minutes, it's safe to assume that this was originally intended to run as a TV special. As noted above, this means that many details of the story are cast aside. The movie goes by very quickly, so it feels like it's "Introduction, ghost, ghost, ghost, ghost, revelation, the end." I don't necessarily expect great character development from a Mickey Mouse movie, but this Cliff Notes version of the classic tale feels like a missed opportunity at times, as Scrooge never really puts up a fight in this version.
This version of A Christmas Carol is not without its charms, but it's very lightweight and, other than the use of Disney characters, it doesn't try to do anything new of different with the story. I would place it behindThe Muppet Christmas Carol, Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, but ahead of A Flintstones Christmas Carol. As for the Blu-ray Disc, you may want to shop around, as full price is a lot for a 26-minute short.
Mickey's Christmas Carol sort of blows it with the reveal of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The piece has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 38 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain. The image does show some mild defects from the source materials, but these aren't distracting. The colors are a bit washed out, but the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and doesn't reveal any issues with the animation. The Disc carries a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant rate of 320 kbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track is passable, as the music sounds fine and we can't always understand the dialogue (Well, maybe not Donald), but there are no dynamic effects here.
The bonus features on the Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray Disc consist of five animated shorts -- "Yodelberg" (3:33), "The Hockey Champ" (7:28), "Pluto's Christmas Tree" (6:46), "The Art of Skiing" (7:54), and "Corn Chips" (6:57) -- all of which feature Disney characters and holiday themes.
Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long