Mickey's Christmas Carol
One thing that you don’t see Disney work on a lot these days are the shorts with Mickey and the gang. Yeah, you probably have memories of seeing a lot of the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Goofy shorts on the Disney Channel (or at least back in the nineties when they used to do that. Most of them would be put into a half an hour compellation with no real theme; just a bit of time when Mickey and his friends got to show off their personalities. While I do thin they were great cartoons, I just wish that more of them would be produced today.
I forgot to mention in my Frozen review that there was a Mickey mouse short called Get a Horse! that finally gave Mickey his old personality back; a more rebellious Charles Lindbergh-type who would be ready to kick someone in the butt of they laid a finger on Minnie. The short was great as it blurred the lines between the old fashioned black and white work with a CGI looked that kept true to the old Disney look. It made me think that more Disney movies should be working on cartoon shorts before their full movies, including their live action shorts. During a time of decline in short films, let’s look at Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Despite what the title says, Mickey Mouse is not our Scrooge. I don’t even thin that would have been doable. The role here goes to another friend in the gang, Scrooge McDuck. For those that were too young, he later got his own show called Ducktales, which was a combination of Indiana Jones and…well, Scrooge. It was a great show and this short serves as a good introduction for this character. I don’t think he was in any other shorts before this, so this is most likely his first.
Like The Muppet Christmas Carol, this also places itself back in the Victorian era. But the big difference here is that while the latter was an hour and a half, this is only thirty minutes. But within that limited time, I think they tell the Dickens classic just fine. Mickey Mouse is Bob Cratchit, Goofy is the sprit of Jacob Marley, Jiminy Cricket is The Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie the Giant is The Ghost of Christmas Present, and a surprise character is the Ghost of Christmas Future.
It turns out that this would be the last short for another couple of years. You would think that a nice cartoon would have led to a lot more. Mickey and the gang fit fine into their parts, especially the famous mouse who even sheds a tear later when a loved one dies. But of course, the scene-stealer is Scrooge. He’s a grouch, he’s greedy, and everything seems to bug him. Yet, somehow, he still manages to remain likable. Even with no new Mickey Mouse shorts for a while, it’s obvious why Scrooge McDuck would prove popular enough to get his own cartoon show.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol is also good example of what made the original shorts masterful; the animation. It does have a cheaper look (it was released during that weird period between Walt Disney’s death but before Michael Eisner came on board), but England here is full of detail. It’s dark, but not enough to look scary; it’s more or less really poor. But I think that was what the animators were trying to get across. Even the poorest of people can still have the nicest of holidays. Gold doesn’t buy love, but the people around you do.
I’ll give this four and a half Scrooge McDuck portraits out of five. It may be one of the shorter Christmas Carol’s I’m looking at, but it’s still a good one.