Mickey's Christmas Carol

Richard Petro

twitter @ThePetroProject

December 24, 2018

     With the Christmas season upon us, it only makes sense (obvious, clichéd sense) that we take a look at a version of Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Both Scrooged and Mickey’s Christmas Carol are celebrating anniversaries this year, 20th and 25th respectively, and while Scrooged is worth the watch itself, I felt like our focus should drift a bit more towards Disney’s attempt. Most adaptations are feature length, but Disney decided to put their effort in a 25 minute short that accompanied a re-release of The Rescuers. It wasn’t just a Disneyfied adaptation that was intriguing here, as this also happened to be the first theatrical short with Mickey in about 30 years, which may explain the title choice here even though Mickey isn’t a central character.

     This wasn’t the first Disney take on A Christmas Carol, with the short itself being an adaptation of an album working of the classic tale from almost ten years before. I haven’t had a chance to hear the original recordings but would love to so I could see how they compare to each other and how well that original take works. But how does the 25 minute short work?

     Mickey’s Christmas Carol is slightly stumble-y to converse about. Is it bad? No. Is it good? Yeah, I’d say so, but I don’t know how much of that would be aimed at the aspect of it being an adaptation of the classic work.
     There’s many good things here that I love; the casting of the characters is impeccable. Disney has been around so long, even by this point, that they had their own share of characters to perfectly fit the moulds of Dickens’ own. Decisions like Scrooge McDuck and Mickey Mouse as Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit feel, and are, ridiculously obvious, but still put a smile on your face seeing it. Other decisions seem to feel right on their own, such as the characters chosen for the ghosts, while the choice to use Goofy as Jacob Marley may not have come to mind at all, it ends up being a nice touch. In fact, the characters used here, and how, is what makes this special as excellent and stand out as it is.

     The casting is like a nice dessert for fans of the company as the art style used just feels right, a little rougher around the edges in a way that captures the atmosphere and time period well. The animation is also excellent, with many nice little moments dropped in that works perfectly towards making the entire piece succeed. It’s wonderful to watch and take in, giving you enough to possibly notice some smaller touches here and there on re-watches. It should be noted, considering the beats the story takes, but it is really odd to see Disney having even some sort of acknowledgment of child death.

     Unfortunately, the biggest problem for the special is just what it is; a theatrical short. For its runtime, they do a great job in hitting all the ‘must’ spots of the story, but it doesn’t really have time to stop and breath. A lot of its character development, particularly in Scrooge of course, happens very fast, and much of its important character bits, such as Scrooge’s turn into a miser, are pasted into single sentences. It all feels rushed, though that could be foreseen going in due to its short runtime.

     Even for all of its faults from the tight timeframe, the special still does succeed at being a nice holiday treat, working very much as an ‘entryway’ into Dickens’ story for the younger audience. It’s incredibly sweet, with the ending still hitting a nice note though you don’t have the full effect of the character turn by Scrooge that an hour and a half would have given. I would have loved to have seen this expanded into a feature, though it’s understandable why it wasn’t. It might not give you much in terms of giving you something to remember this particular version over some of the others, but it still works as a sweet little piece of Christmas joy, and you could definitely do worse than sitting down to watch this over the holiday season.