Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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As a Disney fan, I have learned to jump when I see something I want. The company has a habit of releasing things in limited quantities for a limited amount of time and then putting it back in the "vault." For most of 2009, they have been releasing what they call the Disney Animation Collection. Most of these disc have had previously released material on them, but things that aren't readily available now. The latest release in the line is Mickey's Christmas Carol. It contains four shorts from the vault. All of them have been released on DVD before, but they are available again here.
Of course, shorts is a bit of a misnomer on two of them. Yes, two fall into the 6 minute range. But the other two are around 25 minutes each. One of them is okay, but the other three are fun.
Up first is "Mickey's Christmas Carol." This classic take on the Dickens' holiday tale finds Mickey playing Bob Cratchit to Scrooge McDuck's Scrooge. The rest of the cast is filled out by such classic Disney characters as Donald Duck, Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant, and the casts of The Wind in the Willows and Robin Hood.
Due to time constraints, they really cut down the story. Still, they manage to hit the high points in the time allotted. Many of the characters add some humor to the tale. Goofy as Jacob Marley makes that scene less than frightening. And I love how Jiminy treats Scrooge. They still manage to make the story emotionally compelling, however. My only real gripe is the end, which is a little scary for young kids.
The other longer piece is "The Small One." This is the first year I had seen it. It tells the story of a young boy in ancient times. The boy loves one the small, old donkey his family owns. But his father determines it is time to sell the animal. The boy pleads to be the one to find the new owner. And so he sets out to the village to find someone who will love the donkey like he does. When all seems lost, his path crosses that of Joseph who is looking for an animal to take his pregnant wife to Bethlehem.
I was actually surprised the first time I heard about this short. While the Christian aspect of the story is only there at the end, it is obvious what they are referencing. This is the weak link on the disc. It's from 1978, and it does show some of what was beginning to plague the studio at the time. The songs are okay, but frankly not that special. In fact, one really slows down the story. The pace of the story overall could have been better. It is interesting to note this was one of the first things Don Bluth ever directed at the studio, so animation fans will be interested in it for that reason alone.
And this brings us to the true shorts on the disc. "Pluto's Christmas Tree" is actually a Mickey Mouse cartoon. It finds Mickey and Pluto selecting their Christmas tree from the woods. Unknowingly, they bring home two stowaways, Chip 'n' Dale. Pluto is the first to discover it and tries to drive them out of the house or let Mickey know they are there. The mayhem that the trio cause is actually quite funny. I love the gag involving the Santa candles.
Disney really dug back into the vault for the final short. "Santa's Workshop" was a Silly Symphony cartoon originally released in 1932. It shows us what is happening as Santa and the elves are finishing things up on Christmas Eve. We see Santa double checking his list, and some of the assembly lines making the toys to be delivered that night. It's cute with some good gags. I loved the checkerboard paint. While it is in color, the animation is obviously dated. And it does include one joke that would be considered racist today.
This disc contains these four cartoons and nothing else. No bonus features of any kind are included. And no effort has been made to restore stuff, although it does look reasonably well considering how old most of the material is.
If you are missing something here, and you want to complete your collection, this is the place to do it. But if you've already got these shorts, you can pass right on by the Disney Animation Collection release of Mickey's Christmas Carol.
This review is part of my Second Annual All Things Disney Write Off.
And go here to see more of my thoughts on Mickey's Christmas Carol.
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Viewing Format: DVD