As the holidays draw near, I begin to look forward to a tradition at home. Each year we sit down and watch “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” And despite the fact that my kids are growing older, we never grow tired of watching.
Of course, “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” is a bit of a misnomer, for this is Scrooge’s show. As the story begins, Scrooge rebuffs the Christmas invitation of his nephew Fred (Donald Duck), and grants Bob Cratchit (Mickey) a half-day off for the holiday. He’s soon given a warning by his old, dead partner Marley (Goofy), and visited by three spirits--Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), Christmas Present (the giant from “Mickey and the Beanstalk”), and Christmas Future (Peg-Leg Pete). Just like in the Dickens story, Scrooge has a change of heart on Christmas Day after his spiritual awakening. At 26 minutes long, “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” is just about the right length for small children, and though it scarcely has time to hit the major plot points, this Disneyfied version of the fable still manages to retain the spirit, meaning, and emotion of Dickens’ tale, even in its brevity.
Mickey Mouse had been absent from the silver screen for 30 years when Disney brought him back. Alongside “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” I think one of Mickey’s finest onscreen acting moments is here in this film, as a tearful Mickey lays a crutch at Tiny Tim’s grave during the “Ghost of Christmas Future” sequence. Kudos to animator Mark Henn, who drew Mickey in this film.
“Mickey’s Christmas Carol” has been released several times on DVD before, but this time it’s making its Blu-ray debut in a “30th Anniversary Edition.” For the fan, the tag might imply a disc loaded with extras about the making of the film, but there aren’t any here, despite the fact that a “making of” special was produced for television, and is available on the out-of-print “Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color” disc. That release also included an interview with animators Mark Henn and Andreas Deja, which would have made a nice addition to this set. Another interesting addition would have been to include the audio of the original “read-along” book and record, released a decade prior to the film.
What makes up the second half of the program? The Blu-ray debut of five winter-themed Disney shorts, including two starring Donald Duck, one Mickey Mouse cartoon featuring Pluto, and one of the funniest Goofy cartoons of all time, “The Art of Skiing.” It’s fantastic to see these short films in high definition for the first time, and I hope there are plans to release more Disney shorts on Blu-ray.
The omission of any special features tied to the film “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” is unfortunate for a studio that usually does right by its catalog titles. But at just under an hour of content on the Blu-ray, it’s clear this release is targeted at families looking for an afternoon of holiday fun. For that, you won’t be disappointed.