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Mickey's Christmas Carol(1983)
The classic Disney animated characters play the roles in this animated retelling of the Charles Dickens masterpiece.
For more about Mickey's Christmas Carol and the Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray release, see Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 27, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Alan Young, Wayne Allwine, Hal Smith, Will Ryan (I), Eddie Carroll (I), Patricia Parris
Director: Burny Mattinson
» See full cast & crew
Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray Review
"If men were measured by kindness, you'd be no bigger than a speck of dust!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 27, 2013
It's that time of year again. Halloween candy will be reduced to empty wrappers, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us, and the Christmas season will be in full swing. Sales and doorbusters, Black Friday, holiday hustle and bustle, parties and dinners, gifts heaped atop gifts... all of which makes for a perfect opportunity to take a break from the shopping, reorient a few priorities and remind children that Christmas has very little to do with the many, many, many things in which we involve ourselves, our time and our money. Mickey's Christmas Carol and Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year may be from different sides of the Disney tracks; the former a warm, tasty cup of near-classic nostalgia for the whole family as meaningful as it is heartfelt, the latter a hit or miss slice of direct-to-video dessert young kids will gobble up (even though moms and dads will shrug their shoulders). But both offer the same much-needed message. It's not about you. It's in the sharing and giving; a truth even adults are too quick to forget.
The success of a "Christmas Carol" adaptation is in its casting, and Mickey and his friends slip comfortably into the shoes of Charles Dickens' beloved characters. Scrooge McDuck (Alan Young) is tailor-fit to Ebenezer Scrooge (naturally so, considering Dickens' infamous penny-pincher was the inspiration behind McDuck's creation in 1947); Mickey Mouse (Wayne Allwine) is intrinsically humble and selfless as good-natured Bob Cratchet; Donald Duck (Clarence Nash) a fine, feisty, suitably cheerful Fred; Goofy (Hal Smith) a fun, delightfully clumsy Marley; Jiminy Cricket (Eddie Carroll) an ideal Ghost of Christmas Past; and even The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad's Ratty and Moley (Hal Smith and Will Ryan) are a welcome blast from the past as charity collectors. A cigar-chompin' Big Bad Pete (Will Ryan) is an interesting choice for the Ghost of Christmas Future, seeing as his hooded apirition never shuts up. But even dastardly ol' Pete works out in the long run as Mickey's Christmas Carol goes dark, fully prepared to hurl Scrooge into the flames of hell if he doesn't change his ways. All told, each Disney icon hits the right notes and delivers plenty of warm-fuzzies, right on cue.
The story flies by of course, barely pausing to take a breath at the most memorable scenes from Dickens' timeless tale. Scrooge is a changed man twenty minutes after we meet him, if you can believe it. That said, the length of the short doesn't really lessen the story's emotional gut punches or shortchange its impact. Even the hard-hearted may crack when they see Mickey's eyes welling up with tears while laying a small crutch at Tiny Tim's grave. For a 26-minute theatrically released animated short (attached to The Rescuers' re-release in 1983), it accomplishes a lot with a little, and even manages to put a number of clever spins on familiar Christmas Carol elements. Sadly, Mickey's Christmas Carol's Blu-ray debut doesn't stand up to scrutiny nearly as well as the film has withstood the test of time...
Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray, Video Quality
Restoration noun \res-tə-ˈrÔ-shən\ -- 1) an act of restoring or the condition of being restored, 2) a bringing back to a former position or condition, 3) the act of restoring to an unimpaired or improved condition, 4) a precise representation or reconstruction of the original form
Disney's touted "restoration" of Mickey's Christmas Carol is, to put it bluntly, an abject failure. Like The Sword in the Stone before it, the beloved holiday short film has been scrubbed within an inch of its life, buffed and cleaned past the point of no return, and scrubbed -- then artificially sharpened -- again, presumably just 'cause. Grain has been almost completely eradicated... along with any semblance of fine detail in the original animation, line crispness and overall clarity. (How egregious is the noise reduction? Compare this screenshot of the disc's menu, which features a pre-scrubbed frame of Scrooge counting money, to this screenshot of the same scene as presented in the film itself. Now peruse the other images. It's all downhill.) Numerous shots are soft, smeary and/or uncharacteristically filtered (with line art that looks as if it's been retraced using magic markers), so much so that the 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation often appears as if it's slightly out of focus.
We're not dealing with age here. This has nothing to do with the film's thirty years. We're not dealing with filmic softness, or a product of the source as some will undoubtedly insist. This is an aggressively processed transfer; no two ways about it. The effect isn't quite as severe as it is in the worst instances in The Sword in the Stone, but it comes too close for comfort. Other anomalies pop up throughout the film -- aliasing, color splitting, significant line smudging (some fine lines have almost been erased), ringing, and even artifacting (the faint blues of Scrooge's eyes are the most frequent offender) -- and there isn't a single scene that lives up to what anyone should expect from the sort of digital restoration advertised on the back cover, much less a disc being released by the Mouse House in 2013.
Frankly, I'm worried. The Sword in the Stone's presentation is widely and rightfully criticized as being Disney's worst, but I assumed it was a grave oversight that slipped through the usual quality control channels. Mickey's Christmas Carol suggests something more troubling is afoot. The studio would do well to find the root of the problem and eliminate it post haste. The fact that a reputation-tainting restoration is being sold at a premium price doesn't help.
Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is actually a step up from its video presentation, although it's still something of a disappointment. Voices are clean and clear but rather hollow and tinny on the whole (particularly when Scrooge is being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past in his bed chambers). Effects and music follow suit, and there isn't much worth outright praise, other than the audio's relative faithfulness to the film's original sound design. Would a lossless track have improved matters? Could the various shortcomings be addressed with more tender, loving care? I imagine so. As is, the lossy stereo track is serviceable. Nothing more.
Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack Contents (Subject to Change): The initial combo pack release of Mickey's Christmas Carol features a slipcover (with the original pressing), a single BD-50 disc, a standard DVD copy of the film, and Digital Copy Plus downloadable digital copy. Please note: the Mickey's Christmas Carol digital copy is not available as an iTunes file.
Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I've always had a soft spot for Mickey's Christmas Carol. I'm a sucker for a good, clever Dickens' adaptation, and even at 26 minutes, it's as good as most, and falls short only of a scant few. (The extended cut of The Muppet Christmas Carol is still the reigning family-oriented adaptation as far as I'm concerned.) The same unfortunately can't be said of the film's Blu-ray debut, which suffers with a problematic, horribly scrubbed digital restoration and video presentation. Its lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track and light supplemental package doesn't make the disc's rather high pricepoint any easier to swallow either. If you need Mickey's Christmas Carol in your collection, buy this one for the film and the film alone. If your decision is based on the quality of the Blu-ray itself (or the lack thereof), best to skip this one and invest your McDuck millions elsewhere.
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Mickey's Christmas Carol Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Mickey's Christmas Carol & A Very Merry Pooh Year Blu-rays - June 25, 2013
Walt Disney Home Entertainment is bringing Mickey's Christmas Carol and Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year to Blu-ray this holiday season. Each Christmas favorite features a newly re-mastered presentation, and arrives on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack ...
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