Scrooge 2: Mickey’s Christmas Carol Blu-ray Review

mickey blu-ray I have the day off work today so I figured I would post a couple reviews, watch some holiday movies!

Now for one of my favorite Christmas Carol versions and the best animated version to come out, Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  This is an animated short (about 20 minutes) that was released in 1983 with the rerelease of The Rescuers.  It was the first theatrical appearance of Mickey Mouse in 30 years. (I would like to see another Mickey appearance soon!).

Originally it was a radio play by Disneyland Records and you can tell because the script is very well done. Scrooge is a bit of a smart-allick here and a lot of the witty dialogue helps temper the scary moments while still keeping the tension, and basic redemption effective.


The cast:

Voice actor Character Role
Alan Young Scrooge McDuck Ebenezer Scrooge
Wayne Allwine Mickey Mouse Bob Cratchit
Hal Smith Goofy Jacob Marley’s ghost
Eddie Carroll Jiminy Cricket Ghost of Christmas Past
Will Ryan Willie the Giant Ghost of Christmas Present
Will Ryan Pete Ghost of Christmas Future
Clarence Nash Donald Duck Fred, Scrooge’s nephew
Patricia Parris Daisy Duck Isabelle (“Belle” in the novella)

greedy scrooge mickey

Scrooge- Given they already had a character named Scrooge McDuck who is famous for skiing on his gold this was a no brainer. Alan Young is wonderful as Scrooge and gives a lot of humor to the lead vocal.

Differences- Obviously the biggest difference is we have our Disney characters anthropomorphized as the title characters of Christmas Carol.  They pull a lot from Fun and Fancy Free and Ichabod and Mr Toad which I guess is understandable given they have a lot of characters that fit a Victorian era.

It’s interesting they went the Victorian route.  A lot of the other cartoon versions such as Smurfs or Flintstones take the story into their worlds, but I like that it feels of period.

The introductory scene is fairly standard featuring Mickey as Cratchit, Donald as Fred (Donald just makes me smile every time I see him), and Rat and Mole as the benefactors.


Scrooge’s response to them is classic.

“well you realize if you give money to the poor they won’t be poor any more and if they aren’t poor any more than you won’t have to raise money for them and you two will be out of a job. Oh please gentlemen don’t as me to put you out of a job”

That is very clever and gives Scrooge a sarcasm and humor I don’t recall as pronounced in many other versions. I also like his next line:

“You work all your life to get money and people want you to give it away”.  It is interesting because if his life work were painting people wouldn’t expect him to give those away for nothing but a life work of money is.

There is no ‘let them die and decrease the surplus population’ which is perhaps a bit harsh for this version so good choice.


With Past played by Jimminy Cricket.  Their initial interaction is very good.

Scrooge says “I thought you’d be taller”

Jimminy “If men were measured by kindness you’d be no bigger than a speck of dust”

Scrooge “Kindness is of little use in this world”

So that becomes a theme of the program.  Is kindness of any use?  Later from Present we hear of ‘generosity’ and Present tells Scrooge he’s never given anyone a reason to be generous to him. That’s an interesting take on the message of Christmas Carol.  The world is good and full of light but we have a responsibility to accept that light.

With Past we go right to Fezziwig’s (no childhood or other scenes) and it is mainly to introduce to Belle played by Daisy (and I think the only time Daisy is not with Donald). We then get to his counting house and I like that Scrooge is sentimental when he first see’s it, even excited.

This is before he see’s himself foreclose on Isabelle’s honeymoon cottage for being an hour late on the payment. It is dramatic enough to quickly explain to kids a complicated economic process of mortgages while getting the core emotion right.


Present takes him to see the Cratchit’s only (no Fred) and Scrooge is immediately taken with Tiny Tim.  The Cratchit’s poverty is shown in a quick yet effective way with a turkey the size of a canary.  That’s simple for kids to understand.Makes the point about suffering and poverty without dwelling on it too much for kids.

canary turkey

Present leaves him in front of the Cratchit’s house and he asks Future what will happen and Scrooge’s ‘Oh no. Spirit I didn’t want this to happen” is a very well delivered line.


The finale is very effective with Scrooge falling into the grave and pleading for change but I don’t think too scary for kids.

Strengths-  Some may want to discount a Mickey Christmas Carol as more of a lark but I actually think it is a good adaptation, and it is great way to introduce small kids to the story. All the voice work is tremendous, and I like Scrooge’s sarcastic attitude.  He gets the most glee out of his money and jingling the coins together than many other Scrooge’s.  Mickey is of course great as Cratchit and the ghosts are all effective.

The script is the real standout.  It’s very sharply done and teaches a lesson about kindness and generosity without getting to heavy handed(ignorance and want aren’t shown, no decrease surplus population).  Instead of Scrooge being a bad man (not caring if people die) he is merely someone who isn’t allowing people to be kind to him, not allowing others into his life.  It’s a slightly different take that I like.

As I said the finale is very well done.  Crazy Scrooge is very good with him coming back to get his cane  to be fully dressed in his pajamas. They do a good job throughout of painting a complex picture in one dramatic moment (like the honeymoon cottage bit tells kids exactly what they need to know quickly so it doesn’t feel like a mean-spirited film).

mickey finale

Weaknesses- I honestly could have seen this be a feature film.  A few scenes could have been fleshed out even more.  I could have seen Scrooge look in on Fred playing games in present or Scrooge as a child in the past segments. (Muppets does both very well).

Goofy is maybe a bit of an odd choice for Marley.  He’s so loveable and silly it is hard to picture him as a bad guy. Perhaps a Disney villain might have worked better? But I suppose it helps relieve some of the scares for little kids.

The music is kind of a corny Christmas song but it works.

Certainly one of the best and that’s not just nostalgia talking, and like I said my favorite animated version.

30th Anniversary Blu-ray- (Some say online they clip off the top and bottom for wide screen.  I did not notice a dramatic difference)

The recent blu-ray release of it is gorgeous.  The HD looks bright, clear and beautiful.  It includes 5 animated shorts that are very entertaining.

1. Yoldelberg- 2013 but done in the style of Mary Blair for the program Mickey Mouse, which I am intrigued to watch.  Paul Rudish animates it beautifully.

2. The Hockey Champ- 1939, early Donald teaching Huey Louie and Dewey how to play hockey.  I love Donald!

3. Pluto’s Christmas Tree- 1952, Pluto battles with Chip and Dale as they tease him from inside Mickey’s Christmas tree.

4. The Art of Skiing- 1941, The first of Goofy’s ‘how to’ series.

5. Corn Chips- 1951, Chip and Dale try to steal popcorn from Donald and it gets out of control.  I didn’t realize Chip and Dale were a part of so many shorts?

As you are watching the blu-ray you can also pause for sing along segments of our favorite carols. It would be nice if they had a behind the scenes or other bonus features considering its a 30 year anniversary blu-ray but all in all I’m satisfied with the restoration and blu-ray.

Movie 38: Fantasia 2000

Fantasia2000_Poster“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

It seemed appropriate to start this review with those words because this could have been great.  Indeed it has moments of greatness but Fantasia 2000 certainly didn’t work for me.

Out of 38 films I’ve only given 6 A+ so far  (and 6 D’s, 17 A’s so all you that think I’m too harsh please!).  Those 6 are: Fantasia, Cinderella, 101 Dalmatians, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast.  All 6 I would not change in any way.  To me they are perfect.

Yeah, I know.  I know.  You out there think the original Fantasia is boring.  I’ve heard it a million times.  Those of you who find it boring would you also find going to a classical music symphony orchestra for the night boring? It’s ok.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I love it.

What made the first one special is it was a concert.  It took itself very seriously as a concert.  But then you got these amazing images to go with the concert as almost like a bonus.  So instead of putting out $150 to go to a gallery opening and a symphony you could pop in Fantasia and enjoy both (well, go to the movies back then but still it was cheaper and easier than a symphony and museum).

That’s what I think most people get wrong with Fantasia.  They approach it as a movie, but it’s not really.  It’s a concert performance art piece, and as an adult it blows me away.

Now we get to the problem of Fantasia 2000.  It’s a clip show not a concert.  Everything from the laughably short segments, to the celebrity introductions, to the less than iconic music choices, make it feel like a clip show not a classical music experience.

This would be ok I guess if the animation was great.  Unfortunately with the exception of 2 segments it falls woefully short (well 3 if you count replay of Sorcerer’s Apprentice).

The main problem is the reliance on CGI and at this point the technology just doesn’t hold up.  Everything looks like plastic instead of art, and I did not feel creatively inspired or challenged by it at all.


By the way, the original is 2 hours which I recommend people divide up.  If length is the only barrier than watch a segment a day!

Fantasia 2000, on the other hand,  is technically 75 minutes but if you take out the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the lame celebrity introductions it is well under an hour, which again makes it feel less of a concert experience and more of a 1 hour television show on Disney channel.

So, let’s talk about the segments:

1. Beethoven’s 5th-

This is probably trying to pay homage to the Toccata in Fugue of the original where we see animated lines and shapes.  Here we get paper butterflies dancing around.

beethoven 5th

This segment is fine but it is frustrating because Beethoven’s 5th is one of the most iconic songs ever written and I find it amazing they couldn’t think of anything darker, more foreboding than triangles flying around. It doesn’t expand upon the music or give me something exciting.

Beethoven’s 5th would have been great for a On Bald Mountain-like sequence with thunder and lightning.  It’s so menacing there are a million ways they could have gone but triangles?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

steve martinThen we get the first of our celebrity introductions.  With the exception of Quincy Jones these are all lame, usually joking and making terrible puns.  This again adds to the clip show feel and takes away from the concert environment. Honestly just fast forward through them, especially  Pen and Teller introducing The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (ridiculous.  Show’s they were treating this like a lark and not a serious work of art).

Pen and Teller introducing Walt's masterpiece with a bunch of lame jokes  Geesh...
Pen and Teller introducing Walt’s masterpiece with a bunch of lame jokes Geesh…

I’m going to ignore those for the rest of the review but for the record we get Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Bette Midler, Penn and Teller, James Earl Jones, Quincy Jones, and Angela Lansbury.

2.  Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi-

This segment is frustrating because it is a clever concept with some beautiful images but then the whales begin to fly and the cgi also takes flight.  It looks like plastic whale figures not art. The music is pretty but I just didn’t like the look of the whales.

You can’t really tell in this picture but when they move around it looks like plastic.

3. Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin-

Done in the style of Al Hirschfield’s caricatures with Gershwin’s music (think United Airlines theme song!) is by far the best segment of the movie.  It is artistic. and interesting to look at.  The music is well performed and I enjoyed it.

It tells the story of a day in the life of New York City and moves from one vignette to another.


It is also seems to me to be the longest segment which is a good thing since it is the best.  I couldn’t find a complete clip but here’s some of the best parts:

4. Piano Concerto No 2 in F Major- I. Allegro by Dmitri Shostak- 

I really don’t understand their music choices.  Why not do Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi?  Classical music with real heft to it.  Most of these songs I had never heard of before.

This segment tells a story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier and it is basically about a one-legged toy soldier, a mean jack-in-the-box and a ballerina.

balleterina and soldier

It would be fine but the CGI looks terrible, especially on the Jack in the Box.  These kind of special effects just haven’t aged well and the story is not interesting enough to overcome the bad look.  Either way it certainly isn’t art like the original.

jack in the box5. Carnival of the Animals Finale by Camille Saint Saens-

Another piece of music I had never heard of and this segment is incredibly short.  I swear it was under 5 minutes.

It is about a flamingo and a yo-yo .


It is in obvious homage to the hippo ballerinas but the thing about them is they didn’t know they were funny.  They were hippos dancing taking it completely seriously.  That made it funny and amusing.

hippos fantasiaIt was also set to a ballet by Ponchielli called ‘Dance of the Hours’ making a ballet make sense it just happened to be with hippos.

The carnival is just a piece of classical music, not a ballet so it is music with a flamingo and a yo-yo (why not do something with Yo-yo Ma?  That would have been funny?)

6. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas-

Biggest mistake they made in this movie was including the iconic Sorcerer’s Apprentice piece from the original.  It showcases the artistic and musical weakness of the pieces we’ve been watching.

sorcerer3Every beat of this segment is timed perfectly with the music . It all makes sense and is filled with beautiful imagery of bubbles, shadows and brooms.  For 12 minutes I was transfixed.

7. Pomp and Circumstance- Marches 1,2, 3-

Now after seeing Mickey it will be great to see Donald in a piece, right?  Well, kind of.  This segment isn’t awful but it isn’t the Sorcerer’s Apprentice either.

Pomp and Circumstance is like the wedding march, so associated with an event, graduation, that it is distracting to hear it accompanying anything else.  It’s kind of like if you heard the melody for Jingle Bells as a country song.  It just feels weird.


For some reason they decide to use the music to tell the story of Noah’s Ark with Donald Duck as Noah.  This is a strange choice because Donald is an animal and the whole story is about animals going on the boat.  Why is Donald the only animal that wears clothes? In fact, at the beginning Donald is naked on a hammock and he is embarrassed.  Why aren’t the other animals embarrassed?  I know I’m overthinking it but it was distracting from what little art was in the piece.
There is even a scene where Donald see’s 2 regular looking ducks getting on the Ark.  Isn’t that so strange?

noah and ducksWe get an attempt at humor (so many lame jokes in this movie.  It’s a concert not a comedy club!!!). with the animals that didn’t make it on the ark.

dragons Donald gets separated from Daisy on the ark.  (They are the only animals that appear to talk although we never hear their voices which isn’t that one of Donald’s charms?)

They get reunited and our scene is over.

Fantasia 2000 Donald and Daisy Duck

I do like the light of the piece but not enough to think of it as art.  Not enough to be blown away and inspired creatively.

8.  Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky-

This is the other strong segment along with Rhapsody in Blue.  It is a nice homage to the original that used Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring for the creation story (love that segment!).

Kind of like a combination of On Bald Mountain and the Nutcracker Suite in the original it tells the story of a Sprite who is waking up the world from Winter (like the fairies in the Suite of the original).

She is beautifully drawn. spring spirit

As she is waking up the earth she comes across a boulder that will not respond to her.  She blows on it and inadvertantly wakes up the Firebird which is the spirit of the volcano.

If anything this segment is not long enough but it is lovely and comes closest to capturing the spirit of the original.

Movie Review/Conclusion-

Originally Walt Disney wanted Fantasia to be a regular event with animators presenting concert films like they did documentaries and other features.  Unfortunately the original did not make enough money so it was never attempted until Fantasia 2000.

What amazes me is why make such a half-hearted effort when you finally do decide to make the sequel?  Why have all the celebrities making stupid jokes?  Why do so much on the computer with CGI?  Were they just so in love with the technology they couldn’t see its lazy look?

Why pick the music they picked when they could have been so much more epic?  Why make everything light  when you could have a mixture like a good concert should have?  I mean they had Beethoven’s 5th for crying out loud!

I just wish they had taken the concert idea more seriously.  Instead we got a clip show with mostly mediocre results.

And if you are going to be mediocre don’t remind us of the greatness in the middle with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  That just made it all worse.

Like I said I like Rhapsody in Blue and Firebird.  The rest I could live without.

Overall Grade- D

Movie 6: Saludos Amigos

Now we are up to the feature films of animated shorts from Disney and Saludos Amigos is the first of two aimed at Latin American audiences.

saludos amigosAt the beginning of 1941 before Pearl Harbor and US entry into the war Disney was asked by the state department to do a goodwill tour of South America.  Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros were a result of that effort.

The state department was worried the Latin American countries might be sympathetic to the Nazi’s so it was crucial to do something.

While getting the needed grant from the government to make these shorts Disney was also changing strategy.  Instead of the ambitious artpieces of their first 5 films they went with bankable stars like Donald and Goofy and shorts that could be easily put alongside other movies in a theater.  Gone was the Fantasound and other expensive theater strategies.  This was make something fun and charming using the characters everyone loves.  Nothing wrong with that but it has made the movies from 1943-1950 kind of forgettable.

Here’s a trailer

Saludos premiered in August 1942 in Brazil and in 1943 in the US.  Part of the reason Disney agreed to these films is they were part of a federal grant and the loss of the European market in the war had been a huge blow.  Combined with a strike that year they needed the funds.

The movie is kind of like a travelogue of Latin America sometimes in live action and then 4 animated sets.  To a modern day audience it seems out of date and corny but at the time it was very popular.

Film historian Alfred Charles Richard Jr. has commented that Saludo Amigos “did more to cement a community of interest between peoples of the Americas in a few months than the State Department had in fifty years”.

An article I read in Time magazine January 1943 said people in Rio de Janeiro “screamed so loudly for an encore that another feature had to be halted in mid-reel and Saludos Amigos run off again”

I found a review from the New York Times from 1943 and it called Saludos Amigos “charming” and “a gay 40 minute potpourri”

The movie has four segments that are introduced with live action shots:

Lake Titicaca- Donald Duck visits the lake and deals with a llama in the funniest skit

Donald learning about the culture
donald llama
Donald dealing with a llama!

Next we have

Pedro- A story about a small plane in Santiago who must take the mail when Papa Plane and Mama Plane can’t do it.  Pretty much a Rudolph storyline.

pedro the planeEl Gaucho Goofy- Set in Argentina Goofy must learn to be an Argentine Cowboy- or a gaucho.  This is very similar to the other Goofy ‘how to’ videos such as the one on photography.

goofy cowboyThere is also a scene where Goofy and the horse are dancing which looks strange…

Aquarela do Brasil- Set in Rio this short is as if the characters and ideas for the story are being drawn by an artist and those paintings come alive.

We also get introduced to Jose Oliveira who is a Portuguese parrot. He is a cool looking character but tough to understand sometimes.

rioAnd that’s about all there is to it.

The soundtrack sold well and is fun and includes samba and other latin inspired dances.

I couldn’t find the box office results but from what I’ve read it sounds like it did pretty well.

My Review

So how does it hold up?  Not very well I’m afraid.  It’s harmless and kind of fun to see what propaganda films looked like in the 40s.  The music is engaging and some of the cultural attractions are neat to see (some of them also seem way outdated).

The animated sets are cute but nothing mind blowing.  Unlike previous Disney products these are not art but sprightly entertainment.  And it’s only 41 minutes so hard to be too tough on it but it didn’t feel like a feature film.  However, it’s on Disneys list of animated classics so I watched it.

It’s not horrible just not one of my favorites.

Incidentally it seems you could write an interesting screenplay about this goodwill tour Walt and the animators took, these movies, the enthusiastic response and the dealings with the state department.  Just a hunch.

I am a little surprised they didn’t use Mickey since it was a goodwill tour. Still always enjoy seeing Donald and Goofy.  The animated segments hold up better than the live action which feel dated partly from the trappings of 40’s technology and dress (and film).  The whole project kind of feels like an episode of Sesame Street with humans and animation instead of puppets.

Kids will enjoy each of the animated sections especially if you come from a Latino background and the story of the Goodwill mission is interesting. The war would have been much different if South and Central America had gone with the Nazis.

Overall Grade C Generic but pleasant enough.