Blu-ray Review: Mickey's Christmas Carol (30th Anniversary Edition)

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The Oscar-nominated animated short Mickey’s Christmas Carol is, indeed, 30 years old. But not much has been done to honor this family classic on Disney’s new Blu-ray edition. It’s a 26-minute film and the BD carries a list price of $36.99. Even with the inclusion of a half-hour of bonus shorts, this is holiday season gouging at its most shameless. Originally issued along with the theatrical re-release of The Rescuers in 1983, Carol isn’t really worthy of a standalone release, at least not at this price.

It’s certainly not for lack of quality. The film itself remains a charming adaptation of the Charles Dickens chestnut. While Disney certainly could’ve stretched this out considerably had their intention been to make a feature film, Disney veteran Burny Mattinson skillfully condensed the plot into short form. Scrooge McDuck is, naturally, the Ebenezer stand-in here, lording over his long-suffering employee, Bob Cratchit—“played” by Mickey Mouse. One Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former partner, Marley (i.e. Goofy). The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future (Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant, and Pete, respectively) each pay visits to Scrooge. In less than a half-hour, he’s gone through a sufficiently convincing transformation, finally bestowing gifts and goodwill upon the Cratchit family.

Mickey xmas carol 2 (380x228).jpgWith cameo appearances from the likes of Donald and Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Mr. Toad, Mickey’s Christmas Carol is a crowd-pleaser that warrants its place as required family viewing around this time of year. One’s reaction to the visual presentation offered on the Blu-ray will be largely dependent on the age and expectations of the viewer. Noise reduction and digital processing techniques have robbed Carol of its vintage appearance. We are left with an overly smooth, grainless image that simply doesn’t look like something animated 30 years ago. Younger viewers and anyone not particularly concerned about preserving a film’s original look will probably have little trouble accepting the transfer for what it is.

But for a premium-priced anniversary edition of a semi-classic, Disney should’ve done better. The same goes for the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, which was also the case with the simultaneously issued Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year. What’s up with charging these prices and not upgrading to lossless audio? Don’t get me wrong, it sounds fine and, again, kids and most general viewers aren’t going to cry foul. But it should’ve all been handled with more care.

Mickey xmas carol 3 (380x241).jpgMaking up (somewhat) for the main program’s brevity, we get four vintage shorts and one new one as bonus features. “Yodelberg” is a brand new skiing tale starring a very early-era Mickey Mouse. The earliest vintage piece is a Donald Duck feature from 1939, “The Hockey Champ.” From 1941, we get “The Art of Skiing,” a Goofy showcase. Another Donald Duck short, “Corn Chips,” comes from 1951 and perhaps best of all is the 1952 “Pluto’s Christmas Tree.” Otherwise, all that’s here is “Disney Intermission,” which offers a few sing-along numbers when the main film is paused.

Along with the Blu-ray, Mickey’s Christmas Carol includes a standard DVD and digital copy. All things considered, chalk this one up to a disappointment.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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