Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

MickeysOnceUponAChristmasCoverThe idea of a Walt Disney Christmas movie seems to be a win-win proposition. The legions of Disney zombies out there would gladly eat up a cartoon that featured classic characters such as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Chip and Dale, and Pluto in a Christmas setting. More importantly of course is that for the Walt Disney Company, it would surely be a gold mine for them, guaranteeing sales every Christmas for years to come. Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas would be the ideal result of such a concept except that it sucks Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey‘s balls.

And if that seems like a decidedly un-Christmas-y spirit to be in, then you haven’t endured this cheaply made, cynical holiday cash in, particularly the segment featuring Goofy and his extreme sport loving son Max.

First up though was a tale featuring Donald Duck and his three delinquent nephews. While strictly average and sporting a story as familiar as the Christmas Day that Huey, Dewey, and Louie are forced to relive over and over, this is the most entertaining part of the movie, though you’re left wishing that the writers had worked a little more imagination into their retread story.

Basically, this is the same concept behind the movie Groundhog Day. The kids wake up on Christmas, play with their presents and have a high old time all day and at the end of the day, one of them wishes upon a star that Christmas didn’t have to end.

This results are predictable: Initially, the three of them are excited about this Twilight Zone-ish development, but rapidly grow bored (didn’t they realize they’d be opening the same crappy presents every day for eternity?) and grow to dread seeing Chip and Dale playing with their new train in their tree house every morning, just like the audience in Groundhog Day grew to dread hearing Sonny and Cher on Bill Murray’s radio every morning.

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Sure, they try to freshen things up as the Christmases pile up, but their efforts aren’t terribly impressive. (The only thing they could come up with to avoid their tubby aunt’s kisses was to get dressed up in scuba gear?)

They also replace Daisy’s cooked turkey with a live turkey and this ends up with Donald’s house completely wrecked and Christmas ruined. The boys feel real bad about this and resolve to make the next Christmas Day the best ever.

Uh, why would they feel bad? Wouldn’t everything be back to normal the next morning? Why the sudden attack of conscience in a world where actions no longer have any consequences because you get a do-over the very next day?

For whatever reason (probably so that all the bratty kids watching will learn some kind of lesson) Huey, Dewey, and Louie finally figure out that a strictly secular Christmas experience isn’t just about getting lots of crappy toys, but is in fact about giving.

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While that one was okay and left you wishing that someone had cared enough to add some originality to that worn out, but intriguing idea (surely kids who could live the same day over and over and over would do more than use their toys to make Donald drop breakfast, especially since he did that anyway on the original Christmas), the next story involving Goofy and Max makes you wonder just how punishing the full length movies these two were in (A Goofy Movie, An Extremely Goofy Movie) were.

The story in this one is that Max wants a fancy snow board for Christmas from Santa, but once his jerk neighbor Pete tells him there isn’t any Santa Clause, he loses his faith that there really is a Santa and more importantly, becomes convinced that he won’t get his precious snow board.

It’s up to Goofy to restore Max’s faith in Santa, though good parenting would dictate that it was up to Goofy to tell Max to quit being such a freaking cry baby and that if your entire existence is based around whether you get a free snow board, then you’re seriously maladjusted.

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The final episode is a bit of a letdown since it’s only run-of-the-mill boring. It’s Mickey and Minnie in a version of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi”. We all know how this one goes down: each of them sells their prized possession to get the other a gift related to the prized possession the other has just sold.

Kids who aren’t familiar with the story might be interested, but for everyone else, there’s nothing new in this version save the crappy Christmas songs that Mickey plays incessantly on his prized harmonica. (You’re just counting the minutes until he has to sell that obnoxious thing.)

In addition to the lackluster stories involved in this thing, the animation featured is likewise lackluster, featuring the minimal effort that went into Disney’s non-theatrical animation of the era. Flat, ugly, and generally looking dashed off, any company that actually had some pride in having a reputation for quality animation would be embarrassed to let this out with its name on it or featuring its characters. The best bit of artwork in this thing is the cover of the DVD, but since that’s all you see until you give them your cash, that’s all they probably care about.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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