Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Extrava-Christmas: "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas"

Cinema Won goes back to his childhood.
It's alright.
    What's the Story?
    Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas was a 1999 direct-to-video release which was a showcase of three separate Christmas themed stories, each with classic Disney characters in the leads, and with Kelsey Grammer as the narrator. I used to love this film as a kid and I re-watched in honor of our Christmas Extrava-Christmas! Does it hold up? Well, yes and no...
 Stuck on Christmas
    Stuck on Christmas is the first of the three stories, this one following Donald Duck's (Tony Anselmo) nephews Huey, Duwey and Louie (All played by Russi Taylor), who wishes that it could be Christmas everyday. However, when their wish comes true, they find that Christmas isn't as fun everyday as it is just once a year.
    All around, Stuck on Christmas is the weakest of the three stories. It's just plain okay. The film teaches kids a great lesson, that Christmas is special because it only comes once a year. Unfortunately, that's about all the really stand out about this one. The short gives the goofy one of the bunch, as since there is a Goofy short, that's a bit strange. The other shorts pack in some emotion with there jokes and this one just is too jokey.
    Of course, that's even worse when the short isn't particularly funny. It's mostly Donald getting hurt. Or mad. Or hurt then mad. Or hurt then mad then hurt again. It's mostly just the same jokes over and over and over. That's the central problems with these day repeating film. If done well, you get Groundhog Day. If done wrong, you get that same joke over and over again. And that's never fun.
"I wish that we were funny..."
A Very Goofy Christmas
   A Very Goofy Christmas was my favorite as a kid and it still is now. But, of course, for different reasons. The story follows Goofy (Bill Farmer) and his son Max (Shaun Fleming). Max is having a Christmas crisis after he is told that Santa Claus doesn't exist. Goofy, being the good dad that he is, desperately tries to prove that Santa is really real. Naturally, Goofy get hurt. A lot.
    As a kid, this was the funniest short. And it still is. Donald's slapstick isn't very well done or funny. But with Goofy, it works. I mean, of course it works. This is after all Goofy we're talking about. Watching Goofy and Max have a bicycle chase is a mall is still hilarious after all these years. One moment in particular, in which Goofy has to brave a toy store in the middle of Christmas shopping is to me a classic. It's old comedy, but it's great.
    But what works even better now is the strong emotion of the short. Goofy's love of Max and his attempt to give him the best Christmas is honestly touching. I didn't cry though. Well, okay maybe a little. And how about that? I was nearly crying in a direct-to-video release. That alone is worth some strong points. Or maybe I'm, just a pushover. But it doesn't matter. And honestly sweet and endearing Christmas special is one of my favorite things. And A Very Goofy Christmas is one of my favorites.
I can't make jokes about this.
I just can't!
Mickey and Minnie's The Gift of The Magi
    The Gift of The Magi is a classic Christmas tale and this is the Mickey and Minnie version. Naturally. In chase you don't know the tale, this version has Mickey (Wayne Allwine), who is poor and trying to buy a gift for Minnie (Russi Taylor), who is also poor and also trying to buy Mickey a Christmas present. I think you get where this is going.
    As the stories go, this one is firmly in the middle. It has it's flaws, sure, but at heart, it's heart to fault one of the greatest holiday stories. It's one that's been told many time before and one that everyone's probably heard of at one time or another. However, this one is a particularly fine way to introduce the story to little kids. Adults may be a tad bit bored, but it Mickey Mouse and it is a great story, so it is hard to hate the short, which is enjoyable.
    However, it's not without it flaws. Like Stuck on Christmas, the jokes aren't particularly good and the short isn't good enough the make up for it. Maybe it's because it's a story I've heard so many times before. As good as it is, this version add little variation on the classic. Plus, it feels like it was artificially lengthened. A pointless musical number is thrown in, which does nothing but make us wonder why Mickey just cash in one his musical talent? One briefly brilliant moment though come when the story's villain Pete (Jim Cummings), gets his just desserts in a lavishly overblown way, involving him sobbing as he watches his business burn to the ground. It's hilarious, though probably unintentionally so.
What is the Verdict?
    Mickey's Once upon a Christmas is a mixed bag. Stuck on Christmas is a dull, unfunny short with it's characters are on autopilot. Mickey and Minnie's The Gift of The Magi is a good introduction to the story for those who haven't heard it before, but is a little too ordinary for folks who have heard it many times before. Last but certainly not least, A Very Goofy Christmas is a honestly funny and heartwarming Christmas classic that is one of my all time favorite, which is worth the price of admission on it's own. Plus, the animation is good and Kelsey Grammer is the narrator. And isn't that the true meaning of Christmas?
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas gets 4 and a half jingle bells out of 6.

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