There are certain holiday traditions I have and many of these traditions revolve around watching certain holiday programming or listening to certain songs. One of my perennial favorite television specials is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Disney’s version of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and is doing so with a smashing Blu-ray release.
The version of the tale told is a good one. Severely condensed from the novel and running slightly less than 30 minutes, Mickey’s Christmas Carol hits all the points and throws in a bunch of Disney characters from various other animated films.
The tale, as one would expect, stars Scrooge McDuck (who was named after the famous Dickens’ character he plays here). Mickey gets to play Bob Cratchit; Minnie is Bob’s wife; and Donald is Scrooge’s nephew, Fred. Also appearing are Goofy and Pete and Willie the Giant and Jiminy Cricket and enough other folks that it would take too long to delve into. However, watching the movie and picking out all the characters (there’s Mr. Toad!) is one of the joys of the experience.
Two of the other main joys are the nostalgia of watching it and the chance to use it as an entry-level version for youngsters. Might they find the Ghost of Christmas Future, played by Pete, a tad scary in comparison to the way Pete is currently depicted on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Absolutely, and one can’t imagine flames erupting from Scrooge’s plot in the graveyard being utilized today, but it all works.
Also included on the disc are several songs which play should one choose to pause the main film, and shorts as well. These shorts include the great (but well-worn) Pluto’s Christmas Tree, which features Mickey’s pal fighting with Chip and Dale. There is also a great one in which Goofy learns to ski with the help of a narrator and more.
The set is rounded out with a DVD copy and a digital one, though disappointingly, while there are choices of sites from which one can redeem their digital copy, none is iTunes.
Not including this Blu-ray, I have two other releases of Mickey’s Christmas Carol on my shelf, and while one is of middling visual quality, the other is something less than that. This isn’t a brilliant restoration of the film, but it is several steps above what has been released before. A lot of effort has clearly been made to clean the film, and it is true that Disney may have gone too far with that—there is no grain whatsoever to be found—but I maintain that it is a drastic improvement… sadly, it’s an improvement that might make one think that this was originally a produced for television special as opposed to a theatrical release. The sound matches that feel – it is clean and gets the job done, but nothing spectacular.
Where this whole release truly fails though is not with the restoration (it isn’t necessarily true to the original, but it is something that will be enjoyed by the youngish audience for whom the picture was produced) it is with the price. Currently, it lists for nearly $37, with Amazon marking it all the way down to just under $29. For a short. With a couple of extra shorts thrown in. It is a holiday favorite of mine, and presumably many others as well, but the trip down memory lane may not be worth the fare.