A Year in Shorts Day 55: "Mickey's Christmas Carol"
Merry Christmas fellow Oscar Baiters! To celebrate the holiday, I’d love to share with you all a beloved Christmas tradition in my household- watching The Muppet Christmas Carol! Unfortunately, The Muppet Christmas Carol isn’t a short, so it doesn’t really fit in with our Year in Shorts. And aside from that, the cowards at the Academy completely ignored The Muppet Christmas Carol in all categories, so it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever talk about it on this blog… Well, now that Christmas is good and ruined let’s just look at Mickey’s Christmas Carol instead.
I am taking it as a given that everyone reading this has seen Mickey's Christmas Carol, or at least one of the thousand and one other adaptations of Charles Dickens' classic, so we'll forgo the plot synopsis. It's also important to note that Mickey's Christmas Carol isn't the first animated adaptation of Charles Dickens' story to get some Oscar love; in 1972, Alistair Sim reprised his role in a TV special which would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. But I hadn't seen that back when I was planning out the Year in Shorts, so I won't be covering it. Maybe after I see another 365 Oscar-nominated shorts we can take a look!
Released in 1983, Mickey's Christmas Carol was the first theatrically released Mickey short in thirty years, so there was a lot of hype surrounding it. Disney attached the film to rereleases of The Jungle Book (in the UK) and The Rescuers (in the US). This was before the Disney Renaissance, you see, so the best way for Disney to make money was to just put out films they knew people already liked (and also The Rescuers), which is completely different from their current business model in that nowadays they somehow simultaneously spend and make more money by doing so.
Digs at the Walt Disney company aside, Mickey's Christmas Carol is a good short, although I'd be lying if I said I thought it was a great one. As an adaptation of the original novel, it's fairly successful. At only twenty-six minutes there isn't a lot of time to focus on the details of the story, but it hits the beats well enough and moves at a reasonable clip. It's not so much of an adaptation as it is a Cliffs Notes brought to life. Sort of like the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice, except this film is actually good.
Man, I'm going after everyone today. Anyway, one does not watch Mickey's Christmas Carol to get a great adaptation of the story. That's what the Muppets are for. One watches for Mickey and friends, most particularly Scrooge McDuck in the lead role. I think they're all cast reasonably well, and the use of characters like Goofy and Willie the Giant certainly add a healthy dose of humor to the story, even if Donald Duck is tragically underused in the role of Fred.
While I do have complaints with this short, they're fairly minor. Even at its accelerated pace, I think Christmas Future feels too rushed. And while the moment where Bob (Mickey Mouse) visits Tiny Tim's grave is suitably effective, I feel as though a lot of the emotional beats in the story don't land like they should. Mickey's Christmas Carol is a good short, but it doesn't quite reach the upper echelons of Christmas Carol adaptations.
But it's not bottom of the barrel either, and even an average adaptation of A Christmas Carol is worth a watch in my opinion. And it's certainly better than Sundae in New York, which inexplicably beat it for the Oscar that year. Honestly, there's only thing that can be said about that.
Whatever the case, Mickey's Christmas Carol remains a holiday classic for a lot of people, and if you're one of them, I hope you enjoy it in this crazy Christmas season of ours. No matter what version of A Christmas Carol is your favorite, whether you're more into George C. Scott or Patrick Stewart, if your household be a Scrooge or Scrooged one, celebrate the season in whatever way you can. When it comes to A Christmas Carol, I say God bless 'em, every one!
Except for the Jim Carrey one. That thing's an abomination.
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"Mickey's Christmas Carol" is available on Disney +
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