Toon Talk: The Three Musketeers
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
The Three Musketeers
Musketeer Roll Call
Unlike the two previous turns at casting Mickey in literary hallmarks, Musketeers is not as literal as Mickey's Christmas Carol nor as clever as The Prince and the Pauper in its retelling; in fact, Dumas' tale is only given passing reference here, wherein the classic trio are cast as bumbling janitors who yearn to be just like the Musketeers whose exploits they thrilled to while growing up. They are given their chance when the oily Captain Pete (as in Pegleg Pete) enlists them as royal bodyguards to the fair Princess Minnie (wearing bangs!), knowing that their bumbling will not interfere with his dastardly plot (aided by the equally bumbling Beagle Boys and Clarabelle Cow, here cast-against-type as a bovine femme fatale) to kidnap the princess and take over the kingdom for himself. Of course, the three would-be heroes must rely on their friendship and teamwork to overcome their shortcomings in order to save the day, and even find some romance along the way.
In an attempt to liven up what, as you can see, is a rather uninspired scenario, we are presented with a â€˜Turtle Troubadour' as narrator (voiced by Rob "Pinkyâ€? Paulsen, whose only attempt at characterization is a week Maurice Chevalier impersonation) who occasionally pops up to sing what are billed as "six rousing songs featuring comical spins on classical music by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and othersâ€? ... in other words, childish rhymes grafted onto masterworks of the great composers (all of whom - save one (Bizet) - are not even French; even the â€˜L'Opera' they attend in the film's climax isn't an opera, but an operetta, which must have been some kind of "Gilbert and Sullivan's Greatest Hitsâ€?, as it includes songs from both The Pirates of Penzance and Princess Ida.)
This may sound like nitpicking, but it points out the major fault of the modest production, the lack of the smart, cutting â€˜wink to the adults' wit that has made such other recent Mickey projects so enjoyable, such as House of Mouse (the series, not the dreadful video collections). That said, there are a few such examples (a surprise appearance of Mickey's usual â€˜costume', an unexpected refrain of a familiar "marchâ€?) amidst the otherwise predictable shenanigans, just not enough to elevate it above what is actually just an extended short, stretched out to "feature lengthâ€? so the Disney marketeers can bill it as the first "full length feature starring Mickey, Donald and Goofyâ€?, which, if you forget Fun and Fancy Free, I suppose it is, even at only 68 minutes ... not to mention the fact that the true definition of â€˜feature' is a film that is presented in a theatrical format