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Toon Talk: Mickey's Magical Christmas
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by Kirby C. Holt (archives)
November 8, 2001
Kirby reviews the latest direct-to-video release, Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse.

Toon Talk
Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt

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Mickey's Magical Christmas
Snowed in at the House of Mouse


Purchase Mickey's Magical Christmas
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Have you ever tuned in to your favorite television show for a "new" episode, only to find out it is actually one of those incredibly lame "clip shows"? You know the scenario: Fonzie, Richie and Potsie, for example, sit around Arnold's "reminiscing" about the "good ol' days" (of what-last season?) and say things like "remember the time when ...?"

Well, I definitely remember the time when I have seen almost all of the material found on the so-called "new" DVD Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.

(If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the House of Mouse television series, click here for a synopsis of the show included in my review of the CD soundtrack.)

The skeletal plot begins on Christmas Eve, as the festivities at the House of Mouse are winding down, and the staff and guests are preparing to make their way home to spend the holidays with their families. But a snow storm has left them stranded, so Mickey and all the gang decide to make the best of the situation. All, that is, except Donald, who is in a "bah, humbug"-type of mood.

To cheer him up, they show "home movies" of Christmas' past, i.e. old cartoons that we've all seen before. No wonder Donald remains so cranky.

Three of the shorts included are repeats from the Mickey Mouse Works series:

  • Donald on Ice finds Donald's ice-skating outing conflicting with Huey, Dewey and Louie's attempts at winning a snowman-building contest. Save for the winter setting, the holiday theme is tenuous at best.

  • Mickey and Pluto decorate their house for Christmas, the pay-off being a house smothered in garlands and lights, a gag that has been used and re-used for years, in everything from Home Improvement to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

  • In the most ambitious of the Mouse Works lot, Mickey and company enact Tchaikowsky's The Nutcracker. Aside from John Cleese's snippy narration and Trans-Siberian Orchestrations of the beloved suite, the retelling and animation is a bit to Animaniacal for the classic Disney characters.

The remaining two cartoons are classic theatrical shorts, shoved jarringly into the mix:

  • Pluto's Christmas Tree (here referred to as Pluto and the Christmas Tree) is a 1952 Mickey Mouse short, but the real stars are Pluto and Chip 'n Dale. When Mickey inadvertently cuts down their pine tree home to use as his Christmas tree, the two chipmunks come along for the ride, much to Pluto's chagrin. Includes the classic scene of Dale disguised as a Santa candle. (I laughed more during this segment then I did in the rest of the show, and I've seen this short umpteen times. Sure shows they don't make 'em like they used to.)

  • After Mickey (with the advice of Jiminy Cricket) finally gets Donald into the holiday spirit, we see one of Mickey's "favorite Christmas stories", the 1983 Oscar-nominated short Mickey's Christmas Carol. This one feels especially out of place, as it's probably the most dramatic Mickey short ever made. (Just watch Scrooge's visit to the cemetery and you'll see what I mean.) And the highly detailed backgrounds of Dickensian London clash harshly with the One Saturday Morning fare that bookends the feature.

Gathering around the Christmas tree, all of the characters join in, "We Are the World"-style, singing the new song "The Best Christmas of All" as the finale of this "very special episode" of House of Mouse. Bah, humbug indeed.

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