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Case Number 02204

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Mickey's House Of Villains

Disney // 2002 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // September 17th, 2002

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All Rise...

The Charge

Mickey and Disney's greatest villains together for the first time ever!

Opening Statement

Something old, something new, something irrelevant, and a little "BOO" all strung together as a Halloween treat for you. Disney capitalizes on the fast growing American holiday with mixed results.

Facts of the Case

Mickey's House of Mouse is the hot nightclub for every Disney character who wants to see or be seen. Owned and operated by the powerhouse team of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, their staff includes Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, and the Penguin wait-staff from Mary Poppins, among others. Guests enjoy fine food, standup comedy, musical performances, and short films by their Disney brethren. Tonight's Halloween entertainment has attracted an unexpectedly large number of villainous personalities, which has some of the staff a bit on edge. As the evening moves closer to the midnight hour, the big baddies—Jafar, Ursula, Hades, Cruella, and Captain Hook—show their hand and marshal their evil hordes into taking over the club. It's up to our small band of heroes to overcome seemingly impossible odds and reclaim the House of Mouse.

The Evidence

House of Mouse is going strong into its third season on ABC's One Saturday Morning. The formula is fairly simple. Each week starts with a bookend storyline focused within the club, buffered by a mix of classic and new animated shorts. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy are the principal stars with occasional guest stars and cameos by virtually every Disney character ever created (sometimes with their original voices). Often it requires more than one viewing just to see who the animators have visiting the club each week.

Similar to its first full length holiday release, Snowed in at the House of Mouse, Mickey's House of Villains focuses on Halloween by having the largest assembly of Disney's less scrupulous denizens join forces to smite Mickey and Company. Unfortunately, the Villain's intriguing plan takes a back seat to the eight animated shorts used to fill this feature's 70 minute running time.

Trick or Treat—This 1952 short features Donald taking on his nephews—Huey, Dewey, and Louie—in a battle of tricks while protecting his treats. The boys gain a much-needed ally in the form of Witch Hazel (voiced by the legendary June Foray), as they try to gain access to Donald's treat-filled pantry. A classic all the way around.
GRADE: A

Mickey's Mechanical House—Narrated by John Cleese, this new short is done in the style of Dr. Seuss meets John Kricfalusi. Mickey is fed up with the problems his house has been giving him—clanging furnace, loose shutters, etcetera—and decides to move. Packing up his belongings and trusty companion Pluto, Mickey moves down the street to a new state-of-the-art, electronic house. The conveniences soon turn to nightmares as the house goes out of control. Not really a Halloween tale, but it's fun and still fits the theme.
GRADE: B

How to Haunt a House—Continuing in the tradition of Goofy's 1940's "How To" features, this new short teaches the ins and outs of being an effective ghost. Goofy is, of course, the unsuccessful haunter, while long-time pal Donald is the unsuspecting and unaffected hauntee. Extremely funny with tongue planted firmly in cheek, it may disturb parents with young children as Goofy is killed off-screen—"just for now"—in order to illustrate his ghostly duties.
GRADE: A

Lonesome Ghosts—The original Ghostbusters—Mickey, Donald, and Goofy—star in this classic 1937 short that cemented the comedic trio in the hearts and minds of many. Four bored ghosts duplicitously call on our heroic paranormal exterminators to brush up on their scare tactics and have a little fun. A must see classic.
GRADE: A

Dance of the Goofys—Here's where I start getting annoyed. This new musical short has a Fantasia-esque premise, as we watch a team of imprecise Goofy fairies open and close flowers on a Spring evening. This has nothing to do with Halloween and is very much out of place here. If you are going to do a Halloween-themed feature, spend more time on the Villains plotline instead of padding your running time with crap like this.
GRADE: F

Donald Duck and the Gorilla—Here we go again. While this classic 1944 short—featuring Donald and the boys (Huey, Dewey, and Louie)—does have an element of fright, it has nothing to do with Halloween. That, combined with the chase sequence which makes the interior of Donald's house appear larger than Buckingham Palace, proves this is even more unnecessary filler.
GRADE: D

It's Our House Now—Finally, the main storyline gets its moment in the spotlight. This new song and dance showstopper features just about every Disney villain, large and small, to grace the screen. Fun to watch, but all too brief. This concept could have been taken much further.
GRADE: B

Donald's Halloween Scare—Hands down the most entertaining segment of the entire disc. Disney Halloween at its finest. This new short, set to a stylized version of Greig's In the Hall of the Mountain King, stars the boys—Huey, Dewey, and Louie—off on a trick or treat adventure they'll never forget. Everyone is out to give them a fright, including Uncle Donald, who ends up more scared than anyone. Once again, may be a bit too macabre for the little ones, but the adults will love it.
GRADE: A+

Hansel & Gretel—While not Halloween-specific, this new short does feature Mickey and Minnie stepping into the shoes of the classic fairy tale characters and doing battle with one nasty witch. Set to the music of Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, this stylized and engaging segment is a true gem and, with any luck, an indication of potentially great things Disney animators can do with these classic characters.
GRADE: A+

With the segments complete, we return to the main storyline, where our heroes are battling to regain control of the club from Jafar and his cronies. To be honest, what could have been an interesting fight with each villain taking a turn in the spotlight, wound up as nothing more than a lame resolution courtesy of a last minute guest hero.

As for the physical evidence, the 1.33:1 full frame presentation looks fantastic, with vibrant colors and crisp restorations of the older shorts, while the Dolby 5.1 audio is a real treat, especially for material like this. In fact, one of the extras is a montage of great Disney villain moments, available in both music- and effects-only formats. Crank it up and enjoy. The remaining extras are okay, but nothing spectacular. A cursor driven trivia game, The Reel of Misfortune, is fun for Disney fans, but not as entertaining as last year's disney.com "Who wants to be a Villionaire." In the main menu, the lobby posters of three villains provide hidden links to brief clips of their dastardly exploits. Finally, DVD-ROM links and a bevy of trailers for upcoming releases round out the disc.

Closing Statement

There is some great new talent at Disney, as evidenced by some of the new animated shorts included on this disc. Unfortunately, the overall writing and direction is lacking. At a retail price of $29.95, I have a difficult time giving a "buy" recommendation to anyone except the true Disney fanatics. Little kids could find some of the imagery disturbing, so parents beware.

The Verdict

This court finds Mickey's House of Villains guilty of coming up with a great idea and failing to execute on its delivery. The exceptional segments detailed within this opinion are hereby absolved of any criminal wrongdoing and released on their own recognizance. However, the producers of this disc are sentenced to return to their drawing boards.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 80
Acting: 85
Story: 80
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: Disney
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• All Ages
• Animation
• Disney
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• "Reel of Misfortune" Interactive Game
• "Fright Delight" Villain Music and Effects Montage
• "Hidden Villains" Villain Clips
• DVD-ROM Web Links
• Theatrical Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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