Would Christmas be complete without Scrooge McDuck? Judge Lacey Worrell scoffs at the very thought.
Find out who's been naughty and who's been nice.
This collection of holiday stories featuring Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, and even Scrooge McDuck is a terrific break from those endless reruns of House of Mouse on The Disney Channel.
Facts of the Case
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas is divided into five short stories, each with a focus on a different stressful occurrence of the holidays. Crowds, embarrassing relatives, arguments, and making messes are all addressed, encouraging children to relate their own behavior to what is going on in the stories. The episodes are as follows:
• "Belles on Ice"—Daisy and Minnie are usually good friends, but when they take to the ice, they become dueling ice divas. Flanked by skating hippos and alligators, each tries to outdo the other in competition. When Minnie takes a nasty spill after a particularly difficult move, Daisy rushes to her rescue as the two realize that their friendship is more important than their individual ice-skating ability.
• "Christmas: Impossible"—Huey, Dewey, and Louie's rudeness and lack of table manners at Scrooge McDuck's house lead the trio to wonder if they have behaved so badly that they will be left off of Santa's list of good children for the upcoming Christmas holiday. They mail themselves off to the North Pole to make their case, but instead they create chaos in Santa's workshop, making their situation even worse. They must figure out a way to make the situation right or risk a year without presents—and, more important, losing their self-respect.
• "Christmas Maximus"—Goofy's now-grown son, Max, whom viewers met in A Goofy Movie, brings his girlfriend home for the holidays. Max is worried about how Mona will perceive his bumbling father. This episode is narrated in song from Max's perspective, and Max begins to realize that having a father like Goofy isn't so bad after all.
• "Donald's Gift"—On a shopping trip with Daisy and his nephews, all Donald wants to do is to find a quiet place away from the crowds to drink his oversized hot chocolate. Instead, he ends up ruining Mousy's Department Store's annual Christmas show and embarrassing Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Donald must find a way to redeem himself before the holiday is ruined for the boys.
• "Mickey's Dog-Gone Christmas"—Mickey is so obsessed with decorating his home perfectly that when his dog, Pluto, accidentally makes a mess of the decorations, Mickey becomes enraged. Pluto travels to the North Pole, where he befriends Santa's reindeer and is rechristened "Murray," for "Murray Christmas." Meanwhile, once Mickey returns his home to its usual pristine state, he realizes how much he misses his canine friend and sets out to bring Pluto home, where he belongs.
Like the recently released Clifford's Big Movie, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas has a far different look than the cartoons that air on television, and this may throw the kiddies off for about a half-second before they settle in to enjoy the movie. That said, Disney has long been the leader when it comes to picture and sound quality in family entertainment, as well as value in terms of included extras, even on their lower-profile releases. Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas is no exception. Except for the instant classic Finding Nemo, I'm partial to hand-drawn animation, but the picture on Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas is vibrant and beautiful nonetheless. At 68 minutes, the length of this disc is just right for kids' notoriously short attention spans.
The best story on this disc is also the shortest. Just about anyone can relate to the beleaguered Max in "Christmas Maximus"; he is so worried his new girlfriend will be turned off by Goofy's antics. Something to think about during the holiday season as you hold your breath, hoping Aunt Tillie won't have that third glass of whiskey and say something really embarrassing in front of your girlfriend or boyfriend. The moral of "Christmas Maximus" is a lesson to everyone that relatives, as difficult as they can be to deal with, are as essential to Christmas as tinsel and stockings.
"Donald's Gift" is another good entry; the very fact that Donald apologizes to Huey, Dewey, and Louie is surprising. I can't remember the last time I viewed a children's disc where an adult (albeit an adult duck) apologizes to the children; usually it is the other way around. In "Mickey's Dog-Gone Christmas," be sure to listen for when Mickey sighs, "I'd have to be a sorcerer to clean up this mess," a thinly veiled reference to his appearance as the sorcerer's apprentice in the Disney classic Fantasia.
Before you view "Belles on Ice," be sure to watch the "Backstage Disney: Inspiration on Ice" special feature. Although the story itself is one of the weakest in the collection, viewers may be fascinated by the Disney artists' technique in animating this story; they actually studied Olympic silver medalist Michelle Kwan, and an entire routine was choreographed for her in order to correctly animate Minnie's and Daisy's movements.
The three included games are a nice addition, especially "Santa's Workshop Challenge," where kids must answer holiday themed questions such as what they should do when an aunt comes to visit and gives them a big, unwelcome kiss. The game may just spark an interesting discussion between parents and kids about manners during the holidays. On the other hand, the very purpose of buying kids DVDs at the holidays is to keep them occupied so that all the cleaning and cooking can get done, so it is quite likely the discussion may not even take place. Nonetheless, here's hoping.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Given Disney's penchant for milking the old cash cow until she's dry by making sequel upon sequel upon sequel, some of you may be reluctant to purchase this DVD. However, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas appears to have been put together with care, and the stories, though moralistic, are quite original.
This DVD is definitely for the 10-and-under set; older kids might find themselves bored by the straightforward stories.
The combination of well-loved Disney characters and the Christmas theme makes this collection of stories irresistible.
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas is recommended by the court for kids of all ages.
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Scales of Justice
• "Santa's Workshop Challenge" Game
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