Mickey's Christmas Carol /
Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year
Walt Disney Studios
Rating: G / G
Reason for the Rating: N/A
Plot Summaries: Mickey's Christmas Carol retells the Dickens classic with the Disney gang playing all the roles. In Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year, the animal friends try to make (and keep) personality-changing resolutions for the New Year.
PopFam Recommends: Best for preschoolers and nostalgic parents.
Let's face it, nostalgia always plays a role when Disney pulls something out of the vault for a re-release. Despite the "Presented for the First Time Ever in Blu-ray!" marketing push for Mickey's Christmas Carol (orig. 1983) and Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002), we all know the real reason why we buy these films for our kids:
It's because we love Mickey and Pooh, and we want our kids to love them too.
These Christmas season gems are as good a place as any to share the love.
Mickey's Christmas Carol is a short film - about half an hour - originally produced for television some 30 years ago. As such it shows signs of wear. The hi-def conversion is fine, but not as warm and enchanting as I remember the original.
If you've never seen Mickey's Christmas Carol, the premise is simple: What if Mickey, Minnie, and the gang starred in an abbreviated production of Charles Dicken's classic Christmas tale? A fun idea, and there are certainly some fun moments here.
Casting Scrooge McDuck as his namesake, Ebenezer Scrooge, was brilliant - he steals every scene he's in. And, now that Wayne Allwine has passed, it's nice to hear the venerable voice of Mickey Mouse squeaking in his prime.
The story itself is reasonably well told - not too scary but still suspenseful in a preschool-friendly way. Some moments seems slow for adults, but overall the film should keep the attention of your younger family members. Still, one has to wonder how cool a full-length version of this movie might have been, had Disney been willing to invest in that. I guess we'll never know.
Perhaps because the film itself is slight, Disney has packed this Blu-ray with quite a few extras. A Christmas Carol singalong feels a little forced, but five Disney holiday-friendly cartoon shorts make up for that. Goofy's slapstick instructional video, "The Art of Skiing" is the don't-miss viewing here. If Goofy yodeling and falling down a mountain doesn't make you laugh out loud, then you have no soul.
Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year fares a bit better than Mickey's Christmas Carol, maybe because it's a more recent film and definitely because it's closer to a full-length feature film, running 65 minutes.
The story here is both familiar and surprising: Pooh and pals make misguided New Year's resolutions, and then we get to watch the humorous antics that result. Pooh gives up honey and suddenly becomes glum like Eeyore. Piglet takes up bouncing and starts to resemble Tigger. You get the idea. With a subtle nod toward affirming a child's uniqueness and individuality, it's a fun little plot for this endearing movie.
The personality transfers are entertaining, but the flourishes make it a truly sweet and gentle comedy, always affirming, always bringing smiles. Themes of kindness and respect for others are well demonstrated. The songs are warm and cheerful, pleasant after even multiple viewings/hearings. The pace of the film is engaging as well, and should capture the attention of most all preschoolers aged about 18 months and up. (Mom and dad should enjoy watching too.)
Bonus features on Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year are not as plentiful as they are on Mickey's Christmas Carol. There's a soundtrack sing-along and a few interactive games. Nothing special in this regard. For this Blu-ray package, it really is the movie that sells it.
All in all, Mickey's Christmas Carol is nice, but not a must-see. On the other hand, Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year would be a wonderful holiday tradition for any home with children 5 and under.
One last, though important, note: The biggest problem with these two holiday Blu-rays from Disney is their exorbitant price. While the films themselves are family-friendly, the cost to bring them home is surprisingly anti-family.
Both of these products retail for a whopping $36.99 each - or nearly $75 for both. That feels almost like price-gouging for a mere 26 minutes of Mickey and barely an hour of Pooh. For that reason only PopFam can't really recommend these to parents unless you're are able to find them on sale for 50% off or more.
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