Disney: Mickey's Christmas Carol

"Joy to the children far and near
What a wondrous time of year
Isn't it just grand to say
Merry, Merry Christmas
Merry, Merry Christmas
Oh, what a merry Christmas day!"

For years, Mickey Mouse, a once mighty force in animation, was but a memory. After his fall from popularity in the 1940s, and his final appearances in the 1950s, it seemed like there was no future for the mouse save as a corporate symbol for Disney.

But then, in 1983, this film came along and changed that — well, sort of.

Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 24-minute film, and a fairly straightforward adaptation of that one classic story everybody knows about by now. Despite the short being billed as Mickey's comeback, he serves only as the character of Bob Cratchit. Scrooge McDuck (in the role of—take a wild guess—Ebenezer Scrooge!) carries the bulk of the film instead, making his first animated appearance since the 1967 educational short Scrooge McDuck and Money. (Otherwise, up to this point he'd only appeared in the Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge comics and this short's precursor, a storybook album from The Seventies.)

Debuting as a supporting feature with the 1983 theatrical re-release of The Rescuers (after an animators' strike delayed an intended 1982 premiere on television), this adaptation was fairly well-received and nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Short Film. Many moviegoers were disappointed that, its title notwithstanding, the film had virtually nothing to do with Mickey at all; that feeling might have been a contribution to him coming back after that, since people wanted to see more of him. In 1984 it began airing annually around Christmas on network and cable television, and remains a holiday season favorite to this day.

This animated short features examples of:

  • Accidental Bargaining Skills: After Scrooge's reformation, he goes to the alms collectors. They are stunned at his sudden turnaround, which leads him to think they're holding out for more!
    Scrooge: Good morning, gentlemen. I've something for ya.
    [Puts a bag of coins on the second collector's head]
    First Charity Collector (Mr. Rat): Twenty gold sovereigns! Oh, no!
    Scrooge: Not enough? Here.
    [Puts another bag on the collector's pants]
    Scrooge: Fifty gold sovereigns!
    Second Charity Collector (Mr. Mole): Really, Mister Scrooge. It's...
    Scrooge: Still not enough! You drive a hard bargain. Here you are.
    [Throws several bags at the collectors]
    Scrooge: One hundred gold pieces, and not a penny more!
    First Charity Collector (Mr. Rat): Oh, thank you, Mr. Scrooge! Thank you! And a *merry* Christmas to you!
  • Adaptation Distillation / Compressed Adaptation: The result of telling an already short novel in a half-hour runtime. Some plot points are lost and others condensed and/or simplified; Tiny Tim's Bad Future fate for instance, is shown in a few seconds, without dialogue.
  • All Just a Dream: What Scrooge is very thankful for, given his nightmare's conclusion (the evil, miserly duck going to Hell for being an all-around asshole), when he meets the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come.
  • Animated Adaptation: This is an adaptation of Disneyland Records' 1974 audio musical entitled An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. The biggest difference is that the first and third ghosts in the animated short (Jiminy Cricket as Past, Pete as Future) are in the audio musical played by Merlin (Past) and the Evil Queen/Witch (Future), which was consistent with Willie the Giant playing Present (as all three of them are humans with magical abilities in their respective films).
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Inverted with Cyril Proudbottom the horse. He is a Partially Civilized Animal in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, but he's a Nearly Normal Animal in this featurette.
  • Black Comedy: The Ghost of Christmas Future cracks an ironically cruel joke at Ebenezer's impending demise. See Suddenly Voiced.
  • Book Snap: Scrooge is working on his ledger when Donald Duck (as Fred) comes in and wishes him a Merry Christmas. Scrooge slams the ledger shut and asks him "What's so merry about it?"
  • The Cameo: Several classic Disney characters make appearances, including the Three Little Pigs, Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant and Mr. Toad. And just about everybody at Fezziwig's appeared in a Disney feature (Robin Hood in particular) or short.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Suckling pig makes an appearance when Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, after the Three Little Pigs have a cameo as carolers in the opening scene on the city streets. Donald also invites Scrooge to have goose for dinner!
  • Chewbacca Defense: Scrooge confounding the charity workers.
  • Cigar Chomper / Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Pete as the devilish Ghost of Christmas Future.
  • Digital Destruction: The 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray and Digital Copy have digitally smeared picture, which also looks zoomed in too closely.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Isabelle asks Scrooge about his decision, she means whether they get married, while he thinks it's about the mortgage on their honeymoon cottage, which he closes.
  • Evil Laughter: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (aka Pete), after shoving Scrooge into his grave and mocking him with "The richest man in the cemetery!"
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Scrooge's reaction to meeting the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Jiminy Cricket. The Ghost's response is that if men were measured by kindness, Scrooge would be no bigger than a speck of dust.
  • Expospeak Gag:
    Ratty: Sir, we are soliciting funds for the indigent and destitute.
    Scrooge: For the what?
    Moley: We're collecting for the poor.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: In the scene where Scrooge is confronted by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he is shown a newly dug grave, and told that nobody came to the funeral of the man who will be buried there. Upon learning that it is his grave, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Pete) mocks Scrooge, saying he's the "richest man in the cemetery!" before shoving him into the grave. Scrooge, realizing what is about to happen, screams for mercy and vows to change, but he loses his grip on a twig and falls into a casket whose interior is on fire, implying he is about to enter Hell. Averted — and revealed to be All Just a Dream — when he wakes up just an instant before the first fibers of his body touch the flames.
  • Furry Denial: Scrooge McDuck, who's playing Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is referred to as an "Englishman," despite being a drake (a male duck) (and actually Scottish).
  • Got Me Doing It: Mickey almost says "And a Bah Humbug to you" to Scrooge, but catches himself and wishes Merry Christmas instead.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Isabelle's second dress, and her parasol, and fur cape.
  • Jerkass: The whole point of the Ghosts visiting Scrooge: To tell him he is a mean, miserly, all-around asshole and that he had better change or else his future won't be good.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Tiny Tim, who is terminally ill. Turns into a genuine Tearjerker moment when it is revealed — as part of Scrooge's visit with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come — that Tim has died of his illness, and that Bob is deeply in grief, having never had a chance to say goodbye, much less spend with him during Tim's last few days (because Scrooge had cruelly worked him to the point of exhaustion, demanding that he work even when he needed/wanted to be home with Tim). In the future vision, Bob and his family are visiting the grave and Bob tenderly leaves Tim's crutch at his grave.
  • Lonely Funeral: The gravediggers say that nobody showed up for Scrooge's funeral.
  • Mythology Gag: The younger version of Scrooge when he meets Isabelle is based on Donald in the 1950 short "Crazy Over Daisy".
  • Never Say "Die": Almost averted. Scrooge says "Then that means Tim will..." but gets cut off when he realizes that the Ghost of Christmas Present has vanished. The next scene makes the conclusion abundantly clear, though.
  • Offscreen Crash: Happens to Goofy (playing Marley). Scrooge tells him to "watch that last..." Step.
  • Out of Focus: Despite getting title billing, Mickey has a relatively small role in what was hyped as his comeback film (which it served as anyway). Of course, casting Mickey as Scrooge would have probably been too Out of Character, and in any event he portrays a sympathetic and likable Bob Cratchit.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Isabelle's first dress.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: As in Fun and Fancy Free, Willie still can't say "pistachio".
  • Rule of Funny: Some of the greedy stuff Scrooge brags about, Marley's pratfalls, and the giant walking around town.
  • Second Face Smoke: Done by Pete (as the Ghost of Christmas Future) to Scrooge.
  • Spin-Off: Sort of: The success of this short paved the way for Disney to put together DuckTales, with Alan Young returning as the voice of Scrooge McDuck.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The Ghost Of Christmas Future AKA Pete.
    "Why, yours, Ebenezer! The richest man in the cemetery!!
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol

Alternative Title(s):

Mickeys Christmas Carol