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, which had its animated output put into a slump since the passing of its legendary namesake creator in 1966.
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 '70s.), along with the debut of Alan Young as his primary voice actor.
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. In 1984 it began airing annually around Christmas on network and cable television and remains a holiday season favorite to this day. In 2001, it was included in the Christmas special Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
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: 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.
- Adaptational Jerkass: In the book and most adaptations, Scrooge (because it's a social custom) reluctantly agrees to give Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off, with expecting him earlier the following morning. This version of Scrooge, on the other hand, only gives Cratchit half a day off, docks his pay by half, and makes him wash his laundry for him.
- Adaptational Nationality: Scrooge is described as an Englishman, in line with the original novel, whereas Scrooge McDuck has always been Scottish (migrated to America) in the comics. He still has his usual Scottish accent, though.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- In most adaptations, the Ghost of Christmas Future is simply Necessarily Evil and a Villainy-Free Villain; here, he actually finds sadistic enjoyment in forcing Scrooge through his potential Bad Future. Of course, this one's portrayed by Pete, so what else did you really expect? Although his goal is still technically heroic by scaring Scrooge straight, but he hammers the message stronger by acting more villainous.
- Played With Goofy as Jacob Marley. Goofy is usually portrayed as a heroic, bumbling character. But Jacob Marley is someone who was evil enough in life he's sentenced to damnation, though his role here is to give a warning message so Scrooge won't follow his footsteps or else he'll suffer eternally, which is technically a rather heroic role despite his evil past. At least Goofy still kept his bumbling attitude.
- Adapted Out:
- Fred's wife isn't seen or mentioned, presumably since Daisy is already playing Young Scrooge's love interest, Isabelle.
- Scrooge's childhood is never shown, which means his sister Fan never appears either.
- The Cratchits have only three children instead of six.
- Age Lift: Downplayed in that she's only seen as her usual self in the past, but Daisy Duck plays the role of Belle, Scrooge's ex-fiance, which would imply she's much older here than in any other media.
- All Just a Dream: What Scrooge is very thankful for, given his nightmare's conclusion.
- And Starring: Clarence Nash gets this billing as he was the only one of the Disney characters' original voice actors to return for the special. It wound up being his last time voicing Donald Duck.
- Animated Adaptation: This is an adaptation of Disneyland Records' 1974 audio musical entitled An Adaptation of Dickens's Christmas Carol. The biggest difference is that the first and third ghosts in the animated short are played by Merlin (Past) and the Evil Queen/Witch (Future), while Willie the Giant still played Present. The alms collectors are played not by Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole, as in the animated short, but by J. Worthington Foulfellow and Gideon.
- 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.
- Artistic License – History: At the very beginning of the short, we see the Big Bad Wolf ringing a bell next to a pot, which is way too much like the Salvation Army (which was founded in 1865, 22 years after the novel's 1843 publication). What's really bad, however, is that he's wearing a modern Santa Claus suit - it wasn't until Norman Rockwell drew numerous pictures of him in the 1920s that his current appearance really solidified. Anyone dressed like that in the 1840s would have looked more like a clown than St. Nick.
- Black Comedy: The Ghost of Christmas Future cracks an ironically cruel joke at Ebenezer's impending demise.
- 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?".
- Burial at Sea: Marley left Scrooge enough money to buy him a tombstone. Scrooge pocketed the money and buried Marley at sea.
- 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 (1973) in particular) or short.
- Carnivore Confusion: A 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 despite having at least two cousins who are geese.
- Chewbacca Defense: Scrooge confounding the charity workers.
- Cigar Chomper: Pete as the devilish Ghost of Christmas Future.
- Composite Character: The Ghost of Christmas Past's (Jiminy Cricket) line about being measured by kindness, is similar to when the Ghost of Christmas Present retorts Scrooge's "surplus population" remark in the original book.
- Dangled by a Giant: The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Willie the Giant, dangles Scrooge over his bed and eventually over several succulent Christmas pies, meats, and fruits. He dangles Scrooge again while he's gripped at the end of a grape branch.
- Dark Reprise: The background music starting at Scrooge's arrival at the graveyard through Bob's exit is mostly an instrumental sad reprise of the opening credits song.
- Deadpan Door Shut: Scrooge opens the curtains of his bed to find the Ghost of Christmas Present (played by Willie the Giant) sitting in his bedroom. He quickly closes the curtains, then peeks through to check if he was just seeing things, and is met with Willie's gigantic eye staring back at him.
- Decomposite Character: Willie the Giant as the Ghost of Christmas Present is an Adaptational Nice Guy compared to how in the Original story he gleefully mocked Scrooge with Ironic Echo's, Pete as the Ghost of Christmas Future instead becomes the mocking ghost after his Suddenly Speaking moment at the end.
- Demoted to Extra: Fred is a bit less important in this adaptation. Scrooge chews him out in the first act, then reconciles and promises to go to his party in the ending, but the Ghost of Christmas Present doesn't take him to see Fred's party in progress.
- Digital Destruction: The 30th Anniversary Edition home video releases have digitally smeared picture, which also looks zoomed in too closely. The Digital HD release of Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse does provide an un-cropped, more filmic-looking alternative, albeit without any credits.
- Door Slam of Rage: After Scrooge breaks up with Isabelle, the heartbroken girl walks out the door, slamming it and causing Scrooge to lose count of his coins.
- 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 forecloses. Needless to say, she walks out on him forever.
- Evil Laugh: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come laughs after shoving Scrooge into his own grave.
- 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:Mr. Rat: Sir, we are soliciting funds for the indigent and destitute.
Scrooge: For the what?
Mr. Mole: We're collecting for the poor.
- The Faceless: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has no face visible under its hood except for his eyes. Averted when the ghost reveals himself as Pete.
- 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 shoves him into the grave. Scrooge 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.
- Gentle Giant: The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Willie the Giant. At least he tries to be gentle.
- Good is Not Nice: While all of the Ghosts are meant to change Scrooge into becoming a better person, they make it no secret that they think he's a despicable miser who has done nothing but choose money over love and the needy.
- 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: When Isabelle leaves Scrooge, her dress, parasol, and fur cape are all dark purple.
- Insane Troll Logic: Scrooge pulls this on the two charity collectors as an excuse to avoid giving them any money for the poor.Scrooge: You realize if you give money to the poor, they won't be poor anymore, will they?
First charity collector: Well, I—
Scrooge: And, if they're not poor anymore, then you won't have to raise money for them anymore.
Second alms collector: Well, I suppose—
Scrooge: And if you don't have to raise money for them anymore, then you'd be out of a job. Oh, please, gentlemen, don't ask me to put you out of a job. Not on Christmas Eve.
- Jerkass: The whole point of the Ghosts visiting Scrooge is to tell him what a mean, miserly, all-around creep he really is, and that he had better change or else his future won't be good.
- Kick the Dog: The first five minutes is one long line of these moments for Scrooge, starting with Marley's funeral. Marley left Scrooge money specifically for funeral arrangements, which Scrooge shirked out on by having Marley buried at sea.
- Layman's Terms: This happens when the two charity collectors ask Scrooge to donate some money to the poor:Scrooge: And what can I do for you two gentlemen?
Charity collector 1: Sir, we are collecting funds for the indigent and destitute.
Scrooge: For the what?
Charity collector 2: We're collecting for the poor.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Tiny Tim is terminally ill. In the bad future, Tim has died of his illness and Bob is deeply in grief.
- Lonely Funeral: The weasel gravediggers say that nobody showed up for Scrooge's funeral.
- Mind Your Step: Happens as Marley's ghost bids farewell to Scrooge and walks through the bedroom wall:Scrooge: Marley, watch out for that first—!Marley: Whoooa! YAAAAAH-HOO-HOO-HOO-HOOEY!Scrooge: ...step.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When visiting his past, Scrooge expresses regret for foreclosing his would-be home with Isabelle, thus driving her out of his life. When he sees the potential future, he also expresses horror over the thought of Tiny Tim dying at a young age because he wasn't paying Bob enough.
- 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. The Ghost of Christmas Present tells of Tiny Tim: "If these shadows remain unchanged, I see an empty chair where Tiny Tim once sat." To which 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.
- Never Trust a Title: While the special is named Mickey's Christmas Carol and he is a huge part of it, the true main character is Scrooge McDuck.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Will Ryan's voice for the second Weasel Gravedigger in the Future scene is an impression of Peter Lorre.
- Offscreen Crash: Happens to Goofy (playing Marley) along with Mind Your Step. Scrooge tells him to "watch out for that first..." Step.
- Out of Focus: Despite getting title billing, Mickey has a relatively small role in what was hyped as his comeback film, portraying a sympathetic and likable Bob Cratchit.
- Pink Means Feminine: Isabelle's first dress is bright pink.
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: As in Fun and Fancy Free, Willie still can't say "pistachio".
- The Reveal: As in all adaptations of the story, the Ghost Of Christmas Future's is hidden in his cloak — until he strikes a match on Scrooge's grave to light a cigar, whose light reveals his identity: it's Pete.
- Rule of Funny: Some of the greedy stuff Scrooge brags about, Marley's pratfalls, and the giant walking around town.
- Secondary Character Title: Even though it's called "Mickey's Christmas Carol," it's Scrooge McDuck who takes the lead as Ebenezer Scrooge. Mickey's presence as Bob Cratchit is pretty limited.
- Second-Face Smoke: Done by Pete (as the Ghost of Christmas Future) to Scrooge, who chokes on the cigar smoke.
- Spin-Off: The success of this short paved the way for Disney to put together DuckTales (1987), with Alan Young returning as the voice of Scrooge McDuck.
- Stock Scream: Marley is played by Goofy, so of course Goofy's iconic holler can be heard as Marley's ghost leaves and falls down the stairs.
- Suddenly Speaking:
"Why, yours, Ebenezer! The richest man in the cemetery!"
- The Ghost Of Christmas Future never speaks in the book and most adaptations, but here Pete has one line after being silent for most of his scene.
- In the original Disney record version, Foulfellow and Gideon are the alms collectors, with Gideon at one point speaking in unison with Foulfellow. May double as a Mythology Gag, Gideon was meant to speak in Pinocchio, voiced by Mel Blanc (yes, that one), but all his lines but a hiccup sound effect were cut.
- Tiny Tim Template: One of Mickey's nephews plays the role of Tiny Tim. In this universe, Tiny Tim appears as a poor boy walking with a crutch, who is in need of assistance.
- Token Human: The Ghost of Christmas Present (portrayed by Willie the Giant) is the only human-looking character in the film.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: Every character is played by an established Disney animated character.
- Villain Song: Not in the short, but on the original LP, Scrooge sings about how "the only thing that counts for [him] is money".
- The same song has a "villain sucks" section that's sung from Bob Cratchit's perspective.
- Also on the original LP, Marley's Ghost has a "villain sucks" song about himself and how he was wrong to rob and swindle as he did in life.
- The Voiceless: Bob and Tiny Tim are the only members of the Cratchit family who speak. Though Mrs. Cratchit does speak in the record version. Fezziwig also doesn't get any lines.
- Wham Line: A famous one, coupling perfectly with the Wham Shot from the original story.Scrooge: Spirit... whose lonely grave is this?
(The ghost lights a match to reveal the name on the gravestone is "Ebenezer Scrooge")
Ghost: (removes his hood to reveal a maniacally grinning Pete) Why, yours, Ebenezer! (pushes Scrooge into the grave) The richest man in the cemetery! (laughs wickedly)
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: An adaptation of the book.