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Western Animation / Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

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Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas is a 1999 Direct to Video Disney Christmas Special. Narrated by Kelsey Grammer, the film features three Christmas stories starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy where each learn about the meaning of Christmas.

  • Donald Duck — Stuck on Christmas: Huey, Dewey and Louie have such a great Christmas, that they wish upon a star so that it would be Christmas every day, but once their wish comes true and they get tired of it, they learn the true meaning of Christmas.
  • A Very Goofy Christmas: When Max begins to question Santa's existence after Pete questions him with Santa's apparently impossible abilities, Goofy is determined to keep his faith alive.
  • Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi: Mickey and Minnie plan to give each other great gifts for Christmas with a lot of money they plan to earn at their jobs, but when circumstances dash these plans, they learn the meaning of giving by sacrificing their prized possessions for their gifts.

The film received a computer-animated sequel, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, in 2004.

This film provides examples of:

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    Donald Duck - Stuck on Christmas 
  • An Aesop:
    • Having Christmas every day no longer makes the holiday special, but you can keep the spirit of Christmas all year around.
    • Christmas presents and food are great, but the true meaning of the holiday is getting to spend time with your loved ones.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Played for Laughs when Louie puts on weight. He is shown to have a belly button which real life ducks do not have.
    • Aunt Gertie has visible breasts (most noticeable in her introduction scene when she greets Huey, Dewie and Louie). Birds don't have breasts since they don't lactate; only mammals do.
  • Balloon Belly: Louie gets one when he gorges on feast after feast.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The boys wish for Christmas every day and get stuck experiencing the same Christmas Day over and over again, which gets very monotonous for them.
  • Big Eater: Louie, who is seen eating the most at each Christmas, and puts on several pounds because of constant holiday feasting.
  • Big "NO!": The boys do this at the end when Donald asks if they'd like it to be Christmas every day.
  • Butt-Monkey: Donald Duck. The boys also expectedly suffer the brunt of their "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • Canon Foreigner: Aunt Gertie only exists in this special. Somewhat odd given that Donald has quite a few established relatives.
  • Cassandra Truth: The boys tell Donald about the "Groundhog Day" Loop the first time it happens, but Donald just brushes it off as a dream they had and, because of the loop, doesn't remember the conversation as Christmas happens over and over again.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Through most of the short, the nephews go sledding and scare off a nearby turkey. During the disastrous day, they end up using that same turkey to pull a prank on their family.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The letter that Donald wrote that the boys keep ignoring later turns out to be an important part of the short.
  • Christmas Every Day: Huey, Dewey and Louie wish upon a star for Christmas to be everyday. At first they are delighted, only to discover it's not just Christmas everyday, but the exact same day even down to their presents from the previous day getting wrapped up again. After getting fed-up they try to ruin Christmas to put an end to it. However they then notice a card from Donald and Daisy explaining the true meaning of Christmas in being about family rather than presents, to which the boys embrace the Christmas spirit and help everyone else enjoy Christmas, then the time loop ends.
  • Crazy-Prepared: A Running Gag in the short involves Aunt Gertie greeting the boys with overly wet kisses, which they naturally are not fond of. At one point, they put on scuba gear in preparation.
  • Cue the Falling Object: In the Stuck on Christmas story, Donald's decorated living room is trashed after his nephews' prank involving a live turkey gets out of hand. While examining the wreckage, Donald sees that the Christmas tree is still standing and remarks "Well, we still have the tree", after which the tree falls down on him.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The short has Donald billed as the main character, but it actually focuses on Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Huey, Dewey, and Louie get sick of all the Christmases they've been experiencing and decide to "liven things up" with pranks. But they forget that while they aware of the "Groundhog Day" Loop they're trapped in, their relatives aren't. As such, Donald, Daisy, Aunt Gertie, and Uncle Scrooge think the ruined Christmas is the only one they get to experience, and it's clear that it's horrible for all of them.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The nephews' calendar seems to run the wrong way. When one of them flips through it, the number on the next page seems to be 24 instead of 26.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The boys get stuck experiencing the same Christmas Day over and over again.
  • Heel Realization: Happens at the end of the "ruined Christmas" when Huey, Dewey, and Louie read a card that Donald hand-wrote for them. Donald's note tells them that Christmas is a time for family, not material things like toys, which leads them to set up the best Christmas ever for their family.
  • Heroic BSoD: After a few days in the Christmas time-loop, Huey, Dewey and Louie have enough of it when they realize that they are reliving the same day all over again, and after their turkey-swap prank ruins Christmas due to Donald destroying the house while chasing the turkey, they get ready to leave before their uncle gets mad at them. However, instead of getting furious with his nephews and punishing them, he's despondent and miserable, which causes them to feel very guilty.
  • Hidden Depths: The boys constantly ignore the card Donald attached to their present. After ruining one Christmas loop however, they finally read it, to find it to be a surprisingly poignantly written poem about family and love during the holidays.
  • Make a Wish: The boys wish upon a star when they wish for Christmas every day.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the disastrous loop, Aunt Gertie laments sadly "Some Christmas this turned out to be". In the next loop where the boys redeem themselves and make a truly heartwarming Christmas she repeats the quote, albeit in Tears of Joy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The boys after their attempts to shake up their holiday end up ruining everyone's Christmas, prompting them to make the next Christmas better for everyone.
  • Mythology Gag: Uncle Scrooge being especially jolly about Christmas carols.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Instead of screaming his head off and flying into a rage (which he already did against the turkey, but lost), Donald is very withdrawn and sad after everyone's Christmas is ruined. This is what makes the boys realize how low they sunk.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: On the morning after making their wish, Huey, Dewey, and Louie check the Christmas tree in the living room in the dark. Then their uncle Donald wishes them a Merry Christmas, which startles the boys and makes them all scream. Eventually Donald joins in, causing him to throw the breakfast tray he was holding, making a mess.
  • Running Gag: Multiple, as might be expected in a "Groundhog Day" Loop story. They get played with and subverted throughout:
    • Chip and Dale waking up the kids with their train set, to their annoyance.
    • The kids opening their presents before Donald even shows up, and then Donald proceeding to get startled and accidentally throw his food tray in the air only to suffer Amusing Injuries.
    • Aunt Gertie coming in and showering the kids in wet kisses.
    • Donald showing the kids the sleds he got for them only for them to excitedly run out, trampling him in the process and ignoring the Christmas card attached to them.
    • The boys rudely chowing down on their Christmas dinner, to Donald's irritation.
    • The boys choosing to play with their toys instead of singing Christmas carols with the rest of the family.
  • Sanity Slippage: Huey almost loses his mind after one too many Christmases and goes into a insane rant.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Most of the time, Huey, Dewey, and Louie's antics are lighthearted and result in Amusing Injuries. But on the "disaster" Christmas loop, their pranks end up hurting their relatives' feelings. When they release a wild turkey into the house, an already-stressed Donald tries to chase it, and the resulting destruction and misery are not Played for Laughs: Donald's utterly brokenhearted, Daisy drops her Tsundere act to comfort him, and the normally-joyful Aunt Gertie tearfully remarks that the holiday has been awful for everyone. The sheer sadness everyone's feeling makes the boys realize they went too far.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Donald mutters things like "Anchors aweigh" and "Full speed ahead" in his sleep.
  • Tempting Fate: After the disaster with the turkey that leaves everything wrecked, Donald remarks that at least the tree is still standing, after which it falls down on top of him.
  • Trauma Button Ending: At the end, when Huey, Dewey and Louie are relieved that their wish has ended and that it's finally December 26th.
    Dewey: The day after Christmas!
    Donald: Aw, I understand, boys. You wish it could be Christmas every day!
  • Under the Mistletoe: The boys set up Donald and Daisy under the mistletoe.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: The boys' reaction after Donald says he bets they wish it was Christmas every day is to let out a NOOOOOO!!!.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Groundhog Day, right down to the protagonists needing to make the last run through perfect for everyone in order to get out of the loops. The whole "Christmas Every Day" thing dates back to 1892 though, from a short story of the same name by William Dean Howells. Still, the solution to the problem seen here is very much like Groundhog Day.

    A Very Goofy Christmas 
  • Accidental Pervert: Goofy becomes this as part of two gags in the beginning. When rushing to help his son get his letter to Santa Claus mailed, Goofy accidentally runs into a mall section called "Lumberjack Lingerie", and we hear some women scream. Shortly afterward, a woman screams when he gets close to her while crawling, and Goofy simply says "I didn't mean to get fresh."
  • Alternate Continuity: Max is younger than he is in Goof Troop, but they're already living next door to Pete, who doesn't have a wife or a son Max's age in this special but does in the show.
  • An Aesop:
    • The holidays are found in what we can give to others, not what we can receive.
    • It’s okay not to agree with someone on their beliefs, but don’t give them a hard time for it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After waiting through the night for proof of Santa, Goofy and Max spot a silhouette on a house carrying a large bag. It turns out to be a burglar.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Max says it was Pete who caused him to question Santa's existence, Goofy looks at the screen and says, "Well, that figures."
  • The Cameo: One of Goofy's ornaments is Angelique.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Goofy accidentally electrocutes himself, a number of split-second gags appear which can only be seen by pausing the movie. At one point he's just a brain and organs, his skeleton can at one point be seen wearing an Egyptian headdress, and at another his clothes disappear and he's left in just his boxers.
  • Good Parents: For all his Bumbling Dad antics, we also see Goofy teaching his son about charity and responsibility by bringing him along to share Christmas dinner with their poorer neighbors. He also spends all night to prove that Santa exists to make Max happy after he had his belief in him questioned by Pete.
  • Heroic BSoD: After staying up late at night to wait for Santa, with no results and falling off the roof, Goofy gives up and doesn't feel like doing anything.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After being a constant jerkass, Pete demands a present from Santa and gets a house covered in snow.
  • Manchild: After Pete gets buried in the snow, he shouts to Santa where his squirty gun and yo-yo are in a childish whine. Goofy's also a man child, but a far more endearing and well-meaning one.
  • Mistaken for Santa: In "A Very Goofy Christmas", Max sees a silhouette of a man with a sack on the roof and thinks it's Santa. When the lights come on, it's revealed it's actually a burglar.
  • Real After All: Santa Claus, who flies by to give Max his snowboard (and cover Pete's house in snow).
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Max comes inside after talking to Pete, his upper body is cast in shadow. This serves as a visual indication that Pete's disbelief in Santa has gotten through to him and he starts to doubt if Santa exists.
  • Rump Roast: Happens when Goofy winds up sitting on the stove.
  • Shout-Out: As Goofy goes through the mall, the shop he crashes in is Lumberjack Lingerie.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Initially, it appears that Santa Claus doesn't exist, but Goofy and Max accept it and are content with making each other happy on their own. Then Santa Claus finally arrives at their house to deliver Max's snowboard and their faith in him is restored.
  • Tear-Apart Tug-of-War: After Goofy pretends to be Santa, Goofy and his son Max get into a fight over whether or not Santa is real, all the while having a tug-of-war over a stuffed teddy bear. Their skirmish ends in the teddy bear's arm getting ripped off. The teddy bear remains ripped by the end of the story.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: After returning from the mall, Pete expresses to Max his disbelief of Santa and that he doesn't exist, claiming he's just a myth. This causes Max to be a doubtful grump for most of the segment.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Happens to Goofy briefly when the Christmas tree lights start exploding with them still on his body.

    Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi 
  • Accidental Misnaming: Minnie's boss, Mortimer Mouse, keeps mispronouncing Minnie's name.
  • An Aesop:
    • True generosity is when you are willing to make sacrifices for the ones you love.
    • The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Similar to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Mortimer's decision to give Minnie a hefty fruitcake instead of a hefty sum of money is not only a jerkish move, but an extremely foolish business move as well. Deliberately giving employees non-monetary payments can quite possibly lead to... bad things for a business, including a massive amount of Mortimer's employees searching for other jobs, embezzlement, and other forms of sabotage, and if his company isn't experiencing an economic downturn, and there are no indications that it is, arbitrarily removing bonuses signals ominous signs about future prospects.
  • Bad Boss: Pete to Mickey. Mickey works tirelessly on his job and the minute he stops to take a breather, Pete yells at him to get a move on. He also nearly extorts a 10-foot tree out of a family who clearly can't easily afford it, and is furious with Mickey when he chimes in with a much cheaper option that the family immediately takes and steals all of his earnings for the day over it.
  • The Cameo: Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar are seen in the crowd during Mickey's harmonica performance.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Pete steals back all the money Mickey made just for the sake of being denied one of his ten-footers.
  • Friend to All Children: Mickey just can't resist playing at the performance if it means helping children.
  • Gender Flip: In the original story of The Gift of the Magi, Jim owned a watch, for which Della bought a chain. In this version, Minnie owns a watch, for which Mickey buys a chain.
  • Gift of the Magi Plot: Mickey trades in his harmonica for a chain for Minnie's watch, and Minnie sells her watch to get Mickey a harmonica case.
  • Idiot Ball: During a spell of rage, Pete sticks his lit cigar in his back pocket, which goes just as you'd think.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: As in "A Very Goofy Christmas," Pete gets this. After he takes Mickey's money for messing up a sale deal, he puts his lit cigar in his back pocket, causing a chain reaction that leads to his 10-foot trees burning to the ground.
  • Mean Boss: Mortimer, who plays the role of the boss of the company Minnie and Daisy work at, doesn't have a Hair-Trigger Temper like Pete, but he apparently gives his own employees lousy payments. For Christmas, he gives Minnie a hefty fruitcake rather than a bonus, leaving her without money to buy a gift for Mickey.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Mickey at one point dances toward the camera shaking his head and tongue in the same manner he does in the 1942 short "Mickey's Birthday Party."
    • The Firehouse Five is a reference to the Firehouse Five Plus Two, a band comprised of Disney animators.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Pluto growling at Pete makes you think he's going to attack the big guy for robbing Mickey, only for both of them to be easily overpowered by Pete.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Pete nearly extorts one family out of a 10-foot tree they can hardly afford, until Mickey comes in with a much smaller and cheaper one that is much more their size. In the name of greed, Pete is naturally livid with Mickey and takes all the cash he just earned. Fortunately, he falls victim to Laser-Guided Karma moments later.
  • Rump Roast: Pete after he puts his cigar in his back pocket. This in turn takes his whole tree lot down with him.
  • Same Character, But Different:
    • Downplayed case. Daisy cameos in this short as well, but unlike her appearances in the rest of the movie, she has blue irises and a different voice actor.
    • Mortimer also appears in this short, but compared to his usual obnoxious Casanova Wannabe personality in other Disney cartoons, here he is Minnie's tight-fisted boss with a posh accent.
  • Talent Double: Mickey's harmonica solos in this segment were performed by the late session musician Tommy Morgan.
  • Undesirable Prize: Minnie does receive her bonus, but it ends up being a fruitcake instead of actual cash, which is naturally no help in her affording a gift for Mickey.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Pete steals back all of Mickey's money when a family chooses a tree other than one of his expensive 10-footers, leaving him broke with nothing to get for Minnie.


Video Example(s):


Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Mickey trades his harmonica to get the chain for Minnie's watch, while Minnie trades her watch to get a harmonica case for Mickey, so their gifts are useless now. However, their love for each other is all they'll truly need.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / GiftOfTheMagiPlot

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