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Legacy Review

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

Let the season of Christmas specials begin!

I automatically bump down my ratings of any so-called feature film that’s really a “package film” of a bunch of independently stitched together shorts (which is different, I’ll add, from a proper “anthology film”). But it helps if those shorts are quite good, and I found that to be the case here.

The movie’s themes are surprisingly dark — Why holidays lose their value if we over-indulge (Donald’s short); the emotional toll of losing faith in Santa (Goofy’s short); and an anti-consumerist odyssey of wage theft and capitalistic inadequacy and inequity (Mickey’s short). It probably helps that I’m not extensively familiar with short stories “Christmas Every Day” or “The Gift of the Magi” on which two of these are based.

I’m a sucker for a good time loop story, and the one here (Huey, Louie, and Dewey reliving Christmas every day) actually works quite well in hitting the important arc for that format — giddiness shifting to despair shifting to appreciation for living in the moment. There’s also some of the requisite butterfly effect plotting as we see stories repeat themselves in slight variation depending upon Huey/Louie/Dewey’s actions that loop.

The animation bats above the direct-to-video standard with fairly expressive, kinetic character animation and slapstick. The hand-drawn animation holds up as pleasant on the eyes.

There is, overall, the sense that this is something slight and half-hearted due to the shorts being capped at 20 minutes. But this fares about as well as something of the given structure could; thoughtful, rich, and entertaining for its full hour.

Is It Good?

Good (5/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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