Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

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Released 4-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Storybook-Mickey And Minnie's Gift Of The Magi
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 63:07
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bradley Raymond
Jun Falkenstein
Bill Speers
Toby Shelton
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Kelsey Grammer
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music J. Eric Schmidt


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Bulgarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Dutch
French Titling
Spanish Titling
Dutch Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Quite what the point of this release is, other than yet another attempt to separate the consumer from their money, I fail to understand. Maybe it is the title, but it just seems to lack any great focus and integration. It's fairly evident from the outset that this is a direct-to-video release. Now that does not immediately condemn the programme, but the impression you get from the title is that this is a single programme, when what it really is is three separate cartoons that happen to have a central theme of Christmas, and are linked by some voice-over by the unmistakable Kelsey Grammer. The three cartoons are Donald Duck Stuck On Christmas, A Very Goofy Christmas and Mickey And Minnie's Gift Of The Magi. All these are newly created cartoons that are not exactly reminiscent of the hey day of the characters involved.

    Donald Duck Stuck On Christmas sees, obviously, Donald's family celebrating Christmas as only they can: Daisy is over hanging around under the mistletoe, Uncle Scrooge wants to sing carols, Gertie wants to ensure that Huey, Dewie and Louie are lathered with kisses, while the boys themselves just want to play with their presents. At the end of the day, the boys decide that wouldn't it be great if Christmas could be every day? When they wish upon the first star of Christmas, they were not exactly expecting much. But in the fine tradition of Groundhog Day, next morning sees Christmas day starting not exactly anew, but certainly restarting. The boys are overjoyed, although the novelty soon starts to wear off.

   A Very Goofy Christmas sees the Goofster doing his best to ensure that his son Max has the best Christmas ever. Goofy is a true believer in Santa Claus of course, with Max not having any doubts on the question either - especially if he gets the super-dooper snow board he wants. But when next door neighbour Pete tells Max that Santa Claus is not the real deal, Max becomes totally disillusioned with the whole concept of Christmas. Which of course makes Goofy all the more determined to ensure that Max gets the whole Christmas experience - including seeing Santa Claus.

    Mickey And Minnie's Gift Of The Magi sees Mickey contemplating the acquisition of a gold chain for Minnie for Christmas. It's Christmas Eve morning and he has until five o'clock to earn the dollars necessary to buy the chain. Minnie is contemplating what she can get Mickey for Christmas, all the more difficult given her financial state. However, her Christmas bonus might just be enough to get Mickey a case for his prized harmonica. Things of course don't quite go to plan but maybe, just maybe, things will sort themselves out.

    As I said, these are modern cartoons and are not a patch upon the classic years of the cartoons anyway. The messages are fairly unsubtly dealt with and the whole thing ends up being mildly boring.

    Not a great programme in any way, and frankly hardly the most essential thing for tossing into the DVD player on Christmas afternoon. Maybe the young ones will get more out of this than I.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As this is a made-for-video effort, the transfer is unusually presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. While widescreen is good, this is not a genuine widescreen presentation, but rather a matted Full Frame format. The transfer looks a little vertically constrained at times, hence the impression that it is a matted Full Frame effort.

    The transfer is respectable enough. It is a little flat looking and the animation does not bear comparison to more modern efforts, with some sections having a distinctly soft look. Detail is adequate enough, and there is nothing in the way of grain in the transfer. It is quite a clear looking transfer.

    The colours come up well enough, although personally I would have preferred a healthier dose of vibrancy. Saturation is a little underdone in general, but at least this means there is no issue with over-saturation. There is nothing in the way of colour bleed.

    There do not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There do not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. There is nothing in the way of film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is a single layer, single sided DVD so there is no layer change to worry about.

    There are a few subtitle options on the DVD. The English and English for the Hearing Impaired efforts seemed to be pretty fair overall, with very little missed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Bulgarian Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue comes up well in the transfer and are easy to understand. There is of course the inherent problem of animation sync.

    The music comes from J. Eric Schmidt, and is fairly uninspiring stuff overall. About what I would expect from a made-for-video film - strictly by-the-numbers stuff from the manual.

    There is nothing really wrong with the soundtrack but the programme really does not much need the full-blown six channel treatment. There is not really a whole heap of surround channel activity going on in the soundtrack. The sound is quite clean and open.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Not a whole heap here at all...

Menu

    Nothing special here, and lacking anything bar 16x9 enhancement.

Storybook - Mickey And Minnie's Gift Of The Magi

    Just the story to the cartoon done in book form.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The equivalent Region 1 DVD was initially released several years ago, featuring a Pan and Scan transfer and nothing in the way of extras. The title was then reissued in the Gold Collection, with apparently a music video of Deck The Halls by SHeDAISY and two singalong songs: Deck The Halls and Jingle Bells. As far as I can determine, the Region 2 release is the same as the Region 4 barring language options - depending upon which country you are looking at. Tough call: a few more extras as opposed to what might well be a faux-widescreen presentation. Overall, marginally in favour of Region 1 I think - but your choice might well be very different.

Summary

    A made-for-video effort that almost revels in its status, Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas leaves a fair deal to be desired in just about every way. The cartoons making up the whole are not classics by any stretch of the imagination and the presentation is adequate and hardly much more. At the price it might be worthwhile investigating but there are truly plenty better discs available to laze around on Christmas afternoon watching.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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