Diving Into Christmas Movies Disney Style

Movies
Image: Sarah Pinault

The Turkey is eaten. Thanks have been said. Family has gathered. Black Friday has been ignored. Now I can safely engulf my family in the deluge of Christmas music that I have been listening to steadily since September. I’m a bit of a nut when it comes to Christmas music and movies.

The first movie of the holiday season is always Home Alone. I watch this on my own in early November, while wrapping the English Christmas presents for their long journey. The second movie is usually Holiday Inn, watched on Thanksgiving evening as a transitional piece. Since having kids I have been trying to find as many not-awful Christmas specials as I can, though I do enjoy the occasional awful one, too! This year Disney helped me out with a few re-released classics containing some great extras. A film from my childhood, the 30th anniversary edition of Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and a movie I missed the first time around, A Very Merry Pooh Year.

Mickey
Image: Disney

Mickey’s Christmas Carol is exactly as I remember it. Scrooge McDuck, of course, is absolutely perfect as Dickens’ Scrooge, Donald superb as nephew Fred. The casting of the ghosts is equally wonderful, Goofy as the deceased Marley, Pete as the ghost of Christmas future, and Willie the Giant as the ghost of Christmas present (whose pronunciation of pistachios has been cracking me up my entire life). Mickey is actually the weakest link in this movie, but the ensemble works too well for that to be an issue.

The main movie aside, the DVD extras have actually been watched more by my boys over the past few days than the main feature! Easily the favored cartoon on the disc is “YodelBerg.” Mickey and Minnie yodel their love for one another as Mickey tries to make his way silently up the mountain, ever in fear of an avalanche. The Yodeling song that forms the main “dialogue” of the story is supposedly taken from a scene in The Swiss Family Robinson from 1940. This may be hearsay; my husband remembers the song, but I can find no such evidence! I am told I have a good yodel, so my eldest son and I have been proclaiming our love through yodeling ever since first viewing the cartoon. We have watched it dozens of times and I am still enjoying it. The animation is reminiscent of the early days of Disney, with a touch of Cartoon Network thrown in. In fact, “Yodelberg” is the second episode of “Mickey Mouse,” a series of animated shorts that began their release this year, as a throwback to the golden days of the mouse. The series is executive produced and directed by Paul Rudish, who is known for his work on cartoons such as Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls.

The other short movies featured on the DVD release of Mickey’s Christmas Carol are old favorites I am very happy to re-visit with my boys:

– “The Hockey Champ” featuring Donald Duck with Huey, Duey, and Luey

– “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” featuring Pluto and Chip and Dale

– “The Art of Skiing” featuring Goofy, who else!

– “Corn Chips” featuring Donald with Chip and Dale

Pooh
Image: Disney

The second Christmas Disney release comes at a most opportune time in our household, as my youngest son is just discovering Winnie the Pooh in all his incarnations. A Very Merry Pooh Year is a combination of two Christmas specials, one from 1991 and one from 2002. It contains the 1991 Christmas TV special Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too, and the straight to DVD Happy Pooh Year.

Told as campfire stories to little Roo, both tales are presented as flashbacks. How J.J. Abrams of them. In Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too, the gang writes and sends a letter to Santa. Rabbit wants a fly swatter, Christopher Robin wants a sled, and Pooh realizes the next day that he didn’t ask for anything. This begins his journey to get the letter back, rewritten, and re-sent in time for Christmas Eve. It’s a sweet tale that focuses on giving to your friends, rather than seeking your own reward. A Very Merry Pooh Year sees the gang relaying the story of the year in which Rabbit got sick of everyone and wanted to move away. Easily the weaker of the two movies, but my boys didn’t seem to notice! We’ve been devouring The Heffalump Movie of late, so they were keen for more Winnie the Pooh. Though he wasn’t always my favorite character as a child, my youngest seemed disappointed by Owl’s absence in the second tale, probably because he was holding his stuffed Owl at the time.

The DVD extras on this one are pretty weak, including only some sing-alongs and a screensaver. The Blu-ray disc includes Disney Intermission and contains some decently entertaining games and a countdown to the New Year. One of the nicest features of the Gift of Friendship Edition comes physically in the box. Two postcards ready to be mailed to Santa. Kids can check off whether they’ve been naughty or nice and list three Christmas wishes. The cards come with pre-addressed envelopes to Santa at the North Pole. My four-year-old had never written a letter to Santa before and I have been debating how to go about this. He really enjoyed the postcards and beautifully decorated envelopes, and he loved the pen that came with it. I loved the simplicity and the fact that it only had three lines for gift requests! We got to have the “Santa doesn’t bring everything on your list” conversation. A lovely addition that makes this worth cracking open as early in the season as possible.

 GeekMom received samples of these products for review purposes.

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