I love Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and if I reviewed it like I do other Christmas specials, I would only gush about how great it is – so instead, I’ll talk about . . . casting decisions.
In the original opening, Mickey explains that he and his friends performed a version of Dickens’s Christmas Carol. (This intro is often left out on TV now.) It was a much shorter version – some script cuts were necessary (made by Mickey, who also served as director) – but still manages to hit the high points. The question is: Did Mickey get the casting correct? Let’s take a look.
Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge
Obvious choice, with his name being what it is. Did I feel like Scrooge merely plays himself? At times (though his happy skipping near the end and the line “I’m going to make you my partner” feel authentic). The major impact of this casting decisions is that Mickey Mouse is not the lead. Did he do it to put the show first or did he really have no choice (because of the name thing)? I don’t know because he declined my many requests for comment. It did, however, have ramifications for another well-loved mouse. More on that soon . . .
Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit
Mickey pretty much plays Mickey in this movie, kind of like a mouse version of Kevin Costner. But I really like his version of the ever cheerful but put-upon Bob Cratchit. It has a level of depth that is not normally associated with Mickey. His tear in the final scene while putting Tiny Tim’s tiny cane on his grave . . . wow. Just wow.
Donald Duck as Fred
Okay, I get it. Donald had to be Fred once his uncle was cast in the role of . . . his uncle. To me, Donald has always been ill-tempered, destined to be that old drunk duck at the bar talking of days gone by when he was a success. Only no one would understand him – and not because he’s drunk, but because he’s hasn’t learned how to speak clearly. How does he have a career? I mean, explain to me how his uncle and Daisy can speak perfect English but Donald’s speech is still duck-like? Is there no voice training at Disney? The only line I can clearly understand is “I will! I will!” They even had to cut Fred’s famous monologue – and no, it wasn’t a time issue. It was a Donald issue.
Goofy as Jacob Marley
I’ve always appreciated Goofy’s work for what it is. He’s limited but likeable. That being said, he was horribly miscast as Marley. There is no way that Scrooge would have worked with someone as inept as Goofy’s version of Marley. Even if he had, Scrooge and Marley would’ve been out of business in days. Who should have been Marley, you ask? Pete, who would have been awesome in that role. But more on Pete later.
(P.S. Why isn’t Goofy called Goofy Dog? I mean, you have Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Jiminy Cricket and countless others with a last name of their species. Is it perhaps because we don’t want the audience making the connection that Goofy and Pluto are actually the same animal, but one gets to speak and wear pants, while one gets to live in a dog house and be the pet of a giant mouse?
Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Jiminy, who was more popular in Disney’s classic era, was probably hoping that this performance would lead to a career resurgence, a la Betty White’s role in Lake Placid, but alas – it did not happen. But he’s made a nice career of playing the wise cricket nonetheless.
Daisy Duck as Belle
Much like Donald, this was the only role she could be cast in. Unlike Donald, she nailed this role. She plays the early Belle, before Scrooge finds another love, with a sense of childlike innocence and hope, and then manages to bring some anger when Scrooge chooses money over her.
(By the way, can we talk about the lack of roles for women in this production? There are only two females in it, and only one of them has a speaking part. Why didn’t Minnie say something to Mickey about this? Or wait, maybe she did. That would explain what happened to Mrs. Cratchit’s lines.)
Morty Fieldmouse as Tiny Tim
Super cute. The Michelle Tanner of the cast, and it works. He’s my second favorite Tiny Tim. After Robin Frog in A Muppet Christmas Carol, of course.
Pete as the Ghost of Christmas Future
Pete is amazing in this role. Hands down, the best GoCF ever to don those robes, which doesn’t actually say much when you consider that none of the others talk. That being said, he was still the best. However, I do feel that this classically trained actor gets typecast too often in villainous type roles, which means he’s seldom used to the fullest extent of his talent. Yes, he has carved out a nice little niche career as the foil to everyone – but clearly he wants more. And I want more for him. Unfortunately, as long as Mickey’s in charge, he will be stuck in these types of roles. At least he nailed the best line in the story . . . “Why yours, Ebenezer. The richest man in the cemetery!” He, my friend, is destined for the bright lights of Broadway once he breaks free of the shackles of the great mouse. Here’s hoping it happens sooner rather than later.
Minnie Mouse as Mrs. Cratchit
Is Mrs. Cratchit a mute in Dickens’s novel? No, she is not. But in this production, she is. Zero lines. None whatsoever. Minnie’s talents, and the character of Mrs. Cratchit, have never been so underutilized as they are here. She’s nothing more than scenery, much like Mr. Toad, who plays Fezziwig. So Mrs. Cratchit comes off as docilely accepting of her fate instead of that spunky woman who exclaims “Founder of the feast, indeed!” when Bob gives thanks to Scrooge. And Minnie would’ve have nailed that line. Perhaps Mickey and Minnie were having relationship issues at the time. Maybe about Mickey’s lack of casting females.
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