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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Dutch: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Bulgarian: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, French, Spanish, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  • DVD Text - Illustrated storybook

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

Disney/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 63 mins . G . PAL


As a boy, my father, knowing my penchant for reading ahead of my age, lent me a book of short stories by O. Henry. He pointed out several as good starting points and off I went. The first of these tales was called The Gift of the Magi and it has become a Christmas classic known the world over. The theme frequently appears in film form and even in parody on The Simpsons once or twice.

And so, we have the Disney version presented here as the feature with two stories of seemingly lesser import before it. The first stars Donald Duck and his three rascally nephews, Stuck On Christmas. In a Groundhog Day type scenario, Huey, Dewey and Louie wish it were Christmas every day. However, events soon become quite boring and the moral follows. Goofy and his son Max star in A Very Goofy Christmas next and this sees Max losing his faith in Santa while Goofy tries to restore it. Finally, we arrive at The Gift of the Magi where humble Mickey sells his only valuable possession to buy Minnie a gift, while she sells her only valuable possession. Irony follows, as does life lesson.

Stuck on Christmas is actually adapted from William Dean Howell’s Christmas Every Day and is appropriately credited, as is O. Henry for his adapted work. Produced in the dual Disney studios of Tokyo and Canada, this 1999 effort has all the hallmarks of the new Disney, with interspersed digital animation when required. We also have kid characters talking cool kid talk, which doesn’t work too badly here in Max, mostly, though the Duck nephews throw some in here and there.

Overall the animation is very nice, and while the storylines are a little simplified, the movie is obviously aimed at the younger folks and to this end works rather well.

I do have one question though... at dinner, the Duck family is being served turkey. What’s up with that?


Finally relenting from their usual 1.66:1 ratio, Disney have delivered here in the TV widescreen format of 1.78:1 with anamorphic enhancement. The picture is mostly superb, although I was surprised to catch the occasional film artefact (see the watermark on Donald’s face at 14:47). Thankfully nowadays cel artefacts are a thing of the past and of course, there aren’t any of these.

Colours are rich and vibrant and, as noted, the animation is what we have come to expect from the Disney stable of excellence. Razor sharp though, allover, and very nicely transferred, of course, by Buena Vista.


The temptation to use plain old stereo must be great around the Disney studio, but thankfully they continually resist and give us Dolby Digital 5.1 whether it’s required or not. Here it is not, but we should still be thankful for the excellence. Some of Goofy’s flailings are not only funny, but contain some good surround activity, as does Mickey’s concert performance later on.

Dialogue is easily understood, naturally, although Donald’s squeaky voice, while funny, seems out of character to the rest of his family. They all have ‘regular’ voices, but then they were invented later on, well after Donald was a household name. Meanwhile, musically, J Eric Schmidt’s work on the score is nice and suitable to the film, but hardly anything to get in a twist over.


Only the one, but this is pretty nice and certainly modern. This is a storybook which plays like a regular Disney kid’s book with still pictures. The whole final story, The Gift of the Magi is contained here in that condensed manner the Disney books have. Nice, certainly, but a little tricky to read to a kid in bed I imagine.


With a complete running time of 63 minutes and but one extra in the storybook, it may appear on the surface that this DVD doesn’t have all that much to offer. However, it’s been aimed at the youngsters and caters to them very well with plenty of fun animation that they’ll enjoy watching time and again.

There are some good old value morals included in the stories and if they help get their Christmas point across in this fast-paced modern world, then all the better.

As far as the animation goes, this is superb and the extra, while limited, has had some time spent on it at least and isn’t just stills dragged from the film. So, it’s up in the air folks. I liked it quite a lot, but as to the value of the piece, that must remain with you, although the asking price for this is a little less than most recent titles.

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      And I quote...
    "Classic holiday tales given the Disney spin for a new age. And not too bad."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
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    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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