Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Because the program featured clips from a span of years, their quality varied, but as a whole the show looked fairly good.
The recent material that comprised most of Magical demonstrated the usual concerns seen in cheap animation. Sharpness generally appeared reasonably concise and distinct, but some softness affected a few wider shots. Those concerns weren’t as evident during the older clips, though some of the “Christmas Carol” scenes came across as a little fuzzy at times. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and print flaws seemed relatively minor. Really, only the two “vintage” clips displayed any problems, as I saw a few speckles and a smidgen of grit during the Pluto short and “Carol”. However, these problems appeared pretty minor and didn’t create any significant concerns.
Colors varied mainly due to the source materials. Without question, the quality of the animation strongly affected the hues. The Pluto short demonstrated tones that were markedly more rich and lush than the relatively crude and simple colors of the modern clips. To be sure, those tones came across as acceptably distinct and vivid, but the older image put them to shame via its warmth and depth. “Carol” fell between the two, though its restrained palette made it a little harder to judge.
In addition, black levels consistently appeared rich and dense. Those elements were consistent throughout the different shorts, as was shadow detail. Low-light sequences came across as appropriately opaque but not excessively thick, as dim shots appeared clear and easily visible. Ultimately, Magical offered a consistently good but unexceptional visual experience.
While the presence of both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks may race some pulses, I wouldn’t get too excited, for the audio of Magical seemed pretty restrained. Overall I found the two mixes to sound virtually identical other than the fact that the DTS one was considerably louder. Once I accounted for volume differences, I couldn’t detect any other variations between the editions.
There was only so much the mixes could do, however, since significant portions of Magical featured monaural sound. Both the Pluto short and “Carol” offered one-channel audio with no remixed expansion of the soundfield. As for the House of Mouse shots and the other shorts, except for the score they often seemed essentially mono as well. The music spread reasonably well to the sides, and a few ambient elements appeared at times, but as a whole, the image stayed pretty firmly within the center.
Surround usage appeared minimal. I heard a little reinforcement of some music and effects, and a smidgen of split-surround material crept through on a few occasions. For example, when Ludwig Von Drake rode a sled, it moved from one distinct location to another. However, the general ambience seemed subdued and didn’t add a lot to the package.
Audio quality was good but not tremendously strong. For the monaural sequences, the sound seemed just fine. These segments betrayed the limited response typical for one-channel presentations, and the advanced age of the Pluto clip obviously added greater restrictions, but overall I found them to offer nice, clear mono audio that seemed acceptably distinct and well defined.
As for the newer material, it also worked fairly well. Dialogue appeared natural and crisp, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects offered a minor aspect of the mix, but they came across as acceptably clean and accurate, and I detected no distortion. Music appeared surprisingly bland. The tunes weren’t distinctly flawed, but they failed to display much brightness or depth. Low-end response lacked much power, and the highs were slightly muted. The music seemed acceptable for the most part, but it didn’t appear as vivid as it should have. In the end, the soundtracks for Mickey’s Magical Christmas were serviceable but somewhat drab.
Mickey’s Magical Christmas doesn’t pack a slew of extras, but it includes one fairly substantial piece: the first episode of House of Mouse. This 23-minute and five-second program actually seems more entertaining than the Christmas rendition. It follows the attempts of villainous Pete to close the club and it focuses much more strongly on the interaction of various Disney characters; some shorts appear - all new, by the way - but they represent a less important aspect of the show. It’s still nothing special, but this episode is a more fun piece of work.
The Sounds of Christmas gives us a basic look at the creation of sound effects for animated flicks. Hosted by former sound effects editor and current voice of Mickey Wayne Allwine, this two and a half minute program mainly shows the rudiments of this art. It’s probably good for youngsters, but it’s too simple to be worth much for anyone else. (Half creepy, half cool trivia note: Allwine’s married to Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie!)
Two Singalong Songs appear on the DVD. “Deck the Halls” comes alongside clips from “Pluto’s Christmas Tree”, while “Sleigh Ride” uses snippets of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”. They did nothing for me, but if you like this kind of Karaoke feature, you might enjoy them.
Within the Sneak Peeks area, you’ll discover a slew of advertisements for other Disney offerings. Some of these appear at the start of the DVD as well; when the disc begins to play, we find trailers for Return to Neverland, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, A Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street, and Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. Within the “Sneak Peaks” domain itself, we see these promos plus additional clips for the 2002 special edition DVD of Peter Pan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Santa Who? and Disney’s One Saturday Morning.
No, that last paragraph isn’t a mistake. A DVD released in late 2009 includes “previews” for films/DVDs from 2001/2002. The 2009 DVD offers a literal reissue of the original from 2001; absolutely no changes occur.
Blessed with a fun idea but cursed by lackluster execution, Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed In At the House of Mouse offered a pretty drab program. A couple of older clips were entertaining, but as a whole the show seemed like a missed opportunity. The DVD itself provided pretty good picture quality with fairly mediocre sound and a small roster of extras highlighted by one nice piece. With all the strong family entertainment for the holidays, Mickey’s Magical Christmas shouldn’t be high on your list.
This 2009 release of Magical provides a pretty tacky reissue. Rather than spruce up the picture/audio or adding new supplements, the 2009 DVD provides an exact replica of the original 2001 disc. That seems cheap and cheesy to me.
To rate this film, visit the original review of MICKEY'S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS