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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Matthew O’Callaghan
Cast:
Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Jeff Bennett, Jim Cummings, Michelle Kwan, Russi Taylor
Writing Credits:
Chad Fiveash, Peggy Holmes, Bill Motz, Matthew O'Callaghan, James Patrick Stoteraux

Tagline:
Find Out Who's Been Naughty And Who's Been Nice.

Synopsis:
This Christmas, find out who's been naughty and who's been nice in an all-new Disney holiday celebration. Mickey, Donald, Goofy and their pals star in an original movie about the importance of opening your heart to the true meaning of Christmas.

Watch the hilarious antics of stubborn old Donald as he tries in vain to resist the joy of the season, and laugh along with Mickey and Pluto as they learn a great lesson about the power of friendship. The whole family will celebrate the wonder of the holidays with these magical Christmas stories featuring your favorite Disney characters.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.78:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 68 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 11/9/2004

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes
• “Inspiration on Ice” Featurette
• “Santa’s Workshop Challenge” Game
• “Guess What Donald’s Singing” Game
• “Santa’s Sort” Game
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 1, 2004)

2004’s direct-to-video Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas officially sounds the death knell of traditional animation at Disney. It depicts the studio’s classic characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, but goes with computer animation instead of the usual cel work. The program breaks into five shorts:

Belles on Ice: Both Minnie (voiced by Russi Taylor) and Daisy (Tress MacNeille) appear in the town ice show. Daisy gets jealous of Minnie’s success and attempts to upstage her. This leads to a duel of the divas.

We expect simple morals from most Disney projects, so of course each of these Christmas ones will teach lessons as well. Unfortunately, the one here doesn’t make any sense. At the short’s end, the narrator tells us that the ice show flopped when Daisy and Minnie fought and it only succeeded when they joined forces. That’s nonsense - their competition drove their stunts to higher levels that dazzled the crowd!

With that kind of tacked-on moral, you should know not to expect much from “Belles”. It follows a predictable path and doesn’t feature much humor or cleverness.

Christmas: Impossible: On Christmas Eve, Uncle Scooge (Alan Young) warns Huey, Dewey and Louie that their selfish behavior will ensure them no presents from Santa. Since they figure it’s too late to clean up their act, they ship themselves to the North Pole, where they plan to forge their names on Santa’s “good” list.

“Impossible” provides more charm than “Belles”, but not a lot. It shows some moderately quirky moments up at the North Pole and occasionally musters a little humor. Unfortunately, it runs too long and never wants to end. Also, it doesn’t make much sense on its own - if Santa can see all of their mischief, won’t he know about their North Pole shenanigans?

Christmas Maximus: Max (Shaun Fleming) comes home with his girlfriend Mona for her to meet his dad Goofy (Bill Farmer). As always, Max worries that his dad will embarrass him, so he asks the Goof to watch himself.

If nothing else, “Maximus” earns points since it flies by quickly; after the 19-minute “Impossible”, this one lasts less than six minutes. That doesn’t make it any more effective. Whereas the first two shorts presented hijinks along with their lessons, this one only has time to knock out its moral. That means it doesn’t do much more than lecture us.

Donald’s Gift: All Donald (Tony Anselmo) wants is to relax at home and drink his hot chocolate. However, everywhere he goes, he gets blasted with Christmas elements such as version after version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”. That tune tortures him, as he hears it everywhere. That leads to comedic mayhem before he attempts to redeem himself with his loved ones.

Among the Disney characters, usually we could trust Donald to provide the best humor. Indeed, “Gift” presents the most amusing of the Twice shorts so far. Not that this means a whole lot, as it doesn’t encounter much competition. Nonetheless, “Gift” proves moderately entertaining, especially when Donald goes bonkers.

Mickey’s Dog-Gone Christmas: Pluto can’t wait to put the star on the top of the tree. His impatience causes disaster when he accidentally triggers the destruction of Mickey’s (Wayne Allwine) holiday decorations. Upset with Mickey’s disapproval, Pluto decides to run away from home. He hops a train and winds up at the North Pole, where he befriends Santa’s reindeer. Back home, Mickey worries about the fate of his best friend.

“Dog-Gone” presents the last of the shorts. That doesn’t make it the most satisfying, though. Some of the moments with the wacky reindeer prove mildly entertaining, but that’s about it. The rest of the time it follows a pretty plodding and predictable path that doesn’t do anything special.

If anyone comes to Twice Upon a Christmas with hopes they’ll find a new holiday classic, you’ll leave disappointed. To be sure, I’ve seen many worse programs, as Twice seems moderately enjoyable much of the time. However, it lacks any inspiration and feels like little more than bland Christmas product.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Since Twice probably never saw a frame of film, I expected a strong visual presentation, and that’s what I got.

Very few concerns appeared in the sharpness domain. Occasionally the show looked ever-so-slightly soft, but that didn’t occur with any frequency. Most of the shorts came across as concise and distinctive. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and I also noticed no edge enhancement. As I mentioned at the outset, I presume this program offered a digital-to-digital transfer, so source flaws were completely absent.

As one might expect from a holiday cartoon, Twice presented a broad palette. It showed all sorts of bright and vivid tones, though they looked a little more subdued than I might expect. They took on a slight pastel hint much of the time, which meant they never quite leapt off the screen. Nonetheless, the colors were clean and quite rich overall. Blacks seemed firm and dense, while low-light shots came across as nicely delineated and smooth. Twice offered consistently positive visuals.

While not as strong as the picture, the audio of Mickey’s Twice Upon a Time seemed more than acceptable. The DVD presented both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. As often occurs, the pair sounded identical to me. Except for minor volume differences, the two seemed very similar.

As one also might anticipate, neither soundfield went bonkers. Both concentrated mainly on the front, although they opened up to the rear pretty well. The surrounds mostly focused on general reinforcement of music and effects, but they added a moderate level of unique elements. For example, the shots at Santa’s workshop demonstrated nice involvement and created a good sense of place. In the front, the speakers presented a lively feeling of the environment as well as strong stereo imaging for the music.

Audio quality always seemed positive. Speech consistently sounded natural and crisp, with no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music showed nice range. The songs and score were bold and dynamic at all times. Effects also seemed accurate and vivid. They rarely taxed my system, but they came across as well-defined and smooth. All in all, the audio of Twice was satisfying.

Only a smattering of supplements round out the DVD. We get a collection of deleted scenes. Including introductions from producer Pam Marsden, creative executive Jeff Howard, and director Matt O’Callaghan, these last a total of 12 minutes. We learn of stories that never went into production as well as concepts for the program’s actual shorts. Mostly we hear about the development of some of the tales as well as the interstitials, and we see concept art and sketches as well. One piece of final animation appears via a cut from “Dog-Gone Christmas”. This offers a fun look at the creation of Twice with some nice details.

The “Backstage Disney” area presents a featurette called Inspiration on Ice. The three-minute and 12-second shows how the animators used skater Michelle Kwan to help with the motion of “Belles on Ice”. We hear from Kwan as well as choreographer/director Peggy Holmes and animator Ray Shenusay. Short and fluffy, the program doesn’t tell us much.

Finally, “Games and Activities” includes three elements. Santa’s Workshop Challenge forces you to answer 10 questions like “true or false: helping people is its own reward”. No, they don’t ever get more difficult than that. Accurately complete the quiz and you’ll see a “reward” that mentions your inclusion as a member of “Santa’s Great List”. You can print this and write in your name.

For the next game, we need to Guess What Donald Is Singing. Actually, it’s more “Finish the Lyrics Donald Is Singing”. The contest presents song snippets and requires you to finish them. It’s not very interesting, and it includes no reward.

Santa’s Sort is almost completely nonsensical. You’re supposed to pick one of three mail slots, and if you pick correctly, you get a surprise. However, even when I did select the right one, nothing interesting happened. It’s a pointless extra.

As the DVD starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Bambi, and Mulan II. These also appear in the disc’s Sneak Peeks domain along with promos for The Aladdin Trilogy, Eloise at Christmastime, and Mary Poppins.

Another lackluster direct-to-video program from Disney, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas fails to come to life. It never seems terrible, but it also doesn’t turn into anything special. Instead, it presents modestly amusing shorts and that’s about it. The DVD offers excellent visuals with good audio and some minor extras. I’ve seen worse holiday entertainment, but I’ve also seen much better material.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3529 Stars Number of Votes: 34
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