In Fall 2022, Jeff Malmberg’s documentary Mickey: The Story of a Mouse released on Disney+. The film had screened at SXSW prior to the wide release, telling its story about the journey from concept to the now-iconic character that is Mickey Mouse. The documentary drilled into Walt Disney’s creative process, the rumored inspiration for Mickey, the way the world responded to Mickey (potentially shifting the concept of merchandizing forever), and charting the evolution of Mickey himself from brazen scamp to loveable leader. With the latest home release from Walt Disney Animation Studios, home viewing audiences get a chance to watch that evolution for themselves whenever they like. In part to celebrate 100 years of Disney magic, Walt Disney Animation Studios is releasing on home video a 10-film collection of Mickey and Minnie Mouse shorts, several being released for the first time, called Mickey & Minnie 10 Classic Shorts – Volume 1.
In presentation order, the shorts included are:
- Steamboat Willie (1928)
- Brave Little Tailor (1938)
- The Little Whirlwind (1941)
- Mickey’s Delayed Date (1947)
- On Ice (1935)
- Hawaiian Holiday (1937)
- Mr. Mouse Takes A Trip (1940)
- Figaro and Frankie (1947)
- Bath Day (1946)
- Thru The Mirror (1936)
Told as though Mickey and Minnie are reminiscing through a photo album, the two characters introduce each of 10 shorts, weaving together a story of their adventures and affections. It’s a novel approach that adds a bit of fun when viewers opt to watch the films as a single 83-minute feature. Each introductory vignette is modern in color and design, offering a stark contrast against the shorts which are restored but not fully modernized. (In one short in fact, Mickey’s Delayed Date, I worried that something was wrong with my television as there was a line of white pixels at the top left breaking through the black lining on the side of the short. Thankfully it proved to be just part of the presentation.) Told entirely in-character, the “brand-new narrative” offers a touch of whimsy going into each short, but as they are only told from the perspective of the characters, there’s no sense of period from their release or context regarding their history within the company or to animation as a whole.
Be advised that the review copy Walt Disney Animation Studios provided is a digital copy, so I can’t speak to how the presentation looks on-disc or if there are any included bonus materials. I used an Apple TV to access and screen the collection, which offered the ability to screen as a single-feature or to jump to an individual short. Perhaps it’s my internet, but I found that watching as a single feature and then using the chapter selection to jump to a short was faster than using the “Short Selection” subheading on the main menu to watch any of the films. Looking at the film via MoviesAnywhere’s browser, there doesn’t appear to be a way to watch the shorts individually and no bonus materials are included there, either. For an anniversary package, the fact that all it includes are the 10 shorts feels like undercutting the excitement a little bit. In fact, while the walk down memory lane is fun, if not for watching The Story of a Mouse last Fall, I wouldn’t know how interesting (or political) the shift in Mickey over the years has been, an aspect which makes watching the shorts within that historical context all the more interesting.
This release is for those who loved the shorts and don’t already have access to them. If that sounds like you, you’ll want to jump on this. Unfortunately, for those who’d love some context to go with it, some sense of the time/place in which they were made, some manner of preserving the significance or use of these shorts, there may not be enough to warrant snagging this at all. Sure, it looks great, some of the colorized sequences appearing just a bit touched up or restored, but without anything other than the shorts on-disc, this only serves to increase access to them without a reason as to why they matter. As a centennial celebration, it feels like a missed opportunity.
Available on digital January 31st, 2023.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD February 7th, 2023.
For more information, head to Walt Disney Animation’s Mickey & Minnie: 10 Classic Shorts – Volume 1 webpage.
Categories: Home Release, Recommendation
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