The short slows down a bit in the middle during the fight scene with
some overused gags, but comes back to life at the end. (Personally,
I thought it would have been a hoot to have a quick flash of Chip 'n'
Dale as Mickey and Minnie are climbing the inside of the tree to remind
viewers of Pluto's
Christmas Tree.) But all in all, there were a few more surprises
and a lot more breaking down of the fourth wall which added up to a
riskier short which is what Mouse Works has needed for a while.
This ep's a toss-up, to be honest. It's got it's good points (John
kicks Drake up for three . . . YES!!) and it's . . . . well . . . .
For a moment there, I thought Minnie was trying to be Dot Warner at
some times. With all the shots she's been getting (Mickey to the Rescue,
Midsummer Nights Dream, Maestro Minnie, etc) I hope Michael has assigned
a trainer for her.
I'm almost expecting Mickey v Donald in an ECW-style match next week!
John Cleese was back again as the narrator. Von Drake started the
short with his shtick. But then Von Drake and Cleese got into an argument
with each other. This scene led to Cleese having an interactive role
with the other characters. Cleese finally got the chance to show how
funny he could be whenever he got fed up and confused. Cleese's routine
was good counterbalance to Von Drake's. Fourth-wall breaking became
a central theme of the short through scenes like Goofy's first appearance
and Cleese's troubles keeping the cast straight. This theme made the
short more involving than the previous "MouseTales" shorts.
Highlights of this short were scenes paired with Stephen James Taylor's
jazzed up versions of Tchaikovsky's music. A TV budget limited the action
in these sequences. The scenes consisted mainly of characters repeating
an action over and over again, like when Mickey and Minnie were bouncing
off of the tops. But I still liked the props that Mickey and Minnie
played with in their dance, and Mickey looked cool dancing as a doll,
and then fighting Donald. And Taylor's score brought these scenes up
a lot. I loved watching the scenes just to hear the music.
It's been years since I've seen "The Nutcracker". So I have only
scant memories of the plot. I did remember the "it was a dream" plot
twist and liked seeing it again at the end of this short. They also
kept the theme of Maria being smitten with her nutcracker toy, and portrayed
that very well in the scene where Minnie tied her nutcracker's head
back on. The Mickey/Minnie romance seemed more meaningful in this short
than in the other "MouseTales" shorts.
One thing I DID remember though was that the villain in "The Nutcracker"
was "The Mouse King". I wondered how they were going to handle this
character considering Mickey's species. I thought that Donald's hilarious
costume (silly looking mouseears and buck teeth) and the confusion his
casting caused was a clever sendup of this problem. But was Cleese's
assertion that the Mouse King "wins in the end" a reference to an actual
plotpoint in the ballet?
Von Drake seemed funnier than usual because he had Cleese to play
off of. Cleese made sure to keep Von Drake from overstaying his welcome
by kicking him out at just the right time. In the end Von Drake returned
to reveal an inspired plot twist for his character, and his scenes bookended
This cartoon was nothing but a piece of mindless slapstick. Von Drake
had no reason to be in this short! He was just there to eat up time!
I could say a lot more about how horrible this cartoon is, but I won't.
I'd rate it a 1 out of 10.
I especially enjoy Donald's mouse king costume, and Lugwig Von Drake's
role of being the king of the Sugar Plum Fairies. I didn't know John
Cleese narrated it. If it worked better as a theatrical and a production
by Walt Disney feature Animation, it would of been to par with classics
such as Mickey's Christmas Carol.
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