Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Very Disney Christmas

Hi. I'm Spencer and I'm a Mormon Geek (waits for reply of "Hi, Spencer")... Oh that's not what this blog is for? Oh well. I guess I'll just get into introducing myself and then into the meat of things. I am a Mormon Geek and I'll be taking over your news feed on Tuesdays. The things I geek out about vary, but right now I most geek out about Disney and Doctor Who (that one should be obvious from a guest post I did a while back). Anyway, enough of introductions. Time to get jolly with a Christmas-themed post.

Like I said, one of the things I geek about is Disney. I can out-Disney most people I know. At my last job I actually made the claim to a coworker that I can work a Disney quote into any conversation (this is especially true of The Emperor's New Groove). Today however, I'm gonna forego Disney Princesses and talking llamas in favor of something more timely: Disney Christmas specials and movies.

We see a lot of holiday specials floating around this time of year, including Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and so on. I'm just gonna focus on some Disney specials though (sorry, Charlie Brown). So here we go...

Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
(Available for streaming on Netflix)
Can't beat Mickey and friends right? I'll come right out and say that two of the three segments of is show are a bit cliche, but overall it's still a great show. We get Mickey and Minnie in a version of The Gift of the Magi, featuring them, Pluto, Figaro, Daisy, and Pete. It's heartwarming to say the least and definitely worth the watch. In another segment we get Huey, Dewey, and Louie causing all sorts of trouble for Uncle Donald on Christmas Day, only to make the clichéd wish that Christmas was everyday. So mix that with Groundhog Day and you've got a recipe for disaster as the trio uses their repeating day to wreak some havoc without the consequences. Everything works out alright in the end, of course, and the trio learn to cherish Christmas. Finally, the third segment is Max and Goofy, both having their doubts in turn about Santa Claus. I liked his one for its uniqueness, however I take issue (probably because of the LDS view of faith) with both Max and Goofy trying to find proof to believe in Santa. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of faith? Overall, I liked this one. My only complaints are the clichés of Mickey and Donald's portions and the faith thing with Goofy's. If you don't over analyze these things like me, you'll be fine.

Snowed in at the House of Mouse
(Available for streaming on Netflix)
I remember watching the House of Mouse when it was on tv (I think I was in middle school, so disregard the fact that it's supposed to be a kids show... Because I don't care). The cameos of all the Disney characters and little animated Mickey and friends shorts just makes this show amazing. Pure Disney Magic. The Christmas special gives such a wonderful display of Disney Christmas shorts, perfect for any age. This show also includes the wonderfully classic Mickey's Christmas Carol. What better Scrooge than Scrooge McDuck? I remember him specifically from Duck Tales and there is definitely a reason he's named Scrooge. I love this rendition of Charles Dickens's story, accommodating for the personalities of each of our favorite Disney characters (nothing can beat Goofy as Jacob Marley).  Just watch it. Ok? Good.

Phineas and Ferb: Winter Vacation
(Available for streaming on Netflix)
Not a Disney classic by any means, but it is a must-view for me each year. We get some allusions to Christmas classics (Frosty the Snowman, for example) but we also get explicitly away from some other clichés (like the villain having a vendetta against Christmas). The thing I find most refreshing about this holiday special is that instead of being about Santa coming and delivering the presents and getting only his milk and cookies in return, Phineas, Ferb, and their friends go all out to show their gratitude for what they're getting. I think it's great to see a kids show promoting gratitude for what they get. I also really liked the concept that this show used to demonstrate nice kids vs naughty kids. Instead of being a good deeds vs misdeeds tally, they show at being good means being a good person with good intents and a good heart, because everyone makes mistakes. From a gospel standpoint, this is a soapbox of mine, the idea that we have to balance out our sins with our good works. That's not how it works. Just no. Nuh uh. Sorry. Period. I won't get on that soapbox here, but I'll just say that I like how the elves in this special explain it.

The Santa Clause
The whole trilogy. I'm not a huge fan of the third movie, because, like most movie trilogies that weren't planned as trilogies, it gets weaker the longer you go. That being said, this is the perfect Christmas classic. It's unique. It's fun. It's funny. Alluding to my comments about faith from "Once Upon a Christmas", I really like how they dealt with her concept of faith in this movie. Though everyone was telling Charlie that his belief about his dad being Santa was crazy, he knew what he knew and it was because of his faith in his dad (not just in Santa) that helped his dad have the faith to be Santa. If not all three movies, I recommend at least watching the first movie in the trilogy this season. It's packed full of references to Christmas carols (eg. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") and other Christmas traditions (eg. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") and taking a look at those things from how a child views them (eg. The North Pole being a pole). It's full of childlike wonder which is amazingly refreshing during such a stressful time of year.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Like I mentioned with Mickey's Christmas Carol, this is a fun way to enjoy Dickens's Christmas classic. Gonzo (as Charles Dickens) and Rizzo give this movie the occasionally needed comedic timing, balancing out some of the darker parts of the show. Also, this movie has some amazing music.  The Ghost of Christmas Present and the townspeople sing the song "It Feels Like Christmas" and I can't help but smile and be happy when I listen to it. I think that song does an amazing job of capturing the feeling of Christmas. Finally, I have to mention how, like Mickey's Christmas Carol, this one does a great job of incorporating the Muppets' personalities into the characters of A Christmas Carol. I especially loved seeing Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit. You will never see a sassier Mrs. Cratchit. Also her two daughters, Belinda and Betina, are a chip off the old block. Love it!

Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
I know I said I'd forego Disney Princesses this post... Well, Belle is the exception (this will be even more true when Emma Watson plays her). This magical story takes place mostly in the middle of Beauty and the Beast. With the Beast having forbidden Christmas, Belle takes it upon herself to have Christmas anyway. The villain, Forte the Organ, is despicable and creepy. I probably hate him more than Gaston in the original movie. One wonderful theme of the movie is having hope and more specifically finding hope no matter the circumstances, like Belle did while she was a captive in the Beast's castle. Another perfect Christmas song appears in this movie as well. "As Long as There's Christmas" describes hope as the the best Christmas present we can give. Incidentally, as my roommate pointed out, hope was the first Christmas present. The Savior was born about 2000 years ago to give us hope of redemption from the Fall. Because of His Atonement, we have hope.


That's all I have for Disney Christmas specials. Next week I'll be back with the Doctor Who Christmas specials. In the meantime, what Christmas movies and specials do you watch every year (Disney or otherwise)?

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