Sunday, November 25, 2012

Best Disney Christmas and Winter Shorts

I don't think that this segment of Melody Time is anybody's favorite, but it is pleasant and features gorgeous artistry.  The most common complaint is that it is too saccharine and sweet, but come on it's Christmas, we need light material like this.  Disney has used this short on a number of anthologies, videos and picture books; it has become somewhat iconic.  This is a very idyllic view of wintertime and always warms my heart a bit.

A short between the two Prep and Landing specials (I still need to see Naughty vs. Nice).  It is fun enough, albeit not as memorable as the original Prep and Landing.  However it is nice to see Disney support a newer franchise like this.  Not too much to criticize other than Betty White has received way too much overexposure.  Don't get me wrong, she's talented, but this came out in a period where she was stretched really thin.

13. The Hockey Champ (1939)
I always love the determination of Huey, Dewey and Louie when it comes to besting a smug Donald.  This is a nice diversion from the usual Donald short as Donald has the upper hand for most of it.  The ice provides plenty of fun gags for the animators too.

12. Winter (1930)
I just discovered this recently.  This was the final installment of a Silly Symphony series highlighting the four seasons.  And it has that simplistic quality of the early Disney shorts as it mainly surrounds forest creatures skating to Jingle Bells.  I wish Disney would do more with this short, it may not feature any recognizable characters but it is extremely pleasant and has great atmosphere.

11. Rugged Bear (1953)
This is one of the best Humphrey the Bear shorts, as he tries to warm up in Donald's cabin without getting caught.  A giant bear's attempts at hiding naturally provide many great gags.  Disney really should look into revisiting the character of Humphrey.  He is just so innocent and singularly minded, always works great. 

10. Art of Skiing (1941)
This is one of the most important Goofy shorts as it is the first How To short featuring the narrator and also makes the first appearance of the Wilhelm Scream.  Goofy's physicality and inability to perform a simple task is always amusing and skiing (or rather "shiing") is the perfect backdrop for the likable, lanky star.

9. Toy Tinkers (1949)
Why should Donald get a break on Christmas?  Chip 'n Dale make there way into Donald's house and play with his Christmas toys, particularly amusing due to their size.

8. The Small One (1978)
I didn't grow up with this short, I get the feeling that the people that like it most are the one's who watched it as a kid.  As a short it is very good, especially considering the quality of anything animated in the seventies.  However like most of Disney's seventies output it is a little dull, this premise should have been far shorter.  Working in the short's favor, however, is Don Bluth's animation which gives the simple story some personality.  Also props for acknowledging the birth of Christ.

Disney's interpretation of St. Nick in Santa's Workshop was so good that he makes another very welcome appearance here.  One of the best adaptations of Moore's Christmas rhyme, because there is no padding in the story.  This is a solid seven minutes as it only adds sight gags to the classic tale.

This is one of the most popular Christmas shorts that Disney often uses.  Pluto, Chip 'n Dale and Mickey are all in fine form here and the gags are nonstop.  Pluto doesn't often run into Chip 'n Dale but they make great adversaries.

One of the best Donald Duck shorts ever and one Disney usually uses around Christmas.  I love the escalation in this as Donald and his nephews go from playing around to full out war.

4. Santa's Workshop (1932)
I love this version of Santa Claus.  He has never been jollier and is animated with such sincerity.  The elves are a delight too, in particular the crotchety old elf checking the list twice who must be a forerunner to Grumpy.  It is great seeing the toys in action and this has to be the best interpretation of Santa's workshop.

3. Prep and Landing (2009)
This airs as a television special but it was produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and was conceived as a short.  Santa using high-tech has been done many times before but this gives a fresh spin on it and there is so much detail in the Prep and Landing process.  This is one of the most successful new franchises from Disney and is already considered a Christmas classic.  This is different from most specials as it is about frustrations at work and the desire for more attention.  Satisfaction in your job is a great message for Christmastime.  My main criticism is that the yuletide puns seemed forced.  "That's so tinsel," is a phrase that is never going to happen.

2. Mickey's Good Deed (1932)
This is one of the best vehicles for Mickey ever.  Mickey is often considered to be dull and uninteresting but this classic short uses his strengths.  He has never been more sincere or full of good will.  Also the character gets to express a full range of emotions as he conveys sadness very convincingly.  Selling Pluto to bring Christmas to others is a sad concept, but this short absolutely works.

I have mentioned my affinity for this on this blog before.  This cartoon is my Christmas tradition, I will watch it several times a year.  The casting is absolutely perfect and it condenses Dickens' story just right.  I can't wait to see this again.

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