Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Corey Burton, John Cleese
Director: Jamie Mitchell, Tony Craig, Roberts Gannaway, Mike Moon, Rick Schneider
Series: a House of Mouse special
Release Date: 3 September 2002
Length: 70 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“Mickey Mouse faces Disney’s entire pantheon of villains in this feature-length adventure. The nefarious Jafar has teamed up with Cruella, Hades, Ursula, Captain Hook and Maleficent to take over the House of Mouse and turn it into the House of Villains. Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy join Mickey in a showdown that culminates with the triumphant musical number “It’s Our House Now!” A treat for children of all ages.” — Netflix.com
This a special Halloween-themed House of Mouse episode and is the perfect not-too-scary Halloween special for the younger set. For those who are not familiar with the House of Mouse series, it is a 1/2 – 1 hour show on the Disney Channel that has Mickey performing as the emcee with Minnie, Goofy, Donald and the gang helping run the show. There is always a little back story going on – in this episode it is Donald trying to find the perfect scary Halloween costume and Mickey trying to keep control of the House of Mouse and not lose out to the villains who are out in huge numbers – but the main feature is the cartoons that Mickey plays throughout the show. This is NOT a feature-length film in the traditional sense, instead it is more along the lines of “Disney’s Halloween Treat” where there are a collection of Disney cartoons introduced by a single character (the Magic Mirror in “Disney’s Halloween Treat” and Mickey Mouse in Mickey’s House of Villains). This DVD contains some new and some classic cartoons and includes:
“Trick or Treat” – this cartoon was featured in “Disney’s Halloween Treat” and is one of my favorite Halloween cartoons. Donald Duck is trying to ruin Huey, Dewey & Louie’s Halloween by blowing up their treat bags and scaring them off his porch. Witch Hazel comes along to try and help the boys out and ends up casting a spell on Donald’s feet and giving the boys a Halloween they will always remember! I always enjoy watching this cartoon as it is cute, clever and encourages people to have fun on Halloween & pass out good candy!
“Mickey’s Mechanical House” – this is a new cartoon that did not really fit into the Halloween theme for me. Mickey is tired of his old, creaky house and decides to buy a brand-new, completely automatic house. Unfortunately, the house decides that Mickey needs to go to bed at a specific time and tries to force him to go to sleep. Mickey battles his way out, destroys the new home and ends up back at his old house, which he decides suits him best. This cartoon was just okay for me. John Cleese narrates and he is charming as he rhymes away while the cartoon goes through its paces, but I didn’t understand why this cartoon was included in a Halloween special. I think they were trying for a haunted house cartoon that would not scare children, but I think that they went too far the other way.
“How to Haunt a House” – this is a new cartoon that is pretty cute, if a bit morbid. Goofy is selected as the new ghost and so he has to die (shown off screen). He comes back and picks his friend Donald Duck as his first person to haunt. Of course, nothing seems to go right for Goofy and Donald keeps insisting that he doesn’t believe in ghosts. This cartoon was hilarious and reminded me of the old-school Goofy cartoons like “How to Ride a Horse” and “How to Ski.” There is a classic, deep-voiced narrator telling Goofy how to be the perfect ghost and Goofy tries really hard to follow the instructions, but just can’t seem to make anything work! This was my favorite of the new cartoons because it reminded me the most of the old, classic cartoons.
“Lonesome Ghosts” – this cartoon was also included in “Disney’s Halloween Treat” and features Mickey Mouse, Goofy & Donald as ghost hunters who are called to a haunted house by the ghosts themselves! This is a classic cartoon that has to be included in any Disney collection for Halloween or for scary cartoons. It is clever and funny and the ghosts are silly enough that they are not scary. A classic Disney cartoon that should not be missed!
“Dance of the Goofys” – this is a new cartoon that reminded me of Fantasia in that there is a beautiful, classical score playing during the cartoon and no speaking from the characters. There are a host of Goofys (with wings on their rear end instead of their back) who fly out at night to magically close all of the flowers. A little boy sees their lights from his window and captures the lead Goofy to add to his bug collection. Now a bumbling, late-arrival Goofy must save the day! I am not sure why this cartoon was included in a Halloween collection as it was pretty bright and sparkly. Admittedly, the part inside the house with the bug-collecting-boy were a little creepy, but I am not sure this cartoon fit here. It was cute and funny, though.
“Donald Duck and the Gorilla” – this cartoon was included in “Disney’s Halloween Treat” and is the one about an escaped gorilla who ends up at Donald Duck’s house. At first, Donald plays a trick on his nephews Huey, Dewey & Louie and pretends to be the gorilla. Then the trio of boys play a trick on Donald pretending to be the gorilla. And then the real gorilla shows up! This cartoon is a little scary, but is also really funny and clever. It is a great option for younger viewers instead of focusing on random killers on the loose and Donald and the gang are great in this one.
“Donald’s Halloween Scare” – this is a new cartoon that features Donald Duck scaring his nephews Huey, Dewey & Louie while they are trick-or-treating. The joke is on Donald though when they dress up like a policeman to arrest Donald as a notorious killer! Madcap chase scenes ensue and Donald’s nephews get the last laugh as they out-trick Donald. My favorite part of this cartoon was Goofy, though, as he pops up throughout the cartoon passing out Easter eggs and Christmas candy canes because he gets his holidays mixed up. This could have been a really scary cartoon that Disney was able to keep cute, fun and light. This was an enjoyable new cartoon that was animated a little bit more modern style than I care for, but it was a good fit for this collection.
“Hansel and Gretel” – this is a new cartoon that also reminded me of Fantasia in that there is no talking, just action set to a classic piece of music. Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse play Hansel and Gretel and I was disappointed that they did not choose a Disney character to play the witch. Instead, the witch is a fairly typical old lady who lives in a child’s dream house that is packed full of candy. Still, this was a cute cartoon and I enjoyed this fairy tale short.
In between the cartoons, Mickey is struggling against Jafar and his group of villains and Donald keeps popping up in different Halloween costumes to try and scare people so there are fun moments everywhere. Children will really enjoy this Halloween special and it is the perfect length for them at a little under an hour total. Adults will find a lot to be entertained by, as well, so this can be a fun rental for the whole family!
There are a few mildly scary moments, but nothing even close to being truly frightening. Appropriate for viewers of all ages.