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Sony Family Wonder presents
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

"Could I need spectacles?"
- Mr. Magoo (Jim Backus) as Ebenezer Scrooge

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: December 22, 2002

Stars: Jim Backus, Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy, June Foray
Other Stars: Royal Dano, Paul Frees, Joan Gardner, John Hart, Jane Kean, Marie Matthews, Laura Olsher, Les Tremayne
Director: Abe Levitow

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (animated spirits)
Run Time: 00h:52m:07s
Release Date: September 24, 2002
UPC: 074645433394
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ BA-B- C

DVD Review

At a time when there was little variety in children's programming, the myopic Mr. Magoo enjoyed 25 years in the limelight. Voiced by Jim Backus, this basically one-note character entertained us with his misguided adventures over and over—and over. Wreaking havoc on everyone along his way, somehow the funny little man with the big face always emerged unscathed. While in more recent years there have been protests about the propriety of this character by the National Federation for the Blind, Mr. Magoo is, in actuality, merely near-sighted and completely oblivious to things outside his own mental focus. Sure, he's an anachronism, but how politically correct are, say, The Three Stooges, in the twenty-first century?

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol hardly depends upon the state of the character's sightedness, although if there's an opportunity to be found in the classic Dickens' tale, the creators take advantage. The story is framed by the "actual" Mr. Magoo (voiced by Jim Backus) appearing in a "staged" version on Broadway. Starring as Ebenezer Scrooge, Magoo has some difficulty with the production but bumbles through a charming if condensed musical presentation of the curmudgeonly old man who is as avaricious with his heart as he is with his purse and who, on a fateful Christmas Eve, discovers redemption.

The stylized world of the Mr. Magoo series changed over time. Here, just a few years before the character was retired, his surroundings have taken on the look of its era, the simplified, spare animation seen in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, created the year before. (A style taken to new heights—and new lows—by the creators of South Park.

What livens up this minimalist vision is the music by legends Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, including a song that has haunted me since I first saw this as a child, I'm All Alone in the World. And of course, the unique characterization of Mr. Magoo by Jim Backus, his one and only voice. Backus gave visage to his famous voice as Mr. Howell on Gillian's Island 2 years later.

While not as charming as the Peanuts gang nor as gregarious as more recent holiday fare, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is recommended family entertainment.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: I was surprised how good this looks, given the age of the source and its relative obscurity (there seems no high demand for Mr. Magoo in syndication these days). While the richer colors reveal their original glory, the muted tones, such as inside the Cratchett's household, have a more aged look about them. The presentation is relatively free of blemishing marks.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
PCMEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is also genuinely enjoyable, a 2-channel event with more depth than expected, in touches such as the echo in the voice of Christmas Past. The Styne melodies come across in serviceable style.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus short: Mr. Magoo Meets McBoing Boing
  2. History of Mr. Magoo
  3. Career retrospective of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill
Extras Review: The menu initially animates into its then static position. The vintage short, Mr. Magoo Meets Gerald McBoing Boing (05m:01s), is unremarkable cartoon of the usual Magoo antics when he is asked to babysit a toddler.

There are text biographies for the Jim Backus, Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy and June Foray, and the career highlights of Styne and Merrill. Six screens of text provide the history of Mr. Magoo.

The original movie poster is shown at half-screen size.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

A Christmas Carol is an enduring tale in most any presentation. Mr. Magoo's version is nostalgic and charming, an excellent DVD to have on hand for annual holiday viewing.

 


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