Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Disney's "The Three Musketeers" - Because She Loved Mickey Mouse (In Memory of M.A.D.)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 245 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004) – (straight to video release)
Running time: 68 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Donovan Cook
WRITERS: David M. Evans and Evan Spiliotopoulos
PRODUCER: Margot Pipkin
EDITOR: Bret Marnell


Starring: (voice) Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Russi Taylor, Tress MacNeille, Jim Cummings, April Winchell, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, and Jeff Bennett

Best buddies Mickey Mouse (Wayne Allwine), Donald Duck (Tony Anselmo), and Goofy (Bill Farmer) are small-time janitors, handymen, and clothes washers with big time dreams of become Musketeers, who are their employers. Peg-Leg Pete (Jim Cummings), their boss and captain of the Musketeers, is dismissive of them and their dreams because (as he rudely points out) Mickey is short, Donald is a coward, and Goofy is a dimwit. However, Pete comes upon a plan to use the trio, anyway.
Princess Minnie (Russi Taylor) demands Musketeer bodyguards after assassins nearly drop a safe on her. What she doesn’t know is that the assassins are a trio of Beagle Boys (Maurice LaMarche and Jeff Bennett) have been ordered by Pete to remove Princess Minnie so that he can be king. He makes Mickey, Donald, and Goofy Musketeers because he believes their incompetence will make them ineffectual bodyguards and allow the Beagle Boys (who steal virtually every scene they’re in) to easily spirit the Princess and her lady-in-waiting, Daisy (Tressie MacNeille), away to a hidden tower, all part of his plan to usurp the throne. What Pete doesn’t count on is the heroic trio rising to the challenge… and Princess Minnie falling in love with Mickey.

According to director Donovan Cook, The Walt Disney Company originally ordered his animated film Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers to be produced as an animated feature film for theatrical release. For the foreseeable future, Disney doesn’t plan on releasing 2-D or hand-drawn animated films.  [That policy has changed since this review was written.] Ultimately in spite of his public pleas for support from the Internet community and pleas to Disney, the film was sold as a straight to video release. After watching the film, I can imagine that Disney didn’t think this film would make enough in box office receipts to justify advertising and print costs (not to mention logistics) for a theatrical release.

It’s no big loss for this film to be released straight to video, except that the filmmakers don’t get credit for making a theatrical film. However, Disney fans will still get to see an excellent family friendly animated movie, and while it is nowhere as good as Disney’s best full-length feature films, it is actually quite entertaining.

The figure animation and movement in Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is better than the animation produced for Disney’s animated TV programs, though it pales in comparison even to second tier Disney animated feature films like Alice in Wonderland (a personal favorite). The character motion is fluid and energetic, perfect for this film’s physical and gag comedy, and this is a funny film. The background art for this film is actually quite good – fine enough to be eye candy. The quality of Princess Minnie’s palace, the Musketeer’s lair, the countryside, and other locations and settings verify that this must have been considered for theatrical release at one time.

The story uses Alexandre Dumas’ (1802-1870) classic novel, The Three Musketeers (1844), as a launching point. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are not the Three Musketeers (although a Disney funny animal version of them appears very early in the film), so this film is not a remake, but a sequel of sorts, which might disappoint some. The writers use the Musketeers concept to create a winning tale of friendship, teamwork, and perseverance. The boys have to believe in one another, and each friend has to help another overcome obstacles. In the end, it’s about being there for a friend even when you’re scared, and this movie both sells that idea and is truly good entertainment.

7 of 10


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