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This film was nominated for Best Animated Short in 1932. While it
didn't win, it is one of the few Mickey Mouse cartoons so honored, as
the Academy tended to pick more artsy fare such as Disney's Silly
Symphonies for the award. It's a shame, really, as Mickey's cartoons
were always good and always important to the genre.
In this sadistic little cartoon, some old lady leaves a basket on the doorstep as Mickey, Minnie and Pluto are inside getting ready for Christmas. When they find the basket, out jump about 30 kittens and they turn out to be totally awful--destroying the home and making nuisances of themselves. Apparently, Mickey and Minnie are gross enablers and do nothing to stop them from literally destroying EVERYTHING and instead give the horrible cats a merry Christmas. It's all very cute and sadistic--lots of fun but not exactly deep or memorable.
Very good black and white animation and songs, this one is fun but far from Mickey's best. I think the kittens were the reason this was singled out by the Academy--especially since LEND A PAW (featuring Pluto and Mickey) did win the award in 1942 and it was also about an orphan kitten rescued by Pluto.
In this cartoon, a woman is seen trudging through the snow on a cold and windy Christmas. She leaves a basket by the doorstep of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. A kitten pops out and Minnie picks it up. Soon, a whole bunch of kittens come out of the basket. I have two cats (and a dog) at home so I know what a handful they can be. But there must be about 10-15 kittens. Imagine how many litter boxes Mickey and Minnie would have to clean out. Mickey and Pluto come into the house dressed as Santa and a reindeer. Mickey hands the kittens a bundle of toys (most of which are axes, hammers, saws, cannons, and other destructive tools) and they go about destroying the house. Seeing this short made me be thankful that I only have 2 cats and they don't tear up the house (although one of them has scratched on one of our chairs). This was also the first Mickey Mouse short to win an academy award (I can see why can you?)
This is the first Mickey Mouse short to actually be nominated for an Oscar, losing to Flowers and Trees. The real "mouse that roared" does nothing very special or elaborate in this cartoon. It's cute and enjoyable and I suppose it's representative of the black and white efforts which Disney was doing at the time. Probably more impressive in 1931, it's still worth watching today. It runs on the INK AND PAINT CLUB on Disney Channel. Recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE TITLE MAY be somewhat incorrect, for the huge litter of kittens,
which are the subject of the story are not orphaned (left without
parents), but rather they are 'foundlings'; that is, having been
abandoned. But why quibble? We all got the message, no?
OUR OWN FAMILIARITY with this cartoon short dates back to the late '70s, when it was sold in a Super 8 Magnetic Sound version. It was in Public Domain and was also known by the alternate title of MICKEY PLAYS SANTA CLAUS. Other than the title, this film was the same in both home movie film and video formats.
IN WHAT IS essentially a one setting story, the entire story takes place in what was either Mickey or Minnie's pad. Only the opening sequence showing the mother hiking through the snow and leaving the basket of cuteness on the doorstep employs another venue.
ONCE THEY ARE brought into the house, it one continuous parade of gags, displaying the ever escalating physical activities of the invading horde of felines. Although they young innocents, their enthusiasm for their newly found home becomes more destructive when their hosts, along with help from Pluto, do play Santa and provide the assembly of meowers with Christmas toys.
AS AN OUTSTANDING example of a great fade-out gag, the swarm of overenthusiastic revelers entirely demolish the very ornately decorated Christmas Tree; that was secreted behind a curtain in an adjacent room. (It looks like a Sun Parlor to us.)
THIS CARTOON WAS a sort of Christmas Card to us from Mr. Disney & Company. It was apparently a sort of annual event as Walt released many another cartoon with a Yuletide Seasonal theme at the end of other years. Following this delight was the touching and pathos filled MICKEY'S GOOD DEED (1932).
IN A SORT OF concession to continuity, both of the cartoons used the same character of the mother cat; although she never was given a name, nor did she ever rise above a little used "supporting player."
Mickey's Orphans is one of the first, perhaps the first, Christmas-themed Mickey Mouse cartoon, and is a very good one. Of the Disney Christmas shorts, my favourites are Mickey's Good Deed, Donald's Snow Fight and Pluto's Christmas Tree. True, it does use the formula of little children/animals causing chaos that we've seen with Orphan's Benefit, Orphan's Picnic, Mickey's Revue and Mickey's Nightmare, but to me this is one of the better cases of Disney using this formula. The only real complaint actually is that Mickey and Minnie don't seem to show any anger or concern over the antics of the little kittens. I can understand why they don't want to make Mickey angry, in The Pointer for example he got mad at Pluto and I have heard of people who were turned off by that, but for me it just seemed rather unrealistic. If it were a character like Donald Duck though, a character who is easily frustrated, things would be different. However, the animation is great, the black and white is shaded beautifully and, apart from the kittens changing size occasionally, everything is detailed and clean. The standout animation were with the life-like snow effects and the Christmas tree, which still looked genuinely festive even without colour. The music is energetic as ever, yet puts you in the mood for the festive season and makes you all warm and cosy inside. The Silent Night sequence is incredibly heart-warming. Mickey's Orphans doesn't forget to be fun either. The gags see the kittens sawing up couches, knocking over vases and shooting down dishes, but the best one was the one with Mickey and Pluto pretending to be Santa and a reindeer, which is both hilarious and delightful. Mickey and Minnie are likable enough, though I do wish their actions were more realistic at times, Pluto is energetic and the kittens for all their naughty behaviour are very cute indeed. On the whole, very entertaining and heart-warming short. 8/10 Bethany Cox
A Walt Disney MICKEY MOUSE Cartoon.
Minnie & MICKEY'S ORPHANS are a vast number of unwanted, mischievous kittens left on their doorstep one stormy Christmas Eve.
Nominated for an Academy Award, this lively little black & white film derives much of its enjoyment from watching the tiny felines torment poor Pluto and nearly demolish the Mouse House. The performance of 'Silent Night' by the Mice is charming. One of the kittens does a quick spoof of Charlie Chaplin.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was always intrigued by drawings. As a lad in Marceline, Missouri, he sketched farm animals on scraps of paper; later, as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War, he drew figures on the sides of his vehicle. Back in Kansas City, along with artist Ub Iwerks, Walt developed a primitive animation studio that provided animated commercials and tiny cartoons for the local movie theaters. Always the innovator, his ALICE IN CARTOONLAND series broke ground in placing a live figure in a cartoon universe. Business reversals sent Disney & Iwerks to Hollywood in 1923, where Walt's older brother Roy became his lifelong business manager & counselor. When a mildly successful series with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was snatched away by the distributor, the character of Mickey Mouse sprung into Walt's imagination, ensuring Disney's immortality. The happy arrival of sound technology made Mickey's screen debut, STEAMBOAT WILLIE (1928), a tremendous audience success with its use of synchronized music. The SILLY SYMPHONIES soon appeared, and Walt's growing crew of marvelously talented animators were quickly conquering new territory with full color, illusions of depth and radical advancements in personality development, an arena in which Walt's genius was unbeatable. Mickey's feisty, naughty behavior had captured millions of fans, but he was soon to be joined by other animated companions: temperamental Donald Duck, intellectually-challenged Goofy and energetic Pluto. All this was in preparation for Walt's grandest dream - feature length animated films. Against a blizzard of doomsayers, Walt persevered and over the next decades delighted children of all ages with the adventures of Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi & Peter Pan. Walt never forgot that his fortunes were all started by a mouse, or that simplicity of message and lots of hard work always pay off.
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