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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Mickey Makeover

posted by Nell Minow
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Mickey Mouse is my favorite animated character. Part of the reason is historic — he starred in the first movie to feature a synchronized soundtrack, “Steamboat Willie.” And he was the first character and later the emblem for what would become Walt Disney Studios. Walt Disney lost the rights to his successful Oswald Rabbit character and decided to start his own studio with a new idea. As Disney said,

We thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could. When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity. I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.

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My favorite Mickey appearance is in “Fantasia,” where he plays the sorcerer’s apprentice who gets into trouble when he tries to perform a little magic.

But Mickey has not been much more than a logo for quite a while. What I like best about him, his perpetually cheery outlook, is a challenge for film-makers. It is easier for them to write stories for characters who are frustrated (Donald Duck), clumsy (Goofy), or mischievous (Chip and Dale). As he gets ready to turn 81 on November 18, Mickey is getting more attention — and a bit of a personality change. The New York Times reports that Mickey will star in a new video game and is getting a new look to go with a more aggressive persona. The game is “Epic Mickey, in which the formerly squeaky clean character can be cantankerous and cunning, as well as heroic, as he traverses a forbidding wasteland” battling none other than Oswald Rabbit. Players will be able to decide whether their Mickey character will be helpful or “selfish and destructive.”

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I understand that Disney wants to make Mickey Mouse relevant to a new generation. But I hope Disney remembers what makes Mickey so appealing. And I hope Disney pays attention to the lessons of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” about how much trouble you can get into messing with magic.

  • margie

    why mess something that is so good. I think they r making a big mistake.

  • jestrfyl

    It has been far too long since Mickey was featured in a new film project. Runaway Brain was the last completely original piece, and that was only a short (but a good one). A lot of kids have no idea he started in the movies, they think he is simply a theme park icon. Even Goofy had his own TV show in the 80’s (we watched Goof Troop a lot). He was been living off his reputation and little more. It is time for Disney to bring The Mouse out of “retirement” and put him to good work. I don’t think a video game is his best format. He was and should always be a feature player, not a game character.

  • Gamer Dude

    This new Mickey actually isn’t new at all. They’ve actually specifically said that this personality is based off of Mickey in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. He used to fight, play cruel pranks, and aggressively pursue Minnie back then. Plus, he only becomes that way in the game if you act cruel to people and randomly destroy things. If you play like a nice guy, Mickey becomes the friendlier modern Mickey instead.

  • budcath

    This is another sign of the decline in our society. Mickey shouldn’t be changed to be relevant. “Selfish and Destructive” pretty much sums up modern American culture. For God’s sake, do kids need more of the same? They are already drowning in the crap that’s out there in the media.

  • Rachel

    Gamer Dude is right. There is nothing new about this Mickey. Watch “Plane Crazy,” guys. Yep, you just saw Mickey rip the tail off a passing hen and force Minnie to kiss him. We see Mickey the way he is today because his personality was watered down immensely over the years. True, I like nice, everyman Mickey better, and will play as him. But he was most definitely not always like this, and this is NOT Disney trying to be “cool” and “hip,” this is actually them going back to their roots.

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