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Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004) DVD Review

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Movie & DVD Details

Director: Donovan Cook

Voice Cast: Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Bill Farmer (Goofy), Russi Taylor (Minnie Mouse), Tress MacNeille (Daisy Duck), Jim Cummings (Peg Leg Pete), April Winchell (Clarabelle Cow), Rob Paulsen (The Troubadour)

Running Time: 68 Minutes / Rating: G
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish), DTS 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned

Release Date: August 17, 2004
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
White Keepcase


Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers opens with a troubadour turtle who unexpectedly gets a chance to narrate the film with song and a 64-page comic book as his storytelling tools. This irreverent start does a fine job at setting up the atmosphere for this barely feature-length direct-to-video film.

Here, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy finally get their first full-length, single-narrative film. But at just over an hour, The Three Musketeers barely qualifies by length, and without a regular theatrical engagement or too much fanfare, this direct-to-video release hardly seems like a landmark release for these famous personas.

The characters of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy evolve in this film as they have been since their introductions in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Their personalities have never been deep enough to truly explore, and so they haven't changed too much over the years. But the humor here is a little more sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek; these efforts to keep the protagonists relevant for the post-modern generation serve the film adequately.

The film's narrator: a turtle troubadour with a comic book! The opening sequences provide backstory through comic book panels.

Despite the title, The Three Musketeers is not an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' famous novel. The film does, however, share its setting: seventeenth century France. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are three inept janitors who dream of being musketeers one day. The captain of the musketeers, Pete, insists that this is just a wild dream and that none of the trio has 'musketeer' in them.

Pete, of course, is the villain of the piece, and he retains the pegleg that he had in some of the oldest Disney shorts. With his enormous, thinly-mustachioed presence, Pete screams "treachery" to anyone but the film's characters and the rightfully overbearing captain is planning to off Princess Minnie so that he can become king. Like any good villain, Pete has henchmen (the Beagle Boys) to do the dirty work for him.

When Minnie expresses fear for her safety, Pete agrees to assign her some Royal Musketeers as her bodyguards. But being the shrewd captain he is, Pete hires for the job the same three janitors he laughed off. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy think their wish has come true, but Pete merely sees the trio as being the least competent defense that can be put around Princess Minnie.

Like The Wizard of Oz, each of the trio is lacking something. For Donald, it's courage. Goofy's short on brains. And Mickey is just too darn small. The predictable course of events lays out the standard work for the three musketeers. They've got to save the princess, defeat the bad guy, and prove that they have what it takes.

The French troubadour turtle returns from time-to-time to narrate the film, which he does by setting lyrics to famous classical instrumentals. In fact, this device comprises the entire soundtrack of the film, calling to mind the one musical number from the 1990 Mickey Mouse featurette "The Prince and the Pauper." The film employs a number of famous melodies, from Tchaikovsky to Strauss, and Beethoven to Grieg. This works with mixed results; the tunes are inherently catchy, but more than once the operatic style of song feels forced. The most played theme, "All for One and One for All" derives from excerpts of Jacques Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld."

Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are looking for more than janitorial work. Meanwhile, Minnie is thinking of love - think she'll find it?

The Three Musketeers succeeds at entertaining for its short running time, but is a somewhat forgettable outing. To its benefit, the film keeps a light, amusing tone which allows it to be fast-paced and quick-witted. Unlike many modern comedies, it manages both laughs and a well-defined plot.

With its inspired visual hijinks and aesthetically pleasing look, this DisneyToon Studios production readily embraces the two-dimensional animation form (with substantial help from computers) that some have declared dead. There are nice spritely, colorful illustrations which make up the comic book opening introduction and closing credits and, of course, the cast is composed of characters who were the biggest stars of the format when 2-D animation first found an audience.

There are some in-jokes and gags which may hold more meaning for those who are well-versed in this trio, but the film is also entirely accessible for young audiences today who (perish the thought) may not know these three from many other features or short films. As the eternal nemesis, Pete certainly retains his amusing hostility and unabashedly selfish and evil desires.

In the vein of Mickey's most recent half-hour short "The Prince and the Pauper" this casually entertaining adventure offers a modest return for these legendary Disney characters who really haven't gone away in the past seventy-five years. The diversion is familiar, but in a good way.

Still, the film raises one question well beyond its modest scope. Is this the future of 2-D animation, at least for the Disney studio? Light comedies which fare just fine directly on home video, and leave theatrical work to the more cinematic 3-D computer animation? Only time may tell.

Peg Leg Pete towers over Mickey. The Beagle Boys are Pete's henchmen, out to kill the princess.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Three Musketeers is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and it occupies all of the 16x9 frame with its 1.78:1 aspect ratio. For a brand new film, it's not surprising that the picture quality is this good, but it is still pleasing. Colors are rich, vibrant, and always properly contained. Naturally, the print is spotlessly clean; the closest thing to an imperfection is the most minor of grain in a couple of scenes. The film's imagery is sharp, but not excessively or artifically so; there doesn't appear to be any edge enhancement. Overall, this is merely a beautiful transfer of a nice-looking film.

The royal soundtrack really exhibits some nice modern sound design. Offered in 5.1 tracks of both the Dolby Digital and DTS varieties, The Three Musketeers shows wonderful depth, range, and fidelity. From the backstage opening where voices come from all the separate channels, the soundtrack makes wonderful use of all speakers. The volume range has its highs and lows, but fortunately, never to an extreme where you'll find yourself constantly reaching for the remote. The film's classical score and operatic songs are both really nicely conveyed, and the dialogue is crisp and natural sounding. There are no complaints at all in the audio department.

The troubadour introduces the villains in this deleted scene. An anonymous boy band singing "Three is a Magic Number." Low-class fun: build your own opera in "Opera-Toon-Ity."

BONUS FEATURES

The Bonus Features are broken down into four standard sections, as per Disney's newly-launched EasyFind navigation system (more on this later).

The first section is Deleted Scenes. "Off the Cutting Room Floor" treats us to four deleted scenes, running just under 5 minutes altogether. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen mostly as rough pencil tests, these are: an alternate opening with the troubadour turtle, an unused introduction to Pete and the Beagle Boys, more comical commentary from the turtle, and pre-bedtime hijinks between the musketeers, Daisy, and Minnie. Alternatively, you can watch these scenes with audio commentary from DisneyToon Studios vice president Brian Snedeker; he explains why they were cut.

Next, in Music & More, we find a dreadful teeny-bopper pop music video "3 is a Magic Number" (2:53) performed by an unnamed boy band. They'd have been better off remixing the Schoolhouse Rock tune of the same name in full, as the lyrics here are awful. Clips from the film are edited together with these young gentlemen jamming in the recording studio. Be glad that the song wasn't actually used in the movie. Who are these people?!

Better is "Disney's Song Selection," a feature which has turned up on a few of the studio's DVDs. This simply allows you to individually access the seven scenes from the film that have songs, with colorful subtitles that allow you to sing along. There is an also option to play all. As stated earlier, these songs all offer rifts on familiar classical melodies, with mixed success.

Then we go on to Games & Activities. The first activity, called "Opera-Toon-Ity", allows you to make your own opera, choosing from three backdrops and three performers. After you make your picks, you are treated to your creation. Like the film's songs, these operas mixes classical instrumentals with inane "comic" lyrics, which are provided by colorful subtitles for you to sing along. Basic multiplication tells you that your creation will be one of 9 possible operas, and as there's only one song for each performer, only the costumes and sets change for six of these nine. This one will likely only entertain youngsters and the easily amused.

Pick a hat and learn about Mickey's roles in "The Many Hats of Mickey." Excerpt from "Gulliver Mickey" in "The Many Hats of Mickey." Director Donovan Cook in "Get the Scoop" featurette.

Much better is the second activity, "The Many Hats of Mickey." Here, there are graphics displaying nine different hats that Mickey has worn in his acting career. Select any of them and you'll hear some information (from the troubadour) about the film or short, its source, and the role that Mickey played, followed by a brief clip or montage from the appearance. Each clip runs about a minute, and it's a concise, but nice introduction to Mickey Mouse that even the most devoted Mickey fans can probably appreciate. The shorts covered are "The Castaway" (1931), "Giantland" (1933), "Thru the Mirror" (1936), "Gulliver Mickey" (1934), "The Brave Little Tailor" (1938), "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (1940), "Mickey and the Beanstalk" (1947), "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983), and "The Prince and the Pauper" (1990).

Backstage Disney, the section that will probably appeal to the widest audience (those interested in making-of bonus features) is oddly saved for last. "Get the Scoop" (9:35) is a mock news report that wavers between a genuine behind-the-scenes featurette and a jokey piece meant to pander to youngers, who surely wouldn't be interested in a serious look at the film's making.

Director Donovan Cook talks about how Walt Disney had several plans for feature-length films starring Mickey, and how this is the first time it has become reality (well, to a direct-to-video degree). But then, amidst the footage of storyboard pitches and animators at work, the filmmakers treat Mickey, Donald, and Goofy as actors. The film's origins, look, and soundtrack are all barely touched on. Buried low in the menu, this would have worked better as an earnest making-of featurette. Still, it's the most substantial bonus on the disc.

The last bonus feature on the menu is a Cast Commentary, but don't be deceived, this isn't a full-length audio commentary. Instead, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pete comment on just one 5-minute sequence from early in the film, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. Like "Get the Scoop," this supplement runs with the idea that the characters actually made the movie. Character commentary is an interesting concept that worked well on the Brother Bear DVD, but the logic here must have been that it may have worn thin for the entire length of the film. Instead, witty actor's remarks are compressed into this fast-paced, but underwhelming bonus.

At the start of the disc, Sneak Peeks play for Aladdin Platinum Edition, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Special Edition, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, The Sneak Peeks menu also contains previews for Mulan Special Edition, Home on the Range, "House of Mouse" (on ToonDisney, unfortunately not DVD), the Disney Princess Collection DVDs, and Disney's Magical Quest 2 for Game Boy Advance.

Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers DVD Menu EasyFind icons on display in the Bonus Features menu.

MENUS AND PACKAGING

The Three Musketeers officially launches two new Disney DVD features. The first, FastPlay, essentially treats the format like VHS so that you won't have to do anything with the remote to play the previews, movie, and select bonus features afterwards. With FastPlay, the DVD doesn't even go to the menu before playing the movie, unless you choose to do so at the very start of the disc.

The other feature, EasyFind, would seem to have even less of a point. This is just a set of graphics and uniform headers meant to make menu navigation easier.

The 16x9 menus start with a little animated tour of the castle, and provide some witty commentary at each transition from the characters. After the introductions, they're static and pretty basic, simply playing music from the film. This choice for an intentionally simple menu design may well be tied to EasyFind.

Inside the case, you'll find a mini booklet with a Three Musketeers membership card to color in and a black-and-white movie-themed maze. Also in this booklet are coupons for Mickey and friends plushes, The Three Musketeers soundtrack CD, and The Cheetah Girls DVD, plus ads for Home on the Range, The Lion King II Special Edition, and this November's direct-to-video feature Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas. Besides the insert with chapter and bonus features indexes, there is a double-sided insert on the "Two New Ways to Enjoy your Disney DVD": FastPlay and EasyFind. The back side provides a phone number and website address for you to provide feedback on these new viewing modes.

It's perfect - they even have the same last name! All for fun...and fun for all.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Fans of Disney's three most enduring characters should enjoy Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, which provides a good dose of humor and a pleasantly predictable plot. While it's not in the same ballpark as the best Disney animated films, this light comedy offers brisk diversion and definitely ascends above the low quality of schlocky, direct-to-video sequels. Although the DVD is unexpectedly light on bonus features, its presentation of the film is flawless.

More on the DVD

Buy Three Musketeers Gift Set with Mickey Plush
Also available in Gift Set with Mickey Mouse Plush

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Direct-to-Video Page | August 2004 Disney DVDs

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Reviewed August 7, 2004.

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