Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is brimming with joy and that shows a genuine love for the famed face of the Disney Corporation.
Just like so many people in the world, Mickey Mouse was an essential part of my childhood. There’s a part of me that gets excited any time I see the notorious Mickey Mouse ears, and I doubt that is going to change anytime soon. With my love of Mickey and Disney as a whole, I came into this documentary not knowing much about the beloved character besides all of the different films and shows that he is a part of. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse starts with the initial idea of him from the legendary Walt Disney during one of the slow moments of his accomplished career. From here, the character quickly became one of the most famous characters of all time over his almost hundred-year lifespan. This documentary tracks Mickey’s life all the way from the 1920s to today, showing how he has changed and shifted his personality to match what was going on throughout history.
Ever since the launch of Disney Plus, there has been a large increase in the number of documentaries being produced about different parts of the Disney empire. Having seen a lot of them, I was pretty confident that I knew what the look and feel of this documentary was going to be. As soon as it started, I was proved wrong. None of these last documentaries have been bad, but the majority of them feel very formulaic and seem as if their only audience would be hard core Disney fans, which makes them perfect material for a streaming service. With Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, the production level is a big step up from previous efforts, and it warrants this film to be seen on a big screen. Having the opportunity to see this even on a television screen instead of a laptop really enhances a lot of the visuals, which are also extremely well done. There are a lot of beautiful clips of nature and people drawing that I wasn’t expecting to be as striking as they were. Having these beautiful visuals mixed in with some of the older cartoons was an extremely smart decision, because it allows the film to be a step above most of the other Disney Plus documentaries that have come out in the last few years.
Besides being unexpectedly well produced, Mickey: The Story of a Mouse still has a light and playful tone, similarly to the Mickey Mouse cartoons. The tone works for the majority of the documentary since it makes the 90 minute runtime fly by, but it also hinders the film from having a strong stance or argument. Since Mickey is such a successful character, there is not much else to add to his legacy besides the overall history of the character. You learn so much new information about the character, but none of it adds up to more than just a celebration of all of his achievements.
For the majority of the film, this lack of depth doesn’t really affect the overall quality, except when it briefly discusses Mickey’s controversial past. As with the majority of cartoons in the 1900s, Mickey Mouse cartoons sometimes had racist and sexist plot lines or characters. While the documentary mentions this, my biggest criticism with Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is that the filmmakers barely even discuss this topic: it is only around a 2-3 minute segment. There was a rare opportunity for Disney to talk about some of their darker past and have a sense of acknowledgement that even though times were different there is still an issue with some of the cartoons that were being aired at the start of Mickey’s fame. Instead, there is mention of these issues and the acknowledgment that they were wrong, but not much else.
Besides that one flaw, Mickey: The Story of a Mouse makes for a great time. It’s an interesting story due to Mickey being such a unique character that has been with us for so long, and is told in a breezy and fun way that makes the documentary immensely entertaining. It may not be the most brilliant exploration of Mickey that could have been made, but it’s clear that the intention of this documentary was to celebrate Walt Disney and how even the smallest of his ideas were absolutely magical, and it wildly succeeds on that end.
Mickey: The Story of a Mouse will be streaming globally on Disney Plus from November 18, 2022.