Disney+ documentary review: ‘Mickey: The Story of a Mouse’ is a nostalgic warm hug reminding us why we love the global icon.

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

Disney+ has a brand new doc as delightfully imaginative as you’d expect. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a darling dive into the making of an internationally beloved icon. It all started with a mouse, and his evolution is a fascinating journey for fans everywhere.

We peek into the minds of fans, young and old, visit the Disney Archives, chat with animators and historians, and hear directly from Walt Disney in classic interviews from our childhood. The work that went into creating Disney’s empire will astound audiences and yet never destroy the magic. We delve into Walt’s unrelenting sense of adventure and fearless attitude about expansion and risk.

The doc also discusses Mainstream Mickey and counterculture Mickey and how his image became synonymous with cultural change through the years. They touch upon copyright infringement and the complexities that grew out of Walt’s loss of Oswald the Rabbit. Filmmakers and interviewees do not shy away from the negative stereotypes appearing in certain cartoons and how Mickey became a corporate symbol. It’s an honest take.

I don’t think I’ve fully understood the impact of Mickey’s image until now. I refuse to dress my five and 6-year-olds in clothing that has characters branded on them, except for Mickey. There is a deeply ingrained subconscious reason that I’m only now realizing. It was a real aha moment for me.

I was lucky enough to have been a performer at Disneyland in 2000. For the insiders, I’ll say I had the magical title of “pageant helper,” which carries more weight than it suggests. I thought perhaps working at the parks would kill a little bit of the joy, as technically, I had peeked behind the curtain, quite literally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anytime I stepped onto the grounds out from backstage (the areas no guest ever sees), I would be a giant kid all over again. On one unforgettable day, I had the unprecedented honor of meeting the actor Walt hired to wear the first Mickey costume on Disneyland’s opening day. There I am, a sweaty mess, in half a costume smiling like a fangirl. It was a part of history most people would never get to touch.

Visually, Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a cinematic dream. From hand-drawn frame-by-frame cell animation to chemist-mixed paint to the collaborations we see today as animation and technology shift by the day. We experience the sheer artistry involved in Mickey as animators recreate some of his most iconic roles throughout history. In a sort of meta moment, these creators work on the newest Mickey short, “Mickey In A Minute,” during the doc, one hand-drawn scene at a time. The final product is Disney perfection.

Mickey Mouse is the most famous character in all of history. Three simple circles have made an indelible mark on humanity. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse overflowed with nostalgia and had me giggling and grinning from ear to ear. I could not have loved it anymore.


Mickey: The Story of a Mouse 

premieres today on Disney+

Short Synopsis
One of the world’s most beloved icons, Mickey Mouse is recognized as a symbol of joy and childhood innocence in virtually every corner of the globe. Dreamed up at a low point in Walt Disney’s burgeoning career, Mickey became an overnight sensation when he starred in the first synch-sound animated short, Steamboat Willie. Through the decades that followed, the character evolved into strikingly different versions of himself that reflect both his creator’s remarkable career and dramatic societal shifts in the nation he came to represent. In the fascinating documentary Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, director Jeff Malmberg and Oscar ® -winning producer Morgan Neville (who previously teamed up together for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) examine the cultural significance of the nearly 100-year-old cartoon mouse.


 

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.