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Walt Before Mickey - DVD Review

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Walt Before Mickey - DVD Review

2 stars

“Dreams don’t come true without a lot of failure,” the voiceover narrates in Walt Before Mickey (2015). To prove its point, the film then spends much of its 107-minute running time showing the huge amount of failure Walt Disney endured, before he finally hit it big with the creation of Mickey Mouse. Based on a book of the same title, Walt Before Mickey is a partial rags-to-riches biography of Walt Disney’s early life that spans his boyhood years in Kansas up to the late 1920s in Hollywood. Thomas Ian Nicholas is young Walt, a visionary but inept businessman who repeatedly goes broke, bounces checks to his employees and even gets evicted, forcing him to live in his animation studio. At one point, he befriends a mouse and treats it lovingly, like his only friend. He keeps it in his pocket and rummages through trash to feed both the mouse and himself. And that’s just one example of hard times.

The supporting cast includes Roy Disney (Jon Heder), Walt’s brave brother who helped run Disney Brothers’ Studio, despite his tuberculosis; warm, caring Aunt Charlotte played by Full House alum Jodie Sweetin; secretary and inker-turned-wife Lillian Disney (Kate Katzman); and cartoonists like Ub Iwerks and Friz Freleng.

Despite its rich, promising subject matter of a complex man, Walt Before Disney disappoints. Production values are obviously low and the acting feels subpar and amateurish, with clumsy line readings. If that’s not enough to turn you off, Walt Before Mickey’s storyline plods along focusing on the business side of Walt’s creative process. We watch Walt and other businessmen talking endlessly in offices and studios, on telephones and trains. But in syrupy scenes here and there, instrumental background music swells up to as if to loudly ask, “Isn’t this heartwarming?” Walt himself comes across as an unrecognized genius which, while true, starts to grate as the plot goes on. He was a struggling businessman and later a successful media mogul, not a saintly hero (tell that to the screenwriters). Thomas Ian Nicholas has been sadly typecast as his teen character in the American Pie movies, never quite pulling off a successful impression of young Walt Disney. In other words, this one is for strict Disney lovers only.

A PG rating suits the film, with its chaste kiss and a light smattering of four-letter words. Realistically, though, Disney is often shown indulging in the heavy smoking that hastened his death from lung cancer in 1966. If perfectionist Walt could watch this film, I don’t think it would meet his standards.

Walt Before Mickey - DVD Review

MPAA Rating: PG for period smoking throughout, mild thematic elements and language
Runtime:
120 mins
Director
: Khoa Le
Writer:
Arthur L. Bernstein, Armando Gutierrez
Cast:
Jodie Sweetin, Jon Heder, David Henrie
Genre
: Biography | Drama
Tagline:
Walt Before Mickey
Memorable Movie Quote: "Was I going to be an actor or an artist"
Distributor:
Vision Films
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/waltbeforemickey
Release Date:
August 14, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 16, 2015
Synopsis: Based on the book "Walt Before Mickey" covers the early years of Walt Disney's career.

Walt Before Mickey - DVD Review

DVD

DVD Details:

Available on DVD - December 16, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Discs: Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Region Encoding: Region-free

This is a single, bare-bones DVD with no special features or commentary.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • None

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