Okay, so… I just discovered this little gem of 80s cheese not a half hour ago, and already I am scarred for the night. Just having this pure, unadulterated glimpse back into the late 80s hurts your eyes and makes you realize just how LAME being cool in the 80s was. The hair was ridiculous, the dance moves were ridiculous, the designs were ridiculous, the freaking “rap” was absolutely ridiculous. And to top it all off, this is Disney we’re talking about here. This is the family fun power-house, taking all of its marketing and demographical knowledge of the late 80s culture, and distilling it down into its most absolute and purified parts: presenting us with a vision of the 80s that looks like every cheesy music video and fashion show all thrown into one place. And don’t even get me started on the color schemes.
So what exactly happens in Totally Minnie?
Well… it’s about how Minnie Mouse convinces Maxwell, played by Robert Carradine (Louis from Revenge of the Nerds), to take a trip to her “Minnie Mouse Station,” in order for her and her posse to teach him the ins and outs of being totally “Hip!” in 1988. This is where Maxwell meets “The Director,” played by Suzanne Somers. And she then takes him through the gauntlet of learning how to walk cool, talk cool, dance cool, dress cool, sing cool: and of course, how to hit on women. And as one might expect, it’s basically a television version of one of those tricked-out educational/training videos, like those infamous Wendy’s videos from about the same time period (late 1980s).
Now to be honest, I actually love 80s fashion and designs, to an extent. I’d love to get my hands on a few old shirts, ties, and maybe some killer jackets. But that’s about as far as I’ll go because the rest of this thing is plain retro garbage.
But I imagine by now you’re a little taken aback as to why this tv special exists. And believe me you have no idea how weird this is until you see it. But let me give you some back-story and maybe you’ll come to understand.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me take you back to a time when the Disney star roster of characters—Mickey, Donald, and Goofy—were surprisingly sparingly used. A time when the last time we saw Mickey Mouse was nearly 30 years ago in the late 1950s. The year is 1983, and a brand new film project is underway in order to reintroduce these characters to the masses. It was called Mickey’s Christmas Carol. And despite only featuring Mickey himself in a minor role, it was nonetheless the official return of the character and his friends. This was also voice actor Wayne Allwine’s first feature film role as the voice of Mickey: as he would go on to become the most well-known and signature sound of the character all the way up until 2009.
Now I’ll get more into the details about Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in a following review, but I’d like to focus more on Minnie Mouse for the moment, as this is a review of her triumphant debut, and a pre-curser to my review of Mickey Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers.
So during Mickey’s Christmas Carol¸ Minnie Mouse is indeed seen as the wife of Bob Cratchet, whose played by Mickey. However, she does not speak. Because at the time, Disney did not have a new voice for her. That’s where Russi Taylor comes in. Russi had previously been the voice of Huey, Dewey and Louis in the Goofy and Scrooge McDuck centric short film, Soccermania (1984): which surprisingly did not bring back Alan Young as Scrooge due to a strange scheduling error and some poor assumptions. However Russi was able to join Alan when both of them became part of the Ducktales TV series later that same year. This then gave Russi the opportunity to try out for the role of Minnie when a brand new hip-happenin’ TV special was conceived in order to bring the character back for modern audiences. The special was called Totally Minnie!, and Russi Taylor did indeed land the role of her life. This was also when she met Wayne Allwine, her future husband and co-star. Not very many people can say that they were married to the voice of the cartoon counterparts.
Besides being an semi-educational program, unsurprisingly this special is also a music video montage. Utilizing spools of old archival cartoon footage to fill up time so as to avoid doing too much fresh animation. Pretty much every section of this cavalcade has a song. And as far to my knowledge, they’re all real actual songs, but they all sound like covers to me. They even brought in Elton John to do an updated version of his song, “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart:” this time opposite Minnie Mouse. He also wears a perfectly fitting pink and black striped suit and matching hat with his trademark heart-shaped tinted glasses. I just love it. I thought I’d hate seeing this much pink on one person, but Elton just flaunts it so well. No, I’m not kidding.
Now of course this whole special is just a pain to sit through these days, and for every reason in the book. The 80s synth beats are too jarring. The random rap riffs are insufferable and lame. The camera flickering back and forth between camera 1 and camera 2 is stupid and seizure inducing. And the choice to colorize the old black and white cartoons, alla Ted Turner, is horrendous because of the 80s color schemes: all of these dark blues bright greens and hot pinks just muddy up these perfectly good b/w films.
Now actor Robert Carradine, while he’s fantastic in the Nerd films, is sorely underused here and only around for the novelty of his Nerd credibility. He really doesn’t get enough time or space to play up the nerd that he’s so good at portraying. Therefore it feels like the casting goes to waste.
Suzanne Somers does a decent job. But since I’m not all that familiar with her, I really can’t say it’s cool to see her here or anything. Just as the character though, since I didn’t know her from any other woman who could have been in the role, she plays this kind of character okay. But I do have to say, her initial outfit baffles me. At the start of the special she shows up at the door wearing what looks like a Sweedish Alpine outfit with like the suspenders and the hat with the feather and a tie, but then she’s wearing big glasses and houndstooth pants. Now, doesn’t that sound like the nerdiest freaking outfit ever? Well yes, yes it does. Either that or the most hipster gettup ever. But it’s strange to think that back then in 1988, this was actually considered a hip and cool fashion statement, especially if you were in a fashion conscious part of the country like L.A. or New York or Miami. Because she looks no less nerdy than Maxwell does, at least to my new millennium eyes.
Of course, the only character who comes out on top as absolutely wonderful is Minnie Mouse. She really does not disappoint, folks. She is hip, she is cool, she is lovely, she is stylin’, she is one foxy mama. And for her first foray into the role, Russi Taylor gives a lovable and endearing twist on the character. Previously Minnie didn’t have nearly as much subtlety or character in her voice. In fact neither did Mickey very much, at least when Walt was doing the voice. But that’s a debate for a later time.
Not a whole lot else to say except maybe go check out the short special for yourself. It’s been up on Youtube in 13 very short pieces since 2007. So I don’t think it’s really going anywhere. Lol