Walt Before Mickey cover

Travel back in time to visit Walt & Roy Disney, Ub Iwerks, and Mickey Mouse himself when it all began.

When I was contacted to do a post about the DVD release of “Walt Before Mickey,” of course I jumped at the opportunity. For those who are unaware, I’m a huge Disney fan. That doesn’t mean I’m a fan of Disney Studios, any of the characters, or the movies. While I do enjoy them immensely, I’m mostly a fan of Walter Elias Disney. What drove him, what made him tick? Well, I got to find out in moving pictures for the first time in “Walt Before Mickey,” starring Thomas Ian Nicholas and Jon Heder.

Admittedly, I was surprised to see both of these gents taking on roles like these, which I was sure would be scrutinized by die-hard fans of Disney. He’s freakin’ Walt Disney for crying out loud! You have to either nail it or go home. I wouldn’t want the casting director’s job on this one. I do have to admit… Nicholas rocked it!

Based on the book, “Walt Before Disney” by Timothy Susanin and with a forward by Diane Disney Miller (Walt’s daughter), this movie had a lot of focus on accuracy. The characters felt very believable and at times, made me feel like I was right there in the 1920s with Walt and his team. I can’t tell you how many times I headed over to Google to learn more about the people depicted in the film and to see some of the locations. And when I did, I was surprised at how much many of the actors looked like the real person.

Walt Before Mickey cast


Nicholas did something quite impressive with his portrayal that I’m not sure was intentional. If it was, then bravo, I got it. Walt Disney had a fascination with trains. Nicholas’ portrayal of Walt felt like he was a powerful train always striving forward, even up steep obstacles along the way. He gave off the vibe of a highly determined entrepreneur and dreamer, who wouldn’t stop until he made his dreams come true. He was a human train… always moving forward. Even toward the end, when Walt is with his wife, Lillian, played by Kate Katzman, he’s telling her how he’ll never work for someone else ever again. This is a pivotal moment in his life, and it happens to be on a train, with his wife, moving forward. My hat is off to the director, Khoa Le, who clearly did his homework.

I learned a lot about Walt’s early years in this film since I have yet to read the book (Hey, sometimes I read the Cliff Notes first, don’t judge me!). One of the things that surprised me is how many incredibly talented and influential people worked with Walt on his core team early on. Friz Freleng, Ub Iwerks, and Hugh Harman for example! Not to mention Roy, who became one of the greatest business people ever. Walt gave the map and Roy drove the Disney brand to its glorious destination… the hearts of people around the world.

This film is worth watching for any fan of Disney. It will give the viewer a new appreciation for the Disney brand and for Walt Disney, the man.

You can pick up the DVD on the “Walt Before Mickey” Store while supplies last. Last I checked, Amazon was out of stock, so these will probably sell out quickly.

What you seen (or read) “Walt Before Mickey”? Let us know in the comment section below.

-By Joe Delbridge