David Copperfield is a 1993 traditionally animated musical feature-length adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story of the same name. It was directed by Don Arioli and features the voices of Sheena Easton, Julian Lennon, Howie Mandel, Andrea Martin, Kelly Le Brock, Michael York, Joseph Marcell and many others. The human cast of characters are replaced with a cast of anthropomorphic animal versions of those same characters.
It was made for and first broadcast on NBC during the holiday season in 1993.
The movie is currently available on DVD from GoodTimes Entertainment.
The film starts with a female cat named Betsey Trotwood (voiced by Andrea Martin) impatiently making her way through the Christmas festive streets of Blunderstone with armfuls of gifts. She wants to see her niece and is quite abrasive, knocking people around when they get in her way. As she passes, the film's main villains, a leonine named Edward Murdstone (voiced by Michael York) and a fat rodent named Grimby (voiced by Richard Dumont), are seeking new "workers"—i.e. abducting orphans and urchins off the streets.
At the Copperfield estate, a feline doctor sees to the widow Clara's delivery. The chubby mole servant/attendant Peggotty brings several containers of hot water and assures that the delivery will go smoothly. David is brought into the world.
Betsey arrives with the belief that her sister gave birth to a daughter. When she finds out that her niece is actually a nephew, Aunt Betsey is furious and leaves in a huff.
Years later, on his fifteenth birthday, David (voiced by Julian Lennon) is quite happy with the gifts he has been given, including a harpsichord that had belonged to his late father, but not quite happy with his mother's insistence on being civil with Murdstone. When Murdstone arrives, he is rather rude, even to Clara's face, but she gets upset by David's response to his attitude. Clara believes that he will be a good father figure for David and be able to provide for him. David, as well as everyone else, senses something horrible about him and refuses to regard Murdstone with any level of respect, much to his mother's worry. Despite David's protests, Clara remarries Murdstone who repeatedly reassures her that it's for the best. In the meantime, he also harasses David and belittles him for having an imagination. His initial cruelty is best demonstrated when he nearly crushes David's little bird to death to demonstrate the cruelty of the real world.
When Clara is brought down by illness, Murdstone arranges for David to move with him to London where he'll work in his factory. David protests but is forced to go along, although he has a chance encounter with love interest Agnes Wickfield (voiced by Sheena Easton) when her father the Duke comes by Murdstone's factory. While Murdstone tries to keep the Duke from taking his factory (Murdstone has failed to pay the rent), David and Agnes become more properly acquainted, bonding over a love of literature. But David's brief moment of joy is cut short by the Duke and Murdstone's arrival (it turns out that they weren't around for rent-collecting but because Agnes was curious about the process of cheese-making). But before they leave, Agnes arranges for David and Murdstone to join them for tea the next Saturday. David agrees. Once Agnes and the Duke are gone, Murdstone cruelly throws David into the factory where he is beaten and tossed about by Murdstone's security force.
The next morning, David awakens in Mr Micawber's house and is ushered in by a dog named Mealy (voiced by Howie Mandel). They dissuade some angry Londoners demanding Micawber pay their debts by making a charade that Micawber left his wife and kids. The Micawbers are far more civil than Murdstone. Micawber brings food for the workers but the time comes for work.
Throughout the film, most of Murdstone's scenes consist of actions reaffirming his villainy, such as destroying Clara's letters to David and counting down the days until her death, and he delights in the prospect of breaking down David and robbing the Copperfield fortune.
Meanwhile, David hopes to escape from the factory though Mealy tells him of the various obstacles like the guards and a moat filled with alligators. He also speaks of the "Cheese Monster," a beastly vulture that circles the premises to catch runaways. With this in mind, David turns his focus to Robinson Crusoe–inspired methods of bettering the workplace, such as using a rope to lift a wooden ramp to ease transportation of giant cheese wheels. Despite increasing efficiency and production, Murdstone is angry. Wanting revenge, he has Grimby and the guards capture David and lock him and Mealy, who had been helping David escape, in a tower. David manages to kill the boredom by telling Mealy the tale of the Three Musketeers.
The next day, David and Mealy are ushered (or rather thrown to the streets) for an hour break before their next shift. While walking through London, they come across the angry Londoners wanting Micawber to repay their debts, which gets worse for them when a pig gets stuck in the chimney. Micawber appears just as the debtors leave frustrated. David and Mealy praise his act.
David finds out about Murdstone's mail tampering and asks if Micawber can get the next letter to Peggotty. Unfortunately, just as David and Mealy get ready for their next shift, Murdstone catches on and demands that the Micawbers treat David badly under the threat of using their infant children as workers.
Agnes, disguised in a beggar's cloak, makes her way towards Murdstone's factory and sees just how hellish life is down there. On the way, she sees David and Mealy running to make their next shift. Determined to see David again, she hides underneath Grinby's carriage. While working the night shift, David gets a glimpse of the "Moldies" in a drainage grate. "Moldies" were one of Murdstone's experiments gone wrong that spread and trapped the workers in a mold-like slime.
David is nearly decapitated by a cheese guillotine by Murdstone due to sleepiness. Agnes appears and comes to David, believing him to be hurt. When he awakens, he's rather delighted to hear that Agnes cares. Unfortunately, Murdstone appears and forcefully ushers Agnes out. Making matters worse, the Duke is more concerned with how this might damage his reputation than listening to his daughter.
Back at the Copperfield estate, Peggotty cries over the death of Clara. An unknowing David becomes more determined to escape and is told by Mealy that he should "read the streets."
Murdstone loses his temper when he finds out that Clara made a new will, but then considers that he'll just have to get the will from Peggotty. Thus, he plots to have Peggotty come to them. Peggotty arrives and has Micawber hide Clara's will in his chimney while also giving David the bad news. Unfortunately, Murdstone has David and Mealy thrown in the Tower again when he can't find the will which has everything left to David. Fortunately, Mealy has a plan where he talks aloud as if Murdstone and Grimby have been fattening up the Cheese Monster so they can eat the vulture.
Grimby searches the Micawbers' domicile and threatens Peggotty and the Micawbers with Moldy exposure if they don't give up the will. Unfortunately, Murdstone and Grimby find the will and revel in David's seemingly broken state. Fortunately, Mealy and David set up their plot to escape, making a hollow cheese wheel to cover David. Agnes arrives to seek out David but is captured. Due to her unexpected appearance, David's escape via hollowed cheese wheel plan fails.
Mealy briefly fights off Grimby and Murdstone for a chance to get David over the gate. Agnes gets away from the crooked guards and readies her horse. Fortunately, the Cheese Monster gives David a chance to catch up to Agnes and the two leave while Murdstone and Grimby are caught underneath the Cheese Monster's girth. Unfortunately, Micawber and Mealy are tossed into the sewers where the Moldies lurk while Peggotty and Mrs. Micawber are kept under security.
David and Agnes express concern over David's plan to enlist Aunt Betsey's help by getting to Dover. Out in the sticks, the two try to figure out their location while Murdstone and Grimby try to figure out why David would be heading towards Dover. The derby-wearing bird David befriended earlier is seen imprisoned with a chain to a globe made out of cheese. He's set free when Grimby tosses a cleaver and cuts the chain. He flies away when the two villains leave and gives the news of the couple's leave to Dover to the Cheese Monster who knows a shortcut.
In the rural areas, Murdstone has Grimby search out the terrain like a scent-hound, and he finds a trail of Agnes' perfume. Later that night, Agnes is chased by a bunch of wild boars who trap her in a tree. David tries to find her among the thick trees.
The next morning, the derby-wearing bird finds David and alerts him to a way to Dover. David finds Agnes in the tree, and with some effort, pushes a boulder to ward off the boars. Unfortunately, the boulder knocks over the tree and Agnes' cries for help catch Murdstone's attention. The tree breaks further and Murdstone only makes it worse. Both Agnes and David let go and plummet down a waterfall. Murdstone and Grimby dance and chant "We did it! We did it!", soon gloating about David's apparent death to the workers back at the factory in front of a burning, blazing furnace.
Down the river, David and Agnes emerge from the water not far from Aunt Betsey's place. Her pet parrot, Mr. Polly, discovers David and Agnes worn out on the staircase. The derby-wearing bird gives Mr. Polly the word of Murdstone's actions. Aunt Betsey is glad to see David and agrees to help them with getting back at Murdstone and Grimby and freeing their slaves.
In the sewers, Mealy is despaired over the news of David's "death" though Micawber refuses to believe it until given proof. Unfortunately for them, the Moldies come back and they are next seen up to their necks in the purple cheese.
Murdstone and Grimby try to get the Duke to sign over complete control of the cheese factory. Before any official documentation can be made, Aunt Betsey comes in with a full-on police force to kick and arrest the guards.
Murdstone orders Grimby to get his "cheese gun" and starts firing cheese bombs at everyone. David and his bird allies come in to take out Murdstone and Grimby using the giant cheese globe, trapping them in a thick layer of cheese. The employees are freed and celebrate as Murdstone and Grimby are taken away. David finds and helps Mealy and Micawber to escape, along with the Moldies. The full-on sunlight that comes through the open grating is enough to break open the Moldies' captive cheese shells. The film ends on Christmas with David hosting the grand opening of the Copperfield Orphanage (with all Murdstone's former workers there) and everyone cheering for David and Agnes' love.David Copperfield - Julian Lennon
Agnes Wickfield - Sheena Easton
Clara Copperfield - Kelly Le Brock
Mealy - Howie Mandel
Mr. Micawber - Joseph Marcell
Aunt Betsey - Andrea Martin
Edward Murdstone - Michael York
Cheese Monster, Bird, Additional Voices - Sonja Ball
Additional Voices - Mark Camacho
Grimby - Richard Dumont
Additional voices - Kathleen Fee
Mrs. Micawber, Peggoty - Susan Glover
Additional voices - A.J. Henderson
The Duke Wickfield - Arthur Holden
Additional voices - Rick Jones
Doctor - Walter Massey
Additional voices - Michael O'Reilly
Butcher, Baker, Additional voices - Terrence Scammell
Additional voices - Aron Tager
The songs are written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn.I Hate Boys! – Aunt Betsey (Andrea Martin)
Welcome to my Warehouse – Mr. Murdstone and Mr. Grimby (Michael York and Terrence Scammell)
Something's Gonna Turn Up – David Copperfield and Mr. Micawber (Julian Lennon and Joseph Marcell)
Is There Anyone? – Agnes Wickfield and David Copperfield (Sheena Easton and Julian Lennon)
Imagination – (Norman Groulx)
Family Christmas – Agnes Wickfield, David Copperfield, Mr. Micawber and Aunt Betsey (Sheena Easton, Julian Lennon, Joseph Marcell and Andrea Martin)
I'll Be Your Hero – David Copperfield (Julian Lennon)
Everyone's a Big Cheese Here – (Norman Groulx)