Re-Disney: Final Report

And so it ends, just hours before our flight to Orlando:

Disney Animated Classics:

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  2. Pinocchio
  3. Fantasia
  4. Dumbo
  5. Bambi
  6. Saludos Amigos
  7. The Three Caballeros
  8. Make Mine Music
  9. Fun and Fancy Free
  10. Melody Time
  11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  12. Cinderella
  13. Alice in Wonderland
  14. Peter Pan
  15. Lady and the Tramp
  16. Sleeping Beauty
  17. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  18. The Sword in the Stone
  19. The Jungle Book
  20. The Aristocats
  21. Robin Hood
  22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  23. The Rescuers
  24. The Fox and the Hound
  25. The Black Cauldron
  26. The Great Mouse Detective
  27. Oliver & Company
  28. The Little Mermaid
  29. The Rescuers Down Under
  30. Beauty and the Beast
  31. Aladdin
  32. The Lion King
  33. Pocahontas
  34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  35. Hercules
  36. Mulan
  37. Tarzan
  38. Fantasia 2000
  39. Dinosaur
  40. The Emperor’s New Groove
  41. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  42. Lilo & Stitch
  43. Treasure Planet
  44. Brother Bear
  45. Home on the Range
  46. Chicken Little
  47. Meet the Robinsons
  48. Bolt
  49. The Princess and the Frog
  50. Tangled
  51. Winnie the Pooh
Pixar:
  1. Toy Story
  2. A Bug’s Life
  3. Toy Story 2
  4. Monsters, Inc.
  5. Finding Nemo
  6. The Incredibles
  7. Cars
  8. Ratatouille
  9. Wall-E
  10. Up
  11. Toy Story 3
  12. Cars 2
  13. Brave (for my review of Brave, check out this post)

Totals: 64 Completed, 0 Remaining

I saved my favorite four, the four that really have had a significant impact of life, for last. The Lion King, AladdinBeauty and the Beast, and, of course, The Little Mermaid.

There’s a whole bunch I can say about these films, like how The Little Mermaid is a great example of script economy–nothing here is wasted, save, perhaps, the “Les Poissons” number, which gets a pass since it’s such a crowd pleaser.  Or how Aladdin may be the most well-crafted of all Disney films.  Or how I find Moira Kelly just as annoying as the voice of adult Nala as I do her character from Season 1 of “The West Wing.”

BUT…I did want to take a second to give props to what makes these four films truly great, in a class all their own among the Disney animated canon:  they have the best villains! Think about it: Scar, Gaston, Jafar, and my personal favorite (who, like me, is modeled after Divine, world-famous drag queen), Ursula the Sea-Witch.

In all of these films, the viewer spends a not insignificant amount of time with the villains.  Their personalities are multifaceted.  You can kinda understand why Scar is a jealous weasel, and you get a kick out of Gaston being as much full of nauseating, humorous bravado as he is mean-spirited, “jerkface jock from gym class.”  You actually end up caring about them, in a twisted-beard sort of way.  How many other iconic Disney villains can you say that about?  Malificent is a wonder aesthetically, but her range is from “mean” to “really mean.” Cruella De Vil may be the only other Disney villain I can think of who is actually an interesting character.

I love these movies; they mean a lot to me, and I’m glad I took the time (4 whole days of my life–some 96 hours!) to revisit them.  I hope everybody at Blizzard Beach is ready for the fat behind I gained from my movie marathon immobility coming down Summet Plummet.

We’ll be Disney-bound in a few short hours!  For up-to-the-minute trip updates, follow us on Twitter!  We’ll have a trip report on the blog next week.

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Flick-fil-A: Brave

The first twenty minutes or so of Brave will make you think, “Oh, hey, this is a lot like Finding Nemo, but with a mom/daughter relationship.”  But Brave is, surprisingly, a lot more like Cars.

[Minor thematic spoilers below]

Both films have a Big Message (what usually sets apart Pixar films from, well, nearly every other animation house out there), and both miss graceful executions of said Big Message. Cars meanders too much–which I get is sort of the point, but c’mon, at least make it interesting–while Brave takes its main message and beats you over the head with it.  Brave is not subtle, even using voiceover narration (did the Brave screenwriters ever see Adaptation?!) to explain everything, including how being “brave” doesn’t always have to mean an outward display of courage.

Like the original CarsBrave is a solid B/B-minus and is frustrating because there’s potential there for it to be really good.  The score and songs are really solid, and the animation is simply breathtaking, with a level of detail and depth never before seen in a CGI film; I kept on thinking to myself, “Wow, I wonder what Walt Disney would’ve thought about this?” (this has something to do with Pixar’s brand new animation system, PRESTO).  This film is sure to become a standard in many Blu-ray players.  The themes are adequately addressed, if cumbersomely, but the humor is broad without being particularly clever, which Pixar has excelled with in the past.  The screenplay is just a lot rougher than anything the studio has produced before; perhaps this has something to do with its original director and creative force behind the film being fired midway through production.

[Sidebar: As discussed in this Comics Beat piece on it’s an odd year when it seems like there’s been a role-reversal between Disney Animation Studios and Pixar.  As the competition in the CGI animated field heats up and films from rivalstudios get better (see: How to Train Your Dragon) how does Pixar define itself?]

All that said, the most significant thing Brave has going for it: Merida is unlike any heretofore Disney princess.  There’s no Prince Charming or any love interest, but even so, this is not an typical modern “Girl Power” movie.  Merida’s journey is thankfully not only about relinquishing patriarchal tradition; it sidesteps that for the most part,  focusing more on a themes about admitting your mistakes and trying to fix them, and trying to understand others when their noblest intentions don’t gel with yours.  What sort of impact this unconventional approach to “a princess story” will have not only to Disney’s merchandising team, but also to girls–and boys–in the audience, remains to be seen.  Maybe Merida’s aversion to finding a man will rub off on some of Disney’s other princesses in interesting ways.

Oh, and La Luna, the short attached to Brave, is seven minutes of pure joy. If Cars 2 had you questioning the supply of creativity left at Pixar, La Luna will temper your doubts while putting a smile on your face. It’s really wonderful.

Final Scores:

Brave: B

…and La Luna: A

Re-Disney: Week 4 Progress Report

Sorry. It was too easy.

It’s been an unexpectedly crazy week at work, which explains the lack of posts.  However, it has (somehow…?) not slowed down my Re-Disney progress. Let’s recap:

Disney Animated Classics:

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  2. Pinocchio
  3. Fantasia
  4. Dumbo
  5. Bambi
  6. Saludos Amigos
  7. The Three Caballeros
  8. Make Mine Music
  9. Fun and Fancy Free
  10. Melody Time
  11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  12. Cinderella
  13. Alice in Wonderland
  14. Peter Pan
  15. Lady and the Tramp
  16. Sleeping Beauty
  17. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  18. The Sword in the Stone
  19. The Jungle Book
  20. The Aristocats
  21. Robin Hood
  22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  23. The Rescuers
  24. The Fox and the Hound
  25. The Black Cauldron
  26. The Great Mouse Detective
  27. Oliver & Company
  28. The Little Mermaid
  29. The Rescuers Down Under
  30. Beauty and the Beast
  31. Aladdin
  32. The Lion King
  33. Pocahontas
  34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  35. Hercules
  36. Mulan
  37. Tarzan
  38. Fantasia 2000
  39. Dinosaur
  40. The Emperor’s New Groove
  41. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  42. Lilo & Stitch
  43. Treasure Planet
  44. Brother Bear
  45. Home on the Range
  46. Chicken Little
  47. Meet the Robinsons
  48. Bolt
  49. The Princess and the Frog
  50. Tangled
  51. Winnie the Pooh
Pixar:
  1. Toy Story
  2. A Bug’s Life
  3. Toy Story 2
  4. Monsters, Inc.
  5. Finding Nemo
  6. The Incredibles
  7. Cars
  8. Ratatouille
  9. Wall-E
  10. Up
  11. Toy Story 3
  12. Cars 2
  13. Brave

Totals: 56 completed, 8 to go (+14 since last week)

Special thanks to Christie for loaning me Finding Nemo and Cinderella!

Thoughts on this week’s films:

  • Chicken Little isn’t that bad. This is the first time I’d ever seen the film, which I’d previously dismissed as “Disney’s weak attempt to fill the Pixar hole” which was almost created when the companies were at an impasse about a decade ago (and before Disney bought Pixar outright). The worst aspect of the film is that it feels very early-Dreamworks, and not Disney. What I mean by that is that there are a lot of cultural references (like Barbra Streisand…?) which feel shoehorned in here.  Ugh, I hate Shrek for a reason, folks. Still, Chicken Little is cute, if forgettable.
  • Also the first time I’d seen either Saludos Amigos or The Three Caballeros.  I honestly can’t believe Saludos Amigos is even considered a Disney Animated Classic film–it’s less than 45 minutes long, and I’d say at least a third of that isn’t animated.  My understanding is that these two films were thrown together as propaganda pieces for the US Government’s Good Neighbor Program during World War II (basically, Disney was going to win over the South Americans from joining the Axis or something).  Anyway, the video transfers on the combo DVD that came out a few years ago are really terrible, especially on The Three Caballeros.  I’d only recommend watching it for the last, extended sequence in TTC, which is about as trippy a scene as I’ve ever seen Disney produce. And you thought Dumbo‘s pink elephants were something…!  I hope you have some munchies ready.
  • Tangled is awesome and visual treat, and nearly a return to form, except the songs are so dreadfully dull that it sorta ruins the rest of the film.
  • Sometimes the timing of events in Disney movies really throws me.  Okay, so Ariel only has three days to get Prince Eric to kiss her.  Geez, that’s like an eternity compared to Cinderella, who has the prince fall in love with her during, what, one dance without any conversation? Or in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, where the bulk of the story seems to happen within a 24-hour period.  Are these characters just not as cynical about love as I am??
  • Cars 2 and The Black Cauldron really are that bad, both lifeless films obviously put together by committee to try to appeal to demographic X or Y.

Given that, I’m excited for the remainder of my slate (I’ve started watching Pocahontas, and I was really excited…up until Grandmother Willow shows up. UGH!).  Who’s going to see Brave this weekend?  I have my Merida costume all ready for a showing on Sunday!!!!!