Well, I thought I should write a review of Disney’s latest animated film, Wreck-it Ralph, so that I can say that I have reviewed all the official animated Disney films for the Disneython. I finished the Disneython before this film was released, but I feel I would be leaving it out, so I’ll write this review, put it in my ranking, and then feel better about myself. And so, because I want to review all the films, this means that I will have to review every future animated film Disney releases, which I’m fine with…just expect them to be a little late, as proven here.
So Wreck-it Ralph had been a developing idea at Disney since the late 1980’s, which is ironic in its comparison to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the Disney/Touchstone film released in 1988. As well as the film being compared to Roger Rabbit, it has also been compared to Toy Story, for the same reason: the story of Wreck-it Ralph takes place in a world where pre-existing characters make cameos and interact with original characters, though more so in Roger Rabbit. In this case, Wreck-it Ralph takes place in the video game world, where pre-existing video game characters appear all over the place. …And this was quite a strong marketing point for this film: in most of the trailers, it showed a lot of the video game characters’ appearances, and famous characters were on almost every poster. But hey, it must have worked, because Wreck-it Ralph was a big success commercially. It got a lot of ages in; it brought families in obviously, because it’s a Disney animated film, but it also brought the gaming audience in, who were generally older being fans of the older video games. It was an all-round crowd-pleaser, and a reminder that Disney’s animated films are still keeping a golden streak.
When the video game store closes, all the video game characters come to life, and go about their own lives in the video game world. The game Fix-it Felix Jr. is turning 30 years old, and its main antagonist, Wreck-it Ralph, is sick and tired of being the ‘bad guy’, so decides to jump into another game to obtain a medal, to prove he can be a ‘good guy’. However, as soon as he gets the medal in one world, he loses it in another, thanks to a glitchy character called Vanellope, but the two make a deal to help each other out to get what they want. Meanwhile, Fix-it Felix, along with another game character Sgt. Calhoun, must find Ralph and stop a threat that he has started that could affect the entire video game world.
Even though I’m a huge Disney fan, I wasn’t exactly interested in this film, probably because it was so focused on gaming. I’m not a big gamer at all; I know who Sonic is, and I’ve played Pac-man and Mario Kart, but that’s it. To be honest, I thought Fix-it Felix Jr. was a real game, and this was an adaptation. But no, it is an original story, and I did end up seeing the film anyway; after the Disneython, I think it’s only fair to see every future animated Disney film now.
So you know how I said that video game characters appear in this film, and that they were used to market the film? Yeah, they don’t appear through the entire film; it’s really only in the first act that we see video game cameos and in-jokes. Once Ralph leaves his game, the film focuses more on its own original characters and settings. Which is good for me, because So I didn’t really get the in-jokes, didn’t really recognise the characters, but I could still enjoy it. In fact, I love the original characters. I love Ralph, I think he’s an extremely likeable main character; yes, he is your typical Disney protagonist – screwing things up, but he has a good heart – however this protagonist has a label of being the ‘bad guy’, which not many other Disney characters have had; you’re either a good guy or a bad guy, normally. He seemed to be reminding me of Shrek, though I like Ralph way more than him. He’s determined in what he wants, he has flaws and he’s very sympathetic – and voiced really well by John C. Reilly; with his voice fitting the appearance of the character, it just feels absolutely perfect.
But I think my favourite characters are Fix-it Felix and Sgt. Calhoun. They are a fantastic pair together: really funny, really cute, and I would have happily watched more scenes with them, but of course, they’re only supporting characters. We might actually get more of them though, because apparently there’s going to be a sequel to Wreck-it Ralph, which I really don’t want, no matter how much I like this movie. I think I probably like Felix a little bit more than Calhoun, but only because there’s more of him in the film. You know how I love my nice guys, and Felix is a nice guy – and he’s really cute and a total romantic. He’s almost like the typical Disney prince, where everything he does is perfect, and he always saves the day. But I really like how they show that being perfect doesn’t always help things, in that scene where Felix is locked in the ‘fungeon’, tries to break the bars but only makes them thicker; it also kind of shows that he shouldn’t be doing what he isn’t meant for, and to simply be yourself, which is a running theme with Ralph’s character too.
So the original characters are great, I love the main characters…except for one, and that is Vanellope, who has gotten a mixed reaction from audiences. People either love or hate this character, and I…don’t hate her, but I am not a fan. Disney has had their obnoxious sidekick characters in the past, and Vanellope is certainly one of those, though more in the vein of obnoxious child sidekick, like Koda in Brother Bear. She’s meant to be cute, but I just find her annoying; I find obnoxious over-confident kids annoying in general, so not much was going to make me like her. Her voice doesn’t help, either: I’m not familiar with Sarah Silverman, but she really didn’t need to put on that voice for Vanellope; it just adds to her annoying-ness. And with Vanellope comes the kiddie humour. I mean, really kiddie humour. I mean, an entire joke about the word ‘duty’ sounding like ‘doodie’. Kids like poop jokes. There’s also Ralph and Vanellope calling each other names, and the kids like that, too; I think kids like Vanellope a lot, but I wouldn’t know because I don’t spend a lot of time around kids.
And it’s a shame that the kiddie humour is in here, for a film with such an interesting and clever premise, and ideas. Mentioning comparisons again, the beginning of this film did remind me of Toy Story: when the game store closes and the people go away, the video game characters come to life and live within their game settings. I really like the idea that characters can travel across to different games via ‘trains’, and there’s a big train Central station where video game characters are walking around; the train line is literally through the wire of the game that plugs it in, so it comes off as the characters literally travelling through the wire at their size, and the Central Station is the socket. The gaming worlds are very creative, particularly Sugar Rush; I liked how they created that world and the game itself, with the sweets and everything; that’s one game I would play! The animation is also very good too, as Disney animation always is. Now, unlike Tangled, Disney’s last CGI-animated feature that totally could have been traditionally-animated, Wreck-it Ralph works as a CGI-animated film mainly because it’s involving video games, and the CGI is able to create the right visual effects that would appear in a video game that traditional animation mightn’t be able to do; for example, whenever Vanellope ‘glitches’, I really like that effect, but it’s obviously very computerised, and so the computer can create that and make it look great. Another bit of animation I like, though it is sometimes jarring, is how the Nicelanders in the Fix-it Felix Jr. game move like 8-bit video game characters. You could probably animate this by hand, but I don’t think it would be able to re-create that movement as well as the computer. It does get jarring though, because Ralph and Felix aren’t animated as 8-bit characters, and so them mingling in with the Nicelanders looks a bit odd.
Overall: Disney’s still going strong. Another great animated film of this supposed new Renaissance, that not only feels like a Disney film, but a Pixar film too (I know, rather ironic as all Pixar films are technically Disney films). Great premise and ideas, great characters (for the most part), it’s funny (for the most part), and it’s got heart too; it’s a welcome addition to the Disney canon.
Yeahhhh, I started the Pixarthon, got to A Bug’s Life and just gave up; that film made me wanna give up the Disneython as well. And it’s not like I have a big problem/don’t like the film, I just don’t wanna review it :P
So apologies for the delay, I might continue the Pixarthon in the summer, when I have a bit more time. I’m currently working on a story in my free time at the moment, so that’s keeping me busy, hence not watching movies and reviewing them.
I was also wondering whether I should do a quick review for Wreck-it Ralph, seems as it’s in the Disney animated feature canon, and I must review ALL the Disney animated features. I have finally seen it, and it’s probably my favourite animated film of 2012, so I might just do a quick post about my thoughts on it. :)
Obviously I was going to start the Pixarthon with Toy Story, the first Pixar film and also the very first full-length CGI-animated film, but I thought it would be much easier to write about all three Toy Story films together in one post, as they’re all pretty similar and it is a film trilogy; I think I might talk about the two Cars films together too, but that’ll be later on.
Um, this is the part where I talk about the history of the film, and how it was made, but I think it would be simpler (and because I’m just lazy) to point you to a documentary called The Pixar Story by Leslie Iwerks: it tells you everything you need to know about the history of Pixar Animation Studios, how CGI animation was being introduced into film, and a bit about all the Pixar films up to Cars, especially Toy Story. The documentary’s a special feature on the Wall-E DVD, but I’m sure you can find it elsewhere, but it’s essential if you’re interested in Pixar and CGI animation. So there’s your history paragraph for this post.
Before I go into each film separately, I just want to say that I love the main group of characters, Andy’s toys, in all three films. They’re like the Winnie-the-Pooh characters, they’re always charming and always funny; they don’t change at all between each film. I am Team Woody all the way, I have always been on his side through all three films: I love his animation, I love his voice, he’s one of my favourite Pixar characters. I also love Rex, who makes me laugh with everything he says or does. For those who don’t know, fan-boy God Joss Whedon had a part in developing the script for the first Toy Story, and it was his idea to add Rex into the story, so I have to thank him for that. Oh, and I don’t like Mr. Potato Head, I think he’s a jerk. Now onto the separate films:
Toy Story: For those two people who don’t know the plot, Toy Story is about a group of toys who belong to Andy, who live in his room and come to life when he’s not around. Andy’s favourite toy is Woody, a cowboy doll, but his world is turned round when Andy gets a new favourite toy, Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger action figure, who he becomes extremely jealous of. Their rivalry eventually sends them out of Andy’s house and into the big wide world where danger could be waiting anywhere.
This film came out when I was 2, so I didn’t see it in cinemas, but I do remember watching it on video, and liking it; I think I started liking it a lot more as I got older, for some reason. As an adult now, I really love it: if I’m not basing the films on nostalgia, then this would be in my top 3 all-time favourite Pixar films, as it seems to be for most adults.
For the first CGI full-length film, the visuals are pretty impressive, considering the studio had only been around for nine years. …Well, okay, you can tell that CGI animation hadn’t developed much at the time, it was 1995: the human characters and the dog aren’t fantastic, and the backgrounds/objects still have a long way to go - but to be honest, I only think that if I really focus on them. The toys are obviously the best-looking thing in the film, because the majority of them are plastic, so the CGI works on them (it was a good idea to go with toys for your first CGI film)! But seriously, the character animation is fantastic, especially on Woody: facial expressions are great, and his movements are great, and funny at times; I think Woody’s dance after the toys scare Sid away is hilarious.
But the title of ‘first CGI-animated full-length film’ isn’t the big gimmick about this film. It wasn’t just a film to show off the technology: Pixar put a strong story and characters first, which was what Walt Disney wanted with Snow White, the first full-length traditionally-animated film way back in 1937. And that’s what’s so great about Toy Story: the story is timeless, and it still holds up today; in fact, it’s still better than most CGI-animated films being released today. The story is so great (and the reason I love it is) because it’s mostly character-driven, there’s three solid acts, and there is reasonable conflict and resolution: when things start to look alright for the characters, there’s always something stopping things from looking alright; but when the characters are faced with a problem, there is a reasonable resolution that gets them out of their problem. That’s just simple but effective storytelling. Toy Story deserves all the praise it gets, and this was the perfect film to introduce us to the magic of Pixar.
Toy Story 2: I think I read somewhere that Pixar would not make a sequel to any of their films, unless there was a really good story to go with it. I have yet to know if that was the case with Cars 2, but this mantra is the definite case with Toy Story 2 and 3. When Woody is ‘injured’, he worries about being thrown away and forgotten by Andy, but things get worse when he is stolen by a toy collector, and taken away from Andy’s house where he discovers that he is a rare collectible from an old TV show, along with other Western toys. While he is contemplating the idea of ‘immortality’, Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys set out on a rescue mission to save Woody.
I can’t remember if I saw this in cinemas, but I do remember watching it countlessly, endlessly on video; I loved this movie as a kid. But as an adult…okay, I’ll be honest, I think this is my least favourite Toy Story movie - but that doesn’t mean I dislike this movie at all. I still really love it, it’s just that I love the first and third more; another reason why this trilogy is so wonderful.
Well, the animation has certainly gotten better, in terms of humans and animals; Buster the dog has come a long way from Scud. Everything looks a lot more realistic, which is understandable, with Pixar having developed their technology since the first film. Andy’s toys are great as ever, and the new characters are alright: I used to love Jessie as a kid, but I find her a bit annoying and obnoxious now; I don’t even care if she has a sad backstory, I don’t like how she treats Woody! Easily the best new character is Barbie, but I do have to like Prospector Pete, purely because he’s voiced by Kelsey Grammer. Oh, and there’s totally no reason to have Emperor Zurg in this film, except to add more conflict and possibly tie in with the 2D Buzz Lightyear TV show that was being made at the time? I don’t know. Oh, and also it was nice to see that little bit introducing Buzz and Jessie’s romantic relationship; I thought that it just came out of nowhere in Toy Story 3.
There are some great scenes in this, mainly (and unsurprisingly) involving the gang from the first film; if not the best, they’re the funniest scenes. I almost forgot that Buzz comes across another Buzz with a utility belt who still thinks he’s a real space ranger, and it’s so great when Buzz and the others are like: ‘Oh God, not again…’ It reminds me of Spanish Buzz in Toy Story 3, in that it’s Pixar’s way of trying to make me like Buzz more. Well, he does make me laugh, but I’m still Team Woody, sorry. You can tell this is a sequel, because everything is bigger and on a larger scale, and this shows from the toys running round Al’s Toy Barn to the climax scene in that huge airport baggage area and on the airport runway. And I can’t tell you how much I miss the Pixar bloopers they made for the end of their earlier films (yeah, it was only for A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.); those were the best part of my childhood.
Toy Story 3: Quick plot summary: all our favourite characters, Woody, Buzz and the gang, are shipped off to a daycare center, as Andy is growing up and going off to college. The gang think it’ll be great, but when the real truth comes out about their new ‘home’, they must find a way to escape the daycare center, and get back to Andy’s house. Notice how I say Andy’s house, and not Andy. The story begins at the point where Andy is all grown up, and is ready to go to college, and during the time between the second movie and this movie, Andy has obviously grown out of the toys we’ve all grown to know and love, and they have accepted that Andy doesn’t want them anymore…which is kind of sad, when you think about it. It is true, this film’s a little more emotional than the first two, but it makes it the perfect ending to the series. We, as an audience, have grown up with Andy, knowing and loving these toys, and now with this final film, we have to let them go. Oh no wait, Pixar are still making short films with the Toy Story gang, so we don’t really need to let them go at all!
From the very beginning of the film, I get such nostalgia for the first two films: I love the re-enactment of Andy playing with the toys in the first film, it was the best way the film could have started. I also liked the little in-jokes to the first two films too (‘Careful; these toys might get jealous of new arrivals.’). The new characters in the day-care center are pretty good: the animators must have had so much fun creating all these new characters, they had a lot more freedom to add big, brand-new personalities to the cast (there are only really about five or six new characters in Toy Story 2). I don’t really have a favourite new character, but you really have got to love Ken, and his relationship with Barbie.
I thoroughly enjoy this movie every time I see it and, although it’s quite emotional, I think there’s a lot of humour throughout; I find myself laughing more than worrying about the conflict the characters are in. But having said that, there’s still conflict, and there’s still good resolutions - well, except possibly in the climax. If I have to nitpick, I have to say that the way the conflict is resolved in the climax scene in the junkyard (though incredibly intense and with jaw-dropping animation) is a tiny bit convenient – but it’s a great little in-joke from the first film, and I find it pretty funny.
Overall: The first changed the face of animation forever, the second was just as good if not better, the third was probably Pixar at its peak, but overall they’ve managed to do, if not the impossible, the very rare: make a film trilogy where every film is exceptional. It’s not just a trilogy of great films, it’s a trilogy for all ages that will be enjoyed over and over again for a very long time.
I had been thinking about this for a while, but I’ve decided I’m going to do a Pixarthon; like the Disneython, only reviewing the 13 Pixar films (and possibly the shorts in one post). I had been contemplating doing this for a while back and forth during the Disneython, and at first, I was going to review the Pixar films in the Disneython, but I left them alone because I felt that the majority of Pixar films are just so good that there wouldn’t be much to talk about with them. Now I think I’m ready to review them; I probably might still have the problem of not having much to say about them, but I just want to do it anyway. Besides I need something to do over Christmas.
Now I’ve promised myself, I WILL finish this one! I will NOT take 6 months to do this! I’m hoping to post them all in the 2 weeks I have off from college, starting from the 22nd to the 7th of January; I may start earlier, just so that I have some more time (with 14 days, I’d have to post a review every day, which will be impossible seems as things like Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and time spent with family get in the way). I have actually already written 2 reviews for Pixar films, back when I was reviewing them in the Disneython (Monsters Inc and Toy Story 3), so I really only have 11 films to talk about; I will be talking about them in chronological order, starting with Toy Story and ending with Brave.
I may have been a huge fan of the animated Disney films when I was a kid, but I think I was a bigger fan of the Pixar films when I was a kid. Pixar was a large part of my childhood; I remember watching, and loving, the Pixar films far more than I do some of the Disney films. I can’t tell you how many times I watched some of these films when I was a kid, though I haven’t seen them in quite some time. Of course I saw most of these films as soon as they were out in the cinemas (except for a certain few), and have all except their two most recent films on DVD (and some of those DVDs have been worn out many, many times). So I am quite excited to see some of these again, though slightly fearful of writing the reviews - seriously, I’m warning you now, I may be repeating myself a lot in this Pixarthon.
So look out for the first review; I really will try to get them out in a timely manner!
So I’ve just finished the Disneython, and after every review, I’ve put every film in a ranking list, from most liked to least liked. The entire list is not numbered, I can’t physically do that, so it’s kind of separated into 4 different categories for me, and they are: ‘All-Time Favourites’, ‘Love/Like’, ‘Eh, It’s Alright’, and ‘Do Not Like’. It was quite difficult making this list: in these 4 specific categories, there are some films that I definitely put above or below another, but there are some films that I don’t, that I kind of put on the same level…within those categories.
This is NOT a list of which Disney film I think is best. I believe that the ‘best’ animated Disney film is not just one film, but the first 5 films in the official canon, made by Walt Disney from 1937 - 1942; the ‘Golden Age’, if you will. But this is my list of which Disney films I like the most, and which I like the least. If you want explanations why, go and read the reviews I spent six months writing. And if you’re wondering if this list is based on nostalgia value…yes, it is, but I’m also taking into account how much I like it as an adult too, and sort of combining that opinion…for some films. If you have any queries about my list, such as: ‘OH MY GOD, WHY ISN’T THIS FILM HIGHER/LOWER?!’, well…ask away.
So here we go :)
The Aristocats (1970)
As a kid, I really loved the Aristocats; I think I wore the VHS out quite a bit. My favourite part was the two geese waddling to that music; apparently I used to re-enact that, and my mum found it adorable. However, it’s not one that I’ve seen recently, I probably haven’t seen it since I was about ten, so I was gonna have a bit of nostalgia for this. And as an adult…well, it doesn’t really work for me, and I think it’s because I feel like it’s a Disney film more oriented towards kids than adults – and I know all Disney films have to have a bit of orientation towards kids in them, but this one more so. But I enjoyed it, it was a pleasant way to pass the time, and it was only 75 minutes.
You know what’s really odd about this film? Because I watched it so much as a kid, I could remember all the scenes and dialogue while watching it…but now, trying to write this review, I can’t actually remember much of it, starting with the characters. From past reviews, you’ve seen how I give my opinion on who my favourite characters are and everything, but with this, I don’t really love any of them. The closest I am to loving a character is Thomas O’Malley, he’s probably my favourite; he’s got a good introduction, and a good introduction song to go with it. I also like Duchess as well, she’s nice and charming enough, and she’s also really pretty for a cat! But the other characters are just forgettable, or don’t need to be there altogether. You know how Disney films have to have comedic characters, and filler scenes that don’t really add to the story? Well, this film combines those things, in the geese and the two dogs, Napoleon and Lafayette; they probably weren’t needed in the film, but hey, filler filler. I like most of the songs, there’s really only four of them, and I like three; my favourites are ‘The Aristocats’ title song and, of course, ‘Everybody Wants to be a Cat’ – that’s actually a really good scene (if a bit out-of-place in this calm, uneventful film), which doesn’t appear until the last twenty minutes, which I was surprised by. And the animation is still good too; it’s still the Nine Old Men, doing what they do best.
My problem is that this story doesn’t have enough conflict. It’s a very safe film, in formula and in the events of the story. The formula meaning that the plot is essentially 101 Dalmatians: set in a European city, domesticated talking animals get kidnapped from their home, and so have to make their way back. 101 Dalmatians made money, so let’s make something similar to it, only with cats. Only with 101 Dalmatians, at least that film had a distinct visual style to it, whereas The Aristocats has…a very sketchy visual style, probably the sketchiest of the Xerography films made by Disney. In story, there is not enough conflict in this: Edgar is a really weak, unthreatening villain – if they took so much from 101 Dalmatians, why couldn’t they take some inspiration from Cruella deVil? – and the cats make their way back home easily. Any conflict that does come up is resolved in a few seconds. The comedic scenes and characters could have been replaced with some more scenes of conflict, stopping the cats from getting back home.
Overall: It’s just very…nice and cute, and harmless, much like most of the Disney films of the 60’s and 70’s. I think it’s going to be one of the first Disney films I show my kids (if I have any kids) because it is just so nice and harmless. Not necessarily a good Disney film, but a pleasant one that’ll pass the time.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
…I don’t think I watched this one a lot as a kid; at least I don’t remember, and I think it was because I was scared of the Beast, I don’t know. The last time I remember watching this movie recently was when I was ill, July of 2010, and I was crying like a bitch at the end; I did watch a bit of it in college too, when someone brought in their laptop and had it on there. So I don’t think I had watched this film very much, and yet I feel like I know it really well.
Now. When I started this Disneython, I was wondering when this film was going to come up for me to watch and talk about. And as time has gone on (it did start in May), I’ve kind of been scared because, as I’ve been doing my research, I found out that everyone loves Beauty and the Beast. Everyone’s favourite Disney film is Beauty and the Beast. So I kept telling myself: ‘Come on, it’s not that great; it’s totally overrated’, and as I was getting closer and closer to watching it, I was preparing myself not to like it. ‘Whatever I do, Beauty and the Beast is not going to be in my Top 5 favourite Disney films, not even my Top 10’, I told myself. ‘I’m going to find at least ten films I like more to keep it out of there’. …But I can’t do that. There is a reason why everyone loves this film. It’s in my Top 10, it’s in my Top 5; I might… actually like it more than The Little Mermaid.
Firstly, I’ve got to give props to the insanely high-quality version I watched, which made the film look and sound absolutely fantastic. I could hear every single piece of orchestral score and sound effects in every scene that I never noticed before, and I could see things on the screen that I never noticed before, for example, Maurice’s eyes are green (or at least, that’s how they looked to me). It was a truly incredible viewing, and if that’s the quality that’s on the blu-ray, oh my goodness, get me the blu-ray right now.
As for the film itself, you all know why it’s so damn good. The story is great, the characters are great, the music is great, the animation is great, and it all just comes together so brilliantly, and never feels dated or for a specific audience; it’s timeless, and can be enjoyed by just about anyone. I love all the characters, they all deserve to be in the movie: my favourite character…it’s probably a three-way tie between Gaston, Lumiere and the Beast. I’ve always loved Lumiere since I was a kid, I started to love Gaston when I was a bit older, and I found a new love for the Beast during this viewing. My favourite song is ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but I love all these songs. Menken and Ashman knocked it out of the park with this one, even when Ashman was dying during production; he never even got to see the finished film, which is extremely sad. The film ends with the tribute: “To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul. We will be forever grateful.” Shout-out to Andreas Deja for his animation on Gaston, and Glen Keane (of course) for making the Beast so human.
Overall: Nothing is shoddy or half-assed here. This is a near flawless movie, and really does deserve all the praise it’s gotten from the world over for years since the film was first released. It is not the best Disney film, in my opinion, but it might be the best Disney film made after Walt’s lifetime, and probably the best of the Renaissance (– or at least on par with The Little Mermaid).
Home on the Range (2004)
I actually liked this film as a kid. Actually loved it. I remember seeing it in the cinemas, watching it on DVD tons of times; I even remember seeing the artwork and models in the Animation Studio in Florida before the film was released, when I went to Walt Disney World. I obviously learnt later that this film was the last to be traditionally animated at the Disney studios, but was not the reason why Disney stopped making traditionally animated films, as I thought it was – however, I still believe it killed any audience’s interest in traditional animation for good in 2004. Making this your last film in a tradition lasting 67 years probably wasn’t the best idea – I would have preferred Brother Bear to be the last, which it was intended to be, even though I don’t love that film.
Alright, it may be good for kids, they’ll stay interested (heck, I did), but for adults, like me now…no. Just don’t see this film. It’s a true blotch on Disney’s paper of history, along with The Black Cauldron as an all-time low at the studios. It’s got the childish plot, it’s got the obnoxious characters, it’s got the…pop culture references. The only characters I kind of like are Grace and Mrs. Calloway, but even then I don’t like them all the time; some of their jokes fall flat, and they’re just kind of forgettable. Maggie is just horrible and obnoxious, the villain is stupid, Buck the horse is…uuuuggghhh. I do kind of like the Willy brothers, in an ‘I know it’s stupid but it’s funny’ way. But everyone else is not much and forgettable, or too much and annoying.
I will say that the climax is quite exciting…but only quite. The rest of the story is just…well, have you read the plot? Three cows try and catch a cattle rustler…yeah, what? It is a very silly story, but then again, it’s a silly film, even down to the look of it. It’s very cartoony, but not really appealing, like The Emperor’s New Groove, which I think this film was trying to be. It felt like more of a comedy than a drama to me, and oh my God, it’s not funny.
I wasn’t even impressed with the animation much in this film; the only character animation I really liked was of Wesley, a truly unappealing despicable-looking character, but animated really well by Mark Henn. With the style, I really hate how anthropomorphised the animals are in this film: for example, the cows can stand on their hind legs and use their hooves as hands and can lift their front legs up as arms – the horse even has biceps in his front legs. And I know that in The Emperor’s New Groove, Kuzco as a llama can stand on his hind legs, and uses his hooves as hands, but that’s because he’s a human transformed into a llama, so there’s reason for it. These are just cows supposedly living in the real world, and so it’s just used for slapstick and comedy.
What disappoints me is that Alan Menken did the music for this, and it’s hardly his best. I know all the songs pretty well, seems as I watched it so much as a kid, but I don’t really like any of them, except for ‘Will the Sun Ever Shine Again?’ It’s sad that Alan Menken’s music isn’t a strength in this movie, where it was in other weak Disney films.
Overall: It’s really childish and silly, and I am totally not the right audience for it, but with Disney films, they’re able to touch both children and adults, so in my eyes, this is a failure. It’s probably an alright film for kids though, seems as I loved it as a kid.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
This wasn’t one I watched much as a kid, and I think it might have been because the VHS was broken, I don’t know; I probably saw the musical numbers more than anything, from the Sing-Along Songs videos. But when I was sixteen, and I found some Disney films on YouTube, this was one of them, and I really enjoyed it, especially the dwarves. Now I know that, before I go into my opinion, that I have to have serious respect for this film, with it being the first one, and creating a new medium of cinema, and showing the world what animation can really do. So, if I don’t like it, I have to at least admire it.
Okay, so with this being the first one, there are some things wrong with it, let’s get them out the way first. The animation on the human’s faces is very clunky; still expressions, and when they don’t have to speak are fine, but their mouths when they do speak? …Yeah, it’s not the best animation. Before this film, the Disney studio was just used to making animated cartoons, usually involving animals and caricatures of humans, so of course in this film, the expressions on the animals are very good, as well as the movements (though it must have been odd to see these cartoony animals, and then see the ultra-realistic animals in Bambi just five years later). As I said, Disney were only used to making shorts, they had never made a full-length animated film before…so the film does have an episodic feel to it, and there is a lot of filler: the real plot takes up only about thirty-five, forty minutes. But the filler in this film is really entertaining, especially with the dwarves, and some of it’s pretty iconic, like Dopey and Sneezy putting themselves in the coat and making the man tall enough for Snow White to dance with.
And I like pretty much everything else. I like Snow White. Yeah, I said it. She’s a very sweet young girl, I don’t see anything really dislikeable about her, apart from her ability to do nothing but clean and…sing. She’s just very nice, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The dwarves are awesome. My favourite’s Dopey, he’s just so cute, but I also really like Doc and Happy, and Grumpy, of course, probably more for his animation though, done by Disney legend Bill Tytla. The Evil Queen/Witch is great, though I almost forgot about her: she’s obviously in the beginning, but then she doesn’t appear until forty-five minutes later. But when she does appear, she has that awesome transformation scene where she makes the potion and becomes a witch. As a witch, she’s got a bit of a dark sense of humour to her, which I liked; when she’s in the dungeon, she says to a skeleton: ‘Thirsty? Here, have a drink!’ and kicks an empty cup at him. Well, I thought it was funny.
Finally, I have to say that while the animation is sometimes quite cartoony, the art in this film is gorgeous. Every background is truly beautiful, and really shows that an animated film can be a work of art, that it can be an animated film, and not just a cartoon, even though there are cartoon animals and dwarves in it. While I like the whole film, the part that amazes me in its artistry is probably the last ten minutes. The climax in the storm? Gorgeous. The mourning scene with all the dwarves crying? Gorgeous. The end scene in the woods? Gorgeous. Just as a moving piece of art, it excels.
Overall: This is a classic, easily. It does suffer from ‘first-time’ problems, but the artistry is incredible, characters are memorable and you’re not gonna argue with the legacy it has created. I did think it would be odd for my last review to be about the first in the list, but I think it was really the best way to end this Disneython: on a beautiful, well-loved, ground-breaking film that, if it had not been made, we wouldn’t have so many classics (and not just from this studio), and hopefully many more to come in the future.
So, the Disneython is now finished! Only took me 6 months, but at least I finished it! Thank you all who have read my reviews; I’ll put my Ranking List of Favourite Disney Films up soon, now I’ve seen them all :)
Yeah, it’s still taking me forever to watch these last few movies, but I’m getting there, okay. I have seen 4 of them though, so I thought I’d post them here to get them out the way. I said they would be ‘brief’, but this is me we’re talking about; they’re about half the length of my normal reviews. No background research or plot summary, just my opinions on them :)
I don’t think I really liked Pinocchio as a kid, I do remember watching it, but not a lot. About two years ago, I found some of the classic Disney films on YouTube, and I watched Pinocchio, but I don’t really remember it. So watching it now, it felt like it had been ages since I properly saw it…and yet I could still remember a lot of the scenes, much like how I could remember a lot of the scenes from Dumbo. I didn’t think I was going to like it, because I didn’t watch it as a kid, it’s not a princess movie (seriously, there are only two female characters in this, not including puppets), and it’s actually pretty frightening. In Disneyland Paris, I went on the Pinocchio ride, but it was a ride through all the scary parts of the movie; when I got out of it, I was like: ‘Oh my God, I don’t remember Pinocchio being so dark!’
So I was a bit hesitant, but in the end, I really enjoyed Pinocchio. There’s something I just love about it, but I don’t know what it is. The animation and artistry is brilliant; you can tell Walt Disney wanted to push animation forward into bigger, more spectacular realms after Snow White. Two shout-outs to Milt Kahl, who animated Pinocchio (who I really like as a character), there’s some great acting on him; I think it’s probably my favourite of Milt Kahl’s work; and also Ward Kimball, who animated Jiminy Cricket: the poor guy spent months animating a soup-eating scene with the Dwarves in Snow White before it got deleted from the film, so Walt gave him the honour of animating Jiminy Cricket, and his work is fantastic. I kind of realised that it’s just as much Jiminy’s story as it is Pinocchio’s: he’s been given a job, with a reward at the end, which he must achieve and be motivated to get. It’s a bit like the fairies in Sleeping Beauty, where the supporting characters have a very big part in the story.
I was surprised to find out that the first twenty-seven minutes, pretty much the first act of the film, is set in Gepetto’s house, and it’s just Gepetto with his cat and his fish making this puppet, with Jiminy Cricket just sort of watching and commenting. Then Gepetto wishes on a star, Blue Fairy comes and makes Pinocchio come to life. I feel like some of this first act could have been cut – for example, there’s a short song where Gepetto just kinda dances round with the Pinocchio puppet – but on the other hand, most of it is really charming so none of it could really be removed. But it’s probably my least favourite part of the film: it’s when Pinocchio gets out of the house and into the world is when the film gets more interesting. I think I have one story nitpick, and it’s the Fairy es Machina: Pinocchio and Jiminy get back to Gepetto’s, but they realise he isn’t there, so they need to find out where he’s ended up. How do they do that? Blue Fairy sends a letter from the sky telling them where Gepetto is! Maybe Disney just needed to save time, because the movie’s actually quite long as it is (for a Disney film), being 83 minutes.
Overall: Loved Pinocchio; great animation, really charming, frightening in parts even as an adult, and a true Disney classic. Oh, and the version of ‘When you Wish Upon a Star’ at the beginning of the film is gorgeous.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
This is one of the ‘new’ Disney films, so I don’t have nostalgia or fond memories of it from when I was a kid; I did see it when it came out though…and I think I liked it? I think I loved it more because it was a traditionally-animated film, and the animation was just so great…oh, and I totally loved Prince Naveen. But watching it now, I can see that I do have some problems with it.
But I’ll start with what I like. Love Tiana; love Naveen, he’s probably my favourite character; I love the relationship the two have with each other; love Charlotte, she’s fantastic; I like the songs quite a bit too: most people have complained that they’re not memorable, but I got the soundtrack and have listened to the songs a lot of times, so they’re memorable to me, and I love them; ‘Friends on the Other Side’ is by far the best song. The score, however, is not memorable at all.
So the things I don’t like…firstly, I hate the Frog Hunters scene. I know it’s just one scene, but I hate it so much: it doesn’t add to the story, it’s not funny, and it just reminds me of something out of Home on the Range; it could have easily been cut out. Secondly, I think there should have been just one sidekick, and not two, by sidekicks I mean Louis the alligator and Ray the firefly; it would have been better if they had just kept one because there isn’t enough screen-time for them both. Louis the alligator is the first one Tiana and Naveen meet, but there’s really nothing for him to do once Ray is introduced. So if I had to choose one or the other, I’d choose Ray over Louis – even if an cartoon alligator playing a trumpet is really funny to me. Thirdly, I want to love Dr. Facilier, he could have been very interesting, but I don’t see him as being a very strong villain; as the film went on, I felt like he was barely in it. During the middle, it feels like his story and Tiana and Naveen’s story are completely separate. And uh, speaking of story, finally, I think there’s too much happening in the story. I don’t think they need the whole Mardi Gras parade part of it, where Charlotte’s a princess, and her and Lawrence (disguised as Naveen) have to get married so Facilier can take over the city, and Naveen has to kiss Charlotte to break the spell, but only before midnight. They could have gotten rid of the character of Lawrence, he doesn’t do anything (though he does give Human Naveen more screen-time). And they didn’t need to kill Ray off; I’m still not too sure why the writers decided to do that. They should have just stayed with the story of Tiana and Naveen falling in love and becoming human again, which is what they do focus on, I guess.
Overall: Despite my problems with it having too many characters or too much subplots, I like The Princess and the Frog. Its main characters are great, the romance is great, there’s some lovely imagery, but I think the thing I love about it the most is that it’s a traditionally-animated film: I’m so glad Disney revived the 2D animation studio, as this film really reminds me of those classic Renaissance films I grew up with, and it gives me hope that Disney can make more films like these in the future.
The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
I didn’t watch The Great Mouse Detective as a kid; I didn’t own it on video, but I think I saw it once somewhere else. Again, those two years ago when I found some Disney films on YouTube, The Great Mouse Detective was one of them, so I kind of watched it for the first time then, and I don’t really remember it too well.
Well, I remember absolutely loving Basil, and I still do now, two years later. He is just wonderful: he’s egotistical, but knows when to calm down; he’s smart, but can doubt himself sometimes; he appears to be unconcerned about others, but does show his sensitive side (whether he likes it or not). What I like about him the most is how enthusiastic he is when he’s finding clues and deducting things; he’s just great. I know that this film was based on a book which was inspired by Sherlock Holmes: I’m not too familiar with Sherlock Holmes, only the Robert Downey Jr. films and briefly the TV series Sherlock, but if I have to choose, Basil from this film is my favourite interpretation of Sherlock Holmes – and he doesn’t even have the same personality as Holmes (which is probably a good thing, seems as I don’t like the original character anyway). I also love Basil’s counterpart, Professor Ratigan (what is he a professor of again?): Vincent Price is so awesome in this, he does a brilliant job voicing him (kind of helps that it was one of his dreams to be a voice in a Disney film), and the animation is perfect too – oh, Glen Keane was the supervising animator? Coincidence! And before I move on, I have to say the animation on Basil is very good too – in fact, all the animation is this film is very good. I noticed that at different points, there’s a moment when Basil and Ratigan almost lose their temper but then compose themselves, and it’s just a little sign to show how similar the characters both are, so when you put them together, it works so well. Probably the best part of the film is the climax in Big Ben tower, where Ratigan becomes the animal he truly is and battles Basil for the last time.
Unfortunately, Basil and Ratigan are the only things I really care about in the film; I’m not so crazy about everything else. Well, I tell a lie: I think the story, while simple, is fine, though it could have used a few more scenes between Basil and Dawson. But there’s just something about it that…feels small and cheap – and to be fair, it was made very cheaply, after the failure of The Black Cauldron. All the other characters I can take or leave: Dawson’s just okay, Olivia’s nice enough (though I wish she was a bit older, for some reason) and I almost forgot Olivia’s father was in the film. Though the film isn’t a musical, the songs it does have aren’t great: the one I have the problem with is the big glaring song number about forty minutes into the film, and it totally doesn’t belong there. But I shouldn’t complain too much, because the film doesn’t lose focus on the most important aspect, and what I like the most: the hero and the villain.
Overall: It’s by no means bad, and it’s one of the better boy-oriented Disney films, and it’s got a fantastic hero and villain. However, I’m not too thrilled about the rest, but hey: without this movie, there wouldn’t be The Little Mermaid.
Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
This is the last film I hadn’t seen before this Disneython, so when I was finished watching this film, I have now seen all 51 animated features in the canon…now I don’t know whether to include Wreck-It Ralph into this Disneython, now it’s coming out pretty soon. Anyway, even though I hadn’t seen this film all the way through before now, I had actually seen half of it as a kid, and that was the Mickey and the Beanstalk segment, which I remember watching and liking as a kid; it must have been shown on the Disney Channel at some point, because it had been recorded off the TV. But I had not seen the Bongo short that was paired with it in Fun and Fancy Free, and I wasn’t missing much.
I just didn’t care about this short: it just dragged and dragged, and it was all filler. This was planned to be a feature-length film, it shouldn’t have even been as long as it was as a short. The only thing I think I liked was the animation on Bongo, and that song about bears slapping each other; that was kind of funny. If you’ve read my reviews of the past package films, I’m not a particularly big fan of every single segment in them: there’ll be a few I like, and a few I just lose interest in; the exception is Ichabod and Mr. Toad, though I still prefer one over the other. This is the same here, where I kind of knew before Bongo was over that I would prefer Mickey and the Beanstalk…so the whole time watching, I was thinking: ‘Come on, when is this going to finish so we can get to Mickey and the Beanstalk?’ …But when it was over, I had to sit through the bits with Jiminy Cricket – I still have no idea why he’s in this movie – and the live-action ‘interstitial’, with…those disturbing puppets. Seriously, who has a birthday party with a grown man and two puppets?
I think Mickey and the Beanstalk is a much better short, and not just because I got a lot of nostalgia remembering all the scenes. There’s a few great scenes, like the beanstalk growing out of the house while Mickey, Donald and Goofy are sleeping (which ran longer in my memory), and Goofy having a fight with his hat on the jelly. Mickey, Donald and Goofy are great as usual, and Willie the Giant can be funny at times too. I love the singing harp, love her voice, I’ve loved her since I was a kid. And you know what the problem is? It’s too short. Like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, I wanted this short to be much longer (ironically). The beanstalk growing out of the house scene could have been longer, Mickey, Donald and Goofy finding all the food could have been longer, more could have happened in the climax (though Mickey getting the key takes enough time). But I know, the Disney company didn’t have enough money or time to lengthen it out; this short was meant to be a feature-length film too, and I would have preferred that over a feature-length Bongo.
Overall: if it were just Bongo and a few other shorts, then it would just be on the same level as the other package films. But Mickey and the Beanstalk makes this film, and it takes up roughly half of the running time. …So I guess it’s alright…but I’d prefer to just watch Mickey and the Beanstalk separately.
P.S. Apparently there’s a version of Mickey and the Beanstalk with the narration by Sterling Holloway. I must find this version.
I haven’t been doing the Disneython. My bad. So I just wanted to tell you how the Disneython is going to end.
I’ll watch the rest of the films I have to see, I’ll put my brief thoughts and opinions on them in one post and THEN I’ll be done with the Disneython. Because it’s just gone on for too long, and I can’t write these reviews. So I’m still gonna watch all the Disney films, which was what I intended to do, and I’ll still give my opinions, but I just can’t do the big, long reviews. Maybe I’ll do them later, when I’m bored, but it’s not likely.
So um, look out for that, I’ll try and watch all the films pretty soon so I can get the final post done :)
(I told you it’d be up very soon!)
It was the late 80’s, Disney were just about to unexpectedly create a Renaissance with four successful feature films (and one other film that is never remembered by anyone and is a sequel to The Rescuers), but before the world could truly consider the studio being back on form, they needed to get themselves out of the Dark Ages, and the failure of The Black Cauldron. And they managed to do that partly thanks to two guys: John Musker and Ron Clements. This duo went to CalArts, they were hired by Disney, they had done some animating on a few films, and in 1986 they made their directorial debut with The Great Mouse Detective, which is probably the real film that started the Disney Renaissance; it got them out of their rough spot, and it certainly gave them the confidence they needed in their animation department. So after this, Ron and John were thinking of story ideas for the next potential Disney film, and the story they really wanted to put to film was a re-imagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, but set in space (which I have already reviewed). But Eisner, Katzenberg and co. didn’t think it would be very profitable, so they offered the duo The Little Mermaid, and that was extremely successful. So into the 1990’s, Ron and John still had this idea of Treasure Island in space, but it was rejected again and they were offered Aladdin, and that was extremely successful too. Feeling pretty confident with themselves, Ron and John told the executives that now was the time to do this Treasure Island in space…but no, it just wasn’t thought to be a big seller. So the studio offered them a Greek myth idea, and so they reluctantly accepted – but only if their next project could be Treasure Island in space, assuming that the Greek myth idea was commercially successful.
And so it was, kind of. It did alright at the box office, and it did alright with the critics, but it was still treated the way Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame were before: they just weren’t the films of the early Disney Renaissance. And…I think it’s still liked today? Apparently some people hate it, and some people love it? I don’t know, I can’t really do my research on that. All I know is that I used to love the film as a kid; I remember getting up really early for the premiere on Disney Channel to record it off the TV, and I remember it all pretty well. So I came to it as an adult and…well, I think it’s changed, like a few other Disney films I’ve already reviewed.
Very very loosely based on Greek myth Hercules, the story is set in Ancient Greece, where Hercules is the son of Gods Zeus and Hera. Out of nowhere, Hades, Lord of the Underworld, wants to kill Hercules after hearing a prophecy that Hercules will one day defeat him. Only in order to kill him, he must turn the God mortal, which does happen, but his god-like strength remains inside of him. Learning of his past when he’s older, Hercules must go out on a journey, train himself up and become a ‘true hero’, but not until he defeats the many obstacles in his way.
Well, you can certainly tell that the directors of Aladdin directed this film – and in a way, this film is very similar to Aladdin…you could almost say that it is trying to be Aladdin. A few choice similarities the two films share are that they have a pretty modern feel to them, they have pop culture and movie references, you have a comedian voicing a main character, it’s more comedy than drama, the animation is very fast-paced and fluid. I focus mainly on the ‘modern comedy’ aspects because it’s what sticks out to me with these two films. With Aladdin, the modern references only come out of the Genie, who is a fantastical character who could be from any time period. In Aladdin, the modern-ness works. In Hercules, it really doesn’t. It’s really jarring to see all these modern jokes and references, particularly in the ‘Zero to Hero’ scene; did they really need to put the Hercules merchandising in, like the shoes and the drink and the mosaic billboard and the fan-girls? None of the modern-ness fits in this world because it’s Greek mythology, and there’s no place or reason for it. With the humour in general (as this film is more of a comedy), it’s kind of half-and-half: Pain and Panic are never funny, Phil isn’t really that funny, but Hades is really funny, and Meg has some good snarky lines too, even if they do seem a little modern.
Hades is starting to become a sort of classic Disney villain: a lot of people love this villain because he’s so funny and yeah, he is. Some fall flat, but it’s only some, and even though he might be the most modern character in the film, it…kind of works with the character: he’s a bargaining guy, a schemer, but has some anger management issues – and what would you expect when you’ve been exiled from all the other Gods? The animation on him is great too, I love it whenever he flips out and explodes and just goes straight back to his normal blue colour. Maybe my only problem with him is that sometimes he is too modern, and his comedy sometimes overshadows his villainy. Another character I love is Meg I’ve loved her since I was a kid, and I think I relate to her more as a teenager, and it’s because she’s pretty cynical when it comes to love. I won’t lie, I’m a cynical, jealous girl who hates every couple in the world because I’ll never know what it’s like for someone to love me, and so I’ve got to like Meg quite a bit, with her ‘sometimes it’s better to be alone, so no one can hurt you’ look on love, though it is still quite a modern look. But I love her design, I love her voice actress and she’s a fresh Disney heroine – well, I guess she’s a little similar to Esmeralda.
As well as Meg, I like Hercules, but only as a teenager. I like my nice Disney heroes, and Hercules is your typical underdog, and a very clumsy one at that. But I was feeling sorry for him at first, and I love his ‘I Want’ song ‘Go the Distance’ – yeah, not many people like it, but I do! But then as soon as he becomes ‘adult’, and has done all his training, he just…changes, and I don’t like him as much – and it’s not because of his appearance. He jus t gets arrogant and big-headed, and he’s meant to be naïve but he just comes off as stupid. And I know that he’s meant to become arrogant because of all the fame he’s getting, but the whole time, I was thinking: ‘the teenage Hercules would never act like this!’ And sure, he does learn something by the end about becoming a true hero, and he’s revealed to be a total hopeless romantic, which is kind of cute (and Meg and Herc’s romance is okay), but it doesn’t seem like he’s learning anything at first. Once Zeus basically says: ‘You need to become a true hero and stop being an ass’, Hercules does have a bit of a moment where he wants to reject the fame – but when and after he’s with Meg, he gets all stupid and arrogant again! I would have much preferred it if the teenage Hercules led the rest of this story, and not this bland hero he becomes.
I think one of the things that possibly splits people’s opinions on this film is the music: some people absolutely love it, others outright hate it. I…am on the fence. I like most of the songs: as I said, I love ‘Go the Distance’, but I also love ‘I Won’t Say I’m in Love’, they’re probably my two favourites, but I would be lying if I thought that those songs fit in seamlessly with the gospel-inspired songs sung by the Muses that appear throughout the film. Like a lot of people, I wonder why the Disney studio chose to use gospel music and these Muses for the majority of the songs, and to me, the songs do add to the film’s modern feel.
Overall: There are things I like, such as certain characters and certain songs, but there are things I don’t like, such as certain characters, some of the humour and the all-round modern feel and references. I will give it points for trying something different, particularly in the overall design of the film, but when your film is more focused on comedy than drama and heart of the story, and the comedy isn’t that funny, I can’t love this film too much, like I did as a kid.
Next time, I’ll be reviewing…1940’s Pinocchio.
Quick recap on the package films again: package films were a collection of short subjects strung together to make one feature-length film made during and after WWII, when animated films with a feature-length story were becoming too expensive to make, and the studio were not financially stable after making ambitious films like Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi. With this package film, Disney and a team of artists and musicians were taken to South America, where they were intended to make an animated movie to be shown in the US, Central, and South America as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. And if you want to learn more about that, then I’m afraid you have to go somewhere else because I know nothing about it. I’m not knowledgeable in any historical events, so sorry for skimping on details; I’m here to give my opinion on Disney films, not explain the entire backstory of its production.
This film consists of four main segments, and each of them lasts about ten minutes, making this the shortest film in the Disney Animated Classics Collection. I had not seen this film before, all I knew was that it was about the culture in South America, and Goofy was in it (and it was only 42 minutes). And let’s get this out the way now: it’s a package film. There’s nothing particularly special about the package films. So don’t expect any overwhelming feelings about this one.
The films starts with live-action footage of the Disney team getting on a plane and going to South America, and then seeing some of the culture of the people located in Peru. So I was thinking: ‘What? This is an animated film, right?’ But the animation does show up eventually, and the animated segment stars Donald Duck, in his first feature-length film, as a tourist trying to adjust to the South American culture. It’s a cute, funny scene; apparently Donald’s not as funny in this segment as he is in other separate shorts but, to be fair, I haven’t seen many Donald Duck shorts so I can’t judge. But I thought Donald was pretty funny here; I really liked Donald’s original voice in this segment, even though I’m used to the new voice; I still have no idea what he’s saying most of the time though.
We then go back to live-action and move to Chile, where we don’t really get anything about their culture (maybe because the Disney team weren’t allowed cameras there?) but instead get an animated short about Pedro, a little plane who embarks on his first flight picking up air mail from Mendoza. This short feels the most like the package film shorts I’ve seen in Melody Time and Make Mine Music, only without the music; it reminds me the most of the ‘Little Toot’ short from Melody Time. I was not really fond of that short, and this one’s no different. It’s cute, but it’s nothing special.
El Gaucho Goofy
Cut back to live-action, and the Disney team are now in Argentina, where they are looking at the native Gauchos, who are sort of like Mexican cowboys. To educate the audience about the ways of the Gaucho, we are given a Goofy How-To short! …Well, it’s not really a How-To, but it’s pretty close: it’s got the narration, it’s got Goofy performing for the audience, Goofy barely talks, and it’s really funny. I think Goofy’s funny in anything, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but I chuckled all the way through this segment. Probably my favourite part is when Goofy is playing the guitar and singing: I was like: ‘Oh my God, Goofy has a great singing voice!’ But then it’s revealed that he’s just miming to a record player.
Aquarela do Brazil
The final segment takes place in Brazil, and it’s easily the best part of this film. It shows some live-action footage of a samba carnival in Rio, and then it goes into a segment almost like something from Make Mine Music, where visuals are put to the song ‘Aquarela do Brazil’ or simply ‘Brazil’: it’s a fun and energetic scene involving a paintbrush creatively painting out vibrant backgrounds, plants and animals. Donald Duck makes another appearance, and is introduced to José Carioca, who we would see more of in The Three Caballeros: I think I like José a lot more in this film than in The Three Caballeros, he just seems a lot more exciting in this first appearance. He then leads Donald into another song, ‘Tico-Tico no Fubá’, introducing him to the samba – and the song is so good; I couldn’t help but dance to it in my chair. I guess if The Three Caballeros is meant to be a spiritual sequel to Saludos Amigos, then this segment would be the overlapping of the two films.
Overall: I think it does get better by the end, but it’s still just a package film that isn’t really spectacular. It shouldn’t really be put with the other Disney Animated Classics, as it’s barely feature-length, but because it’s the first package film, you can’t really miss it out. This is probably only an animated Disney film to see just so you can say you’ve seen them all, like I’m doing.
Next time, I’ll be reviewing…1997’s Hercules.