Halloween is coming so it seems only appropriate that we talk about some Disney scares! This is not limited to the canon although there are a few movies with scares I have not seen or have not seen in a while, so this is by no means definitive. It is also not necessarily the scariest movie just scenes. Make sure to read my piece on Darkness in Disney to see where I draw the line on good scares and too much for kids (and me. I’m a wimp!).
Some of these are more funny scary than terrifying scary if you know what I mean.
13. Bear- Fox and the Hound- I have an animal phobia so the look of this bear is enough to give me the creeps!
12. Night on Bald Mountain- Fantasia- I mean it’s the devil and his minions with power and fury. Not terrifying in a jump scare kind of way but in a ‘better repent now’ way…
11. Snow White Forest Scene- Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs– Snow White holds up extremely well including this scene when she is spooked in the forest. I think most of us can relate to that feeling of being watched and that the trees may stretch out and grab you!
10. Headless Horseman- Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad- The story of Ichabod is the perfect ghost story for kids. It’s dark and scary but not too scary. Enough to make them feel excited and giggle but not give nightmares. I couldn’t find a great clip but look at the face of the horse. That should tell you something!
This imagery with the pumpkin and the horse with the red eyes. That’s pretty scary stuff!
9. Crazy Donald- Fun and Fancy Free- Crazy Donald is Disney’s version of The Shining. I mean he goes completely insane, axe wielding and all. Best part of Fun and Fancy Free by a long shot.
Get this duck some food!
8. Mob Song- Beauty and the Beast- Think the delusions of crowds and mass hysteria is most terrifying thing of all than Mob Song from Beauty and the Beast is the scare for you! The thing that makes this song particularly scary is the way it escalates and it actually feels like there is little hope for our friends. How can they defeat the entire town? It is also scary because Gaston has reached full madness. He couldn’t get what he wanted and pride made him snap. That is a very human villain.
7. Syndrome- Incredibles- One of the most human villains in all of Disney and that’s what makes him so scary. I mean he has the whole family captured and nobody knows where they are. He’s bitter and resentful but clearly smart. The voice performance is chilling. He even tries to take the baby at the end!
6. Kidnapping- Great Mouse Detective- If this scene were with people instead of mice it might be too much for me. It is really scary and certainly starts the film off with a bang.
5. Remains of the Day- Corpse Bride-
(Found out this is not a Disney! Oh well. It’s still scary!)
This is more funny than scary but it is a great song and ghost story. I love the brilliant animation. If you listen to the tale it is pretty grim stuff. ‘At the end of the day we are all remains of the day!’ Kids will probably laugh but be a little scared too. I love it!
4. Incinerator Scene- Toy Story 3- This is a scene that is not scary in the traditional sense like Remains of the Day or the Headless Horseman. This is scary because it really feels like they are all going to die. My nieces were all very upset by it. I mean they get awfully close to that incinerator!
3. Heffalumps and Woozles- Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh- I had to pick either Pink Elephants on Parade or Heffalumps and Woozles because they are very similar. I went with the latter because it is aimed at smaller children which makes it bolder and scarier. Also I think the song is scarier in the lyrics and way it is sung. Pink Elephants on Parade is more trippy than scary (same with Alice in Wonderland). Plus, creepy toys are always effective in scary movies!
2. Boogie Man’s Song- Nightmare before Christmas- a gambling burlap bag of bugs gambles on whether to kill Santa. Yes, I think that makes the list!
1. Pleasure Island- Pinocchio. Was there any doubt? This scene is nuts! Pinocchio is a morality tale designed to teach children sin is bad and the wicked are punished. And boy does it teach it effectively. I remember as a kid being terrified of the kids turning into donkey scene. They were bad kids but couldn’t you send them to reform school? I mean how many donkeys do these salt mines need?
As an adult the most terrifying thing about Pleasure Island is the kids stay donkeys! There is no redemption or forgiveness to the kids. That’s it. They are done! And the Coachman is never punished. Pinocchio escapes and we assume the Coachman continues to rake in the cash. Yikes!
This is a bad clip but it’s the only one I could find with the scene.
13. Honorable Mention- If I was doing live action I would include Return to Oz on the list even though I hate it . It’s too scary, dark and grim. Not a fan but can’t deny it is very scary Disney! (I’m also a Wizard of Oz purist. I love the original and hated, hated, hated, hated every other version that has been made)
Hi guys! Just wanted to let you know I am doing a Disney giveaway over on my facebook group. It is for a blu-ray/dvd combo of Enchanted. If you haven’t seen it Enchanted is the delightful story of a Disney princess who goes through a time warp and ends up in Manhattan. She must use her storybook ways to charm a lonely daughter and her cynical divorce lawyer father. I love it and I will review it in the next couple of days.
Here’s the trailer-
I love Enchanted because it’s one of the only Disney movies that actually shows a princess doing some mothering, which I think is great for girls to see. Plus the music by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz is catchy. It’s just a lot of fun.
To go to the giveaway click on http://tinyurl.com/lt9xjnn or the image below will take you there. You can enter multiple times a day doing various things. Thanks!
Just for fun I thought I would share my thoughts on a recent live action Disney film, Saving Mr Banks. For some reason I waited to see the movie even though it stars my favorite living actress Emma Thompson and an actor I really like in Tom Hanks, and it is about the making of one of my favorite movies Mary Poppins. I guess sometimes you don’t want the illusion to be spoiled by a behind the scenes look, so I waited until it came out on DVD and watched it. I was blown away. It rapidly ascended the ranks to a top 10 favorite movie ever list.
Saving Mr Banks is directed by John Lee Hancock from a script by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith that had been floating around Hollywood for a long time. Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney and Emma Thompson is PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. We also see Paul Giamatti in a wonderful, subtle performance as a the chauffeur Collin Farrel as Travers’ father, and Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford and BJ Novak as the Sherman Brothers and team. Everyone is great in this film.
The story centers around Travers, an insufferable curmudgeon,, and Disney, the master of whimsey, as Travers is forced to relinquish the rights to her beloved Mary Poppins. She hates the idea of everything Disney stands for. He is childish is and stupid and he wants to turn her masterpiece into a joke.
They do not pull any punches with Travers. She is a jerk to the 9th degree and normally this wouldn’t work so well but with Emma Thompson’s warmth and her back-story along the way I totally bought it. I was actually glad they didn’t soften her edges but had the guts to make a lead character so unlikable. It made her change and the ending so profound.
Hanks is great as Disney. I have no idea if it captures the man but even little details like the fact he had a nervous twitch from constantly smoking is integrated into the performance. He seems like someone who would be almost impossible to resist, which is a perfect contrast to Thompson’s Travers.
So like I said Travers is incredibly resistant to the idea of her beloved Mary Poppins (never just Mary) dancing about in one of his cartoons. Why? Why? Well, we learn about her father who was a whimsical man, much like Disney. I won’t give it all away but he disappoints Travers, wounds her and she is never the same. In fact, she becomes an entirely new person, accent and all. Collin Farrell is excellent in the flashback scenes as her father.
An aunt comes into Travers life at a moment of crisis and she is inherently practical which is what she needed to get by. So Travers became practical and created a character that could rescue people in the same way her aunt had rescued her. That’s why it meant so much to her.
But it is not a morbid or solemn film, much of it is spent on the mechanics of working over the script with the producer and the Sherman Brothers. Travers has opinions on everything from the house, to whether Mr Banks has a beard. She is absolutely against using music or animation (we all know how she came out on that debate!). She doesn’t like Dick van Dyke as a choice (hard to believe but true). She even at one point criticizes one of the Sherman brothers and says he earned his limp in the war.
At least to me this banter and back and forth never got too heavy or drawn out because it was interrupted with the scenes from Travers life. The pacing works perfectly. A lot of that also goes to Thomas Newman who wrote a fabulous score- one of the best I’ve heard in many years.
So great performances, beautiful music and cinematography, engaging premise- all part of why Saving Mr Banks is special but there was something else that made it a top 10 all time favorite. At the end Tom Hanks flies to London and talks to PL about forgiveness and it deeply moved me. It captures the profound idea that every person has a moment where childhood is over, and most of us spend the rest of our lives either resenting who gave us that moment or trying to recreate the innocence we lost. In the case of PL Travers she rejected the whimsey of her father to deal with the pain, in Disney’s case he embraced it so they are the ultimate contrast. I bawl whenever I see that scene. It profoundly moved me.
I have my moment where childhood was done. I wasn’t the most whimsical kid to start with, far from it. But one day at the apex of being bullied I was thrown into the drinking fountain with a line of children and my dress was put over my head so everyone could see my underwear. All of this within a teacher’s observation. I remember looking at her and all the kids and realizing they weren’t going to help me. I don’t resent those kids/teachers but I do wish I could have that moment back. Maybe that’s why I like animation and children’s movies so much? Characters like Ariel and Belle gave me confidence to stand up for myself and find my own version of happiness.
I know Saving Mr Banks isn’t a perfect movie but that scene in London was perfect to me. I also love the behind the scenes of how a movie is conceptualized and developed. It’s interesting that we never see a set or backdrop or anything like that. It is all at the script, storyboard stage. I loved the actors who played the Sherman Brothers. They are just trying to do their jobs and make their employer happy, and Travers is making it very tough on them.
I also loved Paul Giamatti as the chauffeur. He is subtle and their friendship felt authentic. I’m surprised a big name like Giamatti would take such a small part but I’m glad he did.
It is also true the film is fan fiction and PL Travers hated the movie and wouldn’t give any rights to anything after the experience. She cries at the premiere and you feel for her. For her work and all that it meant to her. It is not a tidy explanation no matter how technically inaccurate it might be.
So, I loved Saving Mr Banks. I loved performances, music, story, cinematography, and the message of forgiveness. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend you do!
Hey guys! This is just a quick update because some of you have asked what my plans are for the blog now that the initial project is done. Well, of course we will have the Big Hero 6 review which I will see November 7th and post soon after. I will also continue to release top 10 lists and maybe even review other Disney’s I love not in the canon.
However, there won’t be a ton on this blog in November because I will be busy working on Nanowrimo. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. This will be my third year doing it and it is the first year I’ve been unsure what I am writing about. I have a character idea but not sure what I want to have her do. It’s going to be a challenge but also kind of exciting too!
Have any of you done Nanowrimo? It’s a fun chance to challenge yourself and actually finish something. Plus, you meet new people and get to tell stories which is good for the soul . I highly recommend it!
As you can imagine writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a challenge so keeping up 2 blogs and work will be impossible but I will do my best to not leave it completely unattended. If anyone would like to guest blog on either one let me know and I’d be interested as long as it is family friendly and clean.
After Nanowrimo I would like to start a new challenge. I think I will post some holiday themed reviews because I LOVE Christmas movies. I have also thought of doing a review of the Jim Henson studio movies. This would be the list with perhaps reviews of the seasons of Muppet Show and a broader Sesame Street review. What would you like to read my thoughts on? I’ve thought of Dreamworks, Pixar or Don Bluth but I’m a super fan of Pixar and a marginal fan of the other 2. Nothing like Disney.
Jim Henson Studio and Creature Shop movies
101 Dalmatians (Creature Effects)
5 Children & It (Character Animation, Visual Effects, Digital Puppetry and Animatronics)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014; with Walt Disney Pictures)
All That (Leroy & Fuzz) (Puppets)
Animal Farm (Creature Effects)
Babe (Creature Effects)
Buddy (1997; with American Zoetrope and Columbia Pictures)
Dinosaurs (Creature Effects)
Dr. Dolittle (Creature Effects)
Dreamchild (Creature Effects)
Five Children and It (2004)
Follow That Bird (1985) (with Children’s Television Workshop and Warner Bros.)
George of the Jungle (Creature Effects)
Good Boy! (2003; with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Creature Effects)
It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) (with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge
Kermit’s Swamp Years (2003) (with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Labyrinth (1986) (with Lucasfilm and TriStar Pictures)
Lost in Space (Creature Effects)
L’Ours (Creature Effects)
Mee Shee: The Water Giant (Visual Effects and Digital Puppetry)
Muppet Treasure Island (1996) (with Walt Disney Pictures)
Muppet*Vision 3D (1991) (with Walt Disney Imagineering)
Muppets from Space (1999; with Columbia Pictures)
Muppets Most Wanted
Scooby-Doo (Creature Effects)
Stuart Little 2 (Creature Effects)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Creature Effects)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (Creature Effects)
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999; with Sesame Workshop and Columbia Pictures)
The Country Bears (Creature Effects)
The Dark Crystal (1982)
The Ghost of Faffner Hall (Puppets)
The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) (with Walt Disney Pictures)
The Muppet Movie (1979)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)
The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005) (with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
The Neverending Story III (Creature Effects)
The Storyteller (Creature Effects)
The Witches (1990) (with Warner Bros. Pictures)
Where the Wild Things Are (Creature Effects)
Would love your suggestions and thoughts. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone on this blog and learned a lot from formulating my opinion in a semi-articulate way. It’s been a great experience. Thanks so much for your support and for reading my silly thoughts.
I tried to whittle the list down to 10 but I ended up with 16 and I figured why not include them all?
So, here goes- the 16 best Disney Villains as determined by me.
16. Man with the Bowler Hat (Meet the Robinsons)- This was such a creative villain. Everything about him surprised me. I love his look and that he is a reminder even the most innocent of us can turn to a life of villainy if we aren’t careful (and get enough sleep!)
14. Prince John- (Robin Hood) It kind of pains me to have him so low but there are so many great villains. This is another funny villain who is constantly sucking his thumb and crying for Mommy. And yet he’s incredibly ruthless to all the people. He’s probably the villain who does the most harm for the greatest number of people (Gaston, for instance, pretty much only hurts Belle and The Beast). He’s also got that great English dry wit
13. Shere Khan and Kaa (Jungle Book)- Really the success of these villains has to do with the voice talent. Sterling Holloway plays against type as the hypnotizing Kaa who oils his way around the room and Shere Khan voiced by George Sanders is very creepy and deeply voiced villain.
12. Evil Queen (Snow White) Another one that pains me to see it so low because she is so great but there are 11 I like even better. Her transformation is amazing and she is so vain even being queen isn’t enough for her. She isn’t content until she is better than everyone else in every way.
11. Ratigan- (Great Mouse Detective)- the most James Bondlike villain of any of the Disney villain. Not satisfied with a simple solution he makes everything as complicated as he can. Amazing voice performance by Vincent Price, one of first great villain songs and hilarious to have a villain named Ratigan who becomes enraged when called a rat.
10. Devil (Fantasia)- I know the devil should be higher because he’s the Devil! But it is a short sequence so I thought 10 seemed a good spot. The artistry in Night on Bald Mountain is amazing. The demons and spirits that the Devil rules over are gorgeous especially compared with the light and peace of the Ave Maria section. It’s as stunning a depiction of good vs evil as in any Disney movie (or any movie for that matter).
9. Captain Hook (Peter Pan)- Another funny villain. The slapstick with the crocodile is the highlight of the movie but Hook steals every scene he is in. He is sniveling, snide and extremely manipulative. The way he interrogates Tinker Bell is intense.
8. Coachman, Stramboli, Monstro (Pinocchio)- For my money the Pinocchio villains are the scariest because there is no sense of justice or retribution. There is no humor or lighter side to them. Just despicable, greedy, awful, terrifying people. For the morality tale it is, they work perfectly. I certainly wouldn’t want to sin if I knew they were at the end of every bad choice. I mean the coachman turns little children into donkeys to work in salt mines for money? Does it get more evil than that?
7. Mother Gothel- (Tangled)- A woman willing to manipulate her ‘daughter’ and basically ruin her life for her own greed. Make her a prisoner and brainwash her into believing she is doing her a favor. That’s pretty bad. I love Mother Knows Best because it takes the nurturing maternal nature of mothers and turns it on its head, uses it for bad not good. It’s perfect. She’s the closest Disney has come to having a true sociopath as their villain
6. Gaston- (Beauty and the Beast)– It seems to low but again there were simply 5 I like even better, but I love Gaston. He is an interesting villain because in the minds of most people he’s the hero. But like the Evil Queen in Snow White his lack of control over one person causes him to descend into madness. He probably has the funniest villain song; although World’ Greatest Criminal Mind is a close second. It’s not even really a villain song. It’s just everyone telling him how great he is. No wonder he thinks he should have his way!
5. Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)– Otherwise known as The Wicked Stepmother, Lady Tremaine, gets 5th spot from me because she is so duplicitous even to her own daughters. She plays the part of genteel and kind and then proceeds to make Cinderella’s life a living Hell. She locks her up when she worries Cinderella’s foot will fit and she encourages the girls to rip off her dress, despite pretending to keep her side of the bargain. She is like that women at work who makes your life a nightmare but then always tries to claim the high ground. I love how her eyes are yellow with disdain. She also has a cat named Lucifer!
4. Cruella De vil (101 Dalmatians)- I love how her name has both cruel and devil in it but I still love her. She is perhaps the most shallow villain. All she cares about is looking good with her dalmatian furs. That’s just hilarious and over-the-top but it feels believable in the story. Her driving, the way she throws her hands in the air and even yells through the phone are all totally chilling and funny. I’m no animal lover but anyone who wants to kill 101 puppies just for her wardrobe gets top honors on the villainy tribe in my book. Such a funny character and I love how she mocks Roger ‘Roger’s songs…’
3. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)- Aside from the Devil, Maleficent is the closest Disney got to a pure evil character. She has horns for goodness sakes! She is basically a She-Devil with all of his powers to create thorns, thistles, demons and pronounce curses on people who don’t invite her to parties. That’s got to be the best part of Maleficent is that she curses Aurora to death for getting snubbed at the christening.
There are arguments for subtle villains who have good and bad but there’s also a case for going all the way in a fairytale. Make your characters, the heroes, stand up against the ultimate evil. That’s what made Harry Potter so good is there was no chance of redemption for Voldermort. That bridge had already been crossed and he was evil. I haven’t seen the new Maleficent yet but am highly skeptical. By softening her it could take away what is the most special about her.
2. Scar (Lion King)- I remind you I gave Lion King #13 spot on my final rankings but Scar is a fantastic villain. He’s smart, disdainful and murders his own brother with glee. He may actually be Disney’s 2nd sociopath. He’s convinced what he is doing is right even though it clearly isn’t. He is completely selfish and has surrounded himself with people he can control. (How brilliant to make hyenas who laugh his cronies).
What puts Scar so high though is Jeremy Irons voicework. It is dripping with disdain as if he is condescending to talk to everyone at all times. His villain song, Be Prepared, is one of my favorites, both the actual song and the animation. It’s the best part of Lion King and completely gripping.
1. Ursula (Little Mermaid)- As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog Little Mermaid was my favorite movie growing up and Ursula is a big part of that . She is so unique. In a movie full of fish and mermaids, she’s an octopus with tentacles that cover the screen with their blackness. She’s overweight and speaks like a chain smoker and is perfect. I love how she looks like a combination of a drag queen and a truck driver.
And her villain song is brilliant. Poor Unfortunate Souls is funny, manipulative and the perfect song to trick a 16 year old lovestruck girl. She also equally villainous when she turns into Vanessa and for no good reason, she just is evil with those yellow eyes!
She also has a dishy motive of revenge on Triton. She’s been banished and when the two spare off it is classic.
So what you’ve all been waiting for! My ranking of the Disney Canon!
I will add in Big Hero 6 when I finish that review but here are my current rankings. I’ll go least to best
54. Dinosaur– slow, predictable, looks ugly, CGI is awful, attempt to be thoughtful ends up stupid, the writing was maddeningly bad
53. Chicken Little– mean spirited, frenetic, unfunny, none of the episodes connect, animation underwhelming. Feels like they didn’t even try
52. Brother Bear– every choice was wrong. Badly animated characters, strange voicework, predictable and unbelievable story, unlikable characters, underwhelming music, strange singing choices. The humor never works. Huge disappointment.
51. Home on the Range– Trots out tired ‘save the farm’ storyline, terrible puns, strange voice choices, underwhelming songs, jokes and illusions to westerns don’t work, some of the animation is ok and the yodel song was well done. Otherwise skip.
50. Three Cabelleros– 2 ok shorts surrounded by lots of Donald shouting and chasing women around Rio. Watch Saludos Amigos instead.
49. The Rescuers- some nice animation but shrill, mean spirited villain overwhelms the picture. Not enough hope makes film feel depressing and cold. Watch sequel instead
48. The Aristocats– lazy mismash of 101 Dalmatians and Lady and the Tramp but with cats. Duchess feels apathetic and bored. No sense of tension in the plot and chemistry between her and Thomas nonexistent. Designs and backdrops underwhelming and strange voice work. Lame villain who’s actions don’t really make sense. Some alarmingly bad animation where the mouths don’t quite match up with the vocals. Ok songs.
47. Fun and Fancy Free– Bongo is well animated but strange message and oddly paced, Say it with a Slap is one of worst Disney songs, Mickey and Beanstalk is Ok but feels kind of lazy and slow. I like crazy Donald. In between live action segments feel strange and unnecessary.
46. Pocahontas– Savages is the films saving grace. A wonderful number but Pocahontas is kind of an unlikable character. She doesn’t listen and has no chemistry with John Smith. The animation is boxy and too geometric and the villain with all his GOLD is so boring. Plus, it’s a real story, important to a people, which makes it more insulting.
45. Hunchback of Notre Dame– Some good elements but the attempt to combine an adult story with juvenile elements creates a tonal mess. Very frustrating. A man tries to dump a baby down a well after killing his mother, he sings a song about wanting to rape and kill another woman and he lights a house on fire containing a family inside. And we have singing gargoyles! What was Disney thinking…
44. Fantasia 2000– Takes the original concept of concert films and turns it into a cheap celebrity clip show. I hate the CGI. The music choices are strange. Whole thing feels second rate except for Rhapsody and final number
43. Sword in the Stone– The film everyone else likes but I don’t. Arthur does nothing to prove he should be able to pull the sword in the stone. None of his ‘lessons’ actually prepare him to be king. On top of that it looks blue and gray and ugly throughout. Madame Mim isn’t introduced till end and it’s Merlin not Arthur that takes her on. I don’t get why it’s so popular. Sherman Brothers songs are ok and duel is fun but again doesn’t have anything to do with the story and Arthur.
42. Bolt– Forgettable but enjoyable film. Decent vocal performance, fun story but nothing to spectacular.
41 Oliver and Company- A mess of storytelling, terrible villain, but some of the visuals of New York are nice, cool subway scene at the end and 2 dynamite songs.
40. Make Mine Music– one of the strangest entertainment experiences of my life. Kind of ‘so bad it’s good’. Each of the segments in this package films feels so strange especially the story of the Whale Who Sings Opera, who they kill off and send to whale heaven for no reason except to teach kids that miracles don’t exist and people hate goodness and light (strange message). It’s so odd but oddly entertaining.
39. The Black Cauldron- A lot of problems but I liked the villain and Gurghi’s sacrifice. All in all I enjoyed watching it, even with issues. It looks beautiful and score is fantastic. Terrible voicework throughout, and kind of unlikable characters with weak motivation but enough to keep me mildly interested.
38. Saludos Amigos– Disney’s goodwill mission to South America spawned this movie and it is better than Three Cabelleros. First of all, it is shorter (45 min). It has more segments and they are all pretty good. Live action is tough to sit through but again it is short. Generic but entertaining.
37. Meet the Robinsons– Nutty time travel story with a convoluted but entertaining plot. Great and surprising villain. A little cluttered but I enjoyed it. If you have a kid who likes things that are a little bit out there I bet they will love this movie.
36. Treasure Planet- Beautiful steampunk look, but feels slow and story is the same old story from grade school we’ve seen a million times. Unpredictable looks but predictable story. Plus, some of the world doesn’t make sense so it is hard to feel suspense or tension.
35. Wreck-It Ralph– Fun premise of bad guy in video games who gets tired of being bad is fun but they spend too much time in Sugar Rush and some of the voice performances are annoying. Could have been much better but still enjoyed it. A good villain.
34. Fox and the Hound– A sentimental soapy flick if there ever was one but it embraces that soap so I enjoyed it. Bear scene very good but intense for small kids. Friendship and forgiveness nice messages. Music and female characters super bland
33. Princess and the Frog- Looks beautiful and a wonderful lead character, Tiana, who works hard, sets goals and has a unique dream for a princess. Dwells too much on occult, cluttered, shouty and underwhelming lead man and songs. Villain good but not my cup of tea
32. Peter Pan- Probably my biggest disappointment in rewatching the Canon. It’s not bad but slower than I remember it mixed with slapstick that is pretty good. The songs are ok except for Redman and You’re Mother is a snoozefest. People are very mean to Wendy throughout especially the other female characters. Still, it’s charming in it’s own way.
31. Bambi- Beautifully drawn and I love how the score is the sound effects creating rain and fire so effectively. Great voice work but the story is meandering and is basically a year in the life of a baby deer. Not enough to grip me although the death of Bambi’s Mom is traumatic, we haven’t gotten to know her very well and she is quickly replaced by a bland Faline. Still, I own it and enjoy watching it. It’s very good. (Bambi is our first B graded picture so I like all from now on a lot. That’s 30 films with a B or higher!)
30. Lilo and Stitch– LOVE, love, love the Nani and Lilo sections and Ohana themes. Love Hawaii backdrop and the watercolors. I love the Elvis music. I do not love Stitch. I wish they had gone more ET and less cockroach. He’s too mean, takes it too far and looks too gross. But the stuff I like I really love
29. Winnie the Pooh– A worthy entry in the Winie the Pooh series. Lovely, simple story for young children. Not too scary and nice message. Beautifully drawn and enough humor to entertain adults. Voices are a little off but I enjoyed it. Love the music.
28.Hercules– a guilty pleasure of mine. Disney’s first attempt at a super hero movie and I enjoy it. I love the gospel muses and the music. The villain is dry and funny and Megura is sassy and a lot of fun to figure out. Pain and panic are very funny too.
27. Tarzan- Looks gorgeous. The flow and feeling of Tarzan surfing on the trees looks great. Jane is a lot of fun too and not always the damsel in distress we expect. Sidekicks are lame and villain a bore. Songs especially You’ll be in my heart are great.
26. Melody Time– Aside from Ichabod and Mr Toad, my favorite of the package films. Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill are lovingly drawn with good music and tightly written scripts.
25. Pinocchio– I know some will be shocked to have this so low on the list but it is so grim and sad with no sense of retribution or punishment for the wrong doers. I guess the kids just stay as donkeys. Some of the story and design choices don’t make a lot of sense but as a morality play on film it works well and Pinocchio and Geppetto are both likable and the music is classic especially When You Wish Upon a Star.
24 Robin Hood– Great dry wit and folksy music save this recycled animation cash grab. It’s very entertaining and has some fun action sequences too. It goes on for one act too many and becomes a little repetitive. Great villain. I love it!
23. Lady and the Tramp– Lovely Norman Rockwell style animation with an appealing dog couple (may be Disney’s best romance ever filmed…hmm). Siamese song is a little insensitive but brief and then we never see them again which is strange. They could have been more important to the story? Great side characters of Trusty, Jox and Trixie. Fun jazz inspired score and songs by Peggy Lee. A little too predictable and syrupy to be in top 20 but close.
22 Atlantis- A fun treasure hunt with eclectic cast of characters who are funny and surprised me from time to time. I enjoyed seeing an original land, language, culture. Looks great. Kind of like a cross between anime and comic books with a bit of steampunk thrown in. In the minority on enjoying this picture, but I thought it was an entertaining adventure. Kida is a weak character but as she isn’t one of the core group it doesn’t matter too much. This is the first A of the list so the rest are all very strong.
21. Emperor’s New Groove- More laughs crammed in than any other Disney movie and they worked. Very funny script and appealing enough characters to support the humor. Great villain, good voice performances. Especially when you know the troubles they had making it, it’s a wonder it produced something so entertaining. Creative story too.
20. Aladdin- One of Disney’s best characters and certainly the funniest single character. The Genie (aka Robin Williams) is hilariously spastic and full of energy. Nice chemistry between Aladdin and Jasmine and she has more spunk than a typical princess. Jafar is an ok villain. Animation is ok. But nice messages throughout, great songs, and a very entertaining picture for both boys and girls (and parents!).
19. Great Mouse Detective- Fun Disney take on Sherlock Holmes. Ratigan is hilarious villain with a over-the-top scheme to take over England. Basil and Dawson are very well done. The kidnapping scene at the beginning is pretty scary for young kids and the bat in the toy shop is a scary sequence. The saloon song I could do without but all in all a very fun movie. First extended use of CGI is very effective.
18. Rescuers Down Under- One of the rare sequels that is infinitely better than the original. Much less of the villain. Much more hope for Cody. Bernard and Bianca are back and a lot o f fun. John Candy is hilarious. Flying sequences gorgeous. Some of the CGI doesn’t hold up but for the most part a great adventure story. Like Indiana Jones for little kids. Underrated score by Bruce Broughton.
17. Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad- Don’t really think of it as a package film but definitely the best of that era. 2 American stories Wind and the Willows and Sleepy Hollow are done very well. Both dark in different ways. Toad more of a morality tale and Ichabod a classic ghost story. Basil Rathborne and Bing Crosby great as narrators. Beautifully drawn with scares and humor balanced out perfectly.
16. Snow White and the 7 Dwarves– Still holds up amazingly well. Animation is beautiful especially in scenes like the transformation of the queen and the haunted forest. Some humor and emotional scenes too. Not a huge fan of the voice work and especially the high pitched singing. Great villain who isn’t satisfied unless she is the best at everything. 2 leads are pretty bland but ok.
15. Big Hero 6– Maybe recency bias but I loved Disney’s first Marvel super hero movie. It’s got heart, action and a script that surprised me. Plus, it looks gorgeous and has a unique world with very likable characters. I just loved it!
14. Mulan– Love the character of Mulan who joins the army to save her father. Li Shaang and rest of army appealing and fun. Eddie Murphy very good as Mushu. Completely forgettable villain given no nuance or subtlety. A few minutes after couldn’t remember his name. It also could be a hair shorter but I love it.
13. Lion King- A lot of pop music in both the songs and pacing. Draws you in. Very entertaining. Terrific villain and villain songs. Mufasa’s death is heart breaking. I love the message and story. The humor can be a little annoying but I still love it. Amazing Hans Zimmer score. Animation is stunning.
12. Dumbo- Such a sweet movie about accepting differences and how they make us special. A wonderful friendship between an unlikely pair of Timothy Q. Mouse and Dumbo. Pink Elephants on Parade is brilliant. Love the watercolors and simple backgrounds and feel of the circus. I don’t think the crows are all that racist and it’s just a lovely little movie with huge heart.
11. Alice in Wonderland- Not for everyone but if you can handle non0linear storytelling you will enjoy it. It’s basically Alice meeting a bunch of eclectic characters in Wonderland. It’s bright and colorful and clips along nicely. Only part that didn’t work for me was the Walrus segment. It stalls the story and I kept wanting to get back to Alice. So much better than Tim Burton versoin. Mary Blair drawings are stunning, bright and geometric. It’s nutty and weird and you will love it.
10.Sleeping Beauty- Gorgeous literary style animation. It feels like paper dolls in segments. One of most dynamic Prince in Disney. Amazing villain who should have been invited to the party! The fairies are fun. The alcoholic fathers I could do without and Aurora is too perfect and bland but the Tchaikovsky’s ballet as the score is neat, the battle between Phillip and Maleficent is awesome. A great movie!
9. The Jungle Book- All comes down to the music and villains. I hate the ending but Shere Kaun and Kaaa are very good villains. All the voice cast is fantastic and it is edited so well. Hardly a minute goes by without some action or a song. It clips a long so well and is consistently entertaining. Sherman Brother’s best music aside from Mary Poppins.
8. Frozen- A movie that showed a different kind of love- love of friendship and of sister. The voicecast features the best singers of any Disney movie. The songs are great. The message of not being who you are raised to be is moving and powerful. The animation is gorgeous. Just enough humor. I love it.
7. 101 Dalmatians- Best of the sketch films by far. Terrific and tense adventure. Fabulous villain with Cruella Deville. Lots of great characters and puppies are so cute. The scene where they get to the truck disguised is a nail biter. All the side characters on the journey and the twilight bark are a lot of fun. Roger and Anita are one of my all time favorite Disney couples. I love it6. Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh– 4 lovely stories of our friends at the Hundred Acre Woods that are just about perfect. Full of humor, great songs, and a little bit of zany scares with the Heffalumps and Woozles. The ending is perfect and really moved me. Winnie the Pooh symbolizes childhood and this movie is like a big hug.
5. Fantasia- A stunning concert experience. It’s like combining the best symphony and gallery you’ve ever been to into one experience. The music is gorgeous. The inspiration they get from the music inspires me to be more creative. It’s not a movie in a traditional sense but an experience like Tree of Life. I like all the segments but probably enjoy Sorcerers Apprentice, Nutcracker Suite and On Bald Mountain the most. If it feels long divide it up and watch it over a week. Nothing wrong with that. . Those who hate this film probably aren’t the biggest classical music fans and wouldn’t find going to a symphony or art gallery very enjoyable. I loved it.
4. Tangled- Proof that Disney brilliance isn’t only in the Golden Age and Renaissance. I LOVE the villain an villain song. The idea of a mother manipulating her daughter for her own selfish desires is so evil. The side characters including Maximus are great. Rapunzel is so kind and likable. We all know someone like her who is indecisive and naïve but charming. Flynn is a wonderful narrator and a complex, funny character. The animation is stunning especially the lantern scene in 3D. It’s Disney’s first attempt at a romantic comedy and they totally pulled it off.
3. Cinderella- Just about a perfect movie. Cinderella has warmth and kindness. She works hard and tries to be optimistic. Lady Tremaine is a fantastic villain who’s soul purpose seems to be to control Cinderella. The scene tearing the dress is devastating because we saw how tenderly it was given to her by her friends. The mice are cute and loyal friends. Small characters like Lucifer, Bruno, Archduke, and the King all have fun personalities. The Fairy Godmother is perfect and the music sublime. A Dream is a Wish is a favorite of mine and Bibbity Bobbity Boo a classic. The Prince is bland and they fall in love at first sight but at least we have gotten to know him a little bit through the King. It’s a great movie!
2. Little Mermaid– Truly my co-#1. I love Ariel’s journey to find out who she is and where she belongs. I love her curiosity and determination. I love Ursula and her drag queen crossed with a truck driver persona. I love the music especially Part of Your World and Under the Sea. I love the look of it and all the bubbles and colors. It’s so well paced and the characters, even the Prince, have real heart. They are all trying to do the right thing in their own minds. It is also very funny with Les Poissons a hilarious slapstick number. It was the most magical experience I had at the movies as a little girl and I just love it.
1. Beauty and the Beast– and co #1 goes to Beauty and the Beast. A perfect movie. The music is stunning. Belle is a fabulous heroine who we would all want to be friends with if given the chance. Gaston is hilarious and his journey to madness very interesting. The Beast is such a monster and yet he does change and grow until you are almost sad to see him turn into a human. I could listen to Angela Lansbury sing the title song all day. She is great in it. Jerry Orbach as Lumiere is perfect. I loved the broadway play and the movie is so entertaining. The animation looks amazing. The computer graphics hold up and still look fantastic. It’s a stunning picture that will entertain the whole family no matter the age or sex.
Here is a video version if you prefer that. If you are on youtube I would love a few likes.
There will be spoilers in this review so if by some miracle you haven’t seen the movie stop reading and watch it. (I personally don’t care about spoilers but to some that is a big deal)
Here we go! The big controversial post . It was so big, it seems you either love it or hate it, and I am on the loving it side! Let’s get cold and talk some FROZEN!
Make sure to look at my initial review after seeing it in 2013. At the time I thought all the songs ran together like a Sondheim musical without a standout cabaret like number. Boy was I wrong on that one!
But I also said in my review
“It is worth your money and will be an experience that will stick with them forever just like the princess movies stuck with me. Plus, these are strong, independent women who come to their own rescue without the need of Prince Charming. Love that.”
I still like that. I think in many ways Frozen is the new Little Mermaid. It’s about a girl who is told by her parents she has to live a certain way, a way that isn’t right for her. She learns through the movie to be herself and that her parents were wrong. The only difference is Ariel is never led to believe her ambitions will hurt anyone but herself. They do end up hurting other people, but Ariel is never fearful of that. From the get-go Elsa almost kills her sister and the fear that could happen again causes her to be paralyzed into not living her life. In a way she is brainwashed into believing she is wrong and bad. Ariel is rebelling but Elsa cannot rebel because people will die.
But the appeal in the characters of Ariel and Elsa is similar. Both feel uncomfortable in their own skin and both break free through the course of their movies. They both have freedom anthem songs and they both greatly appeal to young girls for that reason.
Before writing this post I asked my twitter and facebook friends why their daughters liked Frozen. Some of the responses:
“My 11 year old loves the new songs, the twist they put on Hans and when Elsa saved Anna by unfreezing her with the power of love”
“My son loves Sven. He is 3. Whenever he sees a moose or cow anywhere he will say ”There’s Sven”
“My oldest 5 says she likes the movie because the princesses are the good guys…she likes how they win”
So that gives you an idea of some of the appeal to youngsters.
Because I’ve seen this reaction from the kids in my life it has seriously bummed me out to see the negative backlash around Frozen. It makes me sad because I was allowed to love The Little Mermaid and nobody said I was stupid or it was awful. I had never even heard of anyone not liking Little Mermaid till a few years ago. It all goes back to my Content, Content, Content post. If you don’t care for it fine but do not make little girls feel badly because they do like it. Youtube is especially brutal. Every video of little girls singing Let It Go has so many hateful comments. Get a life people.
I’ve felt very defensive of the movie because of these girls and boys who love it. So, in the comment section if you hate it please try to keep the discourse to a respectful level as we have done so far on the blog. I will try to let you guys discuss and not get too involved.
On the blu-ray there is a cool featurette about the history of The Snow Queen at Disney. Evidently in 1940 there was a plan to make a package film of the works of Hans Christen Andersen but it was eventually scrapped.
Evidently pitches for The Snow Queen happened after The Little Mermaid in the 90s and again in 2002 by exec Harvey Fierstein when it was rejected by the studio.
When John Lasseter was made CCO after the purchase of Pixar by Disney he assigned Chris Buck of Tarzan fame to begin working on the Snow Queen. Buck decided:
“he wanted to do something different on the definition of love”
Josh Gad was evidently involved early on when it was closer to the original story but in 2010 the concept was rejected again.
After the success of Tangled, they picked up the project again and in December 2011 Disney announced Frozen and gave themselves under 2 years to complete. Quite the ambitious project but I guess with so much groundwork being done on story and ideas that helped.
Immediately song writers for Avenue Q, Kristen Anderson- Lopez and Robert Lopez, were brought on board and the idea of the ‘frozen heart’ was developed with the songs.
They had a challenge of creating a fairytale movie without a traditional villain. Pixar’s Brave tried to do this but much less successfully. We had to always keep our heart open to Elsa. Buck said of writing “That was a concept and the phrase…an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart”
Jennifer Lee from Wreck-it Ralph was brought in as co-director and she said “Anna was going to save Elsa. We didn’t know how or why?” Lee then went on to rewrite the script again and with only 17 months left till it’s release. (Pretty amazing what they pulled off).
I guess in the original script Elsa was in fact more ‘evil from the start’ and didn’t want Anna to get back to Hans. Anna was also more brooding and resentful about her spot as the second daughter.
Then the Lopez’s wrote Let it Go and the song was so powerful they rewrote the script again with Elsa as a more nuanced character.
“Forget villain. Just what it would feel like. And this concept of letting out who she is[,] that she’s kept to herself for so long[,] and she’s alone and free, but then the sadness of the fact that the last moment is she’s alone..”
Then they decided to switch things up again and make Hans duplicitous and a sociopath type character. This had certainly never been done with Disney. Every character had been pretty obviously bad from the start even if the characters don’t see it such as Clayton in Tarzan or Radcliffe in Pocahontas.
2012 they got the voice talent on board and went with Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, and Broadway superstar Idina Menzel. In my opinion Frozen has the best singers in a Disney musical bar none.
That’s only a handful of the details out there. They did amazing things with the set designs, backdrops, story etc. I personally find them all fascinating but most importantly there is a definite sense of teamwork with Frozen because it was created under such time constraints all facets were working together at the same time. Beauty and the Beast was very similar.
And all that teamwork produced something very special. Something a lot of people responded to in a way a movie hadn’t done in a long time. With on demand and high def the days of people going to movies 12+ times were kind of passed us but Frozen had that kind of success and it made over a billion dollars. It stayed in the top 10 until March which was the same time it was released on DVD!
I thought it would be fun to do something different for the story portion. I wanted to tell you about the story but also explain why it was different and why people responded to it. (I’ve been thinking about this review the whole time writing the blog). I was at Costco and found this ‘Busy Book’ and I think it does a good job explaining each of the character’s appeal, story and why they are different.
First we have Elsa
That sums up Elsa pretty well. Worried she will do harm she hides her powers and then runs away causing the freeze.
Then there is Anna
Anna really is all of the adjectives loving, energetic, fearless optimist. She is a really complex character who is stupid yet brave and combined with Elsa they are a great team. She also has great romantic comedy banter with Hans at the beginning and Kristoff as they search for Elsa.
Olaf is our fun snowman who I think is in the movie just the right amount to remain funny.
Olaf is big-hearted and willing to sacrifice himself for his friends. A terrific character.
Anna meets Kristoff and he is not a fan of hers at first. They have a lovely romantic banter. He is a simple guy and wants to sell his ice in peace.
Kristoff is the pleasant side of Elsa. Kind of the character that is allowed to be who he is and isn’t stymied by his parents (or trolls!). He prefers to be alone but also has a ‘very kind heart’. I love Kristoff. He will tell you what he thinks even if you don’t want to hear it. Love that.
Then we have Kristoff’s friend Sven who I am so glad they did not make him a talking reindeer.
Sven could have been a throw-away character but they give him a lot of humor and heart.
Finally we have our villain who again doesn’t start as a villain, Hans
THE SONGS and more Story
Let’s talk for a second about the songs, which I LOVE!
We start out with a very strong introductory song called Heart and it introduces us to the theme of ice and a frozen heart. The choral work is beautiful. Reminds me a lot of The Lion King intro or Hunchback of Notre Dame choral work.
We then get our introduction to Anna and Elsa. This involves Elsa hurts Anna with her magic winter powers. The trolls tell the family that they must shut magic out and hide it for everyone’s safety and until she can control it.
This is a bit of a plothole because why not explain to the family that love is the antidote? Surely she could work on that instead of being just shut in? But I put that along with Gothel telling Rapunzel her actual birthday or the Beast being 11 when the spell was cast. Somethings have to be in order for the plot to start, so not a major stumbling block for me.
Anyway, Elsa shuts Anna out because her parents tell her to. We then get a great song of storytelling and character development with Do You Want to Build a Snowman. The girls parents die and all along Elsa follows orders and keeps away from her sister to keep Anna safe.
The day for Elsa’s coronation comes and Anna is excited to finally be opening the doors. Elsa is naturally nervous. So we get a song called For the First Time. Kristen Bell is wonderful in this song.
The ball comes and Anna meets Hans and falls in love with him and they sing a very funny song- very well sung by Kristen Bell and Santino Fontana. It pokes fun at the instant love tropes used in many previous Disney movies.
Anna and Hans ask Elsa for her blessing and she refuses causing them to fight and her powers are revealed. Elsa runs away and Anna goes after her.
Elsa realizes now everyone knows she might as well Let it Go! I don’t know if any of you have ever had a secret and then it is finally out but I have and it feels great. It’s out there and you can be you!
Anna meets Kristoff and Sven and together they meet Olaf Elsa’s snowman creation. He is a wonderful character and in the movie just enough to not get annoying. His song is well done by Josh Gad. Turns out he dreams of summer.
Anna and Elsa meet but Anna is unable to convince her to come back and Elsa doesn’t want to because she can’t face all the people and doesn’t know how to bring back summer. In an accident she strikes Anna in the heart and tells her to leave. This is all very exciting!
In probably the weakest section Kristoff takes Anna to meet his parents (although Olaf is very funny in these scenes). Turns out he was raised by the trolls from the beginning of the picture and they want Anna to fall in love with their fixer upper.
It’s not the best song but I don’t hate it and it is well sung by Broadway veteran Maia Wilson. I can certainly think of comic relief songs that are far worse.
The trolls tell Anna she must have an act of true love to reverse the spell. They all assume it must be a kiss and head back to find Hans. Unfortunately he is a true villain and has captured Elsa and refuses to kiss Anna, in an attempt to claim her throne.
I don’t think Disney has ever had a villain who has been so duplicitous. It is very effective and genuinely surprised me. I thought Hans was going to be a match for Elsa but no.
Finally we get our ending where Anna is frozen and Elsa devastated but it turns out her love for Anna is the act needed to break the magic.
To me the ending was just about perfect.
Some claim this is ‘false feminism’ but I disagree. The point of Frozen was not to make a feminist picture. It was to show a different type of love. Whether it’s the love of friendship Olaf shows, the loyalty Kristoff shows or the sisterly love between Elsa and Anna the film does an excellent example of showing the power of each kind of love. It’s not trying to be a female empowerment film. It could have as easily been about two brothers loving each other.
The fact that some people cheered it for not having a Prince Charming moment does not mean that was the main point of the ending. The filmmakers are not responsible for every person’s response. They were trying to make a movie about different types of love. Whether that is especially feminist or not is up for debate. I thought it was refreshing and moving. Most of the love in my life has been through friendship and I have always been very close to my 3 sisters so I related to the emotion very well.
I watched Frozen every day this week, so 4 times before writing this review. I have a high tolerance for repetition. If I like it, I like it on the 100th airing as much as on the 1st. Seriously it does not damper from over-exposure like it does for others. I don’t know why but that’s just the way I am. So for me, the popularity of Frozen has no effect in dampening my enthusiasm.
I love it’s story of a girl who is told she can’t be who she is, that she is dangerous, and then her eyes become open and she becomes empowered. It is the Little Mermaid for girls of today and I love seeing that. I love young girls have an anthem in Let it Go like I had Part of Your World. That’s a great thing.
I think the story is a lot of fun. I love the ending. I totally buy them focusing on a new type of love that we haven’t seen in a Disney movie. Whether it is feminist or not I don’t really care. It’s the love of sisters and I certainly relate to that. I love the surprise in the villain, which I think is very difficult to do in a fairy tale. Movies like Treasure Planet look beautiful but fail to surprise me. Frozen did just that.
I think the comic relief is in just enough and there is real heart to it as opposed to say Trashing the Camp segments of Tarzan which are much more grating than In Summer or Fixer Upper. All the singing is the best in any Disney film. It really elevates even so-so numbers.
I loved the world they created. Elsa’s castle is gorgeous. The costumes and character designs look great. Even Elsa’s hair is cool. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf aren’t stock characters but have nuances we haven’t seen in a Disney film. Kristoff is kind of a loner and glad to be so which is refreshing. Anna is very interesting and complex. She is naive, silly, impetuous, free spirit but in a realistic, sweet way. She is allowed to make mistakes in the script and can even be sarcastic.
Elsa is this brainwashed girl who grows throughout the film. She is a villain for a bit but you always like her so she’s not the villain. It is very well written. Most Disney movies have one heroine and I liked there are 2 and together Anna and Elsa balance themselves out well.
Like I said, I know there is tons of backlash but this is my blog and my opinion and I love Frozen. I think it is a terrific movie with great characters, songs, story and animation. I am sure there will be tons of people who feel differently and please share but remember to be respectful and keep the language clean. I worked really hard on this post so please actually read my thoughts before responding.