Disney Over/Under

I haven’t done a straight Disney post for a while and I thought it might be fun to go through the decades of Disney and pick one movie I think is overrated, and one underrated. The overrated movies are not bad movies (except for 1).  I like all Disney movies to one level or another and there are only 4 that I have no desire to ever see again. (Any guesses?)

 

1937-1942  Early Era

Overrated- Pinocchio

pinocchio nose

I don’t think any from this era are overrated.  They are all great.  That said, I like Pinocchio.  It is brilliant, a masterpiece, but it is so dark and scary that it is not one I want to rewatch much.  I would give it an A where most people give it an A+ so only a small difference (I had a B in my original review but I’ve thought on it and would give an A now).  It’s a morality tale and sometimes that can be a little heavy handed and the Pleasure Island sequence is especially chilling particularly the kids turning into donkeys for the salt mines (holy crap that’s scary!). However,  I LOVE the music, animation, and heart! I appreciate a lot more now as an adult than I did as a child but unlike Hunchback which goes too far IMO this is still watchable scary for kids. Just not a favorite of mine even though I recognize its many great qualities.

Underrated- Dumbo

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Dumbo I think unfairly has a reputation as being racist and so people stay away.  The crows are a caricature but I never found them demeaning or insulting. Perhaps I am not culturally sensitive to that group but they are happy and cheerful, nothing childish or patronizing.  Even if you fast forward the crows (a small scene) the rest of the movie has such heart and teaches about accepting others with differences- just the message some fear the crows are against.

I love the relationship between Timothy Mouse and Dumbo and Mrs Jumbo and her son. The artistry is also simple but beautiful.

 

1942-1949  Package Era

Overrated- Fun and Fancy Free

bongo finds love2

None of the package movies are really rated very highly but I got a lot of pushback on my Fun and Fancy Free review because people have nostalgia for Mickey and the Beanstalk.  I wonder how many have really seen it recently? It is pleasant and Crazy Donald is cool but it is also predictable and kind of slow.  But it is harmless enough.  What I really didn’t care for was Bongo- the story of a circus bear who learns how to slap people to show them how much they love them.  What a great message for kids!

I am also not a big fan of the interruptions from Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen at a little girls birthday party.  I know they are legends but it didn’t make me laugh and felt a little awkward.

Underrated- Melody Time

I find Melody Time to be one of the more palatable of the package films because although it has 7 shorts it focuses mainly on 2 longer segments- Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill.  Appleseed I love but may be less agreeable to non-Christian viewers.  It looks like it was picked up off a Grandma Moses painting and the story is sweet and music lovely. Pecos Bill is also beautiful to look at and a very funny Western tall tale.

johnny appleseed

1950-1959 Post War Era

Overrated- Peter Pan

peter-pan-1953-peter-pan-and-captain-hook

I like Peter Pan but unlike Dumbo I think people have a right to complain about the Redman song.  It is pretty bad and long. Plus, everyone is so mean to Wendy and she doesn’t really do anything worthy of the ill treatment. It also resorts to slapstick a lot.  Most of it I think is funny but it gets a little old after a while.  Still, the artistry is lovely and music great.  It’s a solid, entertaining movie, just not a favorite of mine.

Underrated- Alice in Wonderland

Alice-march-hare-mad-hatter

Alice in Wonderland isn’t for every taste so I think that is why it gets a bad rap. If you can just take off your normal linear storytelling hat and appreciate something different you will be dazzled.  It is supposed to be nonsense, not have a plot.  The movie is Alice being introduced to a variety of unusual creatures and I think it is brilliant.  The artistry is so much fun with the great Mary Blair’s visual style and the music is wonderful too.  Even after seeing it many times I find myself curious for what Alice will find next on her journey.  It’s great!

1960-1979 Sketch Era

Overrated- Sword in the Stone

light and swordThis is another film I think a lot of people have a fondness for out of nostalgia more than it actually being a good movie.  I was honestly being generous when I gave it a C-.  I hated the way it looks.  Everything looks like it has been painted over with blue and gray and feels dirty.  But most importantly none of the lessons Arthur goes through teach him anything about being a King or make him qualified to take the sword out of the stone.  Let’s see- he learns to be saved as a fish by Archimedes, make a squirrel cry as a squirrel and have Merlin battle Madam Mim as a bird.  How does any of that relate to being a King?  The songs are fun I will grant it that.

Underrated- Robin Hood

robin and little johnThe movie even Disney is embarrassed by because of the recycled animation.  I’ve thought about it a lot and decided I don’t care about that.  It’s just a technique like CG, hand drawn, stop motion, and if the story is good than the technique doesn’t matter to me.  Not that Robin Hood is a perfect film.  I think it is one act too long and gets a little too melancholy in the 3rd act. But I love the dry English wit and pithy dialogue. It’s funny with a great villain and solid music.

 

1980-1988 Pre-Renaissance

Overrated- Fox and the Hound

foxandthehound2mc-08Fox and the Hound is a fine movie but I’ve seen it pretty high on some lists and it is far too corny for me to take seriously.  I mean there is an extended poem with violins playing in the background. If that’s not corny I don’t know what is? And the characters are kind of one note although the message about friendships changing is a good one.  I hate the female characters who are just man (or dog/fox) candy.  I am not a fan of the dopey music and the bear scene while striking feels like it belongs in a different movie.

Underrated- Great Mouse Detective

basil and dawson

Those of us who are in the animation fandom may think I’m nuts for saying Great Mouse Detective is underrated but I think if you asked the world at large many are unaware of The Great Mouse Detective.  It’s not a perfect movie and is pretty scary for little tikes but the energy of Basil and Dawson and the great performance by Vincent Price as Ratigan make it thoroughly entertaining.  The scheme is over-the-top like a Bond villain and the animation is lush including the terrific use of computer animation in the clocktower segment.  The only part I dislike is the stripper song at the bar which I fast forward.

1989-1999  Renaissance

Overrated- Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_gargoyles

Hunchback of Notre Dame is kind of the opposite of Great Mouse Detective.  The hardcore Disney fandom loves it, where most normal moviegoers I know greatly dislike it. We’ve hashed this out a million times on this blog but my main issues are the tonal shifts it takes between obvious appeals to children to adult-appropriate cruelty and messaging. The movie is visually striking but I found myself either disliking or feeling ambivalent towards every character. The change of Frollo to a judge from the Archbishop actually makes the church look worse by being inattentive and enabling a madman. The music is wonderful and it is some of Disney’s best animation but I just can’t get over that tonal see-saw and the cruel imagery for a film marketed and made for children.  They should have just gone all adult and I would have gone for it.

Underrated- Rescuers Down Under

RescuersduposterThis movie hits a couple happy buttons for me.  I love action adventure movies with treasure hunts and clues. To me RDU tapped into that formula and was so much fun.  I also love scenes in movies where characters fly and this has stunning flying sequences with Marahute. I also had extremely low expectations because I hate the first one.  RDU tempers the meanness of the first by only having McCleach in the movie for about 12 minutes and Cody is rarely alone. There is way more hope throughout and John Candy is hilarious as Wilbur the albatross who is operated on by crazy mice doctors (still one of the funniest scenes in all of Disney!).

2000-2009 Post Renaissance

Overrated- Brother Bear

brother_bear_09-1Finding an overrated movie in this period is hard and Brother Bear has a bad rotten tomatoes score and is at the bottom section of most people’s list so how can it apply? Well, I guess this is degrees.  I thought it was total junk.  I disagreed with literally every decision they made.  Most people give it a ‘stupid but harmless’ pass but I hated everything about it- the voice acting, predictable story, terrible character designs, awful background songs, strange singer choices, unlikable characters, annoying side characters, humor that doesn’t work (most jokes aren’t even jokes, no punchlines given…), ending is unbelievable and it had potential which made their terrible choices even more maddening. I would way rather watch Brave than this and I am not a big Brave fan but in the world of Disney turning into bears movies this is by far the worst.  It was nominated for an Oscar I remind you!

Underrated- Meet the Robinsons

meet-the-robinsons-original-2Meet the Robinsons is not a perfect movie by a long shot but I think many were so upset by Chicken Little they didn’t give this a fair shot.  It’s a lot of fun and very clever.   It is too cluttered but it is also kind of a puzzle I had fun putting together.  The Bowler Hat villain is creepily drawn and you will never guess his surprise!  The characters are engaging and fun and the story has a lot of energy, zipping around all over the place. And I almost always like a time travel story so this just worked even with its flaws.  Give it another shot and I bet you will find some things to like.

 

2010-Present Revitalization Era

Overrated- Wreck It Ralph

Wreckitralphdisney.pngSorry guys. I like Wreck-it Ralph but it is an average Disney for me not a top tier film.  I love the setup.  I love Ralph but I do not like Vanellope or Sarah Silverman’s vocal performance.  The villain is very clever but they spend way too much time in Sugar Rush and I’ve seen lots of worlds that look like Sugar Rush. After a while it kind of looked like one of the new Care Bears movie backdrops.  I love the music, and what they were going for but it loses me. It should have been more like The Lego Movie or Monsters Inc in the door scene and skipped between lots of the games.  That would have been much more entertaining to me.  Again, not terrible.  I like it.  I own it.  I just don’t think it is the masterpiece others think. Plus, the other movies in the era are in my top 10 except for Winnie the Pooh which I love and Princess and the Frog which I feel is perfectly rated.

Underrated- Winnie the Pooh

winnie pooh 2011 meetingI don’t know if I think any of the films from this era is underrated but like Great Mouse Detective I think 2011’s Winnie the Pooh has been largely forgotten by the general public despite getting good reviews and praise of many hard-core fans.  This is a movie that takes its target demographic of little children under 3 seriously and is gentle and sweet and I loved it.  Aside from a few of the voice actors and Christopher’s eyes it is lovely story of the gang trying to find Eeyore’s tail and prepare for the coming of the Backson.  I love the music and the animation is wonderful. I love that this movie was made for little children with no attempts to wink at adults and even the short running time is perfect for the attention span of toddlers.

And please save your conspiracy theories. This was not a carefully constructed film to justify the closing of the 2D department. That is so asinine.  If Disney can make money on 2D guess what they want to make money.  That’s what a business wants to do…It’s not as good as the original but a worthy sequel in spirit and feel- an lovely homage you might say.

 

So there you have it.  I’m sure you will have lots to say.  Remember I like all of these movies except Brother Bear. I love Disney movies! Share with me what your over/under would be for the eras I mentioned?  Always be respectful and we can have a spirited debate.  Thanks!

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Best Disney Villain Songs

Disney-Villains-ReelGood1

I already did Best Villains  so in honor of Halloween it seemed appropriate to talk about some villain music.  Particularly my favorite villain songs.  Actually there aren’t as many as you’d think.  Classic villains like Lady Tremaine and Maleficent don’t have a villain songs.

Special Notice- Hellfire-  I could not put this on my list but I know everyone will ask about it.  I just can’t support a song that is openly supporting the rape and murder of a woman.  I’ve talked about it so much on the blog.  It crosses a line I am not comfortable with.  That said, it is very well sung and the animation is haunting, so for that reason I am honoring it as separate from my list.

So that said- my list.

10. Trust in Me- One of the first villain songs in any Disney film and it is close to an Adam and Eve type villain as Disney gives us.  Like the serpent in the Biblical story, Kaaa oils and slithers his way around the jungle, hypnotizing his victims with his beguiling song.  It is made all the more creepy by the fact it is Sterling Holloway, the voice of Winnie the Pooh claiming to be Mowgli’s best of friends.

9. Gaston- Perhaps the funniest villain song.  It’s a big pep talk for our town hero.  The fact that we know he wants to make our heroine unhappy at whatever cost gives it an eery undertone.

8. Heffalumps and Woozles- One of the spookiest moments of Disney.  We’ve got a true nightmare with all the minor chords and inflections of a haunted house song.  There is also always something creepy about toys like jack in the boxes.  Plus, they want to steal Pooh’s honey!   This song is especially effective when you think it is aimed at toddlers. It’s in every shape and size, size, SIZE!

7. Prince Ali Reprise- While a reprise and not a complete song it is very effective.  A joyous number from earlier in the film is now used to control and manipulate.  At this point in the story Jafar has total control of the Genie and everything else.  It all looks very bad for our heroes.

6. Mob Song- An extremely chilling song because it’s an entire town taking on our heroes that are basically household items.  How is this going to work?  As the music escalates the tension gets tighter and stronger until we feel real panic, like a mob would feel.  The animation is striking and captures the darkness and increasing madness of Gaston and the crowd.

5. Savages- Perhaps the most thoughtful Disney villain song and it is the redemption of Pocahontas which made my bottom 10 Disney movies.  It is a cliche ridden historical travesty but in this song they reach some emotional truth.  Some criticize it for the way it stereotypes people but that’s the whole point of the song.  Both sides have rationalized why the other is the villain and needs to be done away with.  It’s very profound and beautifully drawn and sung.

4. World’s Greatest Criminal Mind- Brought in a series of villain songs in movies that would go nearly uninterrupted for the next decade of Disney movies.  Ratigan is a hilarious villain with Vincent Price as one of the best voices ever. The fact he kills a mouse for calling him a rat when his name is Ratigan is so funny.  Kind of like Gaston it is a funny villain song but very effective.  Ratigan is the closest Disney has ever gotten to an over-the-top Bond villain and I love it!

3. Mother Knows Best- As far as straight singing this is probably my favorite Disney villain song and one of my favorite songs.  Donna Murphey is amazing as Mother Gothel.  It is Sondheim level quality.  It takes the nurturing of motherhood and uses it to control and manipulate a child.  Is there anything colder than that?  It’s so effective.  I just love it!

2. Poor Unfortunate Souls- One of the most brilliant voice casting in Disney history.  Pat Carroll gives Ursula a mix of a truck driver and a drag queen.  She is on full saleswoman mode and uses every sweet and conniving method she can muster to tempt Ariel into her web. She would have said she’d cured cancer if it would have gotten her the ending she wants.  That’s my kind of villain.  The animation is brilliant and funny and I love that ursula is the only octopus we see aside from a brief glimpse of one in Under the Sea.  There is nobody who looks like her.  She is blackness, overweight, with red lipstick.  Got to like that!

1. Be Prepared-  In a movie where almost nobody did their own singing (even Broadway star Matthew Broderick didn’t),  it is especially compelling Jeremy Irons sang Be Prepared.  It is as close as Disney gets to a Hitler villain.  He even has Nazi hyenas.  He oils and defines his plan dripping with disdain for everyone including his brother.  He is a sociopath who has no guilt throughout the movie for any of his choices.  All he cares about is himself to the detriment of the entire kingdom.

Consider the Audience

As I’ve been watching all these Disney movies a thought has struck me which I want to present to all of you.  When is a movie just not made for me? What responsibility does a movie have to please a general audience verses a niche group?

On first glance it seems like there are movies that entertain every demographic.  Pixar films are often brought up.  However, even their movies have typically pleased some audiences more than others.  For instance, Toy Story 3 was universally praised by critics and most audiences, but my nieces found the ending with the incinerator to be too upsetting. They didn’t like it at all.

Toy_Story_3_incinerator_scene_screenshotSo should they have taken the incinerator scene out because it upset my nieces?  Well, that depends who they are  making a movie for? As my nieces were a secondary audience, not the primary the scene stays and is actually a very profound, tense and exciting moment for most viewers.

This invites lots of interesting questions.  In fact, my thoughts are very scattered on the topic and I’m struggling to focus them in a coherent way.

Here’s some points to consider:

Small audiences need and deserve stories for them.

barbie movies

Let’s face it.  We live in a world where movies are the predominant storytelling device of our age.  More so than books and I still think more so than TV, especially for children.  So imagine how difficult is to be say 3 or 4 and hear about all the exciting movies your brothers and sisters get to see.  Things like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings that are not appropriate for your age group.   Even most Disney movies are not made for the smallest kids.

Tinker-Bell-Movie-Three-Pack

That’s what makes it nice when movies are made for these toddler to preschool age audience.  For example, the Barbie movies, Tinker Bell movies are made for girls 3-7 and for that demographic they are made very well.  I haven’t seen all of them but the one’s I have were engaging and very well done.  Now a 50 year old movie critic could tear them apart but they aren’t made for him, so who cares?  (I’d give boy examples but I only have nieces so don’t know any). I think it is great girls have their own franchises and films to get excited about and learn from.  That’s great!

An even more narrow audience for movies is the toddler age.  Part of this is because 1-3 aged children can’t sit for the length of a movie.  This is one reason I loved the 2011 Winnie the Pooh movie.  I don’t want to give away my review but it is a rare Hollywood movie made for very small children.  First of all, it is extremely short.  It has simple ideas and plot but lovingly told.  Even the other Winnie the Pooh movies I have seen are too scary and usually too long for toddlers. It uses repetition and is friendly and happy, which toddlers love.  The music is hummable and sweet.

I can’t even think of other movies for toddlers, which are even made, and even fewer that are made well (Curious George movie was a good one that gets a lot of flack from those outside its intended audience).  Most entertainment for toddlers is television (and I don’t think toddlers should spend much time in front of the TV if any but most parents need a moment or two for a break.  Let’s be honest!).   Should these shows worry about being entertaining to teenage boys or 2o year old college students?  No.  That’s not their audience!

toddlersAnother example of a narrow audience is religious films . With the affordability of digital film-making, movies can be made for a smaller audience and still be profitable.  This gives us movies like the evangelical films of Kirk Cameron or the Mormon films made for my faith.

mormonShould someone making a Mormon film worry about pleasing an Evangelical or an Atheist?  No, that isn’t their audience.  Any movie who tried to make all religious groups happy would have a tall order.  It could be done with good writing but there is something nice about having a movie made, telling a story just from my religious perspective.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

Now is an audience an excuse to making a bad film? No. If anything you should put more effort into telling a story for your smaller audience.  It should be even better than the average Hollywood schlock because you have a more narrow window of people to appeal too.  That’s why I hate when people say ‘it’s for kids’ as if that somehow means it is stupid.  The best kids movies inspire their creativity and imagination.  The best Mormon films make me want to be a better person (and I’ll be honest I’m not the biggest fan of most of them).

It angers me when I can tell filmmakers of any genre are being lazy.  Your audience, no matter how narrow, deserve a good effort.  (For the record, I feel the same way about Michael Bay movies.  His audiences deserve more of an effort to make a good film).   I should be able to walk away from a movie and say ‘well, that didn’t work for me but I can see who they were trying to reach and how some could enjoy it’.

Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_gargoyles

Another problem we can have is when a movie doesn’t understand its audience.

Hunchback of Notre Dame is a perfect example.  Even its defenders usually admit it is a mature film not for small children.  But the studio still wanted it to be for small children and their families so they threw in kidlike violence and humor which ruined the movie.  It’s way too dark for these kids and the immature moments are off-putting for adults.  It makes it a tonal mess and a frustrating experience.  If they had just said ‘you know what . This movie is for adults’ like Pans Labyrinth or even the later Harry Potter films it would have been a favorite of mine.  As it is I just can’t endorse it.   Trying to appeal to the wrong audience, or too many audiences, ruined the film.

We can also have films who have a main and secondary audience.  This is what Pixar does well.  Children are the primary audience with parents being the secondary.  This makes sense since both are usually at the theater watching (a lot of the age specific films I listed above are direct to DVD which is probably the best way to appeal to some audiences). What I personally hate is when the secondary audience sullies the primary, or takes over the tone and feel of the film.  This was my issue with the Shrek movies . Instead of a few jokes, the innuendo is so strong the films feel vulgar to me.  I honestly hate them.

So, the priority is making a good movie but in order for that to happen filmmakers must ask themselves ‘who is my audience?’  and we as filmgoers need to be willing to say ‘this just isn’t made for me’.  It’s not bad for a film to be made for toddlers or any other demographic.  That is very good because they can participate with us in this great storytelling device of the movies.

All audiences deserve quality and to have movies made for them to enjoy.

Movie 42: Lilo and Stitch

lilo and stitch posterThere probably is not a movie I am more personally divided on in the Disney Canon than Lilo and Stitch.  About half I LOVE and the other half not as much… I guess you could say I love the Lilo but not as crazy about the Stitch.

The Production-

As much as I enjoy the big epic Disney movies like Frozen I also love the smaller, more intimate pictures like Lilo and Stitch.

In fact, after 3 or 4 commercial disappointments they decided to embrace the Dumbo strategy.  Back in the late 1930s Disney had 2 financial ambitious failures in Fantasia and Pinocchio.   Bambi was also full of delays and expenses.  Walt decided to pull a few animators and make a simple, easy to draw but likable film and they came up with Dumbo.

Dumbo had watercolor backgrounds instead of the layers like Bambi and the characters were relatively simple and appealing.  The strategy worked and Dumbo was a big hit.

Lilo and Stitch followed this strategy all the way down to the stunning watercolor backgrounds.

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Looking for an easy to execute idea Disney turned inward and animator Chris Sanders pitched a book he had drawn in the 80s about a girl who adopts the world’s meanest alien.

storybook

The animators liked the idea and decided on Kaua’i Hawaii as the setting because of the spirit of family, its visibility from space, culture, music  and it had never been done before in an animated film.

They do a great job not just showing the lush paradise of Hawaii but also the poverty and harder sides.  It feels like a place people actually live.

small town hawaii
I love this small town Hawaii feel. It nails how it actually looks

The adult actors are all lesser known (more cost cutting) except for Ving Rhames as Cobra Bubbles.  Many of the cast like Tia Carrere and Jason Scott Lee who play Nani and David are Hawaiian.

Another cost cutting measure was using traditional Hawaiian songs and Elvis numbers which made the soundtrack easy to put together and had minimal recording.  I guess because I love Hawaiian music and Elvis I LOVE the soundtrack!

There’s a personal reason I respond to the Hawaiian setting and culture in the film.  In 2007 I was starting to come out of a very dark period.  There was a time when I felt I had lost the ability to feel happiness.  Then I made big changes in my life in early 2007 but hadn’t made the tough decision to quit my job.

That summer my girlfriends and I went to Hawaii and had the most amazing trip.  It was an awakening for me.  I realized I could be happy.  That life was beautiful and lush. I called my Dad the night before we were leaving and cried my eyes out.  The idea of leaving such happiness made me so sad.  I realized I needed to quit my job and create a happy life for myself.

rachel in hawaii

I guess you could say the ohana spirit moved me and made me a better person.

I’ve been back three times since then and each time I leave feeling renewed and happy.  Watching Lilo and Stitch with its  music, surfing,  watercolor mountains, hula and everything else brings back those memories which are always close to my heart (I need to get back!)

The intro really captures the ohana magic

It was also the first Disney classic to be nominated for Best Animated Film at the Oscars but lost out to Spirited Away (who wouldn’t lose to that masterpiece?)

The Story-

So let’s continue on this vein by talking about the things in the story that best show the Hawaii I love.  Lilo and Stitch is about 2 sisters, Lilo and Nani who’s parents have passed on and are forced to try and make their ‘broken family’ work.

These scenes between the two sisters are perfect.  I wouldn’t change them one bit.

Here they are arguing like all sisters do, but I so relate to Nani because I was the older sister carrying for a sister and a brother who were 16 and 18 years younger than me.  I get how she was feeling

And then this scene is perfect too.  This felt like a real sisterly moment.

The prayer at the end of it just breaks my heart and is one of the few prayers in Disney films.  Again wouldn’t change a thing.

praying

I love that Lilo is a weird little girl.  She has a strange doll and doesn’t get along with the other little girls.  She tries to feed sandwiches to fish and is just a strange kid- like all kids!  (especially a kid who has experienced recent trauma).

strange dollI also love this is a Disney movie about a little girl.  That is actually pretty rare.  Most Disney movies are about adolescent girls like Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas etc.  I love that little girls have a little girl in a Disney film they can relate too and feel a little less alone in their strangeness.

Unfortunately there are problems for Nani and a social worker is concerned about her problems keeping a job and the stress of carrying for Lilo.  He’s not a bad guy- just doing his job, but the threat of the ‘ohana’ being taken away is palatable throughout the movie.  Not so much it is depressing but a real fear propelling the story forward.

bubblesNow we get to the part I don’t like…

Nani decides to let Lilo adopt a dog.  At the shelter the find a weird creature who Lilo names Stitch:

stitch2We have seen earilier in the film that Stitch is an alien genetic mutation created by a mad scientist alien for world domination.

aliensI’m sorry but I just don’t like the look of any of the aliens.  Stitch looks like a cockroach, which I guess is appropriate for Hawaii but it was so unpleasant to look at (I hate cockroaches btw!).  And he is so awful.  Everything else in the movie is so sweet and tender having this maniac alien thrown in hurt the tone and I couldn’t wait for him to get off the screen.

stitchThe other aliens are all modeled off of sea creatures and they don’t look much better and are kind of boring.  I kept wanting it to be done with the alien story and get back to the sisters.  This movie should have been simple like The Fox and the Hound but it decided to pay homage to ET.  The problem is ET was kind of cute and aside from frogs and resees pieces he didn’t really hurt anything.  Plus, Elliott’s family is not in crisis like Lilo’s so it feels like too much for Stitch to destroy their house (literally), make Nani loose multiple jobs and more.

I don’t know how you have enough story without the Stitch but maybe just tone him down a little bit or make him a little bit cuter.  Make him something good to the family not another struggle. Hmmm

I did like Lilo teaching Stitch how to dance like Elvis and hula.

hulaThe ending drags a bit and it could have been 10 minutes shorter (or follow the example of Dumbo and make it 62 minutes!).  I don’t want to give everything away but there is some fun action and the spaceships are pretty cool.

We do get a nice moment where even Stitch learns he has found his ‘little and broken family’ (that gets me every time!).

And we get a little Elvis which is tons of fun.

Movie Review/Conclusion

So like I said I have mixed feelings about Lilo and Stitch.  I wish I could excise all the Stitch stuff out and just make it about the sisters.  I loved their relationship.  I loved the Hawaiian culture.  I loved the watercolor look. I loved the music both Hawaiian and Elvis.   I love the focus on families and ohana, and I love that Lilo is a little girl not an adolescent who behaves like a little girl.

I still think Stitch is one of the ugliest animated creatures ever created and the scenes with all the aliens drag.  I found myself itching to get back to the sisters.  It was so much more compelling.  Unfortunately this is a large part of the movie so it is a problem.

It makes giving a grade very difficult .

I guess I’m going to treat it like Bambi.  When Bambi works it works so well but when it doesn’t I’m not invested.  I gave Bambi a B- so

Overall Grade- B-

54 Disney Films- The How and Where Behind the Project

A few people have asked me some questions about my project and I thought I would take a second to answer them.

WHERE DID I GET 54 MOVIES TO WATCH?

Disney is divided into segments.  There are segments for Pixar, Studio Ghibli, Tim Burton animation (Frankenweenie, Nightmare Before Christmas), stop motion animation (Christmas Carol and Mars Meets Mom), and then there is the Disney Toons Dept.  This last segment makes films many times associated with their television franchises such as The Ducktales Movie, or the Tinker Bell movies.

When we say something is ‘Disney cannon’ what we mean is it is from the Walt Disney Animation Studio and is deemed by them as an ‘animated classic’.  That can be confusing because we hear classic we think old but it is actually just movies produced by Walt Disney Studios that they put on the list of animated classics.  Why for instance are 2 of the Winnie the Pooh movies included but others like The Tigger Movie are not? I don’t know?  I guess it just comes to where the movie is made in the company and the resources which go into it.

My friend over at The Lawn Gnome explains it better than I could.

HOW DO I WATCH ALL OF THE MOVIES?:

Perhaps I should add this to all of my reviews so you know how to watch it if the film sounds interesting to you.  Basically there are a number of ways.

1. My Blu-ray collection-  I don’t have that many Disney Blu-rays because honestly they aren’t that great.  Unless you especially want to see it in HD and have a TV that will make a big difference there is no need to upgrade a film from a DVD to a Blu-ray.  On most of them the special features and films are identical (and some feel the blu-rays are worse because they clean up images in pictures and take away some of the original earthiness. I’ve heard that about the blu-ray for Sword in the Stone).  That said, if you don’t have them on DVD and you find a good price go for it!  Disney is not keeping as many movies ‘in the vault’ like they used to (probably because of digital copies getting out to the public anyway) so you can find good deals if you are on the hunt for them.

disney blu-rays2. Disney DVDs Collection- Like I said the DVD sets are basically identical minus the HD as the blu-ray so over the years I collected a bunch of those.  I have more than pictured but I went through a misguided phase where I threw cases away to save space.  Stupid!!

disney dvds3. Stream It- There are lots of methods for streaming Disney movies which you can even get in HDX now.  (Some claim there is a huge difference between digital stream and blu-ray but I haven’t noticed it with Disney at least. There is a website called CanIStreamIt.it   where you can look up any movie and see if it is available for free stream, rent or own.  Before I started my project I went through all 54 and checked them on CanIStreamIt.it and knew which one’s I would need to acquire from different sources.

can I stream it

Three of the biggest sites are vudu, amazon and netflix.

Vudu you purchase and rent on an individual basis but they have some great deals including daily rental discounts and an entire Disney Collections storefront.  Most rentals cost between $2.99 and $4.99 depending on how picky you are about HD.  My blu-ray players have apps for vudu which makes it easy.  I can even watch vudu and netflix on my phone if I want.   There is no monthly cost for vudu it is per purchase.

Vudu also gives you the rotten tomatoes score and review blips for any movie you look at which is nice, and you can share your experience on social media easily.

vuduAmazon is similar to vudu but they have a large library of free viewing films for prime members (a yearly fee that covers your 2 day shipping and other usage of the site).  It is an app on my downstairs blu-ray but not upstairs and it is not available for viewing on your phone (but really Disney deserves bigger than a 4 inch screen!).  You can also load your digital hd copies that come with most blu-rays onto either amazon or vudu (and you can watch them at disneymovierewards.com).

Amazon gives you reviews from fans if that helps you decide to view a movie or not.

amazonNetflix is the other major way to watch Disney films.  Their streaming services are charged by the month and I think it is $7.99 in the US.  They sometimes rotate a movie out so if you love it probably best to procure it some other way as it is not like vudu where once you buy it it’s in your library for good.   But if you are not a rewatcher of movies than it is a great, affordable solutions.  Right now they have The Rescuers movies, Pocahontas, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Sword in the Stone and other Disney films on Netflix.

netflixIf you were curious I do not have a fancy TV.  It is a plasma Philips I bought on craigslist in 2009 but it seems to do the job just fine.

plasma tvIf you are a Comcast subscriber they have a ‘Disney Family Movie Channel’ that is a premium on demand channel and those films rotate as well.  They do a good job getting odd or unusual films in there and I watched Saludos Amigos and Three Cabelleros on the channel.  It is $5.95 a month where I live.

family movie channel

4. VHS it!-  I know it’s old school but I have a TV/VCR combo (2 actually in different rooms) and for harder titles to find like Aladdin VHS can still be a good method.  Again I’m not too picky about the HD angle.  I actually watched Snow White, Pinocchio and Melody Time on VHS for this project and I was able to get them for .50 each.  Not half bad.

vhs

 

HOW DO YOU HAVE THE TIME?

Well, first of all I have been a blogger for 7 years and a youtuber for about 2.  I love social media and interacting with people from all over the world, especially about something I love like Disney.  I have done movie reviews on both my old site and my channel (in fact, I just posted reviews on my channel of Boyhood and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).

http://smilingldsgirl.com My Regular Blog

To read a written review I did on a movie I did not care for this summer called Austenland-

http://smilingldsgirl.com/2014/06/22/austenland-a-review/

My Channel

http://www.youtube.com/user/smilingldsgirl

My review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes-

I have loved criticism my whole life.  I was a huge Siskel and Ebert fan growing up and find it fascinating how individuals can see art and have such differing responses . My parents raised me to ask questions and not just be an absorber of art.  So it is the perspective I am coming from.  To me noshing over a movie with friends, even online friends, is part of the fun of going to a movie.

For a long time I have wanted to watch all of the Disney cannon because there were films I had heard about like The Black Cauldron but never seen.  I was curious but never could find the time . Then in July my MCL tore and I found myself with limited mobility.

knee2It was also screwing up my already problematic sleeping schedule (you have probably noticed a lot of 2-4am posts.  I’m a terrible insomniac). I figured I needed something to feel productive because I was literally sitting around all evening once work was finished.  So, I decided to dive in and finally watch the Disney cannon.  At first I was confused and thought it was 57 movies because the list I had included The Wild, Christmas Carol and Mars Needs Moms.  Then I figured it out and changed it over to 54.

One of the nice things about Disney is most of the movies aren’t very long.  Usually around 75 minutes so really it is just a few minutes longer than a tv show like Project Runway or Survivor . Most of my shows are in between seasons so that worked out perfectly too.  It was easy for me to watch a 75 minute film and blog about it daily or every other day depending on my schedule.  These next 26 are going to be harder because most of them are longer but once I start a project I never stop so we will get all 54 for the Big Hero 6 premiere in November!

As far as my knee I am probably 80% healed but still some pain and not able to do a lot of standing or walking.  Hopefully I can get back to swimming soon.

HOW DO YOU WRITE A REVIEW?

For me it is a process writing a review.  I do as much research as I can before watching the movie, even for a movie I know pretty well.  The wikipedia on Disney films is actually pretty good, Disney wiki, other bloggers, articles, reviews etc are also helpful.  If I have one I will watch behind the scenes and audio commentaries.

I also take notes both of my research, the plot and my responses.

disney notesSome of the package films I will have a tab for each of the segments so I can keep them straight.  With Little Mermaid I had 2 tabs because there was so much in the audio commentary I wanted to keep that separate.   I couldn’t capture all my notes on a screen capture.  They are pretty in depth.   As a grad student I learned how to take detailed notes quickly and I find I enjoy the films better when taking notes (super nerd I know).

One thing that helps  is I am a very fast typist and writing the prose of the review isn’t difficult for me.  In fact, as much as I enjoy youtube I find editing a video to be more challenging.  Plus, once you’ve uploaded it is harder to make corrections like I can with my blog entries.  Youtube is also more restrictive on copyright rules than blogging and if I get strikes against my channel even though it is fair use it cold be a big pain.

In June I also ended 10 years of accounting and was hired to work as a digital marketing specialist so anything I learn on any social media isn’t just for fun but helps me with my career as well.

MY VIEW ON CRITICISM

It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve tried my best to be open minded to every movie, even one’s I previously did not care for.  I also have tried to be positive and not trash any films.  This is Disney and they all have some good traits.  I haven’t given an F to any film because nothing has deserved an F.  An F would be for a total failure like The Smurfs or The Lorax (2 least favorite animated movies).  I know when I read a review I like to see the reasoning behind the critique and even if I disagree I can respect it.  That’s what I’ve tried to do in the blog.

I hate internet reviewers who give blanket statements like ‘I hate this movie’ or ‘it sucks’ or ‘it is so boring’.  That’s a starting point but tell me whey.  Even if your ‘it sucks’ reviews are meant for humor,in the jokes tell me why you don’t care for the film.  Did the characters not work for you?  Did the plot meander?  Did you find the animation unpleasant?  I try to comment on all of those factors whether it is positive or negative in my reviews because those are the types of reviews I find fascinating.  People have dedicated years of their lives to these projects and we owe them a thoughtful response.

A while back I had posted that I didn’t really get the movie The Graduate.  The performances were good but I didn’t like the ending, and I explained why.  A friend told me why it made sense given the time and characters and it opened my eyes to the scene.  While I don’t think The Graduate is a masterpiece, I like it much better after that conversation, so I am always open to others insight and analysis.

In a way it is funny because my parents are not movie people at all.  My Dad is lucky if he see’s one movie a year but all of his kids love them.  Other than the Simpsons, nothing got us talking as siblings more than movies.

I believe movies are the great storytelling device of our era and if you miss out on going to the movies you miss out on understanding yourself, others and the age we live in.

So that is the 411 on the blog and how you can watch all of these great movies.  Thanks for reading and making it such a fun experience!

mickey