Talking Disney Episodes 1-4

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know real quick that I have started a new podcast with  my friend Stanford. Each month we are selecting a Disney Canon film to talk about and give our analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. We just published our 4th entry in this podcast, and I’m proud of every last one of them. We are doing them in a random order to avoid the dead periods of a chronological rewatch. I would love your feedback as we are continually trying to improve. They are also available on Itunes and youtube at Rachel’s Reviews.

  1. Talking Cinderella

2. Talking The Great Mouse Detective- we had some technical difficulties in the last 20 minutes that impacted the sound quality but hopefully it is listenable

3. Talking Lady and the Tramp

4. Talking The Jungle Book

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Rachel’s Top 50 Animation Countdown (50-41)

So I have a fun series I am going to be doing over the next 5 few weeks.  I have meticulously came up with my top 50 animated films.  This isn’t the most impactful or the best made.  It is just my favorite.  For example, I know Pinocchio is a masterpiece and I do appreciate it.  It’s just not a favorite of mine.  So you will disagree with many of these but you can make your own list ;)!

Nevertheless, love to hear your feedback.  It was very tough to do.  I also am still working through anime so there may be some of your favorites I haven’t seen.  Pretty much any movie on this 50 I would give an A too so I love them all even if it is 50th place.

I tried to keep this list in general order of my Disney Ranking but there may be a few things I’ve changed so don’t hold me to that.

50. Watership Down- dark, disturbing, violent and has a lot to say about political systems, social structures and how we rationalize away the dignity of others.

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49. Ponyo- Gorgeous take on Little Mermaid by Studio Ghibli is weird, different and incredibly creative.  A movie I could watch with the sound turned off and still love.  It is also cute and Ghibli’s most child-friendly film outside of Totoro (which is coming later). You know me- I love anything to do with the ocean.

artistic648. Lady and the Tramp– An underrated Disney gem.  A sweet and simple story of the dogs from different sides of the track falling in love.  I love the Norman Rockwell artistry and the jazz Peggy Lee soundtrack. And spaghetti is my favorite food so cant go wrong with that!

Lady-and-the-Tramp-247. Wallace and Gromit:  The Curse of the Were Rabbit- Based on the characters from Nick Park’s animated shorts, we get a witty, sweet claymation story of crazy inventor Wallace and his wise dog Gromit as they try to rid the town of a mutant rabbit eating all their vegetables.

wallace and gromit46. How to Train Your Dragon 2- A rare sequel that is better than the original.  The flying sequences are gorgeous, real heart with the family drama and an epic quality that is tough to pull off in animated films.  For kids that are too young for Lord of the Rings this is a great option.

How-to-Train-Your-Dragon-2-Hiccup-Toothless45. Charlotte’s Web- EB White’s story of the plucky pig and his spider friend comes alive with songs from the Sherman Brothers and great voice casting including Debbie Reynolds and Paul Lynde.

charlotte web44. Atlantis: The Lost Empire– I know I’m in the minority on this one but I love Atlantis.  I love the diversity of the team and how hilarious they all are.  I love the fight sequences and the steampunk look to everything.  I think the culture and language they created is great.

atlantis243. Paranoman- An underrated movie that is legitimately scary yet sweet and full of good laughs.  Made more for teenagers than little children (especially the humor) but not too grown up.  It’s hard to believe it is stop motion it is so seamless. The message at the end is a unique take on bullying with the bullied girl becoming the bully and how they can talk her down.

paranorman42. Land Before Time-   Beautifully animated tail of dinosaurs little one’s making it to the promised land of sorts.  Sweet, sad with nice music.

land before time41. Toy Story 2– I know woefully low for this movie but what can I say this is where it landed. Toy Story 2 is a great movie.  With great humor, camaraderie and an interesting dilemma for Woody about how he wants to live his life.

toy story2-4Get ready next week for the 40-31!

Here’s my youtube video on it.

Most Romantic Disney Movies

Happy Valentines Day friends!

valentinesTonight I am going to see Song of the Sea at the theater but I thought I might give you some romantic inspiration Disney-style.  There have been many great couples in Disney but which one’s are the best for Valentines Day?

Here we go!

12. Nightmare Before Christmas-

Got to pick something different but the love story between Jack and Sally is actually quite sweet. Gives us hope that even the strangest of us have a match.

jack and sally2

11. Bambi

I don’t give enough Bambi love on the blog.  It really is beautiful.  The instant love trope would be brought out so many times by Disney but this was the first and it introduced us to being twitterpated long before twitter!

10. Rescuers Down Under

I think the only Disney Canon with a proposal in it? Help me out if I’m wrong.  Bernard tries over and over again to propose to always be thwarted. I love how Bianca has such faith in Bernard even with the rugged Jake around.

Proposal-in-The-Rescuers-Down-Under

9. Snow White and the 7 Dwarves

Hoping your prince will come?  Why not watch Snow White sing about it?  Have a little hope on Valentines if you are currently single. When the Prince sings One Song it is one of the more underrated Disney musical moments.

8. Tarzan

Tarzan and Jane have lovely chemistry together as they try and understand each other’s world view. Hey and maybe it will help you ladies think twice about those ape-men in your life 😉

tarzan and jane

7. Aladdin

The whole movie is basically a guy trying to impress a girl who has sworn off men.  Perfect for Valentines Day!  We also get a magic carpet ride, A Whole New World and one of the best Disney kisses.

aladdin and jasmine

6. Cinderella

I feel like you almost have to put Cinderella on a list like this.  I mean it’s Cinderella finding her Prince Charming…but I actually think it’s more about a woman getting rescued from an unhappy life.  But it is a beautiful princess falling instantly in love with her Prince and getting married at the end.  Can’t go wrong with that.

Another underrated Disney song-

Pretty much these next 5 are equally loved by me so they are ties for first place!

5. Tangled

Disney’s stab at a romantic comedy and it is great. The banter between Flynn and Rapunzel is so well written . They have great chemistry and we see them grow together the entire movie.  When they get to the lanterns it is such a lovely moment.

tangled flynn and rapunzel

4. Lady and the Tramp

Probably includes the most iconic Disney romantic moment and the scene that made spaghetti synonymous with a hot date.  It is such a sweet and gentle movie that will make even the most grumpy person smile.  I dare you not to smile!

3. WALL-E

Another one I think you might have to be made of stone to not appreciate.  Wall-e simply loves Eva. It’s as simple as that.  He will do anything for her and it is sweet and innocent and completely lovely.  As Hello Dolly tells us in the movie ” it only took a moment
To be loved a whole life long”

walle and eva

2. Beauty and the Beast

Tale as old as time, tune as old as song.  Bitter sweet and strange finding you can change. Learning you were wrong. Certain as the sun rising in the east…Beauty and the Beast.   Yep. It’s the time when one heart understood another despite him having a ‘hideous’ appearance. We all hope someone will see our heart and love us flaws and all.  No movie exemplifies that hope better than Beauty and the Beast.

1. Up

Usually if people ask I tell them Up is my favorite movie.  It’s certainly in the top 3.  It’s a movie I could watch once a week for the rest of my life and never get sick of.  What it does in the first 10 minutes is my favorite moment of film ever. To show a whole life of a couple is something that always makes me tear up and I’ve seen the movie a lot.  But what moves me even more is how Ellie remains a palatable force in the movie.  Carl talks to her and you feel her presence.  When I first saw Up it was like a hug from my Grandpa who I miss dearly.  It reminded me that he is close by and rooting for me.

up cake
This is how much I love Up. I had this cake made for my housewarming/birthday party when I moved into my house.

If you want to go live action either of the Parent Trap movies are excellent choices with great chemistry from the leads.  Why not have a party and watch both!

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What are your favorite Disney romances? What did I miss?

Most Rewatchable Disney Canon Films

I will be seeing Big Hero 6 in the next 3 hours! Oh boy!

I was talking with a friend about Robin Hood and told her despite its problems it is one of the most rewatchable Disney’s.  What I mean by that is some movies are masterpieces but more weighty than the kind of thing I want to watch over and over again .

So what are those movies that I don’t mind repeat and frequent rewatching?  What’s the one that if I’m feeling like a movie that will entertain but not challenge me what do I pick?  I will add that I seem to have a unique high tolerance for repetition.  Other people tire of music, movies, food, books and I just don’t.  If it is something I like than I like it forever and repeatedly.

That said, some films like The Lion King I love but the intensity makes it tough to rewatch again and again.

I will also say that all of the Pixar movies with the exception of Brave (yes even Cars 2) are very rewatchable.   That’s why I’ve struggled to write up reviews of Pixar ,movies . How many ways can I say masterpiece?

pixar

 

Here goes in no particular order:

1.  Tangled- romantic comedies are probably my favorite genre to rewatch.  Tangled is funny, light, joyous, beautiful and a terrific villain.

Tangled_rapunzel_poster_20

2. Robin Hood- Maybe not the most ambitious Disney film but the humor makes it very rewatchable.  I love the voice performances and while it is a bit too long it is so much fun I enjoy rewatching it.

robin hood poster

3. Jungle Book- I hate the ending but other than that it is charming, funny, and the music is the true star.  It clips along so well with moments of real heart.  It is certainly up there in the movies I’ve seen the most.

1967_80sRR_JUNGLEBOOK

4. Emperor’s New Groove- Again not the most ambitious but so full of laughs that it is great to rewatch.  Comedies are often the best for rewatching as we don’t always feel up to an intense emotional experience.

emperors poster

5. Aladdin- Another comedy makes the list but Aladdin is so much fun with the manic energy of Robin Williams.  Every time I see it I spot a new impression or moment I had missed before.  It will entertain both boys and girls equally and it is just one I wouldn’t mind watching on most any day.

aladdin poster

6. Frozen- I can see many of you roll your eyes because you are sick of this movie.  I repeat I don’t get sick of movies.  If I like them I like them and I like Frozen.  I could listen to the music all day and the humor is great, pacing a lot of fun and I just enjoy watching it most any day.

Frozen-movie-poster

7. Lady and the Tramp- sweet, simple, romantic and with some tension and laughs.  Just something so pleasant I can’t think of a time when I would not enjoy watching it. As the poster says the ‘happiest motion picture’ from early Disney.

Lady-and-tramp-1955-poster

8. 101 Dalmatians- A lot of of humor with Cruella,  fun lively story, lots of great characters.  Dry with with Horace and Jasper.  Always at the top of my rewatch list.

101 dalmations

9. Lilo and Stitch- Probably my most emotional film on this list but it is so lovingly told and Lilo is such a real kid I am drawn to the picture despite my dislike for Stitch.  Maybe part of it is I find the Hawaiian local and music so relaxing it’s an easy rewatch for me..  It brings back many happy memories.

lilo and stitch poster

10. Mulan- Another movie with a lot of humor, romance, heart, and excitement.  Just thoroughly entertaining and not too deep or morose like other less rewatchable films.

Movie_poster_mulanHonorable Mentions- Beauty and the Beast although it feels a little long for a frequent rewatch, Little Mermaid because of my nostalgia for it, and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which is probably the most rewatchable for little one’s.

 

Off to see Big Hero 6!!!!

Disney Halftime Report Card

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We are just about to start the Disney Renaissance, have passed the 50 years of Disney mark in the reviews and am at half way through the Disney classics.  So it seemed appropriate to do a little report card of the films I’ve reviewed so far.

At the end of every review I give a grade.  There were only 2 reviews which got 2 grades.  The first was Make Mine Music which I liked on a ‘so bad it’s good level’.  It’s one of the most bizarre cinematic experiences of my life but I can’t say I wasn’t entertained by it.  I’d rather watch a strange failure than a lazy bland movie like Fun and Fancy Free, but that’s just me.  The other double review was The Rescuers because if you can tolerate Medusa it is fine movie.

So with that said, let’s go over my grades:

4 movies received A+

Fantasia

Cinderella

101 Dalmatians

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

If you had asked me to pick 4 before the project started I don’t think I would have said those 4

6 movies received A

Snow White and 7 Dwarfs

Dumbo

Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad

Alice in Wonderland

Sleeping Beauty

Jungle Book

Only 1 film got an A-

Great Mouse Detective

4 movies received a B+

Pinocchio

Melody Time

Lady and the Tramp

Robin Hood

1 movie received a B-

Bambi

2 movies received a C+

Peter Pan

Fox and the Hound

The Rescuers (for most people)

I look at a C grade as average.  And of course all of these grades are relative to Disney.  I know in the realm of all animation these C’s are not average.  They would be higher when compared with a lot of other pictures.

3 movies received a C

Saludos Amigos

The Black Cauldron

Oliver and Company

2 movies received a C-

Make Mine Music

The Sword in the Stone.

1 movie received a D

The Three Caballeros

3 movies received a D-

Fun and Fancy Free

Aristocats

The Rescuers (for me)

People are always curious to know my favorites and it is such a hard question because I like them all for different reasons.  Even the D’s I’m not sad I watched them.  They aren’t the kind of terrible movies where I want to rip my hair out and hope for death.  Usually I just felt like the tone was off and it wasn’t original or creative enough for me to like.

I will try though. I’ll give a gold, silver and bronze on a few categories.

Best Villain-

Gold- Maleficent

Silver- Lady Tremaine

Bronze- Cruella De Vil

Honorable Mention- Ratigan

Best Artistry-

Gold- Fantasia

Silver- Alice in Wonderland

Bronze- Sleeping Beauty

Favorite Lead Character/Hero-

Gold- Cinderella

Silver- Winnie the Pooh

Bronze- Lady, Lady and the Tramp

Favorite Side Character-

Gold- Baloo the Bear

Silver- Tinker Bell

Bronze- Trusty and Jock from Lady and the Tramp

Even More Minor Characters-

Gold- Timothy Q Mouse, Dumbo

Silver- Jaq and Gus, Cinderella

Bronze- Olivia, Great Mouse Detective

Worst Vocal Performance-

Gold- Gurghi, Black Cauldron

Silver- Snow White

Bronze- Aristocats

Best Vocal Performance-

Gold- Verna Felton- Dumbo, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty etc

Silver- Sterling Holloway- Dumbo, Bambi, Three Cabelleros, Peter and the Wolf, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book, Aristocats and of course Winnie the Pooh

Bronze- Phil Harris- Jungle Book, Robin Hood, Aristocats

Strangest Scene- love all these scenes

Gold- Pink Elephants on Parade, Dumbo

Silver- Heffalumps and Woozles, Winnie the Pooh

Bronze- All of Alice in Wonderland

Best Original Score-

Gold- Black Cauldron by Elmer Bernstein

Silver- Bambi by Frank Churchill

Bronze- Jungle Book- Sherman Brothers

Best Song- (this is tough)

Gold- When You Wish Upon a Star by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington

Silver- Bear Necessities by Sherman Brothers

Bronze- Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston

Saddest Moment-

Gold- Snow White’s death and Grumpy crying

Silver- Dumbo Baby of Mine scene

Bronze- Christopher Robin goes to school (I know but it just struck a nerve with me)

Best Comedy-

Gold- Robin Hood

Silver- Peter Pan (the slapstick is very funny)

Bronze- Great Mouse Detective (not a comedy but some good laughs)

Scariest Moment-

Gold- Pleasure Island,  Pinocchio

Silver- Grizzly Bear Scene, Fox and the Hound

Bronze- Headless Horseman, Ichabod and Mr Toad

Cringe-worthy Moment

Gold- Red Man, Peter Pan

Silver- Siamese cats, Lady and the Tramp and Aristocats

Bronze- Bongo, Fun and Fancy Free

Honorable Mention- Every instant love scene but specially Vixey and end of Jungle Book…

Not that Bad (Big problems but not as bad as I expected)

Gold-  Black Cauldron

Silver- Melody Time

Bronze- Saludos Amigos

Film Everyone Else Loves but I Just Liked OK

Gold- Fun and Fancy Free particularly Mickey and the Beanstalk which I thought was lazy.

Silver- Sword in the Stone

Most Sentimental/Corniest Moment

Gold- Fox and the Hound (whole movie but especially the Widow’s poem. I know I’m made of stone)

Most Romantic Moment-

Gold- Spaghetti, Lady and the Tramp

Silver- Phillip and Aurora dancing, Sleeping Beauty

Bronze- Pongo and Perdi, 101 Dalmatians

Grand Champions-

Worst- The Rescuers (just for me and my taste would never want to watch again)

Best- Cinderella

I guess out of the 4 A+ movies I will go with Cinderella.  I have every version of Cinderella I can get on film.  I love the story and Disney pulls it off pretty flawlessly.

Thanks for Reading!

So there you go!  It’s funny we are down to 89 and have 1/2 left.  That old releasing a film every year makes the 90s and 2000’s very productive times for Disney.  Should be a blast.  Please keep up with the blog and let me know if any of these rankings surprised you.

How would you rate your favorites?  I always enjoy a good back and forth with my commentors, especially when we are talking Disney so put your thoughts below!

Movie 20: The Aristocats

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When I started this project I was hoping I might find some hidden gems or perhaps grow to love movies I had discounted as a young child.

I guess that kind of happened with Pinocchio and Fantasia but I had already grown to like them as an adult.  I just like them even more after this project.

With our next picture, The Aristocats, we are diving into the 70s and 80s which were rough for Disney animation. There were some gems but there is a reason they call 1989 to 1994 the Disney renaissance.

Unfortunately now on this blog we are in the dark ages…

Let’s talk about Aristocats.

This movie in basically every way is an attempt to merge everything we liked about Lady and the Tramp with 101 Dalmatians and  the result feels pretty mediocre.

Lady and the Tramp elements-

We have a high brow female pet

lady and duchessA tough talking street pet

tramp collage

The Plucky Friends Who Save the Day

napoleon and trusty

Borderline Offensive Asian Stereotype

siamese3

101 Dalmatian Elements-

Villain who doesn’t like pets- (And just to be clear Edgar is no Cruella.  I’m just showing how the copy was attempted)

villainsCute Kittens/Puppies-

aristocats4

Long Journey to Get Back to Owners  (they even both have a little one who can’t make it in the cold scene)

aristocats5Finally a European city local

ciities

And you throw in a fun score from the Sherman Brothers with Phil Harris ala Jungle Book and you’ve got the Aristocrats….

The Story-

So, we know what it is derivative of.  Does it do those things well?

It’s not terrible but the Aristocats is very forgettable.  Here’s the story:

A rich Parisian woman named Mademoiselle Adelaide has 4 cats- a mother named Duchess (awfully similar name to Lady don’t you think?) and 3 of her kittens named Marie, Toulouse and Berlioz.  They give the cats French names although none but the mother have a french accent. Why?

Duchess is voiced by Eva Gabor and to be honest I had a hard time understanding anything she said.  I had to put it on subtitles.  I think Disney fixed this with Gabor in The Rescuers but we will see. She is less interesting than Lady because we never feel any sense of growth or anxiety from her.  Indeed when she is away from her madame she seems to be in a good mood, if a little worried about her owner.  When Lady has the muzzle on her and is in the pound it feels much more desperate than anything we see out of Duchess.

Just woke up from and am in a basket in the middle of nowhere but expressions are just the same as before?
Just woke up from and am in a basket in the middle of nowhere but expressions are just the same as before?

Oddly enough, the Duchess and Madame are the only characters that speak with a french accent.

The Madame decides to give all of her money to her butler Edgar but only after her cats are taken care of.  This angers the Butler, so he decides to be rid of the cats. edgar3

My question is wouldn’t this make the most sense to do once the Madame is failing?  Once she isn’t able to search for them or be of any help in finding them?  Also, could he really not share a mansion with some cats?  I mean most people would assume it was his house.  I’d put up with some cats for a mansion.

aristocats02

Even if abducting the cats made sense for Edgar, he is just not the presence and character that Cruella was.  He has very little personality and Cruella cared about looking good in furs which is so much more twisted and interesting than just wanting an inheritance sooner.  Cruella has more personality in her driving than Edgar has in his whole character (which they also try to copy with Edgar as a crazy motorcycle driver to much less effect).

However, before they are abducted we get a song.  It’s little Marie practicing her lessons and it’s okay not great.  It kind of reminds me of the Tremaine sisters practicing in Cinderella.

In this story nobody knows the animals can talk or behave like humans and yet nobody in the story is amazed when they play instruments throughout.  I find that a strange touch.  At least in Lady and the Tramp the one Italian guy thinks it’s strange they are talking to dogs.  In Jungle Book there is just one human and he has lived amongst the animals so he doesn’t know it is strange for them to be playing music and singing.

So, Edgar drugs the cats and puts them by the river; although, he is chased by 2 dogs named Lafayette and Napoleon, who were pretty good together. They are no Jock and Trusty, who had a lot more heart but they are pleasant comic relief.

lafayetteAt least they have some spunk in them. Honestly most of the time the Duchess looks bored.  Even when they meet a tough talking alley cat named Thomas O’Malley she looks disinterested. There is no spark between the two cats like with Tramp and Lady or Pongo and Perdy.

I know I’m over thinking this but if you aren’t going to have an alley cat in France speak with a french accent, and you are going to name him O’Malley shouldn’t he have an Irish accent? Thomas O’Malley is an Irish name if I’ve ever heard one.  I think they just had Phil Harris as the voice because he was so great as Baloo.  They put him in without caring if his character or performance made any sense.

It’s an ok song but it ain’t no bear necessities….

There’s no sense of real danger for any of them like with the dalmatians.  Cruella comes very close to killing the puppies and it is tense.  They have to be a step ahead, smarter and luckier than their foe to make it back home.  If you have both films compare the 101 scene getting onto a truck to the Aristocats getting on to a truck and there really is no comparison. The Aristocats scene is a walk in the park compared to 101.

Just as in 101 we have relief from the horse,  colonel, and sergeant Tibbs, the Aristocats are helped by a cute mouse and 2 British geese (3 if you include a drunk geese uncle who is briefly seen and then forgotten about).  These three side characters  are the best parts of the movies.  I wish the movie was about them to be honest.

roquefert AristgeesePretty quickly and with nothing but sore feet they make it to Paris and meet a group of scat musician cats.  (Again nobody thinks it’s strange all these animals playing music?).  But they sing and while the flashing colors during the song gets old quick it is a fun number and well written by the Sherman brothers.

I hate to keep harping on the accents but it is so distracting to have everyone else sounding like Americans with Duchess tough to understand she is so strongly French. I wish they didn’t have the little girl singing in the song because I don’t think she is good but the song is a lot of fun even if the chopsticks cat is pretty bad…

Without the Duchess even breaking a sweat they make it back home with the Madame and send Edgar to Timbuktu.  Next we get a scene of Thomas domesticated just like in Lady in the Tramp.   This feels hollow because there hasn’t been any chemistry between Thomas and Duchess.  I guess they danced but there was no spaghetti magic!

21474_4I know I’m overthinking things again but in Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians we have 2 couples that don’t have puppies till after they are basically married (quite literally in 101).  But in Aristocats the Duchess has 3 kittens at the start of the movie.  The journey from kitten to cat isn’t that long so we can assume the Duchess must have had some kind of cat relationship (can’t believe I’m writing that) where she was abandoned or left with the 3 kittens.  Isn’t that strange? You would think she had procreated by osmosis by this movie!

Another somewhat nitpicking point-

They are at the most beautiful city in the world and yet nearly every shot looks ugly and gloomy.  Here’s an interesting contrast.

Take a look at Paris from Ratatouille  (I realize different technology but hear me out)

ratatouille-paris-pixar-dvdbashIn their version of Paris it is light  and  bright and your eyes are drawn right to the skyline and the Eiffel Tower.  It looks magical.

In the Aristocats version

aristocats parisIn this version the Eiffel Tower is a part of a distant blur and the skyline is cloudy and gray.  It’s the smokestacks and rooftops which are most prominent.  You would think  the great thing about Paris was the smokestacks and the soot!

You see what I mean? The sketchy xerox style of this era already makes things look dark and dreary and the choices the artists made enhanced that not made it better. And when they did add color it wasn’t in a sparkling magical way like in Lady in the Tramp, it was distracting, like an assault to the eyes. It’s like a cat rave.

dancingI don’t know if it was just the netflix version I was watching but some the animation was alarmingly bad on this as well.  There were times when characters spoke where it didn’t quite match up to the images on the screen, especially when the Madame was speaking.

Look at this scene and see if you agree with me they are slightly off.  Like when she says ‘you’re a shameless flatterer George’ her lips don’t match up with what she’s saying.  It kind of reminds me of anime when the translators get really close but not quite with the English dubbing.

Movie Review-

So if you haven’t gathered this is not my favorite film.  I suppose it is harmless fluff but in a world where you can watch the real deal why watch the mediocre copy of the better Disney films? I guess since it’s on netflix right now it will entertain small children.  The music is fun and it isn’t offensive just kind of lazy.  Even on Netflix there are better Disney films like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or Robin Hood.  Put on one of those and then only after you have watched everything else put on the Aristocats.

I guess it was a big hit for Disney so they knew what they were doing in that regard but as a lover of Disney art this fails to impress.  The music is fun but not the Sherman Brothers best.

In a way I kind of feel the same way about the Aristocats as I felt about Fun, Fancy and Free.  Both felt very lazy and derivative of better films.

Plus, Aristocats has such bland characters, a boring villain and no real tension with the cats journey.  The lack of accents bugged me and other story flaws like Edgar’s motivation for killing the cats at that moment didn’t make sense.  Also, why is the Duchess an unexplained mother?

Those are just some of the objections but all in all it’s just a boring, lazy film.

Overall Grade- D- (my lowest grade so far because it is the movie I would least want to rewatch of all the movies I’ve seen to this date)

This is what I call Disney phoning it in…

Movie 15: Lady and the Tramp

Lady-and-tramp-1955-posterNext we may be talking about the cutest Disney movie they have ever produced, 1955’s Lady and the Tramp.   While I prefer Disney’s more ambitious, riskier endeavors I have a place in my heart for the sweet and sentimental pictures too.

I mean I am not a dog person but your first glimpse of Lady is pretty adorable:

baby ladyProduction-

In the 1940s and 50s dog pictures were very popular for families.  Film series like the 3 Lassie movies (and TV show starts in 1954), and a series called Kirby Grant Chinook the Wonder Dog were very successful.

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It also should be obvious to anyone who has been to Disneyland that Walt Disney had a fondness for turn of the century wholesome small town Americana.  Lady and the Tramp was released a month before Disneyland opened and we can see it’s influence in the film and perhaps the films influence on Disneyland.

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Joe Grant, a Disney animator, had an English Springer Spaniel and he was telling Walt about how the dog had been shoved aside a little bit when they had their first baby.  He then worked on sketches of this idea for nearly 20 years from the 30s through the 40s, but Walt Disney didn’t like any of the projects presented to him because there wasn’t enough action, enough for the characters to do.

Then Walt heard of a book called Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog by Ward Green.  The only dog in the book is the Tramp, but Walt liked it and combined it with Joe’s idea and began work in earnest on Lady and the Tramp.

The artistry in Lady and the Tramp isn’t abstract or different but it is beautiful in it’s own way.  It looks like a Norman Rockwell cover for the Saturday Evening Post.

jim dear and darling

The fir also looks great on all of the dogs and they all look adorable while still looking like their obvious breeds. I say that knowing very little about dogs.

Lady-and-the-Tramp-2The voicework is excellent.  I particularly like Jock and Trusty.  Jock is a scottish terrier voiced by Bill Thompson in a full Scottish accent and Trusty is a bloodhound voiced by Bill Baucon

Lady and the Tramp is the first movie to be released by Disney in Cinemascope and it was a huge hit for them.

The soundtrack was also one of Disney’s most successful with songs written by Peggy Lee.  She  sings in He’s a Tramp, La,La,La and Siamese cats .  There is a jazzy feel to the whole soundtrack that I love.

The Story

The story begins with Lady being given as a gift from the male owner (Jim Dear) to his wife (Darling) as a Christmas gift.  The beginning zoom in on the window with the Christmas tree is right out of Currier and Ives scene.

Lady is petted and pampered until a baby comes into the picture and she is warned by a mongrel called The Tramp that this will lead to no good. She ignores it but starts to get nervous when she see’s some changes.

Then one Sunday the Darlings decide to go away and Aunt Sarah comes to take care of the baby.  She is voiced once again by the amazing Verna Felton; although, this is a smaller role for her.

aunt sarah

Aunt Sarah is well meaning but she does not care for Lady and brings 2 rather disagreeable cats.

siameseI don’t know what cats ever did to Disney but he seemed to have it out for them!  I guess Figero in Pinocchio was a nice cat.  Still not many!

The strange thing about the Siamese cats is they come in, sing their creepy song, and then you hardly see them again in the movie.  The end of the movie the rat is the villain not the cats which seems strange.  Why not use a villain if you’ve already got them set up with a song.

I also think it is the first time a villain actually sings a villain song.  Something that would become a Disney staple later on.

Like almost anything Hollywood did in the 50s with Asian characters the song does fall prey to stereotypes and is a kind of creepy but not always in a good way.

It doesn’t bother me the way the Red Man song in Peter Pan did because it is brief and the characters are standard villain.  It doesn’t try to explain the Siamese race like Red Man does.

If it bothers or offends you I totally understand but it is easy to skip over.

However, I do like the cats slithering, slimy nature.  I’d be nervous if they were around me slinking around (although doesn’t take much for me to be uncomfortable around strange animals).  That’s why it is such a surprise they aren’t seen again in the movie.

So Lady protects the baby from the cats and Aunt Sarah takes her to the pet store to have a muzzle put on.

Curious_Lady_MuzzleI mean the inhumanity!!

She runs away and meets Tramp.  He helps her remove the muzzle and they end up eating some Italian food in one of the most famous scenes in all of Disney:

However, after their romantic night (feel funny saying that about dogs!) Tramp looses Lady and she ends up going to the pound.  Terrified she meets an assortment of characters that are a lot of fun.

But it starts out very sad and if this doesn’t pull at your heart strings you may want to examine yourself… 😉

She also meets Trixie who tells Lady all about The Tramp:

Now that is a great song!  Peggy Lee is wonderful and what a neat way to introduce kids to the whole idea of jazz music.

Learning about all of this Lady breaks up with Tramp when she see’s him and Aunt Sarah chains her to the doghouse.  There’s a cute scene where Jock and Trusty propose to Lady to keep her safe.

That night Lady see’s the rat going into the baby’s room.  Sarah tells her to stop barking but The Tramp hears her and goes after the rat, upsetting the room while he does it.

When Sarah see’s it she sends The Tramp to the pound but Trusty and Jock race after the cart, saving the day.   Luckily Sarah see’s the rat and Jim Dear and Darling come home and everything is made right in time for another Christmas. (This is definitely the most holiday themed Disney movie)

Movie Review-

Lady and the Tramp is kind of a like a popsicle in the summer.  It’s sweet and sticky but you love it anyway.  Everything about it is so well done.  The backgrounds are picturesque and pretty, voice work is great, dogs are super cute, jazz soundtrack is fun, and there is that great spaghetti scene.

It’s not the Disney which is going to challenge you or frighten younger kids.  It’s just a sweet simple story told with a lovely color pallet and a lot of charming dog characters.

I do think 101 Dalmatians is a little bit better because of Cruella but it is also a lot scarier for very young kids.  This is the Disney movie you can watch with kids under 5 and I’m not sure you can say that with any of the others.

So yes I know it isn’t perfect but I like it.

Overall Grade B+