Babysitting and Disney

I had an interesting experience yesterday.¬† As most of you know I am single and all of my 5 nieces live many miles away ūüôĀ so my access to little kids in my life is relatively small.¬† Most of the time when I watch animation I have to guess what little kids like my nieces might think about it or ask them over the phone.¬† I wish they lived closer and I could take them with me to the theater but it is not the case!

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Anyway, yesterday I got the opportunity to babysit for a friend at church who is moving and needed the kids to be away for the day so they could pack up and clean.¬† I don’t have that much living space in my house and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for going to the park or outside activities so we were limited.¬† We did a lot of drawing.¬† The older girl who was 4 I think seriously drew for 4 hours maybe more.¬† It was impressive.

But there was still entertaining the youngest girl.¬† We made cookies and after that I didn’t have a whole lot else to do with little kids at my house besides stick on my Disney library.¬† Both of their reactions were surprising. And I know 4 movies is a bit garish for one day but my house is small and I really don’t have much to entertain kids beyond drawing and making cookies so go easy on me!

First thing we saw was a Mickey Mouse Christmas Movie called Mickeys Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.¬† The cover looked bad but it actually was pretty good.¬† It is basically a whole bunch of shorts narrated by Mickey and Donald who is in a grumpy mood.¬† It was amazing how the minute Mickey came on screen the little girl lit up and gleefully said ‘It’s Mickey!’.¬† She loved the film. The final segment on Mickey’s Christmas Carol was a little much for her but she didn’t hate it.

Mickey's_Magical_ChristmasThen I put in Jungle Book thinking they would love it.¬† What surprised me is that both of them were not engaged at all.¬† I thought they would love the music and the simple story but I ended up drawing¬† with both as it played.¬† It didn’t capture either girls attention at all like Mickey.¬† Even Bare Necessities they were not into.

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Then I put on Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.¬† I figured it would be a slam dunk.¬† Again, surprisingly it didn’t really seem to hold their interest that much although they liked it better than Jungle Book.¬† Once Tigger came on the screen they liked it much better but before that it didn’t do much for them.

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Then next I put on Frozen and I’m not kidding you the littlest girl was sitting with her back away from the TV when the opening chords to Frozen Heart came on and she lit up, a huge smile on her face.¬† Lana stopped drawing and came in the room right away.¬† They loved it! I love Frozen but I have never watched it with little girls and was amazed at how much they loved it. They knew every line to every song and sang along with gusto.¬† It was so much more to use the pun animated than any of the other choices I had played.¬† Call it recency bias but 2 little girls have spoken and Frozen was definitely the favorite.

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Of the movies these children liked Frozen, Mickey’s Magical Christmas, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Jungle Book in that order.¬† Isn’t that surprising (I keep using that word but don’t know any other way to say it?).¬† Obviously this is only 2 kids and only 4 films but it was interesting to me nonetheless. What have you guys found in your families/kids in your life?¬† Like I said, I don’t have many in my life, so always interesting to see how actual kids respond to these films that I love. What do they like and does it ever surprise you?¬† Do they like things that you don’t? I’d love to know.

By the way Ben Affleck better watch out because my Dark Knight is pretty awesome… ūüėČ

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!!

Top 13 Disney Scares

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!

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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…

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11. Snow White Forest Scene- Snow White and the 7 DwarfsРSnow 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!

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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!

horseThis imagery with the pumpkin and the horse with the red eyes.¬† That’s pretty scary stuff!

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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.

tumblr_lmp8mwNWNI1qfuepw 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.

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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!

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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!

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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?

donkeysAs 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)

Movie 51: Winnie the Pooh

posterYou might be thinking. ‘wait a minute Rachel, you’ve already reviewed Winnie the Pooh’? And you would be right but I already reviewed Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which was released in 1977 and is one of only 7 films I’ve given an A+ too.¬† Today we aren’t talking about that film but the 2011, Winnie the Pooh.¬† While not as strong as 1977, Winnie the Pooh has its own appeal and magic and I enjoy it.

As I mentioned in my Consider the Audience post one of the things that makes this Winnie the Pooh special is it is made for little kids.¬† Toddlers in fact, and any mother who has sat through Barney for the millionth time will tell you what a rarity quality for small children is.¬† The original is made for slightly older children, or at least the Heffalumps and Woozles is a little scary for the smallest of children.¬† It’s also a little bit longer and small children have a shorter attention span, which is why not many movies are made for the demographic, mostly just TV.

If the movie is not for you maybe you should ask yourself the question ‘maybe it just wasn’t made for me?’.¬† Most movies can’t be everything to everyone.¬† I don’t think there is anything wrong with a sweet, short, simple movie made to entertain toddlers.

Oh and did I mention I love the music by Zooey Deschanel and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the team behind Frozen!  I consider Winnie the Pooh to be one of the underrated, hidden gems of the Disney Canon.  Not as good as the first but still a lot to love considering it is for a different demographic.

The Production-

Wow there was nothing on this movie.  Very few production details anywhere I looked.  The few things I found is veterans Stephen Anderson and Don Hall directed. Burny Mattinson, a Pooh veteran, was a lead storyboard artist and they hired a new cast including Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Tom Kenny as Rabbit and Craig Ferguson as Owl.

Here is the trailer

For the music they had new songs except for the title Sherman Brother’s song which is sung by Zooey Deschanel.¬† I love the new intro.

Some critics didn’t like the length but again that’s actually its big selling point.¬† 63 minutes is perfect for a little child.¬† Plus, the original was only 11 minutes longer, so is that really such a big deal?¬† Winnie the Pooh went in against a Harry Potter movie but it still did ok.¬† Made 44.7 mil in theater on budget of 30.

The animation is lovely and it is great to see 2D back again with Disney as much as I enjoy the computer generated movies.

The Story-

There are 2 stories, instead of 4 that make up Winnie the Pooh.  Our first story is helping Eeyore find his tail.   The writing is very sharp and I found myself laughing throughout.

The gain tries a number of different possibilities for Eeyore’s tail but nothing is working.¬† Finally they decide to ask Christopher Robin.

eeyoreChristopher’s eyes follow the anime big eye look we saw in Tangled and other films which bothers some but not me.

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They don’t have much luck finding a suitable tail when the day is done.¬† The next morning they find a note from Christopher

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The smart one of the group, Owl, determines Christopher has been taken by the Backson and is in trouble!¬† We get a charming song that isn’t too scary for little kids but still nostalgic for adults. I’ve sat with little kids watching this number and they just love it!

So the gang goes out to find the Backson

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There’s interactions with the narrator just as in the original and 4th wall jokes that are very dry and funny.¬† You also have characters behaving like little children such as when Piglet cuts up the rope to save the gang.

We also get a cute song where Pooh dreams of honey.

Eventually Christopher returns and explains the confusion and we get our gang back together again.¬† It’s as simple as that!

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Movie Review/Conclusion-

Let me again reiterate, this movie is not for everyone but I don’t think it is trying to be.¬† What it is trying to be, a simple movie for very young children, it does very well.¬† It’s sweet and Winnie the Pooh continues to mean childhood in 2011 as it did in 1977.

There are enough little jokes and play on words like when Owl says ‘issue’ and the gang thinks he’s say ‘achew’ and blessing him.¬† That’s clever and funny.¬† It’s a soft, simple, short movie that parents will enjoy and their little one’s will fall in love with.

The music is a great folksy take on Winnie the Pooh and the animation is bright and colorful.¬† I love that it doesn’t shout at your kids or use hip lingo or stories meant for older kids.¬† It gives simple stories and let’s their imaginations go wild.¬† I can’t imagine a little girl or boy that wouldn’t love Winnie the Pooh.¬† It’s bright and colorful and full of warmth and charm.

If I was going to fault it I’d say some of the new voices aren’t perfect but I don’t hate them either.¬† They are just ok. Also they could have made the Backson story a little shorter to fit in one more plot device.

But I really do love it and hope they make more feature films for Winnie and company.¬† Of course, I’ve liked all the Winnie the Pooh movies, Disney Canon or not (I had 3 siblings over 10 years younger than me so I got used to watching small children’s programming and understanding what was quality and engaging for them and what is not.¬† Winnie the Pooh is).

Curious George is another great choice for very small children if you are looking for suggestions.

Overall Grade- B