Road to El Dorado

road to eldoradoIt is no secret I am not the biggest Dreamworks fan.  For me they’ve had two wonderful franchises, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda and one masterpiece Prince of Egypt but the rest I could do without (although I admit I haven’t seen the Madagascar movies except for Penguins which I liked).  Anyway, I was working on a project and put on a movie as I worked and figured why not give Road to El Dorado a shot as it is on Netflix.  I’d heard some good things and I love action adventure treasure hunting movies, so maybe it would be a forgotten gem?

I’ll just say it- Boy what a stinker…

It does look nice. I will grant it that but that’s really the only praise I have for it.It’s insulting, stupid, inappropriate for children, tonally off and full of unpleasant or underdeveloped characters. In other words, a mess.

But wait…I can hear you saying ‘didn’t you like Atlantis and isn’t that very similar?’.

No it’s not.  Atlantis creates a whole new world with its own culture, people, even language, so nobody is insulted because the culture doesn’t exist (plus it’s inherently more creative and interesting to see something imagined than a cheap reproduction of a people and society).  There is also a whole cast of characters in Atlantis I found  extremely likable and engaging.  Atlantis actually embraces diversity.  This says white people are smarter and better then those silly natives.  The action is well paced in Atlantis and aside from a skimpy swimsuit it is appropriate for kids. So no the two are not alike at all.

road to el doradoThe Road to El Dorado is about 2 con artists  named Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) who in 1519 stow away on Cortes’ boat and sneak to the ‘new world’ to find the City of Gold or El Dorado.  Cortes is a semi-villain and a total snoozefest and from the beginning Tulio and Miguel are very smug and unlikable.

road to el dorado 6
What a disgusting depiction of native women. Such cliches.

The boys find the lost city surprisingly quickly and of course they are immediately treated like Gods in an offensive caricature of native traditions and people. It’s worse, much worse, than Pocahontas. It’s one thing for Redman in Peter Pan to exist in 1953 but in 2000 to have the kind of at best culturally insensitive characters, story and behavior is really quite shocking.  At least Atlantis had a certain reverence and awe at its imaginary culture.  This was so bad.

We even get a quasi form of soccer that is embarrassing. I don’t know what they were thinking. road to el dorado3The villain is completely underdeveloped and feels like it was copied off of the obnoxious priests in Prince of Egypt. He is overtaken by some kind of evil spirit and creates a rock monster out of the Gods. I guess it is some kind of heathen magic but it is not explained and doesn’t make much sense or add any kind of fear or suspense a good villain should.  At least in Pocahontas I can remember Radcliffe’s name.

road to el dorado7Just like in Pocahontas the movie acts like the natives are completely oblivious to the value of gold, which is absurd.  They literally have scenes with tribeswomen dumping bowls and bowls of gold into the ocean.  As if all Native and Central American tribes did not have commerce, trade and even their own currency. Kids are smart enough to know they weren’t dumping tons of gold into the ocean.  They have made an occasional offering but this is totally over the top and the natives act like they are clueless of it having any value at all. Give me a break.  Seriously the natives are probably more badly portrayed than in Peter Pan because at least that is an imaginary land and it is a 3 minute song and we move on.  This is 75% of the movie one cliche and cringe inducing stereotype after another.

road to el dorado2It is also extremely inappropriate for kids.  I had issues with the skimpy suit in Atlantis but at least she was smart and kind of mythical.  In this the boys gamble, lie, cheat, steal, and are generally bad examples.

But to make it worse it’s surprisingly vulgar for a childrens movie and the princess Chel wears practically nothing and there is a scene where it is strongly implied her and Tulio have sex. I was shocked.

road to el dorado5The music by usually reliable Tim Rice and Elton John is largely forgettable and most of it is sung by Elton John kind of like Phil Collins in the Tarzan movies.  Hans Zimmer takes a huge step down from Lion King with the mundane score.

Like I said it looks nice but I thought this was a real bomb. No wonder it did so poorly at the box office.  I mean who was it made for?  It’s too grown up for most little kids and too stupid and predictable for adults/teens.  Someone was telling me on twitter the studio got involved kind of like Disney and Hunchback and made them change things around so they are in El Dorado longer.  It feels that way. I smell a rat!

road to eldorado3

This is the era when Jeffrey Katzenberg was heavily involved with stories and the Dreamworks animation films and I don’t know what he was thinking? He usually has good taste but this is tawdry insulting junk.

I normally don’t review the stinkers but I think it being on Netflix a lot of people will turn it on and I hope this review can sway at least my friends away from it.  I was really offended by it and I don’t get offended that easily.  There is so much good animation on Netflix.  Move on to the next option.

This is a reminder of why I don’t want to review the Dreamworks Canon.  Yuck.

Content Grade- C  Overall Grade- F

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Pirate Fairy: A Review

pirate fairy5In 2014 20 films were submitted to the Oscars for consideration.  Of that 20 I have seen 17 (including the film reviewing right now).  Of the remaining 3, one should be coming up in the next week or so and two I have found impossible to find (Cheating and Giovanni’s Island. If anyone knows a way clue me in!).  Three I am not reviewing on this site because they are garbage and I try to only review movies I have at least one positive thing to say about aside from the Disney Canon which I reviewed all of them.  If people really want me too review them let me know.  The three garbage films are Nut Job, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return and The Hero of Color City.  If you want to read a review tearing apart three movies I will do it but only if by request (this is a hobby after all, so it should be something I enjoy). 🙂

But today I get to review the 6th installment in the Tinker bell series produced by Disney Toons, the mostly direct to video wing of Walt Disney. My blogging friend over at Animatedkid is reviewing the entire Disney Toons Canon (bless his heart…). The movies are terrible but his reviews are great so check it out.  The Tinker bell movies may seem like masterpieces by the time he gets to them! https://animatedkid.wordpress.com/

I’m actually excited to talk about this movie because the entire Tinker Bell series are way better than you might at first think. They are pretty well animated, have decent stories and good voice performances.  Are they Oscar worthy?  No but they really are  entertaining, well made movies.

And I’d say The Pirate Fairy is the best of the series I have seen.  It’s a cute little  story which I think girls will love.

pirate fairy2The story for The Pirate Fairy is centered around a fairy named Zarina (voiced by Christina Hendricks of Madmen fame).  She is a curious fairy and is easily bored doing her job as a dust-keeper (in the Fairy world all the pixies have distinct roles like Animal Keeper, Spring Fairy etc).

The Dust Keepers make pixie dust for all the other pixies to use and they have an assembly line that follows time tested methods for making yellow dust that is magic out of concentrated blue stones.

dust keeper homeZarina wants to know why they do things the way they do and she begins experimenting with different combinations of dust causing different reactions.  Unfortunately one of those reactions causes a kind of explosion and Zarina is forbidden from being a dust keeper.

After Pixie Hollow celebrates the seasons, Zarina runs away and takes the blue dust with her. Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman), Silvermist (Lucy Liu), Iridessa (Raven-Symone), Rosetta (Megan Hilty), Fawn (Angela Bartys) and Vidia (Pamela Adion) go after her . It’s a fun collection of girls and personalities- kind of like the fairy world Avengers ;).

pirate fairy3

When they find Zarina it turns out she has become a pirate (captain no less) on a ship with James Hook (voiced by Tom Hiddleston!). He is of course up to no good!

pirate fairy9The rest of the movie is a back and forth between the girls, Hook and the pirates.  Eventually Zarina realizes Hook is just using her to get the pixie dust so his ship will be able to fly. The girls have to defeat Hook, rescue Zarina and get back the blue stones.

pirate fairy4So yes The Pirate Fairy doesn’t reinvent the wheel but there are a lots of little winks to the original Peter Pan movie like showing the origin of the clock in the crocodile or how Hook met Mr Smee.  The girls have fun personalities and Zarina is very likable.  Hiddleston hams it up as Hook and overall it’s not a bad watch. It’s not quite special enough to be worthy of a B but still a strong recommendation especially for the target audience.

I think girls 5 and under will love it and it has a nice message about being curious, smart and valuing everyone’s unique gifts.

The animation is pretty good with the pixie dust sparkling all over the ship and characters.  As I said the voicework is good and Joel McNeely does a great job with the music.

If you have a young girl I think they will really enjoy The Pirate Fairy. For what it is trying to be it does it very well.

Overall Grade- C+  (Not every movie has to be a masterpiece for me to heartily recommend it).

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 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+

 

 

Movie 14: Peter Pan

Now we have come to arguably one of the most iconic Disney movies ever made, Peter Pan.  Aside from other studios brands like the lamp in the Pixar logo no other movie has created a female character that has become more powerful in Disney branding than Tinker Bell in Peter Pan.  You could argue she is the most iconic character in all of Disney next to Mickey.

tinkerbell logo
Tinker Bell is often featured in the Disney logo and her pixie is always surrounding the castle. This DVD logo showed her the most prominently.

It’s kind of surprising when you think about it that in 1953 a character dressed like Tinker Bell could become so iconic with Disney.  And no she is not modeled after Marilyn Monroe as some rumors have suggested.

But does the movie Peter Pan live up to the legacy of the Tinker Bell creation?  This is a tricky question.  I had a tough time researching for this review.  My normal sites and resources for getting production notes and details didn’t have much and I couldn’t even find that many clips and photos to show you.

That said, I have some ideas of my own on what they were trying to do with Peter Pan.  Call it conjecture or an educated guess but I suppose that is all right in a blog.  Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree.

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JUMBLED UP THOUGHTS ON PAN

Let’s start with the story.  Peter Pan is based on the play by JM Barrie and like Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella it was another story which was near and dear to Walt.  He hoped to do it earlier but he had trouble getting the rights.  Finally with the war years behind them Walt started doing features again and the success of Cinderella allowed him to make Alice and Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is of course about the Darling children Wendy, Michael and John who tell each other stories about Peter Pan- the boy who never grew up.  One evening they meet Peter and he takes them to Neverland where they meet the villainous pirate Captain Hook, as well as Lost Boys, mermaids, and an Indian tribe.

The original play is much darker than the Disney version, which is a pretty big departure for the studio.  It’s actually kind of surprising given their track record of embracing darker themes and scenes (think Pinocchio).  For example, in the play Tinker Bell is just a fragment of light but she decides to drink the poison intended for Peter Pan and dies.  It is pretty sad and something I think previous Disney films would have included.  For some reason, they not only took out the darkness but went in the polar opposite direction making the film very light and comedic in tone with long sections of slapstick.

My guess is the action adventure TV and radio shows in the early 50s were especially popular with young boys. Shows like The Lone Ranger, Zorro, and Adventures of Superman were big hits.  Disney had also made the live action Treasure Island film in 1950.  All of these shows and movies had a combination of action and humor and their influence can be seen clearly  in Peter Pan.

sword fightingWe can also see the attempt to appeal to boys in the way Wendy is treated.  She is nothing but sweet and kind throughout and yet she is told she talks too much, shot at, almost drowned and walks the plank.  I had never noticed that before this watching…

mermaidsLike I said earlier, I was surprised this go-around how much slapstick is in the movie.  Most of it involves Captain Hook, who is a genius of a character.  Disney takes what was a menacing but foppish character in the play and makes him a conniving, smart captain who is prone to pratfalls and scrapes.

This scene is one of the best comedic scenes in all of Disney.   I certainly don’t think we see such a comedic villain again in Disney until Robin Hood’s Prince John.

It’s very funny!  The vocal performance by Hans Conried on Captain Hook is also one of the best in the history of animation.

Another great scene with the captain:

The music is interesting in Peter Pan.  It is playing in nearly every scene kind of like Bambi. While there are several good songs, it all feels more commercial and less substantial than previous films.  My  favorites are Second Star to the Right and You Can Fly.

There are also several good songs by the pirates and they are sprightly and fun.

I think these pirate shanty’s might be the first villain songs in Disney although they are more sung to Captain Hook and not by him.

A few of the other songs like Your Mother sung by Wendy are more bland throwaways.

Then we have the indians or injuns as this movie likes to call them.  Much like the crows in Dumbo, many modern viewers feel the scenes are racist.  But where I defended Dumbo because the crows were friendly and singing about elephants, it is hard to defend the scenes in Peter Pan.

red man2First of all, the scenes with the Indians are longer than the crows and they are much more culturally insensitive.  The song ‘What Made the Red Man Red’ while a catchy melody is pretty bad.  There is a line in the song that says:

Why does he ask ho?

Once the injun didn’t know

All the things that he know now

But the injun, he sure learn a lot

And that’s from asking ‘How’?

I squirm a little just typing it.  It’s one more reason why I think Disney was trying to play into the Lone Ranger and other Western shootem ups audience that were popular.  Such a stereotypical depiction of Native Americans was typically found on such shows of the 50s.

The other thing that is a bit of a disappointment in Peter Pan is it’s not that pretty.  Even the package films had moments that felt like art.  I don’t know if it is just the slapstick but there aren’t many moments in Peter Pan where I sit back and say ‘wow, that is beautiful’.  This is surprising because Peter Pan had the entire Gang of 9 and Mary Blair who made such a huge influence artistically in Alice in Wonderland.

The flying scenes and the scenes at the end with the ship are lovely but really that is it as far as artistry.

shipNow I don’t want to seem like I am being too hard on Peter Pan.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with creating a comedy for kids.  And the slapstick scenes are done very well.   This scene at the end where Hook gets his comeuppance is extremely funny.

In a lot of ways I compare Peter Pan with Aladdin, with the latter having the definite edge.  But both movies were made to appeal to boys more than girls.  Both had huge secondary characters and bland main characters and  both had male villains.  Nothing wrong with that.

In a way it is interesting Tinker Bell came out of Peter Pan as the star.  She’s kind of a bitter fairy throughout the whole movie and for not really a good reason.  She is angry from the start that Peter is almost kissed by Wendy and tries to have her killed, betrays her location to Hook and all the rest. (all the women in Peter Pan are pretty vindictive and jealous over Peter which is strange considering he’s just a boy).

tink madPart of her success probably also has to do with Walt’s attachment to Tinker Bell.  She was often featured on his TV show.  Here he is with her in 1966 (his last appearance on TV).

I suppose Tinker Bell encapsulated the magic that Walt Disney loved.  The pixie dust could make dreams come true!

Conclusion

For me Peter Pan is a mixed bag.  2 great characters, fun action, a few good songs,  and some very funny comedic bits.  That is certainly enough to give it a hearty recommendation to adults and children alike.  However, it is not enough for it to be a top-tiered Disney film in my book.  It’s good but it doesn’t blow me away with artistry, music, story or message.  Plus, there is  the ‘red man’ scenes which can leave a bad taste in my mouth.

So for me…

Overall Grade- C+