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.

Advertisements

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.

winnie 2011

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

backson

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

WINNIE THE POOH

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!

hug

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