Thursday, December 13, 2012

1991 - Beauty and the Beast

Boy, when I started to write this one, I was in a pickle. I didn’t really have anything to say about Beauty and the Beast, because - well, I try not to overexaggerate things, but it’s perfect. Not flawless, mind, there’s still the occasional goofy bit of animation, and Belle can be a bit of a doormat, but what they made succeeds on every major level. The songs (Menken and Ashman again) are great, the voices (especially Paige O'Hara as Belle and Richard White as Gaston) are fantastic, the dialogue is tight and funny, the designs are imaginative, the romance is heartfelt… I didn’t want to write a review saying “This is great, this is great, this is great,” over and over. Especially since you’ve seen it! Yes, you, the person reading this, has seen this movie. Everyone has! How can I find a good way to approach telling everyone roar they already know? I mentioned this on Facebook, and my friends started chiming in with suggestions for topics. So here it is, the first-ever viewer mail edition of My Year With Walt Disney Animation Studios! Feeling participatory? So am I. So try the gray stuff, it’s delicious, and let’s talk about Beauty and the Beast.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

1992 - Aladdin

If The Little Mermaid started the new formula, and Beauty and the Beast codified it, Aladdin turned it into a full-blown juggernaut. Once again we have a well-known story, a misunderstood iconoclast for a main character, music by well-known Broadway types, and wacky sidekicks. Ohhhh, the wacky sidekicks. This is where they start getting really numerous. But we’ll get to that. For now, let’s see what happens when what was once bold and daring becomes the new standard and kick off the longest running “house style” this production company ever had. The production wasn’t easy, but they had unprecedented studio support, massive critical cred, and a dynamite creative team. Is there any point in a rhetorical question? No, you already know this was good. So get yourself some falafel, and let’s talk about Aladdin.

Friday, December 7, 2012

1990 - The Rescuers Down Under

“Hello? Yes, this is Bob Newhart. Do another voice for Disney? Sure, I’d… Not *another* voice? I don’t think I follow you. Well, what’s the name of the picture? The… what? The Rescuers? We already did that one, didn’t we? Oh. Ohhh. Oh, I see, after several abortive attempts to make a sequel to the Rescuers, you’re finally pulling it off? Did anyone like it the first time? Yeah, I guess it did okay. So which of the books will this one be based on? Oh, an original story. Australia? Yeah, I guess it is pretty popular right now. Say, don‘t these cartoon pictures take a long time to finish? What if everyone‘s over Australia by the time it comes out? Yeah, you‘re probably right. I… Mm? Am I what? Fair dinkum bonzer? Ah, well, yes, I suppose so. So I‘ll just go and get a vegemite and Foster‘s sandwich and talk about The Rescuers Down Under. Uh-huh. Okay. Bye now.”