The Disneyathon Part 13: Some Unique Films

Link to Previous Part: The Disneyathon – Part 12: Original Classics

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So it’s one of those movies.

Wow! These non-Walt Disney animated movies seem to be coming a lot more frequently in this Disneyathon. Also, spoiler alert, it’s not stopping any time soon! (Including one more in this very post!)

A Goofy Movie is our first TV movie for this series as it’s a tie in with the short lived Goof Troop which I have never seen, but I remember seeing both A Goofy Movie and it’s direct to DVD sequel a long, long time ago.

If you have seen any Disney channel movie or alot of generic kids movies then A Goofy Movie is exactly like those. We follow Goofy’s teenage son Max. (When exactly did Goofy have a kid and better yet who with???) Max is your typical rebellious 90’s kid with the added bonus of being head over heels in love with  the hottest girl in school. It’s a good thing she also likes him so we can move onto the main conflict and that’s Goofy wanting to do boring father and son stuff these holidays.

It’s a wacky road trip movie that will provide you with a laugh, maybe also a tear, and then you will go home feeling good once the credits roll. It’s just a good movie and there really isn’t too much to it. There are wacky hijinks and it’s a cartoon so don’t question how a world full of dog people can co-exist with Walt Disney, Micky Mouse and Donald Duck.

The thing that really surprised me is how Goofy was treated in this movie. He’s not the brightest guy around and is very out of touch with his son, which seems to be the way with every adult in this universe. Despite that Goofy tries his best and I’m glad he isn’t completely oblivious to how his son feels. There are some nice moments in the film where it’s just quiet time between the two of them and it’s quite beautiful. No, I’m not crying!

What else is there to say? I liked Goofy’s pal Pete and not just because he’s voiced by Jim Cummings. Though I wished Wallace Shawn’s character appeared more, my only real drawback is that the plot feels quite generic and, kind of like Oliver and Company, it feels very much like a 90’s movie. Oh yeah, I forgot this movie had songs, I liked the ones with Goofy, but the ones from the Michael Jackson/Prince guy I was not a fan of. That ending when they’re on stage didn’t really help either.

A Goody Movie is not a bad movie, but there’s not much rewatchability unless you want something light and fun. A 7/10.

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Oh God, what have we stumbled across?

I have a pretty good memory of how I felt about these Disney Renaissance movies when I was a kid. That is, all except Pocahontas which I’m not even sure I ever watched all the way through. Anyway, today me thinks Pocahontas isn’t a very good movie and may even be a bad movie.

Pocahontas is quite different to other Disney movies as it’s based on something that actually happened. I’m not overly familiar with the real story to judge inaccuracies, but I can take a guess. The main problem is the story really sucks.

The whole conflict is built upon a simple misunderstanding with a bonus Romeo and Juliet side plot and it really doesn’t work. All of the British settlers think the Native Americans are savage tree huggers. While the Indians think the Settlers are savage foreigners that are here to invade their land, which they’re right about, but the movie just glosses over that as if it’s nothing. Not savage enough I say!

Our spiritual lead Pocahontas is a poorly written character, which is mainly to do with the terrible romance. To start off she kind of reminded me of Jasmine until they blew it by making her obsessed with this hunky stranger she just met. John Smith isn’t much better as once he meets the sexy Pocahontas he no longer has the lust to kill the natives anymore. Apparently he’s been doing this for a long time, but noticing one hot babe just snaps him out of the trance. Also I’m not a fan of Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the character as he sounded awfully confused for the whole movie.

Their romance feels extremely forced as they have zero chemistry. The whole story felt like one of those cookie cutter Oscar bait movies and it turns out that’s exactly what they were going for. A forced romance, a very simple conflict resolved in a unrealistic manner and the subject matter is presented in a non-challenging way. They say the word savages more than the word Pocahontas. It feels very Hollywood and not like the Disney I have been familiar with. If this movie didn’t get such a mixed reception then maybe it would have been nominated for best picture.

Before we end this off I do want to mention some aspects that worked amazingly. One major plus is the animation as this is probably the most beautifully animated Disney movie so far. It’s gorgeous to look at with the vibrant colours, the misty woods, the bright lively river and wonderous serenity of Virginia’s woods. Savages is the best sequence in the movie, as the two sides prepare for war – the loud drums, the different colours over the two groups and the rising smoke clouds make for a visually appealing sequence.

Alan Menken did it again! The songs are once again fantastic and I don’t really have a problem with any of them, expect maybe the first song. The Oscar nominated Colours of the Wind and Just Around the River Bend are my favourites.

Overall in Pocahontas the negatives outshine the positives. It’s a poorly thought out whitewash of everyone’s favourite history lesson with the bonus of having the Disney logo slapped on it. I don’t know what they were thinking with this one. Do they realise they’re a family orientated entertainment company? When will these big companies realise that showing their prideful political agenda is not entertaining. I have something entertaining and it’s called a big 4 out of 10. No I don’t think that was entertaining either. Oh well, next movie!

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Uhhhhhhhhhh?

Oh boy, what did I just watch?

It’s from the guys that brought us The Nightmare Before Christmas, an excellent and unique film. But  for every winner we have a dud so Meet James and the Giant Peach everybody.

This is based is on a Roald Dahl book and from my experience I liked his stories for their unique settings and the good messages they give to kids to enjoy. His stories always feel like they’re written in the mind of a child and this movie takes that bit too literally.

This is such a strange movie that I’m finding it very difficult to wrap my thoughts around it. It’s a simple story of a boy dreaming to go somewhere far away from his abusive guardians, something we have seen a few times already in this series. That all changes when a magic old man played by Pete Postlethwaite gives James these magic glow worms which will help him escape. Unfortunately his two hobo aunties make him drop the worms and they disappear into the ground and this gives birth to a giant peach on a tree. Later James eats a bit of the peach, but a magic worm leaps on it, so he turns into a stop motion character. Also his parents were eaten by a rhinoceros!!

I could spend the rest of this review listing off everything that makes zero sense in this movie. Every scene they find a way to surprise you, which forced me to stop questioning the lack of logic. Besides that, it wasn’t too bad of a watch. The best part of the movie is in the peach with the insects. Each character has alot of energy and charm and all of the actors give great performances.

There is some music too which I’m a bit mixed on. My Name is James is god awful while Family is very charming and sweet. Nothing against the kid, but he was terrible in the movie. He did better when he was with the talented voice cast, but he can’t deliver any emotional scene on his own. I did mention stop motion earlier and that wasn’t too bad but it felt more like a novelty. I think a fully animated movie would have been better because some of the special effects don’t really hold up anymore. These characters work better in darkness not really in broad daylight and around real people.

Damn, I never thought the day would come when I would be so conflicted on a movie. I’m not sure if it’s okay or quite entertaining. There were parts of it I thought was really well handled and others I felt they could have done better. There was also no point dissecting some areas because that would be a waste of time. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to rate it, so I’ll put it at the bottom of this post. If you want an interesting experience check this one out and I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this movie as it might help me understand my own.

I think it’s a 6/10, but it may change.

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Trust me, the whole movie isn’t like this.

We have gone through quite a roller coaster ride in this part of the Disneyathon. We have had our fair share of ups and downs, but let’s finish off with something a bit dark. Mwahahahaa!

The crowning jewel of Part 13 is The Hunchback of Notre Dame – a gothic tale about love, discrimination and eternal damnation. (You know, the type of movie you want your kids to watch!) Hunchback is more aimed at adults as, despite how hopeful it looks on the cover, it’s a dark movie, which is quite surprising from Disney and the crazy thing is it actually works.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is Disney’s most rich movie yet meaning it’s a movie where the film making is the most interesting part. There’s a fair amount you could dissect in Hunchback from the music, the animation, the lighting, the colours, the setting, the story and the characters. For the purpose of this post I’ll keep my thoughts brief.

The Disney crew really nailed the atmosphere of Paris. From the very streets occupied by the many inhabitants and city guards to the fun cooky side of the gypsies and the religious overtones of the mighty Notre Dame itself. Along with Pocahontas this is probably the best animation Disney has ever produced. I’m glad I have been getting all of these movies on Blu-ray as it makes the visuals just look so impressive. Every scene is so well crafted and the high emphasis on colour and mist and lighting makes the drama feel more epic. The only downside is some of the 3D models in the bigger crowds look really bad. They haven’t aged well, which is the case with all 3D work of this era, but it’s no deal breaker.

I should probably mention the story right? It’s an epic play with a touch of the Disney charm. I enjoyed all of the characters as they worked perfectly in the story. Esmerelda was my favourite. She’s kind, she has the best song in the movie and is a no-nonsense chick. I liked all of her interactions with the three men who made up the love square. Quasi and Phoebus were both great. The Gargoyles were also pretty good, but they overstayed their welcome on occasions, especially after a serious dramatic moment.

Then there is Frollo, played by the late Tony Jay who is probably Disney’s most unique villain since Gaston. Frollo is kind of in a league of his own as he’s one of the main reasons why this movie is so dark. Despite coming off as an evil maniac I like how Frollo is Disney’s first attempt at creating a complex bad guy. The song Hellfire shows pretty much everything going on in his head. He has an obsession with capturing Esmeralda, but the thing is his sexual desires for her are getting in the way of him just hanging her. So he’d rather leave it to fate and blame the gypsy girl for his rough relationship with the church.

The soundtrack is perfect. The church choir builds a nice anticipation for the film, kind of like The Circle of Life did for The Lion King. All of the songs are fantastic and I could listen to them forever and not get bored. The Bells of Notre Dame, Out There, Topsy Turvy, The Court of Miracles and even the Gargoyle song all make up the best soundtrack in Disney’s library.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is awesome! It may not be for everyone, but it’s a fine piece of art that really paid off and it is movies like Hunchback that remind me why I love watching these Disney films. 9 ½ out of 10.   

My Official Disneyathon Ranking List

Link to Next Part: (Coming Soon)

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