Another compilation movie, which like Make Mine Music uses popular music as the driving force behind many of the sections. And again, the results are a mixed bag.
These package movies were later cut up and distributed in different ways and the opener “Once Upon a Wintertime” must have appeared on a Christmas video because I’d seen it before. The short is rather quaint, dealing with a young couple who go skating on a frozen pond and there’s a nice touch in having the young lovers followed and copied by a pair of lovestruck bunnies.
It’s all cutesy stuff, but not without its charms and there’s a little bit of action as tragedy almost befalls them thanks to some thin ice and a waterfall. It’s decent enough, and in the context of this movie one of the high points.
The low comes courtesy of a section called “Trees” which is instantly forgettable. Another duff entry is the story of Johnny Appleseed, who is apparently an American folk hero. Why is hard to see from this offering as the story seems to be that this fella went and grew apples in the West. That’s it. I’m sure the real story has more to it, but here it’s all rather dull.
Johnny goes West, befriends the critters, plants the trees and these help the westward expansion of America. I don’t want to get too political here, but even for a kids’ movie this dumbs down the pioneer years and we see Native Americans briefly at a festival where they celebrate apples, everyone is happy with the new status quo. Most worryingly is a kind of manifest destiny vibe where Johnny’s guardian angel tells him to go West to help the frontiersmen, as if the whole thing is divinely mandated.
The musical accompaniment is alright, but the story is rather uninvolving. Slightly more entertaining is “Blame it on the Samba” which reunites Donald Duck and Jose Carioca for the third time. This upbeat number is quite fun and the visuals, featuring the cartoon characters interacting with live action organ player Ethel Smith. The problem is there doesn’t seem to be a story or much of a point, and it’s just a nice upbeat part.
Similarly “Bumble Boogie”, which presents a jazzy update of “Flight of the Bumblebee” is quite fun. It’s got a surreal vibe and the marriage of music and visuals is well done, with the musical instruments morphing into flowers and other things which the bee hero navigates his way through.
The remaining two sections have clearer stories and the first of these, “Little Toot” sung by the Andrews Sisters is quite good fun, dealing with a young tugboat who wants to be like his dad but only succeeds in causing trouble before coming good.
The last section, and the one which closes the film, is the story of Western folk legend Pecos Bill and is narrated by Roy Rogers. It’s got some nice moments, mainly from the hyperbolic exploits of the hero, who lassos a tornado and uses lightning to light a cigarette. There’s a goofy spirit to the proceedings and it’s probably the most fun of the sections, and the story is well done. The visuals are reminiscent of the madcap Looney Tunes style and it has an energy which is lacking elsewhere.
Again the wilderness period throws up another package film, and this one has more misses than hits. While the art is solid throughout, and the marriage of live action and animation is slicker here, it still feels lacklustre and too much seems to be included to bump up the running time.
I can’t wait to get back to proper feature length stories, oh well, at least the end of the wilderness period is in sight now.
Disney Score: 3/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
This movie is essentially a double feature of shorter stories, and both parts are pretty decent, if flawed.
The linking device is Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards), who sets up both stories. Firstly he arrives in a playroom where he plays a record which plays music by Dinah Shore that serves as narration for the first part.
This deals with the story of Bongo, a circus bear who fed up of his “gilded cage” escapes and winds up living in the woods. He struggles to adapt at first but soon finds his feet and falls for Lulubelle.
Unfortunately, having been raised in the circus he has no idea of bear courtship rituals which apparently involve slapping each other, and he is hurt when Lulubelle strikes him. Lulubelle then gets grabbed by the hulking, bullying Lumpjaw. When Bongo realises his mistake he runs back to Lulubelle and fights off his rival.
I kinda dug this part because the story is quite well done and the action is madcap and fun. There’s also a marvellously surreal sequence as Bongo and Lulubelle fall in love, which is rather trippy. I also like that as with Dumbo the film is pretty hard on how circuses treat animals, which is quite ahead of it’s time. There are a few parts when it drags a little and the song isn’t particularly catchy, but it still mostly works.
Jiminy then finds a invitation to a party and goes to it. Here he arrives at the weirdest party ever. I get that this film comes from a more innocent era, but for a modern viewer it’s kinda weird that a grown man throws a party for a little girl which is only attended by her and his two ventriloquist dummies. I guess that in the context of the film the ventriloquist dummies are meant to be real characters, but it still feels odd. Why not throw in another couple of kids?
Also, ventriloquist dummies are creepy as hell anyway, but one of them in particular, Mortimer, will haunt my dreams.
The ventriloquist, Edgar Bergen, then narrates the story of “Mickey and the Beanstalk”, with the dummies throwing in gags along the way. Some of these gags actually work, and the dummy Charlie offers sarky commentary and postmodern nods to the story. The story is of course Jack and the Beanstalk but with Mickey in the role, accompanied by Goofy and Donald.
It’s worth mentioning that this movie would be the last feature length outing for Mickey where Walt himself provided the voice.
The story is familiar and told with a few changes, Happy Valley is suffering because the Golden Harp has been stolen, and when they grow the beanstalk they find it in the possession of the giant. It’s an okay story, but it goes on a bit long and sags in the middle.
There are a few moments where it works, such as when Donald, mad with hunger, tries to kill the farm’s cow, which the little girl is appalled by. And Donald is the most entertaining as the barely controlled ball of rage.
Mickey and Goofy are their usual selves and the story is told well enough. The ending where Willie the Giant is shown to have survived is a cop out and a daft flourish the movie doesn’t need.
The two part structure actually works, with both stories having enough room unlike in the previous episodic movies. But it doesn’t feel like a complete film and the presence of the creepy dummies hurt it a lot in my view.
Disney Score: 5/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
We’re still deep in the wilderness years for this one, which is kinda like a pop music version of Fantasia, with this being a series of animated pieces to music. The problem is that in terms of art and music it can’t match the earlier effort. This is understandable as this was made during the Second World War and many of Walt’s men were overseas or making propaganda. Feature length animation had stopped being a priority and like Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, this is a package affair.
While those were linked by themes of location, here it’s a much more muddled effort and as such the segments are rather hit and miss. As a kid I must have seen some of this as I remember the “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met”, the final part and this is one of the stronger, telling a complete story which uses music well and is quite funny.
Aside from this it all felt new to me. Some pieces like “After You’ve Gone”, “Two Silhouettes” and “Blue Bayou” are incredibly forgettable, and I’d struggle to give many details on any of them, despite having watched it a few hours before writing this.
These are the more serious parts and they all fall flat, with the comedic entries having to carry the film and even here they drop the ball. “Casey at the Bat” a reading of a poem about a cocky baseball player coming a cropper is quite fun, but goes on a bit.
“Peter and the Wolf” is the closest this gets to classical and it’s a well done piece, with the different instruments working well and the cartoon style in bringing the characters alive is charming, even if the ending is a cop out.
The hillbilly star crossed lovers who turn up in “The Martins and the Coys” are quite good fun too, even though it is a bit weird to see a bloody turf war turned into comedy. Nonetheless, it’s got some nice touches and the ending where the loving couple fall out after marriage is a neat kicker to the story.
“Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet” is sweet enough but rather dull, but the jazzy “All the Cats Join In” is a treat. Capturing the fun, fast paced life of a group of teenagers it’s cleverly animated with the artist’s pencil adding details as the story progresses. The dance scene is quite good fun, and the energy of the piece lifts the film, although any momentum is utterly lost in “Without You”, a mournful ballad of lost love.
All in all this is a frustrating watch with the changes in tone jarring and the lack of a through line to connect the pieces means it never feels like a movie and rather just a collection of shorts. And you wonder why they’ve been put together in this order.
Disney Score: 4/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Long time readers will know that I’ve been doing the Disney Classics films in order, but I’m going to jump ahead to include this on my list of favourite movies.
This movie was Disney returning to their roots with a fairy tale inspired story rendered in traditional animation and introducing the latest Disney Princess. And it ticks a lot of boxes, boasting a quality soundtrack, a funny script, a great villain and an involving central story. On it’s own merits it would rank high on my Disney list but what makes it a personal favourite is a sentimental attachment.
This is the first movie that MWF and I watched together, before we were a couple and just friends. We’d hung out for the day chatting and then put this on as MWF insisted I had to see it. It would be a while after this that we got together, but the movie and the day we spent together when we watched it were when I started to genuinely fancy her.
The movie riffs on the traditional Frog Prince story, but gives it a clever twist. The old tale is retold in New Orleans, at the start by Eudora (voiced by Oprah Winfrey), a black seamstress to the daughter of her white boss and her own daughter, and the boss’ daughter dreams of meeting her prince. The seamstress’ daughter wants to run a restaurant with her father, but he reminds her that it takes hard work as well as wishing to get things done.
We then jump forward to the 1920s, and the seamstress’ daughter Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) is now a young woman, still chasing her dream of the restaurant by working two jobs and saving every penny she can. Her social life suffers and her mother worries that she is failing to enjoy her life and is working too hard. An opportunity to get the money needed for the building she wants for the restaurant arises when her old friend Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) offers her a catering job as her wealthy father is hosting a big party.
Charlotte, still obsessed with landing her prince is excited as the party is hosting Prince Naveen, a handsome, suave young man.
Naveen (Bruno Campos) is a bit of a playboy and used to having money, although his parents have now cut him off. Arriving in New Orleans with his valet Lawrence (Peter Bartlett) he wants to live the high life but Lawrence reminds him he needs to settle down and get married if he wants to get back on the gravy train.
Naveen and Lawrence meet Doctor Facilier (Keith David), a voodoo witch doctor who reads their fortune and then tricks them into a bargain. His magic transforms Lawrence into Naveen, while Naveen becomes a frog who they lock away. Facilier plans for Lawrence to marry Charlotte, after which he will kill her father Big Daddy (John Goodman) and get his fortune and influence.
Naveen escapes and at the party meets Tiana, who has just been told her bid for the building has been rejected. Inspired by the story he tells Tiana she needs to kiss him, thinking she is a princess. She is reluctant to do until he promises to give her the money for her restaurant. When they kiss, however, it is Tiana who is transformed, becoming a frog as well.
Naveen realises that Tiana, despite her costume, is not a princess and that’s why it didn’t work. She in turn learns that he is broke. Both then get lost in the swamps and must try to find their way back in order to stop Facilier’s plan and return to their human form. Along the way they are assisted by Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) a trumpet playing alligator who dreams of playing Jazz and Ray (Jim Cummings), a cajun firefly. They are led to meet voodoo queen Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis) who they hope can help them.
The movie works because it’s got bucketloads of charm and a host of cool characters. And unlike a lot of Disney movies the leads are among the best characters on show here, with both Tiana and Naveen being very likeable. Their dynamic works brilliantly with the strait laced Tiana clashing with the laidback, pampered Naveen. Naveen oozes suave charm throughout and his carefree approach to life is fun, although he comes to learn that some things require work and that sometimes sacrifice is needed. In the same way he helps Tiana loosen up and realise that there are more important things than work and success.
Tiana is one of the better Princess heroines, as she’s shown to be smart, tough and hard working throughout. While she may need her priorities sorting out she is still a great heroine, being very proactive and swinging into action when needs be. She’s a very modern princess and works well, telling the audience that it isn’t enough to wait for good things to happen, you have to go out and make them happen.
The supporting cast are great, particularly Ray and Louis their guides in the swamp. Louis’ stupidity is endearing and his bizarre dream works well, and Ray is just flat out brilliant. With his bayou accent and spirit he is more than just comic relief and serves to educate the leads as to what love is about.
And Tiana’s loud, brassy friend Charlotte is a great character, full of life and chattering constantly she could easily be a simply ridiculous character, but the script gives her a chance to show greater depths of friendship, decency and kindness. All of this without diluting her over the top character.
Of course, all the best Disney movies have a great villain and here the film scores a big win with the sneaky, smooth talking Doctor Facilier, wonderfully voiced by Keith David. During his songs and speeches he delivers funny asides and is shown to be a smart, scheming foe. Distinctly creepy at times, it also works because Facilier doesn’t have power in a real sense, having received his gifts as part of a deal with his “friends on the other side”. It means that he too is under the cosh and the dark forces are kept at the fringes although they do make menacing appearances, and his main skill is reading and exploiting people’s weaknesses.
The plot flows well and the development works, with the relationship feeling real and the turns making sense. There’s also a gut punch in the final act which continues a Disney trend of actually sneaking in some dark moments into what people dismiss as cheesy and cheery kids films. Even as a grown man it left me with a lump in the throat.
Of course, it all ends well, and the ending is satisfying. It’s a very rewatchable flick and the music, influenced by the New Orleans setting is filled with some crackers, especially the villain song and Ray’s ode to his distant love Evangeline.
Fun, charming and well done this is one of my favourite movies and high on the list of my favourite Disney movies too.
Disney Score: 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
I was a massive fan of The Lego Movie and one of the many good things about it was the treatment of Batman (Will Arnett), who they transformed into a cocky, self absorbed show off. When it was announced that he’d be getting a solo run out, it instantly joined the list of movies I was looking forward to and yesterday MWF and I went along with a friend to check it out.
The film kicks off with the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) leading a team of Gotham’s villains in a daring attempt to seize control of the city by threatening with a gigantic bomb. Unfortunately for the Clown Prince of Crime, Batman arrives just in time and makes short work of his associates. As the duo face off the Joker is hurt to discover that Batman doesn’t regard him as special or his archenemy, announcing he doesn’t care.
Batman saves the day and all is good, however, it is revealed that when he returns to Wayne Manor he is lonely and bored. His trusty butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) is concerned that he has no life beyond Batman, but he refuses to acknowledge this. Bruce—0s0A\\\ attends the retirement party of Jim Gordon, where his replacement is to be announced. The replacement is Jim’s daughter, Barbara (Rosario Dawson), who Bruce is attracted to. Distracted by Barbara’s beauty Bruce agrees to adopt nerdy orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera).
Barbara announces a bold new plan for Gotham and her desire for Batman to work with the police, and highlighting that despite his efforts Gotham is still the worst city for crime. Joker and Co. attack but Joker then surrenders, much to the suspicion of Batman and Barbara. Joker and the other villains are imprisoned, and the city celebrates.
With nothing to do Batman is bored and sad, resisting Alfred’s urging to spend time with Dick and act as his father figure. Batman continues to spy on Joker and decides that the only way to be safe is to send Joker to the Phantom Zone, where the universe’s worst villains are imprisoned. Recruiting Dick as his sidekick, and giving him an old colourful costume the duo steal a device to send people to the Phantom Zone from Superman (Channing Tatum), who Batman discovers is throwing a party for all the superheroes that he was not invited to.
They send Joker to the Phantom Zone, but Barbara imprisons them. Unfortunately, this has played into the Joker’s plans and he breaks out with several other villains to get revenge on Batman and Gotham.
Batman reluctantly agrees to allow Barbara, Dick and Alfred to help him, but can they triumph and can he resist his urge to go it alone? And will he be able to admit to himself that his insistence on working alone comes from his fear of losing people again?
This is an incredibly daft and fun movie which works because of the central character, with Batman continuing to be a swaggering, boastful jerk who has to face up to his failings and feelings. It’s a big twist on the traditional way the Dark Knight is portrayed and the egomaniac is hugely entertaining, especially when he is repeatedly outwitted or out of his depth.
This happens often with Barbara who is a clever, confident woman who has his number from the jump and provides sensible advice he routinely ignores. As the movie unfolds he is forced to accept that teamwork is key and slowly acknowledges the help the others provide him with.
The other supporting players work well, especially the irritatingly cheery Dick Grayson who slowly breaks down Batman’s stern exterior.
The storyline of the Joker’s rejection and his relationship with Batman is quite well done, playing it as almost a warped romance, with Joker believing it was a deeper connection and Batman brushing it off saying that he “likes to fight around”. The Joker’s plan is pretty clever and allows a whole host of cameos from different villains in the final act, with King Kong, Voldemort, Daleks, Gremlins and the Wicked Witch of the West among others.
The action is fact paced and largely comical, with characters making the sounds of the guns they use and the Lego world allowing for inventive chaos. Batman, as a master builder, continues to build massive, crazy contraptions and visually it is stunning.
It’s also a delight for geeks as it’s rammed with little gags and references. The beginning and end poke fun at the seriousness of some superhero movies, and there are nods to the many different incarnations of the characters (including a brief clip of Adam West in action). The Joker’s posse includes a host of Gotham’s villains including lesser, dafter enemies and there are nods to the comic book conventions, especially how inept the Gotham police are and one hostage’s relaxed response to being confronted by the Joker. It’s quite clever and funny, but I did wonder how well it would play for kids as a lot of it is very ironic and pokes fun at the character and the world.
Plot wise it’s quite straight forward, and the issues of teamwork, family and Batman accepting help from others and letting people in hardly groundbreaking. It’s not quite as good as The Lego Movie in terms of sheer manic energy, but it’s still a very solid comedy adventure and keeps moving at a decent pace. But it feels like this is a good place to leave the block Batman, as any more would overplay the joke.
Verdict: Consistently funny and loaded with injokes, this is an extremely entertaining movie. Daft in places it, it works well as a fast paced romp. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Despite the success of adult orientated animation on the small screen, Hollywood has been less ready to dip it’s toe into feature length animation geared for grown ups. There have been a few attempts, but a 15 rated animated film is still a rarity. The trailers looked fun so MWF and I joined a friend and went to check out Sausage Party.
This, co-written by star Seth Rogen starts off with a simple, Pixar like premise “what if food in the supermarket had feelings” but then takes it in a far more darker direction. All the produce view humans as their gods and dream of being chosen to go to the “great beyond” outside their home in Shopwell’s supermarket.
Hot dog Frank (Rogen) and bun Brenda (Kristen Wiig) develop an attraction and want to be together, hoping to be getting selected together. The relationship between dogs and buns is leant a sexual element.
In the run up to Independence Day a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) is returned and appears traumatised by what he saw on the outside, ranting that the “gods” are evil. When he is chosen again, alongside Frank and Brenda, he freaks out and tries to kill himself. Frank leaves his packaging to save him, followed by Brenda. In the confusion that follows both fall from the trolley, along with other products who are damaged in the chaos.
Lost in the store they try to get home although Frank is troubled by what Honey Mustard saidand begins questioning what is really going on. One of the other products that fell from the cart is Douche (Nick Kroll) an obnoxious feminine hygiene product (obviously) who blames Frank for his being discarded and damaged. Seeking revenge he begins drinking other products becoming stronger as a result.
Meanwhile, Frank’s friends Carl (Jonah Hill) and Barry (Michael Cera) have been taken home and witness the other products being cooked and eaten, horrified by what they see. Barry escapes and decides to head back to the store where things were better.
Can Barry get back? Will Frank work out what really happens in the great beyond? And if he does how will he change things?
As the premise tells you this is an incredibly silly film, and rather stupid. The film keeps the jokes coming quick and fast, and I laughed a fair few times but it doesn’t quite work. While the premise is clever there’s not enough there for a full length movie, as a short it might work but here it’s laboured and some of the jokes are worked to death.
Take Brenda and Frank’s companions on their journey Sammy Bagel Jr (Edward Norton) and Lavash (David Krumholtz). Both are stereotypes, a Woody Allen-like Jew and an angry Arabic character. While the initial gag about the Israel style situation between the two is funny, it drags on far too long and the continuing stereotypes feel lazy and old fashioned.
There are some parts that work though. A running joke about puns is quite well done especially when they acknowledge how laboured some of them are. It’s also quite clever in the way that it cuts between the human view of the world which is drabber and the colourful world of the products where they have facial features and so on.
It’s also quite a funny sequence where a stoner (James Franco) pierces the veil between the two worlds while tripping.
There are some quite dark moments as the film unfolds particularly when the products declare war on the humans, and it’s kinda jarring. And the attempts to go for a deeper subtext of talking about faith, acceptance and finding what people have in common, but it never really goes deep into anything and most importantly the characters don’t engage you fully. Without forming a connection with the players it’s hard to care and leaves this as a series of vulgarity and OTT moments which after a while lose their charm.
While it delivers some laughs it feels kinda like a bunch of teenagers trying to be as shocking as possible, and while they probably enjoyed it’s very messy, particularly a food orgy at the end which goes on far too long. It’s self indulgent and could have done with some trimming, which for a film that doesn’t even reach an hour and a half is quite damning.
Most telling is that it’s a day later and I don’t remember a single line. It’s a pity as I usually like Rogen’s stuff and this boasts an impressive cast, but it all feels a bit of a waste.
Verdict: There are enough laughs along the way but it feels flat and self-indulgent. They obviously had fun making it, but it doesn’t quite translate and it loses it’s way. I laughed but it gets old doesn’t have a lasting impact. 5/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
I love the movie Finding Nemo which for me is right up there with The Incredibles and the Toy Story trilogy as the best work Pixar have done, so I was pretty stoked about a sequel, especially one that focused on Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), the upbeat fish with short term memory loss.
Picking up a year after the original Dory is still living with Marlin and Nemo (Albert Brooks and Hayden Rolence respectively). One day she remembers something about her childhood and parents, and decides to go find them, aided by an excited Nemo and reluctant Marlin. They cross the ocean where they find the Marine Life Institute. Unfortunately they are separated when Dory is captured by humans.
Inside the institute, Dory begins to remember some things and is marked for transfer. Enlisting the aid of cranky octopus Hank (Ed O’Neill) who doesn’t want to be released back in the wild and agrees to help if he can get Dory’s tag which will help him be transferred. They begin searching the institute looking for clues.
Meanwhile, Marlin and Nemo must try to get in and find their friend. Along the way both are aided by different marine residents including two lazy sea lions, a shortsighted whale shark and a lonely clam.
Can Marlin and Nemo find Dory? Will Dory find her parents? And if she does which family will she live with?
I quite enjoyed this film which is fast paced and fun. The plot is simple but the Pixar team load it with some exciting sequences, colourful characters and plenty of emotion, but it falls short of the original. it lacks the scale of Marlin and Dory’s journey across the ocean or the heart of the Marlin and Nemo story.
That’s not to say this isn’t emotionally involving as they take the comical Dory and add depth, exploring the isolation and sadness that comes with her condition. It also shows us her family life which is incredibly sweet and features an unbelievably cute baby Dory.
This is the heart of the film, as is the theme of family, with Marlin and Nemo being driven to find the adopted Dory as she seeks out her biological family. The question of whether Dory will leave them is a major question and one we see the characters have to face with some reluctance.
The flashbacks are warm and sweet, and Dory’s fears and frustration about her loss and getting back are well done and moving. DeGeneres manages to make Dory engaging and likeable through her voice work and adds just the right wobble of uncertainty to the formerly cheery and charming character. It’s the same Dory audiences fell in love with, but with a slightly deeper insight.
The story moves along briskly and the action sequences have a chaotic, humourous tone which keeps the audience hooked and the laughs coming, as do a selection of new characters.
I laughed numerous times and it continues Pixar’s knack of layering jokes for adults into their family films. There are some nice running gags and Hank’s camouflage skills are used well throughout, and an OTT car chase is wonderful.
It’s gorgeous to look at and quite good fun but MWF and I both left with the feeling that this is a lesser Pixar work, good but with their ridiculous high standards a slight disappointment.
Verdict: Full of fun and with likeable characters, a simple, engaging plot. But it can never match the original and feels slightly lightweight in places. Good but not great. 7/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
One of the (many) perks of being in a relationship with MWF is her Disney collection. As a total Disney addict she owns all of the “Classics” series, which is cool as my Disney viewing has holes in. Of course, I’ve seen most of the big ones, and most of the ’90s ones but before we started dating there was a massive gap between Mulan (1998) and Wreck-It Ralph (2012), however, this has been sorted and I’ve now actually seen almost every single film, especially from the gap. Among these is one that has quickly become one of my favourite all time Disney movies, Tangled.
The movie is a retelling of the Rapunzel myth but with added bits. It begins with the story of a drop of sunlight falling to Earth which creates a magic flower which an aged witch Gothel (Donna Murphy) uses for eternal youth, however, when the pregnant queen falls ill the plant is discovered and used to save her. Gothel, incensed goes to slay the newborn princess, but discovers the magic has been passed onto the girl’s hair. She then steals the princess away and imprisons her in a high tower, keeping her secret and posing as her mother. To keep her there she teaches the young girl, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) that the world is scary and people are after her hair.
However, as she grows up Rapunzel chafes against the confines of the tower and longs to explore the world. She also wants to see the “floating lights”, lanterns which are lit annually for her by the royal couple.
Hope arrives in the form of roguish thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Quinto), who stumbles on her tower while on the run. Rapunzel takes the crown he has stolen and uses it to blackmail him into taking her to see the lights. Flynn is initially unwilling and attempts to put her off by deliberately scaring her by taking her to a rough bar, which backfires thanks to the rough patrons revealing that they also have dreams. This is by far the best music number in the movie a hilarious sequence where the thugs reveal their hobbies and passions before forcing Flynn, at sword point, to join in.
As they travel, Flynn discovers her hair’s secret and takes her to the city, however, Gothel is in pursuit and allied with Flynn’s former associates the Stabbington Brothers (both voiced by Ron Perlman). Her plan is to trick Rapunzel into thinking that Flynn has no feelings for her, thus making the heartbroken girl easier to control and contain.
Flynn honours his promise to show her the lights and this scene, accompanied by a decent ballad is utterly beautiful, the CG creating a beautiful sequence where the lanterns take flight making it for me one of the all time highlights of any animated film.
Double crossed Flynn ends up in the custody of the guards, but escapes, racing to rescue Rapunzel.
Here’s the thing, I love this movie and a large part of that is down to Zachary Levi’s funny performance as the swaggering Flynn. Flynn is a world away from the usual Disney hero, being cocky, self-absorbed and sarcastic, in fact he’s more akin to a Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds type. Of course, underneath this he is still a goodie and has some form of code. Flynn’s frustration at Wanted posters not capturing his face is a running gag and his vanity is one of his flaws.
The relationship between the cynical Flynn and naive, cheery Rapunzel works in an opposites attract way, and the movie should get props for the fact that Rapunzel is in charge of her own destiny and quite heroic herself. Her naivety feels realistic given her sheltered upbringing and she’s not a complete idiot. She’s wary of what happens and knows when to step up, not relying on Flynn or others.
Their relationship develops wonderfully and is paced correctly, not feeling rushed or forced. The finale where Flynn reveals that being with Rapunzel has replaced wealth as his dream is sweet, and his decision to sacrifice himself to free her is a truly emotional moment. That this is reversed with some old school fairytale endings doesn’t diminish it and the ending is strong and satisfying.
Also the supporting cast are great, the animal sidekicks are cute and funny, and in Gothel there’s a truly despicable villain. I can’t think of another kid’s film where the villain is so manipulative or a film where guilt tripping is shown so clearly. Gothel is the kind of villain you just hate and it’s because a lot of her evil isn’t magic or fantastical, it’s worryingly normal and her key weapon against Rapunzel is emotional blackmail and manipulation.
Tangled manages to combine the fairytale magic of the old Princess movies (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White) with a knowing sense of humour and more independent heroine, making it the perfect choice to be the 50th Classic. It both nods to the past and represents a change in tone for Disney, and benefits from a funny, sparkling script which plays well to all ages.
An utter gem of a movie and one I can rewatch over and over.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Last week I saw Inside Out and loved it, and before the film there was a short film. Being a short movie, this will be a short review.
The cute, adorable short follows a lonely volcano who, witnessing other couples being happy sings a song, hoping for a love of his own.
As the years pass he loses his hope and his lava and size dwindles, however, an underwater volcano hears his song and decides to go to the surface to meet him.
Is she too late? Or will they find happiness together?
Based around a simple, glorious Hawaiian style song which puts a grin on your face. The animation is typical of Pixar, full of warmth and character and in a few minutes it manages to be more heartwarming and genuinely affecting than many features manage.
I loved it, making me smile like an idiot and appealed to me as a soft git. It’s full of charm and an easy, light touch which stops it from being too sickly.
Verdict: Brilliantly cheerful and the right kind of sweet, it’ll warm the cockles of your heart. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
This might have been the year I turned 30, but so far my top movies of the year list is topped by cartoons. This movie joins Big Hero 6 as one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had this year.
As with most Pixar movies this is based on a simple, but clever premise, taking us inside the head of a young girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), and showing us the emotions who run the show in there.
First and foremost is Joy (Amy Poehler), who’s usually in charge of keeping the others in line and Riley happy.
The others are Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black). Joy accepts they all have a place, apart from Sadness, who she can’t quite work out.
So far Riley’s life has been happy and simple, and the happy core memories she’s formed have helped form the islands of personality that make her who she is.
But when Riley’s dad gets a new job and they have to move to San Francisco things start to get harder and Joy reacts badly to the fact Sadness causes Riley’s first sad core memory. Joy, Sadness and the core memories wind up thrown out of HQ and lost in the memory banks. Realising that if they don’t get back Riley will never be happy and that her personality can’t stay the same without her memories to inform them they set out across Riley’s mind to get back to HQ.
Can they survive and make it back? How will Fear, Anger and Disgust manage? And what will happen to Riley?
This movie is just flat out great, and should be really cool in helping kids (and adults) understand emotion better. It shows how each emotion can effect us and why they are there.
It’s also, like most Pixar movies, chock full of invention. The design of Riley’s mindscape is glorious, with HQ and the memory banks clearly designed on different parts of the brain. It also reflects how our minds work in clever visual ways, like a Train of thought that meanders and changes route frequently or the fact the memory workers who clear the forgotten ones and delight in randomly sending up an advertising jingle to HQ.
But there’s real substance here amidst the crazy visuals and a consistent stream of laugh-out-loud jokes. For one Riley is an engaging character and believable, with the writers capturing genuine emotions and relatable situations. From embarrassment over well meaning parents to the desire to be cool, there’s lots here that most of us will have experienced.
The emotions, despite having one major characteristic are well done and involving, especially Joy who over the course of the film gains new perspective and understanding. The movie shows us that each emotion serves a purpose and that Sadness isn’t always a bad thing.
What I especially liked were glimpses into different characters heads and their emotions, particularly a boy who meets Riley and who’s emotions we’re shown being thrown into utter panic as a “Girl” alarm sounds. It felt painfully real remembering my own experiences in my early teens.
And it wouldn’t be Pixar without an emotional body blow and a sequence about Riley’s almost forgotten imaginary friend, Bing Bong (Richard Kind), had me a little bit teary.
All in all this movie is an utter delight, funny, moving and clever, it manages to both show how we grow as people and a simplified way of how our minds work with real wit and an engaging, captivating story. It easily ranks among the best of Pixar’s movies which is saying a lot.
Verdict: Pixar knock it out of the park with a movie that bursts at the seams with clever touches, invention and warmth. Over the course of the movie it had me laughing loudly,
almost in tears and thinking about pretty big concepts. A gem of a movie and I already want to watch it again. 9/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.