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Sleeping Beauty Review


Excellent
It's a shame that Sleeping Beauty is saddled with such a sissy title. It's really quite the adventure, with a horse-riding hero, a spell-flinging evil fairy, and even a freakin' dragon! This is also the movie that the now-ubiquitous Magic Kingdom is taken from, it's where our titular heroine, aka Aurora hails from. But when that evil wench Maleficent (like the evil queen from Snow White but with horns) casts a spell that ensures she'll die from being pricked from a spinning wheel, three good fairies take Aurora into the woods, dub her Briar Rose, and try to keep her from harm. By the movie's midpoint, Rose has grown up to her teens, met the love of her life, and has finally been pricked by that wheel, and only through the good magic of the fairies does she stay alive, trapped in an unending slumber. And so our hero Prince Phillip rides into Maleficent's castle, showing down her evil minions and finally Maleficent herself (who takes the form of that dragon I mentioned). Awesome!

Beauty remains one of Disney's finest works. It was unequivocally the best animated film of its era up until arguably The Jungle Book (1967) or even Disney's comeback with The Little Mermaid (1989), depending on your point of view. It succeeds thanks to its awesome score -- borrowed from Tchaikovsky's waltzes -- as well as unprecedentedly detailed animation (dig the backgrounds) and its insanely over-the-top villain ("Me, the mistress of all evil!"). There's no freakin' singing animals or easy solution to the problem -- the prince has to hack his way through a wall of thorns then beat down a dragon in order to get his lady back! Young kids may not really dig the non-caricatured imagery and the lack of child-friendly messages; this isn't exactly the kind of movie you sing along to. (Poor Tchaikovsky missed the Mickey Mouse Club era by about a century.)

Continue reading: Sleeping Beauty Review

Pinocchio (1940) Review


OK
Walt Disney doesn't make 'em like this any more. Hell, they didn't make 'em like this for very long at all. Disney's second feature after Snow White, Pinocchio is a scary and perplexing "children's movie." How so? Jiminy Cricket is a voyeur and a womanizer (even of fish). Gepetto builds sadistic cuckoo clocks with women spanking bare-assed children. When inexplicably swallowed by a whale, he even overfishes the whale's belly for all the tuna it swallowed, not realizing his wooden son is in the water. The blue fairy is mean and vindictive. Even the fish Cleo blows smoke rings.

All this to tell a story that if you don't go to school, you'll get kidnapped and (literally) turn into a jackass. Not only is beer and smoking vilified -- so is playing pool. Now I wouldn't want my kids ditching school and smoking all day, but I don't want them to think playing billiards is bad. As for the movie, the animation is so-so and the storyline is bizarre (example: Pinocchio and Jiminy discover Gepetto has been swallowed by a whale when a note magically drops from the sky).

Continue reading: Pinocchio (1940) Review

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review


Essential
Some films are beyond cynicism. A real classic influences the hearts and minds of audiences, even generations after its creation. Some classics like The Wizard of Oz hold such value that they become indelibly etched in the minds of every American of every walk of life. Disney's Snow White is another such film that has earned that sort of place in our hearts.

Indeed, without Miss White and her band of little men, Disney's moneymaking empire of full-length animated films might never existed. Films that generation after generation of American children has laughed with and cried over might never have been. But Snow White is more than the grandfather of full-length animated films, it is a genuine classic in its own right.

Continue reading: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

Peter Pan (1953) Review


OK
Peter Pan may be a boy who refuses to grow up, but his movie is really one of Disney's most adult "kids'" films.

Like Pinocchio, there are a lot of mature themes in Peter Pan. The elfin Peter is full of duplicity -- he'll lie to no end to get his way. Peter and the children he has brought with him to Never Land (they don't want to grow up either) visit a local Indian tribe, and with appropriate 1950s un-PC-ness, the smoke'm peace pipe and blow smoke triangles (cue song: "What Made the Red Man Red?"). Wendy and the kids are kidnapped by an extremely effeminate sailor (the immortal Captain Hook, Pan's nemesis). Even innocent Tinkerbell looks with frustration at how wide her hips are -- before she sells out her buddies in a play for her freedom from Hook.

Continue reading: Peter Pan (1953) Review

Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review


Good
It's a little sad to think that many kids today know Alice in Wonderland only from its references in The Matrix.

Good news then that kids can see the definitive film version of the classic Lewis Carroll story, Disney's animated 1951 version. For the uninitiated, this musical rendition takes young Alice on a whirlwind ride down a rabbit hole and into a surreal fantasy land where cats vanish, hares have intense schedules, and the world is ruled by a playing card. Remarkably, Alice takes all this in stride; whether potions shrink her or make her grow uncontrollably, she doesn't seem to mind much. It's not until that Queen of Hearts shows up that things start to get dicey... what with the "Off with her head!" and all.

Continue reading: Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review

Pinocchio (1940) Review


OK
Walt Disney doesn't make 'em like this any more. Hell, they didn't make 'em like this for very long at all. Disney's second feature after Snow White, Pinocchio is a scary and perplexing "children's movie." How so? Jiminy Cricket is a voyeur and a womanizer (even of fish). Gepetto builds sadistic cuckoo clocks with women spanking bare-assed children. When inexplicably swallowed by a whale, he even overfishes the whale's belly for all the tuna it swallowed, not realizing his wooden son is in the water. The blue fairy is mean and vindictive. Even the fish Cleo blows smoke rings.

All this to tell a story that if you don't go to school, you'll get kidnapped and (literally) turn into a jackass. Not only is beer and smoking vilified -- so is playing pool. Now I wouldn't want my kids ditching school and smoking all day, but I don't want them to think playing billiards is bad. As for the movie, the animation is so-so and the storyline is bizarre (example: Pinocchio and Jiminy discover Gepetto has been swallowed by a whale when a note magically drops from the sky).

Continue reading: Pinocchio (1940) Review

Sleeping Beauty Review


Excellent
It's a shame that Sleeping Beauty is saddled with such a sissy title. It's really quite the adventure, with a horse-riding hero, a spell-flinging evil fairy, and even a freakin' dragon! This is also the movie that the now-ubiquitous Magic Kingdom is taken from, it's where our titular heroine, aka Aurora hails from. But when that evil wench Maleficent (like the evil queen from Snow White but with horns) casts a spell that ensures she'll die from being pricked from a spinning wheel, three good fairies take Aurora into the woods, dub her Briar Rose, and try to keep her from harm. By the movie's midpoint, Rose has grown up to her teens, met the love of her life, and has finally been pricked by that wheel, and only through the good magic of the fairies does she stay alive, trapped in an unending slumber. And so our hero Prince Phillip rides into Maleficent's castle, showing down her evil minions and finally Maleficent herself (who takes the form of that dragon I mentioned). Awesome!

Beauty remains one of Disney's finest works. It was unequivocally the best animated film of its era up until arguably The Jungle Book (1967) or even Disney's comeback with The Little Mermaid (1989), depending on your point of view. It succeeds thanks to its awesome score -- borrowed from Tchaikovsky's waltzes -- as well as unprecedentedly detailed animation (dig the backgrounds) and its insanely over-the-top villain ("Me, the mistress of all evil!"). There's no freakin' singing animals or easy solution to the problem -- the prince has to hack his way through a wall of thorns then beat down a dragon in order to get his lady back! Young kids may not really dig the non-caricatured imagery and the lack of child-friendly messages; this isn't exactly the kind of movie you sing along to. (Poor Tchaikovsky missed the Mickey Mouse Club era by about a century.)

Continue reading: Sleeping Beauty Review

Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review


Good
It's a little sad to think that many kids today know Alice in Wonderland only from its references in The Matrix.

Good news then that kids can see the definitive film version of the classic Lewis Carroll story, Disney's animated 1951 version. For the uninitiated, this musical rendition takes young Alice on a whirlwind ride down a rabbit hole and into a surreal fantasy land where cats vanish, hares have intense schedules, and the world is ruled by a playing card. Remarkably, Alice takes all this in stride; whether potions shrink her or make her grow uncontrollably, she doesn't seem to mind much. It's not until that Queen of Hearts shows up that things start to get dicey... what with the "Off with her head!" and all.

Continue reading: Alice In Wonderland (1951) Review

Peter Pan (1953) Review


OK
Peter Pan may be a boy who refuses to grow up, but his movie is really one of Disney's most adult "kids'" films.

Like Pinocchio, there are a lot of mature themes in Peter Pan. The elfin Peter is full of duplicity -- he'll lie to no end to get his way. Peter and the children he has brought with him to Never Land (they don't want to grow up either) visit a local Indian tribe, and with appropriate 1950s un-PC-ness, the smoke'm peace pipe and blow smoke triangles (cue song: "What Made the Red Man Red?"). Wendy and the kids are kidnapped by an extremely effeminate sailor (the immortal Captain Hook, Pan's nemesis). Even innocent Tinkerbell looks with frustration at how wide her hips are -- before she sells out her buddies in a play for her freedom from Hook.

Continue reading: Peter Pan (1953) Review

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review


Essential
Some films are beyond cynicism. A real classic influences the hearts and minds of audiences, even generations after its creation. Some classics like The Wizard of Oz hold such value that they become indelibly etched in the minds of every American of every walk of life. Disney's Snow White is another such film that has earned that sort of place in our hearts.

Indeed, without Miss White and her band of little men, Disney's moneymaking empire of full-length animated films might never existed. Films that generation after generation of American children has laughed with and cried over might never have been. But Snow White is more than the grandfather of full-length animated films, it is a genuine classic in its own right.

Continue reading: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

Cinderella Review


Excellent
She talks to birds, lives in a secluded room, and makes little outfits for mice. What a wacko.

Nah, just kidding. We're talking about Cinderella, one of history's most beloved fairy tale characters, and an early star of Disney's animated feature canon, brought to life in this 1950 classic. In Disney history, Cinderella is a transition of sorts: the first major release in eight years (late-'40s titles like Make Mine Music are not as timeless), it kicked off a string of major successes that line home video shelves now, decades later. Business and legacy aside, what little girl doesn't love the magic of this movie?

Continue reading: Cinderella Review

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