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The Disney Feature Cartoons
Topic Started: Sep 29 2005, 11:04 AM (2,614 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Here's a thumbnail sketch of the Disney animated features, with my opinion as to their general entertainment value. I saw only two of 'em as a kid (Sword in the Stone and a reissue of Bambi) so I don't know what sort of "sense of wonder" most of 'em instilled, and I'm just judging 'em as a growed-up type person.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) The first and one of the best. The Disney Platinum DVD is on my “Top Ten DVDs of All Time” list. ****

Pinocchio (1940) A tad long and not quite as good as Snow White, but better animated and more beautiful. ***

Fantasia (1940) An incredible change of pace, and one of my very favorites. ****

Dumbo (1941) Short and very sweet. After the box-office failure of the previous two films, this one is cut back a bit, animation-wise, but it grows on me with every viewing. ***1/2*

Bambi (1942) Wonderful characters. A real charmer. ***1/2*

Saludos Amigos (1943) Very short (under 50 min.) with several live-action (but colorful) sequences. Disney switched from feature-length stories to collections of short cartoons with a bridging theme. ***

The Three Caballeros (1945) A sequel, more or less, to Saludos Amigos, but not as good, although longer. **1/2*

Make Mine Music (1946) Fantasia for pop music. Includes “Casey at the Bat”. **1/2*

Fun and Fancy Free (1947) Two longer stories, “Mickey and the Beanstalk” and “Bongo”. I like the former, not the latter. **1/2*

Melody Time (1948) Another Make Mine Music. **1/2*

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) Includes two stories, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Wind in the Willows”. A step up from recent fare. **1/2*

Cinderella (1950) It took five years after the end of WWII, but Walt was at last ready to tackle feature-length stories again. Not up to his earliest features, but a lot of charm and fun. ***

Alice in Wonderland (1951) Alice is a horrible child; this film is better when you’re stoned than when you’re not (don’t ask me how I know). **1/2*

Peter Pan (1953) Doesn’t have the sense of wonder that it should, but it’s fun. ***

Lady and the Tramp (1955) Disney’s first widescreen offering. Peggy Lee steals the show. ***

Sleeping Beauty (1959) This one always left me cold – until I saw it in widescreen. Wow! ***1/2*

101 Dalmatians (1961) The animation is a big step back in a style unlike typical Disney, but the story’s a winner. ***

The Sword in the Stone (1963) First Disney film I ever saw, when it was originally released. I liked it a lot. Then. **

The Jungle Book (1967) The last film Disney personally oversaw. The animation continues to suffer, but the songs and characters are fun. ***

The Aristocats (1970) A feline 101 Dalmations, but not as good. **

Robin Hood (1973) One of the worst, if not THE worst. They even traced a sequence from Snow White, of all things. Terrible. *

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) A compilation of previously released shorts, and it’s very good. ***

The Rescuers (1977) Interesting voice cast (Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor) and a step up from most recent fare. **1/2*

The Fox and the Hound (1981) Supposedly, the first feature from the “new generation” of Disney artists. It’s okay. **1/2*

The Black Cauldron (1985) A not-altogether-successful attempt to appeal to Star Wars kids. **

The Great Mouse Detective (1986) Reminiscent of the ‘70s films; okay, but not a patch on the best Disney. **1/2*

Oliver and Company (1988) Ugh. We’re back in Robin Hood-ville, with the worst of Disney. *

The Little Mermaid (1989) Who expected Disney at this late date to hit one out of the park? A wonderful, tuneful masterpiece. ****

The Rescuers Down Under (1990) Disney’s first official sequel, but why? **1/2*

Beauty and the Beast (1991) The first (and only) film to be nominated for Best Picture. A classic, and the DVD set is a must-have. ****

Aladdin (1992) Disney turned to classic Warner Bros. cartoons for their comedy inspiration on this one, and the result was another classic. ****

The Lion King (1994) Discounting the Rescuers sequel, the fourth masterpiece in a row from Disney. Made more money than any of us could count. ****

Pocahontas (1995) Yikes! The streak is broken. Not a bad film, but it seemed weaker than it is because of the films that preceded it. **1/*

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) This one actually is as weak at it seems. Quasimodo as a talkative, love-sick teenager. One of the worst. *

Hercules (1997) An attempt to duplicate the comedy of Aladdin, but whereas that film had great songs, this one doesn’t. **1/2*

Mulan (1998) Back to the heights; a winner in every respect. ****

Tarzan (1999) A so-so adaptation, probably the first Tarzan ever with no black people in it. Dreadful songs by Phil Collins. **

Fantasia 2000 (2000) Underrated sequel; there’s some great stuff in here, particularly “Rhapsody in Blue”. ***1/2*

The Emperor's New Groove (2000) Another straight-out comedy, with the musical numbers eschewed for once. Pretty funny. **1/2*

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) What WERE they thinking? Not exciting and not funny… I guess we’re supposed to be engrossed in the fancy computer animation and not care. I cared. *1/2*

Lilo & Stitch (2002) A comedy with Elvis songs. A pleasant diversion. **

Treasure Planet (2002) Another action-adventure misfire, even worse than Atlantis. *

Brother Bear (2003) An attempt to find The Lion King’s groove. Better than it had any right to be, and there’s some good stuff in here. ***

Home On The Range (2004) Rock-bottom Disney. Humorless, lifeless, artless, witless. *

I've left off Victory Through Air Power (the WWII feature about bombing Nazis) and the partially animated Disney films Song of the South, So Dear to My Heart, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Pete's Dragon. For the record, I think Poppins is excellent but too long and Song of the South is overrated; it's fairly terrible when the cartoons aren't on.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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KanSmiley
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I have a VHS copy of Song of the South. I would agree with Gravy it is overrated. I guess it is pretty typical of the way blacks were characterized sixty years ago. Uncle Remus is a shining star in this movie his morality stories. They should eliminate all the non-Remus scenes and just make it as an Uncle Remus movie with the stories. I do have a question. On my copy the songs are sub-titled in Japanese. Nothing else is. Why did they chose to sub-title just the songs?
Smiley
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intoxicated, adj.: When you feel sophisticated without being able to pronounce it.
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The Batman
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I know what you mean, LG, Atlantis: The Lost Empire could have been a real winner; but something was missing.
Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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ZenArcher
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I believe the copy you have was dubbed from a Laserdisc. There were two
Laserdiscs issued, one with hardcoded subs on the songs and one without.
I have a DVD of both versions and the version without the subs also includes
the most politically incorrect animation I've ever seen. "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.

I don't think the movie's that good. I think all the controversy that surrounds
the film is what generates people's curiosity.

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"The Oxen Are Slow, But The Earth Is Patient."
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Inspector Carr
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Speaking of Song of the South Isn't Michael Eisner the main reason it is not released domestically?
"Life is a Crapshoot however you need a pair of dice to participate"
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rodney
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Hard to say.....I know someone who insists that Bill Cosby has bought the rights and refuses to release it.....ah! Urban legends! Gotta love 'em!
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SuperRog
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Yes, that is indeed an urban legend...in fact, I think it made it into a book Richard Roeper wrote about such things. It's ridiculous if for no other reason that the Disney studio isn't about to go selling off any of it's movies.
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Laughing Gravy
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Roeper's book on Hollywood urban legends was one of the worst, most amateurly written pieces of fluff it's ever been my misfortune to read. The guy apparently did about 15 min. worth of research on the Internet, and then wrote a book. Where did Ebert dig up this guy?
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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The Batman
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I picked up Hollywood Urban Legends at the local bookstore, for $2, in the bargain bin. I have not read it yet, but am curious, why is it garbage, LG? Is it just the writing, or is the content faulty as well?
Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman...then always be Batman!
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Sgt King
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Gravy, I can't believe I'm just now getting around with this reply: thanks for the very well done critiques of all the Disney feature animation. Agree with 90 percent of your accessments.
Jungle Book is lacking in great animation but I rate it **** anyway because of the fantastic songs, music and voice actors.
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JazzGuyy
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I have just recently come to this forum which is why my $.02 is being added so late.

I have to confess that my overall opinion of Disney stuff, especially the stuff done during Walt's lifetime, is that most of it is overrated. Yes, the animation is often dazzling but story and character are often forgotten and some of the material (especially Snow White, which always struck me as 15-20 minutes of story stretched to 70) seems padded and bloated.

There are some that I like and like a lot though. My all-time favorite is Dumbo, which as I understand it, Walt had little to do with. It was the project of the animators. It is nearly perfect. After Dumbo, I think Pinocchio is very good and that Lady and the Tramp is fun. Alice, Cinderella, and most of the rest during Walt's life do little for me. Fantasia is an interesting and often very good curiosity but parts of it are very much overdone.

I'll leave out the compilation movies (like Fun & Fancy Free), though I think they are often better than the feature-length stuff.

Of the post-Walt material, I've seen very little of the '70s and '80s stuff except for Robin Hood (which I like only because Louie Prima was in it). The more recent stuff is uneven. Aladdin is great and so is Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Most of the rest leave me cold (haven't seen some of them: Mulan, Hercules, Pocahontas, and a couple of others). Even in the good modern ones, the songs are generally undistinguished.

As to Song of the South, I would agree that it is way overrated, primarily because few people have seen it recently. I have the Japanese laserdisc and was quite disappointed when I watched it. Save for the Br'er Rabbit animations and the Zip-e-doo-dah song, there's not much there.
TANSTAAFL!
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Laughing Gravy
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I recommend Mulan; it's a terrific film.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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panzer the great & terrible
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Hey, how do you pronounce Jazz Guyy? Do you say guy-yuh? Guy-eee?

I need to know this stuff.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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JazzGuyy
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Panzer,

The last "Y" is silent. I tend not to be.
TANSTAAFL!
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panzer the great & terrible
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Where in central Va.? Reason I ask, I was born in Charlottesville.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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