After devoting over a year and a half to reviewing every Disney animated film, I was ready to put Disney behind me, for awhile. I recently became one-half of the Walt Sent Me podcast (available to listen to now) and our first featured film was The Reluctant Dragon. The Reluctant Dragon isn’t considered one of the 53 movies Disney considers part of their animated legacy. Odd, considering it contains an equal amount of live action to animation, on par with the later package films. The movie is gimmicky in its depiction of a happy Disney environment during a time when it was anything but, but it depicts a moment in time at the Walt Disney Studios we’ll never witness again, and that makes all the difference.
This review originally ran December 23rd, 2011. I still adore this Christmas special!
As we get ever closer to Christmas Day we’re hitting the best Christmas films to watch. This isn’t a film per se, it’s a television special, but it’s iconic to Christmas. It’s the 1965 special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, one of the greatest specials devoted to a character having an existential Christmas crisis. I love this movie, but I also love to make fun of how serious it takes the material for a special devoted to children.
This review originally ran December 25th, 2011. This is still a must-watch as many times as you can.
I recently watched the Ron Howard remake for this month a few days back and was horrified by what had been done to this great special. Thankfully, rewatching this has made me all but forget that horrible movie! I don’t have any best/worst of the month since I’d seen most of these movies previously, but I’d say Ron Howard’s Grinch was the worst thing I’ve seen.
May 2012: I was looking for ways to diversify the blog’s content, as well as cross off a few personal challenges of my own. I immediately went to Disney for my first weekly feature; one of my favorite things in the entire world. While perusing the list of Disney animated films – at least the ones Disney acknowledges as canon – I realized how many I’d never seen. The mix of classic and contemporary worked for the blog at the time; I was still reviewing modern movies then. Since then, the Journeys in the Disney Vault series has been my longest-running challenge, both personally and professionally. With the final Disney animated film out at the moment, I feel it’s a fitting time to put this series to bed. But before all that, let’s look at the trajectory of Disney animation, and highlight some highs and lows.
Tonight’s film is a television movie, but it’s an iconic Christmas film which holds a place in most people’s hearts. It’s the Rankin-Bass 1970 movie Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. Let me preface this by saying Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is my favorite of the Rankin-Bass movies (my second is the little loved Rudolph’s Shiny New Year). I saw Rudolph again last year and it’s not my favorite, but I know a ton of people who love it, just not me. Anyway, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town boasts the best villain, Burgermeister Meisterburger, tells a tight story about the origins of Santa, and dabbles in the 1970s trippiness we all know and love.
Sorry for the delay with our last Journeys in the Disney Vault review, but Disney (and myself) saved the best for last. After my lukewarm reception to the last few Disney films, and my give and take review of Tangled, Disney finally breaks they mold they’ve been chipping away at since 2000. Frozen reconfigures the princess narrative and gives girls a level of inspiration never witnessed in a Disney movie before. Coupled with the long-delayed first directing/screenwriting credit for a female (yes, it took all the way up to 2013 for Disney to give a woman a directing opportunity; the last time a woman was credited with a Disney script was Beauty and the Beast!), Frozen is a pitch-perfect movie Disney fans are going to hail for decades to come, alongside the greatest works of the Disney Renaissance. With the close of this series I’m happy we’re ending on an epic high note.
It’s here! The second to last review in the Disney Vault is here, and it’s a bit of a downer because Wreck-It Ralph isn’t necessarily astounding. After the massive Tangled and the subdued, but charming, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph is a bombastic ode to video games and finding life’s purpose. The issue is the bipolar division of the movie into a meta-take on games, the conception of “retro,” and dare I say existentialism turns into a cutesy movies about racing and candy with an annoying side character blown up to leading star status.