Zootopia (2016)

No, this movie isn’t out on DVD yet. This is actually the first movie I feel like I have to review before I own it. For a few reasons:

  1. I’m leaving Disney and well, this is Disney. It fits in here and I’ll do it here.
  2. This movie pertains to SO MUCH going on right now in The U.S. and the world. I really want to bash this movie over everyone’s heads.

I will start by saying that I have been excited about this movie since I heard it existed. Why? Because Lasseter was excited about it when it was pitched to him. And we all know I believe Lasseter = Disney God.

I was also excited because it joins a handful of other Disney movies that do NOT feature humans (the others being Bambi, Robin Hood, The Lion King, and Chicken Little). Also excited because it was said to be a mystery, and existed in a land where animals weren’t just anthropomorphic but maintained their animal adaptations and habitats. As a biology person who loves mysteries, I was EXCITED.

Needless to say there are SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t seen the movie yet. It goes a little something like this (go with me as I’ve only seen it once and this is liable to be a LONG synopsis):

We open and get to know one of our main characters, Judy Hopps. She’s a kid in a talent show giving us the history of the land we’re in. Apparently predators used to eat prey but they’ve since evolved and now they live side by side. We also learn that Judy wants to become a cop in Zootopia, a feat which has never been accomplished by a rabbit before. Her parents (who are hilarious, btw) tell her to settle and just be a carrot farmer, but she has higher dreams.

We also see her get bullied by a fox named Gideon, which leads to her parents not trusting foxes. Then we’re thrown into a montage showing her living her dream and becoming the first rabbit ever to go through the police academy and assigned in Zootopia city center as part of Mayor Lionheart’s Mammal inclusion program. Except… Chief Bogo puts her on Meter maid duty while all the other cops are assigned to missing mammal cases (14 in total. This will be important later, I promise).

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Not willing to let it get her down, Judy gives herself the goal of writing 200 tickets before noon, which she hits before getting conned by a fox and his partner (a fennec fox) posing as a father and son wanting to buy a popsicle from a pachyderm establishment. She helps them out only to learn through following them that they melt the larger popsicle down into smaller ones to sell and make a profit (again… will be important later). She confronts him, but it doesn’t go well, and he shuts her down.

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It’s pretty good con, using a Fennec Fox as a kid.

Later she’s busy meter maid-ing when a weasel runs out of a grocery store, having robbed the place. She gets excited and pursues him until he is arrested, only to learn that he stole onions. Bogo is not happy she left her post and is ready to fire her when Mrs. Otterton comes into his office begging for someone to help her find her husband, Emmett (Emmet Otter… anyone? anyone?). Judy agrees much to Bogo’s dismay, and with the assistant Mayor Bellweather in the room, he can’t tell her she can’t. So he gives her 48 hours to find Mr. Otterton or she relinquishes her badge.

Upon getting the case file from front desk man Clawhauser (who I swore was Josh Gad for the entire movie only to learn it wasn’t…) she only has a single picture from his last known location. However, upon noticing he is carrying one of the popsicles the fox who conned her was selling, she has a starting point.

So she finds that fox, whose name is Nick, and pretty much blackmails him into helping her.

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Luckily he knows everyone in the city and through his reluctant help, they track Mr. Otterton’s whereabouts to a completely clawed up limousine. After speaking with the owner of the Limo (I won’t spoil who it belongs to), he sends them to the driver, who talks about how Mr. Otterton went all “savage” and began destroying the inside of the car after he started talking about something called the “night howler.” Judy and Nick then watch as before their eyes the driver too turns savage and they must escape.

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I would run from that too!

She calls for backup, but of course when backup, including Bogo, gets there, the savage panther driver that she had handcuffed is no longer there.

Bogo is disappointed in Judy and tells her to hand in her badge, as obviously she could not produce Mr. Otterton (and quite honestly, he doesn’t believe her about the savage story.) This is the moment Nick has a change of heart and pretty much tells Bogo off, telling him that they still have 10 hours to produce Mr. Otterton, and they will be going.

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With Nick on board completely, Judy has Assistant Mayor Bellweather pull up the traffic cams only to find that a van came by and wolves came and took the savage driver. Assuming these are the “night howlers,” they track them to a facility to find all 14 of the missing mammals. They are all savage (and all predators – that’s important too), and the Mayor has been trying to figure out what went wrong and how to get them back to normal, but no one can figure it out (this is all discovered covertly, of course). Judy sends a video of Mayor Lionheart admitting he kept the police out of it to Bogo, who goes on to arrest Lionheart.

Judy becomes a hero and respected at the police office for finding all of the missing mammals, and when they interview her, she gets a bit flustered on how to answer the questions (despite some coaching from Nick) and begins to quote what the scientist in the facility told Lionheart – that it might come down to biology and the fact that predators are hard-wired this way. Obviously this interview has some fallout. Nick can’t believe that she believes that and leaves her. Animals begin to suspect predators will turn “savage” at any moment. Lionheart is removed from office and Bellweather becomes Mayor. She in turn wants Judy to become the new face of the ZPD, to which Judy declines and turns in her badge bc this isn’t why she became a police officer, and she needs to fix this.

She returns home, where she learns through a random encounter that a “night howler” is not a wolf, but a plant (a flower actually) that will turn anyone savage – even a rabbit. With this new information, she heads back to Zootopia, finds Nick and begs forgiveness, then they’re off to find out who’s behind the plot and who’s been causing the animals to turn savage.

I’m actually going to end it here because, well, I can’t give away everything!

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so OMG this movie. How how how did they do this?

This movie is about prejudice. It’s about race and discrimination. It’s about feminism and judging people based on what they look like or do, not what they are. AND IT MAKES SENSE TO KIDS. AND IT DOES IT WELL.

This movie should belong to Pixar. Because it takes this incredibly deep message and tackles it head-on without looking back or being sorry its doing it. And it succeeds. It succeeds without bashing it over a person’s head because this is just how things work in this world. It makes sense in the world that is so unlike ours but yet… it is… so… much… like… ours.

The elephant refusing service to Nick and his partner in the beginning because he’s a fox. Discriminating against Judy because she’s a rabbit and not “big enough” to be a real cop. Nick’s entire backstory (omg i’m going to tear up). The whole thing with “only rabbits can call each other cute. When someone else says it it’s…”

Predators being affected and targeted by the Night Howler to instill fear in the general public, which we’re told is 90% prey animals. Suddenly they can’t go anywhere and do anything. They’re judged simply for being who they are. Hmm, sound familiar to a certain issue we’re all dealing with right now with syrian refugees and religious fear (not to mention the more domestic racism this country deals with on an everyday level)??

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Zootopia is a movie that starts out saying “Sly fox, dumb bunny,” but in the end it’s really about how to break those stereotypes. Judy and Nick do it. “It’s a place where anyone can be anything.”

Let’s talk about our characters for a bit. There are a lot so I am really just going to focus on our two main characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde.

We’re in a day and age at Disney where female characters really are capable of doing anything. We saw that in Frozen, Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, and we see that again in Zootopia. Judy doesn’t care about what rabbits “should” do. She just knows what she wants to do, and puts her mind to it and accomplishes it. She’s strong, brave, smart, and sly enough to outwit many characters she comes in contact with.

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She’s from a podunk little town where everyone has the same beliefs…. and the same prejudices. Her parents don’t trust foxes. They even give her fox repellant when she leaves for the city. She has a bad experience with Gideon (a fox) as a kid, and so of course has this preconceived notion as to what foxes are like. But even we can see in the beginning that she’s trying to fight that and be impartial. She tries to help Nick and his partner in the beginning almost to prove to herself that not all foxes are horrible. Of course this backfires, as he is what she thought, until she gets to really know him (but more on that later).

Judy is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, who I think was a great choice. She’s got a naivety to her but a very can-do attitude and the ability to talk circles. I LOVE that they use a rabbit’s natural adaptations of good hearing, speed and jumping to her advantage. I also love that through Judy we almost get a lesson as to how Cops are supposed to behave. She has this picture in her mind about what being a cop in Zootopia is going to be like, and, well… it doesn’t turn out the way she wants it to. When she’s asked to be the face of the ZPD and turns it down, she does so because she says she was brought in to help all people, and this would be turning her back on some of them. That that’s not what cops do (or something like this… I’m not quoting obviously). It’s another interesting (and timely, in the U.S.) lesson that Disney chose to stick in there quickly.

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Also, if the whole story about Judy doesn’t correspond to “women can do and be anything,” you’re just not paying attention to this movie.

Now let’s talk about Nick. He’s voiced by Jason Bateman who honestly I’m surprised took this long to voice a Disney character. I’m a fan of Bateman, especially Arrested Development, and I was excited to hear him. He does pretty well giving Nick a layer of sass and confidence that gets stripped away as the movie goes.

I’m going to give away his backstory, so if you want it a surprise… well, skip the next few paragraphs. Whereas Judy has been fighting her stereotypes her whole life to become a cop, Nick gave in to his. The only thing he ever wanted was to become a scout:

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Seriously cute

But then just as he gets an invite, he’s bullied and tormented as a kid by prey animals who said they would “never let a predator” into their scout group without a muzzle. They attack and muzzle him, humiliating him and disillusioning him in that one action with how the world really is and how predators really are seen and treated. So… he became what society wanted him to be. He became the sly fox. The con artist.

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Look how suave he is.

Is this who he really is? No. But no one ever gives him a chance to be who he’s capable of being until Judy comes along. And not even that. In the beginning when she is blackmailing him he continues to be suave, and purposefully sabotaging her investigation because, well, he thinks she’s just a dumb bunny. But then there’s the scene where they lose the savage limo driver and Bogo tells her to hand in her badge, and that she wasn’t cut out for this. In that moment, he understands. This is her moment of humiliation and disillusion that he had when he was a kid. And he’s not going to let that happen to her. In that moment, he understands that they are more alike than different. Neither of them are like their stereotypes.

Their relationship is one of the things that makes this movie so special. This is one of the few Disney movies where there really isn’t a romantic relationship central to the story, and this movie really excels BECAUSE of this. Judy and Nick have a friendship that ends up based on acceptance. Is it perfect? no. But they understand each other, and their chemistry is great.

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This is near the very end of the movie. Yeah that carrot pen is more important than you’d think

I’m not going to go into great detail, but a lot of the other side characters are great. Clawhauser (Nate Torrence – Not Josh Gad…) is the bumbling but sweet front desk cop with a love for all things “Gazelle” (a singer in Zootopia) Chief Bogo (Idris Elba… apparently he is just voicing Disney characters now)  is firm but you kinda get he’s not exactly the smartest guy in the world. We’ve got Flash the sloth, mayor Lionheart, and others to round out our cast. None of them are really that blah. They’re all funny or needed. And the jokes are good, so we’ll keep them.

But then there’s Judy’s parents (Don Lake and Bonnie Hunt), who definitely (IMO) steal the supportive character show with probably all of 10 minutes (if that) on screen. They have some of the best lines and the banter back and forth and with Judy is comic gold. How they have time to spend with one of their 389 (or something) children is beyond me, but hey, they must be awesome parents, or she must be their favorite.

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The last character I want to talk about is the villain. That being said, there are major SPOILERS ahead. I’ve kept it major spoiler free for the most part so far, but I really can’t discuss this without naming names. You have been warned.

I’ll admit it. I should have seen it coming. Disney is sort of getting into a rut with their villains these days. It’s always the person you least expect. King Candy (or Turbo), Hans, Robert Callaghan. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad way to do it (and i’m all for twists in movies), but… let’s just say in Moana I’m going to assume the bad guy is really someone who early in the movie was thought of as good.

Case in point: Bellweather. Criminal mastermind.

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In a lot of ways, it makes sense. She’s a smaller animal that feels disrespected and undervalued not only in her job but I’m sure her life. She makes jokes about it almost the entire movie, and tells Judy more than once that “us little guys gotta stick together.”She works for a lion and thus has a underlying hatred towards predators. Whereas Judy is our character who tries to defy her stereotype and Nick was one who sank into his, Bellweather represents the person who got mad at her stereotype. She blames everyone who’s not like her for the way things are and the way she’s treated, gets mad, and seeks revenge. She views the predators as having some type of edge on the world and in her mind they are the “villains” for always putting the little guys last. In her mind, she’s freeing the world from their tyranny.

I’ll come right out and say it. Bellweather is a terrorist. She uses the Night Howler to create fear and panic in the city and targets a specific group, the predators. As she says, they are in the minority (Zootopia is 90% prey animals), so the majority should go along with her, right?

Except she doesn’t speak for all the small animals, just as those savage night-howler predators don’t speak for their kind. Terrorists (as we’ve learned from our real life experiences) are typically in the minority of whatever group they come from. They don’t represent their group as a whole. And this is another thing this movie shows us.

Seriously. This movie just gets smarter and smarter the more I think about it.

Alright enough on characters. I want to talk about not only how great this animation is but OMG the world they created is unbelievable!

They could have easily just made this a busy metropolis with no character. A “look at the animals that live in a city like us” thing. But they didn’t. Instead, they took the idea of neighborhoods like in NYC and designed the city based on how animals would design it. We have Sahara square, where all the desert animals live. We have Tundra town, and the Rainforest District. And each is a different habitat, and animated beautifully. I can’t begin to tell you how brilliant and creative this is. Again. This is the kind of thing we typically expect from Pixar.

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I really wish we could have seen more of it. We got to the Rainforest District and got to see a bit of Tundratown, but I want to see all of it! Again, am I the only one wishing for a Zootopia 2?

The only other thing I’m going to say about this movie is that it is (unsurprisedly?) chock full of references. Some are extremely apparent, some are incredibly subtle (I suggest going to youtube and searching for “Zootopia Easter Eggs” if you’re curious – there are way too many to put down here). Some had me laughing so incredibly hard, some my husband didn’t catch (or didn’t know about) and some we both went “Did they really just do that in a Disney movie?”

A few of my favorites that are pretty blatant:

  • The Character of Emmett Otterton. Come on. Obviously a play on “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (both the book and the more well known muppet adaptation)
  • The weasel that steals from the grocery store in the beginning then holds the key to uncovering the villain at the end’s name is Duke Weaselton, obviously a play on the Duke of Wesselton from Frozen. Not only is he voiced by the same person (The ever awesome Alan Tudyk), but they actually call him “wesselton” in Zootopia and he corrects them “It’s Weaselton.” hahaha.
  • The Godfather reference in Tundratown. Classic.
  • And of course, the Breaking bad reference. I haven’t even seen the show but even I knew when they got in that rail car and saw the blue flowers that they were going for that. Even better when there was a knock on the door and voices go “It’s Walter and Jesse.” 10 points for Disney for that one.

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  • Also anyone notice Mrs. Otterton has the same coloring as Rapunzel from Tangled? and Nick looked an awful lot like Robin Hood?

Like I said, there’s a ton of other references. But those were some of my favorites.

This movie is… well, it’s awesome. I could probably go on and on about it and it’s pertinence to the world today, but I really don’t want to turn this into a political or incredibly depressing post. The point is that this movie teaches about prejudice, judgements, and in it’s 3 more important characters represents what happens with each road you decide to take. It’s got some amazing visuals, unforgettable characters, incredible heart and some quick wit and hilarious jokes. This movie requires more viewing by me to determine where it falls on my Disney list, but I’d be safe to say it’s probably at least in my top 10-15.

I give Zootopia (2016) a 4.5 out of 5. Solid entertainment.

Up Next: Toy Story (1995)

 

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Enchanted (2007)

I feel like I can’t move out of Disney Animation without reviewing this movie first. Half animated, half live action, I could have stuck it with when I review classics like Mary Poppins and Pete’s Dragon, but it just won’t fit as well there. So I’m putting it here.

When I saw the first trailer for this movie, my first thought was “Oh God that looks AWFUL.” It looked like a horrible mix of rehashed Disney movie and RomCom with way too much strangeness. I figured there’d be horrible songs and it would be campy as hell. So needless to say I didn’t go see it. Instead, I let it pass in the theaters, then I kept hearing people talk about it and how funny and great it was. Three (I think?) of the songs were up for an academy award. And that got me to thinking “hmm, maybe this movie isn’t as weird/campy as I thought? I’ll give it a watch.”

And I. Loved. It.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear about this movie. It IS campy. It IS weird. It IS a weird mix of Disney movie and RomCom. And somehow… it works at being incredibly charming.

Our movie starts in Animation, in the fictional land of Andalasia. A beautiful Maiden named Giselle dreams of finding her true love, and will know so based on their first kiss. Meanwhile, Prince Edward is hunting trolls and hears Giselle singing and must go find her. He rescues her from a troll, they sing together and are ready to be married. But just before the wedding, Prince Edward’s stepmother, Queen Narissa, pushes Giselle down a well that transports her to Life-action land and NYC.

Trying to figure out where she is and cope and get back to Edward, Giselle and her Naivety are taken pity on by Robert and his daughter (ok at this point mostly his daughter) Morgan. They take her back to their condo and Robert allows her to stay the night.

Meanwhile, Giselle’s chipmunk friend Pip tells Edward what happened, and he heads to Real-world land to find Giselle, along with Queen Narissa’s Henchman Nathaniel, who is tasked with making sure he doesn’t find her.

Hijinks ensue as both parties deal with being in the real world, and slowly Giselle and Robert bond. Giselle and Edward are eventually reunited, but at this point she has changed immensely from having learned about the real world, but still agrees to go back to Andalasia after going on “A date.”

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Aka: let’s do everything touristy in New York!

This date culminates with a dance, in which Queen Narissa, after losing faith in Nathaniel, shows herself in the real world and poisons Giselle. After attempting to bring her back to life and failing, Edward realizes her true love is Robert. He kisses her and brings her back to life. Upset, Queen Narissa turns into a dragon,and fights not Edward but Giselle at the top of the building. She wins, the dragon plummets to the ground, Giselle stays with Robert, Roberts Fiance goes to Andalasia with Edward, and no one in NYC seems to pay any attention

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This movie could have so easily been awful. It has a lot of Homages to classic Disney movies, it has a lot of strangeness, and it pretty much makes fun of the Disney way of thinking about love. But. It. Works.

Here’s why:

Disney took itself seriously, as did every single actor and actress that worked on this movie. You can tell that although they are making fun of Disney EVERYTHING (songs, falling in love at first sight, true loves kiss, etc) they also LOVE these things.

And that, my friends, is why this works as a perfect parody. It’s the same reason Mel Brooks Parodies are good, and all those “not another [insert type of movie here]” movies are horrible. Mel loves his source material. To truly do a good parody, you need to also love the thing you are making fun of. Everything has something “wrong” with it if you look close enough. parodies are meant to poke fun of these things. But with love.

Another reason this movie works is the actors. Amy Adams in the multiple years after this movie has come out has established herself as an A-list actor, appearing in a huge range of films and having an oscar nomination out of it. But back in 2007, I knew her as “that girl that had that small part in Catch me if you Can.”

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Yeah… that’s really her.

Amy Adams OWNS Giselle. She is essentially playing a Disney princess who gets disillusioned by real life. But instead of being depressed about everything that isn’t the way she thinks it should be, she instead takes the differences of the real world and tries to impress upon Robert that you can act crazy and romantic and it will work. That women like that (clue to guys: they really do!!). She injects a little bit of Disney simple life into the real world in the same way that he injects some real world onto her. As the movie progresses she becomes much more realistic but still holds onto that bubbly personality that believes in true love and happy endings and that singing will make you happy. She has this child-like Naivety that I think we all wish we had.**

I would also like to give a shout out to the costume and hair people who did an amazing job helping Giselle make this transition from “cartoon” to “more realistic.” I mean, they took her from this:

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To this:

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Kudos. This helps mirror her inner changes 🙂

On the flip side we have Robert. He is an “actual” adult. He has a job, responsibilities, is working on keeping a relationship afloat, and has been left by his wife and forced to become a single parent to his daughter, who he is trying to teach can be anything and can be confident and powerful.

You could argue that Robert teaching his daughter to be confident and that she can be anything is almost negated by the fact that a “princess” shows up and plays into all of her fantasies, but I think that’s almost the point of this movie. Confidence comes in a lot of different ways. You just have to be confident in yourself and what you believe. And Giselle is. She doesn’t care she’s walking around New York City in a dress made from curtains. She isn’t embarrassed to start singing in the middle of central park. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks because she is confident.

On the other hand, Robert acts how many of us would act given the circumstance. He doesn’t want to help her. He wants her to only stay a night then leave. You can almost sense that he thinks this woman is on drugs (he does tell his daughter Morgan to sleep in his room that night). He is a down to earth, serious adult.

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How most of us would react if someone randomly starting singing in the middle of Central Park

In the same way that he changes her and makes her become more realistic (all while maintaining really who she is deep down), she changes him to see some of the “magic” and “fun” that can be had, even as an adult. This is the best message in this movie. Adults, sometimes it’s ok to be silly, sing at the top of your lungs, and believe in fairy tales and true love. It’s ok to let your kids be kids and love Princesses. There will be plenty of time to teach them about empowered women, but what exactly is “empowerment”? Like I said before, as long as someone is confident, I don’t see the difference.

Our side characters are a bit hit or miss for me honestly. James Marsden plays Edward, and you can tell he is having a blast with this role. He’s crazy and over the top. He’s really stuck in Andalasia and unlike Giselle has no want or ability to change. But man is he fun to watch. Same goes for our little animal sidekick (who doesn’t talk during the majority of the movie but is fun to watch all the same)

The same goes for Nancy, Robert’s Fiance (Idina Menzel). First of all, I love Idina, but she plays this part kinda wooden. Maybe that’s the point. But she’s a woman who wants all this fairy tale stuff and isn’t getting it with Robert. by the end of the movie she’s better suited for life in Andalasia, and that’s where she goes, to live out her fantasy and live Happily ever after.

Our villains Narissa and Nathaniel are complete Disney Tropes, but again, you can tell that  Susan Sarandon and Timothy Spall (who is typecast here as he always seems to be) are having a blast in their rolls. I was a bit disappointed that they couldn’t think of a villain more original than a wicked witch/Maleficent hybrid, but eh. I will say, however, that I kinda loved it that they gave Nathaniel a bit of motivation for always doing Narissa’s bidding. I also loved that he realized as the movie went on that he was being used and the relationship wasn’t exactly “healthy.” It’s an interesting way to go in delving into the motivation behind why bad henchmen follow the bad guy, and although I could take or leave Nathaniel’s character, I enjoyed that aspect of it.

The songs in this movie are almost, again, “typical” Disney songs, but they are enjoyable. I like to think that this movie, not The Princess and the Frog, was actually the one to herald back the era of Disney musicals that I missed oh so much. The songs do what they’re supposed to do, and are a bit forgettable to be honest. Although I have a personal affinity towards “so close” (the “single” – totally not a disney song…) and “That’s how you know.” That song is just so freaking adorable, and we’d all act completely like Robert in that song…

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The “I’m doing it because you’re making me” look

All in all, Enchanted (2007) is an enjoyable Parody that exists on its own as a relatively enjoyable, albeit campy movie. If you try to think too much while you’re watching it, it won’t be enjoyable. So just get yourself to believe in fairy tales for an hour and a half, and you won’t be disappointed.

I give Enchanted (2007) a 3.7 out of 5

**I totally have a friend like Giselle. I love her to death because through everything she hasn’t given up on anything. She reminds me to stay happy no matter what. We all need a friend like that and I think this is most of the reason I love this movie…

Up Next: Zootopia (2016) BC I can.

 

Underrated Disney Movies

I love me my underrated Disney movies. In some ways, a lot of these have found their way to the top of my personal list. But I guess before I delve into my list of underrated Disney movies, what exactly constitutes one?

Well first off, an underrated movie doesn’t make the entire world go see it. You won’t see any Frozen or Lion King on this list. These are movies that are extremely good but maybe didn’t do too well at the Box office. They might have still made a profit (or maybe they didn’t). These are movies that have gotten pushed to the wayside for differing reasons. They’re the movies that when you say them, people go “wait, what movie now? Disney did that?” or maybe people know about them, but thought they’d be bad, so they never went to go see them.

These are movies that I think are gems. They are movies that might teach a unique lesson. I actually LIKE the fact that half of these movies never garnered a huge audience and got hugely popular. These movies I think are deeper than your typical Disney flare: they have something about them that makes them incredibly special that maybe not everyone saw.

Some of these movies were easy to come up with, and others weren’t. t do have to say that a lot of these are prone to ME thinking they’re underrated. Especially the newer ones on the list. It’s possible I didn’t see them as popular as they really were at the time. Some of the newer ones are ones I believe will possibly fall to the wayside in years to come. If they have a question mark (?) by their entry, I was hesitant in adding them but will try my hardest to explain why I think they are underrated.

You will also notice this is not a “Disney movies people forget exist” list. I didn’t include The rescuers, Oliver & Co, or even The Sword and the Stone. While these are good movies, they don’t have that special something that I think these other movies have.

These are in chronological order…. not in any other type of order…

Let’s go!

1. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

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I think everyone in the world should watch this movie right now. It teaches tolerance in a way kids can understand. It’s from Disney’s “Dark Ages” but it really is a gem. It preaches its lesson by not preaching, but instead getting viewers to fall in love with two adorable characters and then watch them grow up and we see the first hand effect on what cultural norms can do to change a person (or in this case, animal). It has some incredibly memorable moments, action, adventure, and laughs. I’m not going to justify why this is underrated. It just is because movies that can teach the lesson that it does in the way that it does are few and far between. And I bet the only people who really love this movie and know about it nowadays are the people who were a) kids when it came out, or b) kids when it came out on VHS for the first time. I’m the latter.

2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

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My personal favorite Disney movie is also one that people (and the studio – where’s my blu-ray diamond edition special release??) not only forget about, but don’t seem to want to watch. It’s “too dark” or “too adult” for kids. I’m sorry, but this movie came out when I was a kid (11 years old to be exact), and I’m here to tell you it has always been a favorite of mine. It takes a hard story and makes it reachable for kids to understand. It takes incredibly complex ideas such as hatred and damnation and lusts and intolerance and somehow spells it out so that kids understand. It doesn’t patronize them. Instead, it admits that kids CAN understand this stuff, and should. It treats its viewers like adults. It has amazing music, animation, and characters that are some of the best (minus the gargoyles…).

3. Treasure Planet (2002)

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You can blame the advertising and styling for this one. No one saw it because it was “different” for Disney. And it is, and you know what, I think you do have to just kinda go with the flow a bit with this movie and say “ok, that’s an anthropomorphic cat-human-thing.” But this movie is superb and way underrated because it’s a) the best adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and b) We get some of the best relationships in a disney movie EVER in this one between Jim and Silver. Plus, it’s a Disney movie where the bad guy turns out good(ish). Whether you like it or not is up to you, but it’s on my list because I would watch it over and over just to see the characters.

4. Lilo & Stitch (2002)

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Ok, this might be my first stretch. Because I know there was a TV show and direct to movie sequels, but I still didn’t feel like people went to see this movie. I feel like no one ever talks about it except to say how cute Stitch is. If that’s all they took away from this movie, those people need to watch it again. I was in High school when this came out, so maybe that’s why I get the feeling this wasn’t a huge movie for Disney. I wasn’t the age when all my friends might have been obsessed with it. (although I did have huge Disney fan friends…).

Again this movie suffered from what I’m going to call the “strangeness” factor. It has Aliens and Hawaii. Not typical fanfare for Disney. But this movie is SO much more. It’s about belonging and family and what constitutes a family and that family is important and you’d do anything for them. It’s letting kids know that ALL types of families are good, and we have almost REAL people and REAL situations (except the alien part). Sister trying to scramble and provide and grow up after parents die? Check. Messed up little girl suffering from something after her parents die? check. realistic sister relationship? check. This movie has so much heart. It just chose to explore it in a strange way.

5. Brother Bear (2003)

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I know a LOT of people that don’t like this movie, and i know I’m in the minority of people that actually might possibly call it a favorite. BUT… let me explain why it’s here on the list (it’s not because it’s strictly a favorite, I promise!!)

Yes, it’s a body swapping story. Yes, there are lessons that come along with that. Disney had never done an animated story like this before, and this one gets deeper than you think. Not only does our main character Kenai learn that bears aren’t the horrible monsters he thinks they are, but he learns that his past actions have affected someone he genuinely cares about. Coming to terms with that and telling the truth about it is why I have this on my underrated list. That’s deep for Disney. It’s about learning that what you used to believe actually hurt someone you love and dealing with the outcomes. You can’t take back your choices. You’re stuck with what you did and what you thought in the past. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change and be a better person (er, bear) and make up for in in the future.

6. Meet the Robinsons (2007)

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I would attempt to name them all L to R, but I can’t…

If you had told me 10 years ago I was going to put this on this list I would have laughed at you. Because the trailer looked ridiculous. Because this movie seemed ridiculous. And in a lot of ways, it is. In a lot of ways, it’s messy, and weird, and disjointed. But if you look past all that and get to the heart of this movie, you’re left going “whoa.” I talk about it in my review, but the lesson in this movie of not dwelling on the past and to “keep moving forward” is unique in a Disney movie. That’s why it’s on this list. The idea is so great, and in some ways it’s done well. Lewis is great as is our villain (with regards to the lesson). They don’t bash it over people’s heads, but it’s not super subtle either. This movie COULD be better, but it’s underrated in my mind because I think this is a movie no one went to see. And they really should just give it a chance.

7. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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Ok this one IS selfish. And it’s different than the others on here. But this movie SHOULD HAVE BEEN bigger than it was. It SHOULD HAVE BEEN Disney’s rise back into the Revival. Because it’s good. It has everything that is so “classic” Disney and so much more. It has an amazing protagonist. Great side characters. A good Villain. Good songs. But did it get much mention? no! Ugh. I wish this movie had done better. Because it’s awesome and does not deserve to get forgotten (which I feel like it already has!). It teaches that hard work and perseverance are good, and you need them to get ahead in life, but they aren’t everything. You need to strike a balance between work and play and love.

Rant over.

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I was going to add Tarzan (1999) and Mulan (1998), because I think they’ve fallen to the wayside now, but eh, I can’t bring myself to do it. I think they were somewhat popular when they came out. But I do think they are movies that everyone should see for differing reasons (see my reviews for more info)

So there you have it. 6 movies I think everyone who is a true Disney fan shouldn’t skip. Movies I think that deserve more credit than they got, even if just a little. Movies that make me think or might have a profound effect on a child’s thinking. Or an adult’s for that matter.

Next up: Enchanted, then on to Pixar!

 

Ranking my favorite Disney Songs

Alright y’all. I don’t know about you guys, but with the state of the country and the world today, I need an escape. What better way to do it than with Animation and Disney! Not just the movies, but how about the songs? humming your favorite tune has been known to lower stress. I know when I’m annoyed or having a bad or stressful day, music can definitely help.

Disney has ALWAYS been about the music. Although it occasionally goes through periods where they apparently think they’re “too good” for songs, the majority of Disney animated movies are known not only for their stories and characters, but their songs. That is why I am going to List my favorite Disney songs (I’m not limiting it to 10, because personally I think that would be impossible). These are sort of in order? It’s hard to do the higher up ones. At least the top 3 are probably right… Here we go!!

A Whole New World (Aladdin)

I WOULD have this further up on the list, except that every time I listen to it compared to the others it seems sort of… blah. There’s really nothing that sets it apart. But it is still a good song.

 

Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)

As much as I really dislike what Disney did to this movie, this song is spectacular. the lyrics are thought-provoking, the animation is lovely, and it almost makes us forget we’re in a movie where they aged Pocahontas 10 years and made her fall in love with that white guy

 

Someday (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Ok, I think I’m kinda cheating with this one and the next, but I don’t care. These are the songs that appear in the credits and are *not* sung by Disney characters. They were singles on the radio.

Someday is an All-4-One song, and if you don’t know who that is it means you’re too young and you should go educate yourself on awesome soul/R&B/whatever the heck they were – boy bands of the 90s. This song is still one of my favorites even 20 years later. It’s the “imagine” of the Disney world. Here, take a listen:

 

Little Wonders (Meet the Robinsons)

Little Wonders is a perfect song for a movie that is unique and underrated for Disney. Sung by Rob Thomas (who is a personal favorite of mine), this song perfectly sums up the feelings of our protagonist Lewis while at the same time somehow digging deep into each of us and touching each of us in the chest. We’ve felt this before, or might at some points in our life. It’s a song I still listen to constantly.

 

Best of Friends (The Fox & The Hound)

There’s nothing really special about this song. It just comes at a time in a movie when our two main characters meet and are playing and having fun. But at the same time it somehow epitomizes childhood. We don’t care who we play with when we’re really young, because we’re just having fun. It’s not until adults and the world “gets in the way” that our mindsets change. I’m starting to think everyone in the world should watch this movie right about now…

 

Why Should I Worry? (Oliver & Co)

This one is a bit of a personal favorite. There’s nothing amazing about this song. It’s not on top Disney song lists. But I love it because 1) It’s Billy Joel, 2) it’s rock, so it’s different than normal disney songs (seriously, you could see this playing on the radio in the 80s), and 3) it kinda sums up the character of Dodger perfectly.

 

Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)

I’ve talked about how much I love this movie. I’ve talked about how I love the atmosphere and what they did with the songs in this movie. To be honest I could pick any of the songs in this movie and throw them here. I love “Down in New Orleans” as well, but if I had to pick one this would be it. This is the classic “I want” song from Disney (on par with “Part of this world” and “When will my life begin?”), but I love this one more than those simply because it’s done in the jazz style, the animation goes back to the 20s posters, and it sums up our character of Tiana so well. She’s worked so hard. she IS almost there.

 

Kiss the Girl (The Little Mermaid)

I made a rule that I couldn’t put more than one song from a movie on here. It was a real toss up between this and “part of your world.” I’m still deciding if I picked the right one. But I love this song. Fun story: In college my friend found a techno version of this song. My life has never been the same since.

 

Let it Go (Frozen)

Yeah, go ahead and shoot me now. Any parents reading this are going “what? how can you stand that song anymore?” It’s true. Frozen is the movie that refused to die in our culture. For the 3rd year in a row, 3/4 of the trick-or-treaters that came to our door were dressed as Elsa. But you can’t ignore just HOW GOOD this song is. After a long hiatus of truly GOOD Disney songs, we finally got a ringer. I mean, the emotion, the words, the message. It’s all there. I love this song, and I’m not sorry.

 

Something There (Beauty and the Beast)

I know, I know. I should have picked the titular song. And I DO love that song. I actually almost picked “Gaston” simply because that song is hilarious. But if I really had to pick one from Beauty and the Beast (and I do because well, it’s Beauty and the Beast), it would have to be this one. They start to understand each other. Belle starts to see past the exterior, and the Beast allows himself to soften. I love the way this one plays out, and the way it sounds.

 

I Won’t Say I’m in Love (Hercules)

Again, I seriously could have picked any song from this movie, which is weird because I know a lot of people could take or leave them. I personally LOVE the music in this movie. If I listed ALL the Disney songs, the ones from Hercules would probably be in the top 20. They’re all just so peppy, zany, etc. But this is the one that I love the most. It’s the one I listen to on my iTunes over and over. And honestly I have no idea why. Maybe it doesn’t sound like any other Disney song. Maybe I like the vulnerability a seemingly tough character is showing.

 

I See the Light (Tangled)

Ok, I’m sort of cheating with this one too. Half of the reason I love this song is because of the animation during it. But it is a pretty good song. It’s our love song but it’s almost like that’s not the main focus. It’s about seeing that there’s more to life than each character previously thought. Plus, it’s pretty!!!

 

You’ll be in My Heart (Tarzan)

I could be cheating with this one too because although this song IS in the movie, I actually mean the one sung by Phil Collins during the credits. But I don’t care. This song is amazing. It perfectly sums up our movie. It’s beautiful when sung by Glenn Close (voice of Kala). It’s sweet and serene in the movie and during the credits has our typical Phil Collins flare. When my son was super young, I sung it to him to get him to sleep. This song has a lot of personal memories attached to it. A list without this song would be incomplete.

 

Circle of Life (The Lion King)

How could I not? I remember seeing this movie in the theater when I was 8 and even then knowing that I was already watching something special. This song is beautiful. It’s the perfect way to open this movie, and again, we have the entire idea of the movie in one song. This is the story about the life of this lion cub. It also has the distinction of setting the atmosphere in the movie, and transports us to Africa. It’s beautiful, it’s epic, and if you ever see the broadway show, it can make you downright cry.

For fun here’s the Broadway version. Revel in the Amazing-ness:

 

He’s a Tramp (Lady & The Tramp)

huh? I bet a lot of people are wondering where this one came from. To be honest, this is one that has only grown on me as I’ve gotten older. Part of that could be because I understand it now (this actually is an incredibly “grown up” song). But I love Peg’s voice, I love the style, I love the sad atmosphere of the pound. It’s a one of a kind Disney song.

 

Out There (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

This is already my favorite Disney movie. While it doesn’t have the majority of my favorite Disney songs, most of them in this movie are quite good (as I talked about in my review). I really SHOULD have put “heaven’s light/Hellfire” on here from a technical standpoint. That song is unbelievable. Or I should have put “The Bells of Notre Dame” on here, because of the musical and storytelling ability. Or even “God Help the Outcasts.” But this one is a bit more of a personal favorite. It’s another “I want” song, and it’s not only beautifully sung and written, it’s beautifully animated. It lets you see what our main character is really about, and it’s great.

 

I’ll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)

There really was no question when I started making this list what would be number one. Which is kinda funny, because honestly I would have put my money one of the other songs on here myself. But the more I thought about it, this really is one of the BEST Disney songs out there. It’s a montage song, but it’s a well done montage song. It’s catchy and upbeat, Donny Osmond’s voice fits perfectly, and I DARE you not to sing along.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

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In the midst of waiting for my baby to arrive (8 more weeks, yikes!) I have found it increasingly difficult to pull together the time to a) watch movies, and b) sit down long enough to write a review I’m actually proud of. We’ll see where this goes.

When I heard Disney had acquired Marvel, my heart sank a little. Not because I don’t like their movies. I actually enjoy their movies quite a lot (Age of Ulton? = awesome!). But no… my heart sank because I KNEW they were going to want the animation studios to do a superhero movie. And, well… I really didn’t know what to think about that. Disney animation and superheroes has never been done, and would it fit into the mold of Disney teaching kids valuable lessons? would it be too violent? would it not transcend into a higher state to be as good if not better than their other animated movies?

My husband and I saw it opening weekend, and, well, it was ok….. I wasn’t floored, I didn’t immediately love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It still made me cry (more than once) but it also had me wondering a lot of things. The most important being… is this movie really appropriate for kids? Would I want my 5-6 year old son going to see this movie? would he even understand it?

I’ll attempt to answer all my questions I’ve posed, but first I do want to give a brief history of the comic series that Lassiter chose for his movie franchise, which goes by the same name, Big Hero 6. In all the research I’ve done trying to figure out exactly what this comic series is about, I haven’t been able to find too much. It was a comic series that was created in 1998, set in Japan about a group of people assembled by the Japanese government to protect their country. Most are secret agents, samurai, or some type of mutant (they exist in the same world as the X-men).

Pretty much NOTHING in this film resembles the comic, except for some of the characters, their names, and (sort of) their abilities. And I’m not going to lie, I think this plays to the films strengths. Lassiter et al took the idea of Big Hero 6 and tinkered with it to make it into something they were proud of.

So what’s their versions origin story? I’ll give a quick recap:

Hiro Hamada is a 14 year old genius that’s already graduated and thinks that nothing is cooler than (ro)bot fighting, seeing as he has incredible intelligence that allows him to create these amazing robots that are undefeatable. His older brother, Tadashi, is just as smart and attempts to show Hiro another way to use his intelligence by showing him the university where he attends and just what’s going on.

Tadashi doesn't give a crap that Hiro would rather bot-fight

Tadashi doesn’t give a crap that Hiro would rather bot-fight

Hiro meets Tadashi’s friends who are all working on incredible feats of engineering and technology (I would explain them all but… yeah. I don’t remember the science terms they used in the movie). Hiro also meets Baymax, a healthcare companion robot that Tadashi has been working on. Upon seeing all these amazing things going on and meeting Professor Callaghan, Hiro decides to enter the school’s “science fair” to gain enrollment.

He creates these things called “microbots” – tiny robots that when linked can create any shape or arrangement imaginable, and are controlled by a person’s thought through a special band the person wears around his head.

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After being impressed, not only does Callaghan want him to enroll, but a man named Alastair Krei wants to buy them. Hiro declines the sale, and on their way out of the fair, a fire breaks out. Tadashi rushes in to save Professor Callaghan, but both perish in the fire, along with all but one of Hiro’s microbots. (time we cry #1 in this movie)

After weeks of mourning and deciding not to pursue enrollment at the university, Hiro accidentally hurts himself one day and activates Baymax, who was in his brother’s room. After some attitude from Hiro and naiveness from Baymax, Hiro convinces him that his microbot is trying to go somewhere, and follows it for Hiro, thinking it will help stabilize his mood swings.

The two follow it to an abandoned warehouse where he finds out that someone has made tub after tub of them. A man in a kabuki mask rises up and chases the two out of the warehouse. Realizing he has to do something, Hiro uploads a karate chip into Baymax, and the two hunt down the man in the Kabuki mask. While at the docks hunting him down, Tadashi’s friends from the lab (Gogo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred) show up and he attacks all of them. They flee.

As much as I don't like this villain, I have to admit he looks awesome

As much as I don’t like this villain, I have to admit he looks awesome

Realizing they have to stop this man and take his nanobots back by stealing the mask (and Hiro believes this will avenge his brother’s death), the 6 of them become superheroes, using the tech they were working on in the lab to become “superhuman.” They track the guy to an island and discover old wreckage of a lab and old footage that show Krei and Callaghan using teleportation technology to send a pilot through that never came back. The man in the Kabuki mask arrives, and they engage, only to discover this man isn’t Krei (who they previously suspected), but Callaghan. Hiro becomes so enraged he takes out Baymax’s healthcare chip, leaving him with just the urge to kill.  But Honey reinstalls the chip, Callaghan runs off, and so does Hiro, enraged at his friends’ intervention.

Back at his home, Hiro tries to remove the chip again and go after Callaghan, but Baymax doesn’t let him. Instead, he shows him video of Tadashi during all his start up tests, and consoles Hiro, who eventually calms down and goes and apologizes to his friends, saying they still need to stop Callaghan. They figure out that the test pilot that disappeared during the teleport test was Callaghan’s daughter, Abigail, and that he means to seek revenge on Krei for losing her.

They assemble at Krei tech, where Callaghan is already there. After fighting for a while, the portal opens up and starts pulling everything into it, destabilizing. The team uses this to destroy all of Callaghan’s microbots and save Krei, but the portal won’t close. That’s when Baymax detects a life sign inside. He and Hiro go into the portal and find Abigail in her pod in hyper sleep. They attempt to reach the portal door, but Baymax’s thrusters fail, and he uses the last of his jet power in his glove to propel Abigail and Hiro to safety, leaving him stuck in the portal as it disengages (crying time #2).

Abigail is saved, Callaghan is arrested. Hiro enrolls at school and sets up in Tadashi’s old lab, still holding onto the rocket glove from Baymax. One day he opens it to find Baymax’s healthcare chip inside. He gets to work and soon builds another Baymax. (aww)

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As I mentioned, I wasn’t floored by this movie the first time I saw it. I knew it was good, but I didn’t think it was that good. I didn’t see a higher purpose. I couldn’t figure out what Disney was trying to teach us. All I saw were gadgets and robots and fighting…. the same thing that is in so many movies these days. To me, it felt like Superheroes, kids, and Disney didn’t fit. The only thing I came away thinking positively about the movie was “wow, they painted science nerds as really cool people! Maybe this will get more kids interested in pursuing science!” (which is a good thing to do!)

Well, and that Baymax was the best part of the movie.

Then I watched it a second time. And I don’t know what it was, but I caught something. I had an epiphany. This movie is all about how people handle grief. It’s about how you cope with the loss of a loved one, which is something REALLY hard to do in a movie… especially a kids movie. I don’t know that kids would really understand it, but this is a theme that Disney has never done before. It’s something you can only really pick up after watching it more than once, because you know after seeing it that Callaghan is the villain, and you understand his motives for plotting his revenge. You understand the anger behind both he and Hiro in wanting revenge for their loved ones loss. It’s incredibly well done in this movie, but it’s really something for adults or older kids to get. Which is fine! Unless a smaller child has been through this, they wouldn’t get it. They’d be the Baymax in all of this.

Let’s talk about Baymax for a second, because he plays into this whole idea of loss and grief right at its center. He’s meant to be a robot who can help care for those who are ailing. Mental instability is the same, if not more dangerous, than physical, and Baymax reads that, and spends the whole movie trying to “heal” Hiro. However he is an incredibly naive character who plays into Hiro’s ideas, seeing that getting ready to seek revenge actually does heighten his mood. To him, his treatment is working.

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And in ways, it does. Although Hiro IS getting revenge on the man who he deems responsible for his brother’s death, he also learns to confide in Baymax, and Baymax in return learns to love Hiro and care for him in a way that a healthcare companion probably shouldn’t. Baymax keeps Hiro in check. His moral code influences him in a positive way and even through the hard parts, helps Hiro get through the loss of his brother. But their relationship is more than that. Hiro also influences him. He becomes more than his healthcare chip and almost becomes a surrogate brother. Hiro makes Baymax more than just his programming, which is apparent when he (unknowingly) takes out his healthcare chip at the end and has it in his glove as he sends them through the portal. I don’t know. I’ve always assumed that means that last talk Baymax gave Hiro was WITHOUT his healthcare chip.

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We also have all our other secondary characters to help Hiro, although each of them is probably feeling the loss of their friend Tadashi as well. At one point Baymax contacts them, saying that it is important in times of grief to lean on friends and loved ones for support. That’s what GoGo, Wasabi, Honey, and Fred do the whole movie. They support Hiro, they realize that this man in the Kabuki mask could really be dangerous, and they help him because of that. Not because they are also seeking revenge. In fact, they’re the ones who stop it once it becomes clear this is what Hiro wanted.

Although they don’t get a ton of screen time and character development, they get enough. We learn enough about each of them to appreciate what they bring to the team and how they make themselves stand out. And I have to admit that how Hiro adapts each of their techs into workable “powers” is freaking awesome.

I mean - who wouldn't want to zip around on those???

I mean – who wouldn’t want to zip around on those???

Hiro himself is another really well developed main character as well. He has amazing depth, and they animated him in such a way that you actually do feel what he feels. He’s a great protagonist even as a kid, although he isn’t one of my favorites (although who knows. He grows on me each time I see the movie…).  I feel like he’s too selfish and doesn’t think about Baymax or the others and their safety until it’s too late because he’s trained only on getting revenge. I know everything he does in the movie is really influenced by the loss of his brother, so I guess I have to forgive him. It just bugs me.

I’m not going to talk a lot about the villain in Callaghan, or about Krei. Honestly, this is probably one of the places this film is lacking. Yeah, I liked how they had a red herring in Krei, and it was really well done. I also like how we figure out throughout the movie about Callaghan’s daughter and his motivation, but he never really seemed “evil” to me. He’s relatable, so I’ll give you that. But not too relatable. He doesn’t have a ton of screen time before his “death” so you don’t learn to care about this character. Yeah it’s sad he lost a daughter, I understand why he’s pissed, but dude – get over it. I think the only reason we even care about him is because Hiro’s going through the exact same thing. Every time I watch this movie I’m reminded Doc Oc in Spiderman 2. I feel like that villain in that movie is what Callaghan should have been. We cared about him. We cared at the end when he died, and were happy he got redemption. We don’t feel that at all in Callaghan. The only reason I feel sad for him at the end of the movie is because his daughter is rescued and he has to go to jail. See where your actions get you? You can’t see your daughter now!

Yeah that's right, you gotta watch her get loaded into the ambulance!

Yeah that’s right, you gotta watch her get loaded into the ambulance!

I do want to mention a few smaller aspects of this movie that I found interesting or really quite beautiful. The animation is top notch. Disney invented a setting in San Fransokyo and I believe they hit it on the nose. I’ve been to both cities (I LOVE both cities) and the animators did an extremely good job at making a futuristic city have elements of both. Really cool and really fun to have a movie set there.

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I do think this movie is too violent for small kids, but I have to admit they animate the violence extremely well. It’s interesting, isn’t over the top, and doesn’t last for huge amounts of time. It’s good!

So do Superheroes and Disney fit together? I still honestly don’t have an answer to this question. I will be excited if they make a second Big Hero 6, it’s true. They somehow managed to put a creative spin on something that could have just been another crazy marvel violence filled fighting fest. But they managed to put heart into their work, like Disney always does. It’s still weird to think of Disney making a superhero movie though…

I give Big Hero 6 (2014) a 3.9 out of 5. Decent story, decent characters. I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Up Next: Get ready for tons of top 10 lists as I round out all my Disney reviews!

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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Words cannot express how excited I was to see this movie. Not only was it the first Fairy Tale adaptation (I say that lightly though) from Disney in 10 years, but it was also the first hand drawn movie since Home on the Range in 2004. It was also the first Disney Princess since Mulan (which again… I dunno why Mulan is considered a Disney princess but whatever). That’s 11 years! Tiana is also the first African American princess, which of course was ballooned out of significance at its release (we’ll get to that later).

To put a long story short, I was willing to do whatever it took to go see this movie. I didn’t care if it was crappy or wonderful. I was going to support 2D animation. I still do, and I really wish Disney would do another one. There’s something about the hand drawn animation that has a magic to it.

But I digress. This movie, while not doing extremely well at the Box office (it did better overseas than here, even though it was a success), marked what they called the beginning of the “revival” which we are in the midst of right now. It’s based off of the story “The Frog Prince” with a little modern twist to it that we start seeing more of in this new revival part of Disney.

Apparently straight up adaptations aren’t good enough for them anymore.

Anyway, Here we go!

This movie is set in New Orleans in the 1920s. It focuses around a girl named Tiana, who we see in almost a prologue learn from her daddy that hard work gets you what you want. So now she’s a young woman working 2 jobs to save up to open the restaurant her father always wanted.

We also very early in the movie meet our other characters, namely a prince Naveen visiting from a fictitious country called Maldonia, and our villain, Dr. Facilier, or the Shadowman – a voodoo man. Naveen is there because he has been cut off from his family and has to marry a rich woman to upkeep his lifestyle. He gets invited by the shadow man to his “office” where he is turned into a frog for his own sinister purposes.

Meanwhile, Tiana gets paid the rest of the money she needs for her store from her friend Lotte for providing refreshments at her party, where Lotte intends to woo Prince Naveen. An imposter shows up pretending to be Naveen (it’s really his man-servant lawrence under voodoo magic), and the real Naveen (the frog) mistakes Tiana for a princess and asks her to kiss him, like in the story “The Frog Prince.” She manages to pull herself together to do it, but instead of breaking the spell, it turns her into a frog as well.

The two flee the party after being chased by our Lawrence/Naveen and drift off with balloons to the Bayou. Tiana is pissed at Naveen for the situation she’s in, and he is upset with her for misleading him to believe she was a princess. In other words, they don’t get along. She’s about to leave him, but he promises that if he helps him become human, he’ll get the money for her restaurant (see, the realtors have told her that unless she can pay more in cash, she’ll lose to another bidder). She agrees, and from there they meet an alligator named Louis with a yearning to be a jazz trumpeter and a cajun firefly named Ray on their way to meet Mama Odie, another voodoo witch lady who has the potential to turn them back into humans. All they have to do is avoid the demons the Shadowman has sent after him, frog catchers, and other alligators!

They get to Mama Odie’s (and of course by now they have realized a few things about each other), and she doesn’t turn them human, but instead explains that they need to look inside themselves and see what they need vs. what they want. But she does show them that until Midnight on Mardi Gras, Lotte is technically a “Princess” because her father has been elected king of the Mardi Gras Parade. Tiana works hard to get Naveen to Lotte so he can kiss her and Marry her and have his life go back to one big party, but he of course has a change of heart because he realizes he loves Tiana. But he intends to see his plan through, because he knows how much the restaurant means to her.

They get to New Orleans and the Shadowman and Lawrence (who have had a story B about how the magic keep Lawrence looking like Naveen is running out) capture the real Naveen. Tiana goes off to rescue him after Ray lets it slip he’s in love with her, and soon she’s working with the others to keep the amulet that is holding the power over Lawrence and Naveen away from the others long enough so that Naveen can go find Lotte.

The shadow man has an awesome death, Lotte finds out both Naveen and Tiana are frogs, but Naveen can’t let her kiss him because he’s in love with her. Lotte agrees to kiss him and not marry him, but waits until after midnight and it’s too late. Naveen and Tiana agree to just be frogs if it means being together, get married in the bayou, and get married. When Naveen goes to kiss his bride, they turn back into humans because Tiana is now technically a princess.

There’s a nice little epilogue that shows the two of them working hard to get the restaurant, get it fixed up, and opening it. The end.

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I missed a lot with that synopsis, and I’m sorry if it’s a bit confusing. There’s a lot that goes on in this story, and there are two parallel story lines: one with Tiana and Naveen, and the other with our villains. but that’s the story in a convoluted nutshell. If you want a shorter synopsis, here you go:

It’s the story about two completely opposite people who both get turned into frogs and have to figure out how to change themselves back and each has a change of heart by the end.

If you still can't picture it, this screen cap might help... it's pretty accurate

If you still can’t picture it, this screen cap might help… it’s pretty accurate

There’s actually a LOT I want to talk about with this movie. I guess I’ll start with the good stuff.

1) Atmosphere.

There is so much atmosphere in this movie!!! Disney has NEVER done a movie with THIS much atmosphere. Granted I have never been to New Orleans, but wow – between the music by Randy Newman being all jazzy and gospel-y to the accents to the animation and inclusion of things like Voodoo and beignets and gumbo, this movie reeks of atmosphere. That, to me, is one of the things that makes this movie incredibly special. You can tell they put a lot of work into really creating the world that was New Orleans in the 1920s (whatever that entailed!). The only other movie I can think of that comes close to this in atmosphere is The Lion King. In the first few minutes, you KNOW where this movie is set.

 

2) Characters.

In my opinion, this movie has some of the best characters Disney’s come up with since Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. On the whole, these characters are each interesting. We learn backstories to each of our more major characters (except our villain, but we never need backstory with them!). We understand why they do what they do. Because of this level of effort put into their personalities, the relationships we get that form between them are believable.

I want to start with Tiana, because oh my God she is by far my FAVORITE Disney heroine (right up there along with Mulan, Belle, and Anna – each for completely different reasons). But she’s at the top. Why? Because she’s so real I swear I have known someone like her. I have been her.

princess-frog-tiana-cooks_thumb

Tiana is an extremely hard worker. She’s trying to raise money to buy her own restaurant, and she has a special gift for cooking. Anyone can see that. But she’s almost insane about working for her restaurant. It’s the only thing that’s important in her life. Why? Because it was something she and her father dreamed about when she was little. Then he went off and died in the war (go disney! Killing a Dad off for once!), and it’s almost like Tiana thinks that’s all he wanted to and she wants so hard to fulfill his dream and make him proud of her. As if that’s the only way.

She’s all work and no play, but it’s of her own accord. She’s extremely grounded in reality and doesn’t believe the fairy tale nonsense until she gets swept into it. I mean, that scene where Naveen talks her into kissing him. You have two kinds of people in this world: people like Lotte, who would jump at the chance to kiss him on the off chance that magic is real, or Tiana, who has a normal reaction by dancing around in disgust at the mere thought of kissing a frog.

Case in point

Case in point

 

I love her reactions, I love her personality, I love her character design (which actually reminds me of Belle’s), and I love love love the journey she goes through (but more on that later).

On the other end of the spectrum we have Naveen, the prince of Maldonia who has never worked a day in his life, gets things handed to him, and wishes to party and be with all sorts of women 24/7. But he gets a backstory too! He was cut off from his parents and to maintain his lifestyle, has to marry a wealthy woman (Lotte, essentially).

Naveen_on_balcony-Princess-and-the-Frog-Wallpaper

Frogs don’t have teeth, but it’s Disney, so I guess I’ll let it slide…

 

Naveen is annoying. He’s supposed to be. In the beginning he sees Tiana as only a means to get what he wants, and luckily she’s smart enough to strike a deal. It’s as the movie goes through it’s motions that Naveen learns that having money isn’t everything, and that he can be happy without it if he has love. This message comes earlier to him than to Tiana, but I think it has to. Tiana really is the focus of this movie and to her, it’s harder to come to terms with. Naveen has just never lived a day in his life when he had to work. Tiana shows him that working can produce something you can be proud of.

 

These two are good for each other because they start off as polar opposites, and throughout the course of the movie, each teaches the other (inadvertently sometimes) that good aspects of the way the other lives their lives. Naveen learns to be a little more hard working, and Tiana learns that there’s more to life than work. Sometimes, it’s ok to have a little fun.

Joining them on their journey is Louis the Alligator, and Ray, the firefly. I’m actually not going to say much about them. They are interesting characters with definite personalities. Ray is a bit annoying, but he has a good heart. You can almost tell they stuck him in for comedic relief, which is fine, but you don’t get that anyone is really connected to him, so when he dies it’s not really as sad as it could be. Louis is better. While he’s comic relief as well, it’s done a little less “in your face.”

Louis_Princess-and-the-Frog_Green2

Lotte and Lawrence are the same way. I adore Lotte. She is hilarious, set on marrying her prince, and flat out crazy. But that’s what makes her fun and she’s a good opposite for Tiana in the scenes they have together. You don’t understand how they could be friends, but yeah. They still somehow are.

Them in a nutshell

Them in a nutshell

Lawrence is possibly the least developed character, but you understand he’s a man who feels used and is sick of it. He’s willing to do whatever it takes in the beginning but then realizes the Shadowman has pushed it a little too far.

Ah yes, let’s talk about Dr. Facilier for a moment. He’s one of my favorite Disney villains, because as Naveen so nicely puts it in the movie, “He was very charismatic.” He’s voiced by Keith David, which is always just… awesome. He’s a voodoo man who will read fortunes and has shrunken heads and makes deals with the devil. He’s the source of magic for our movie, and while I know real Voodoo isn’t anything like it’s depicted in the movie, it’s still fun. He can be extremely scary at some times, and at others he has this quiet way about him that still comes off as scary. I really enjoy the way he realizes he got in too deep, and this villain possibly has one of the best deaths in the Disney canon (dragged into his own headstone by a demon? that’s great!)

btw, it had been a long time since I had gotten scared during a Disney song... problem fixed.

btw, it had been a long time since I had gotten scared during a Disney song… problem fixed.

3) The Message

I’ve touched on this above, but I feel it’s worth reiterating. This movie has a few really good messages in it. They are front and center with our characters, but strangely enough, watching this movie, you don’t feel like the message is crammed down your throat.

This movie teaches people that you need to work to get to your dreams. They don’t just fall into your lap. This is evident with Tiana. She never shies away from any work, because she knows if she works hard enough, she’ll get her restaurant.

On the other hand, this movie also teaches that you can’t throw yourself 100% into work and your dreams. Not only can dreams change, but working that hard can strip your life from what’s really important.

So what’s important? Love. This part of the message gets evidenced once they get to Mama Odie’s and she tells them they have to find what they need, not necessarily what they want. I think this is actually a great message to teach kids – they’re not the same thing. You can want a new iPad, or the newest Xbox game or best car, but will they make you happy? Not necessarily. Everyone these days is so caught up in what we want, we, like Tiana and Naveen, forget about what we need. Love and family. They’re what make life worth living, and without them, we may not have a full life.

4) The Music

Again, I’ve mentioned it before, but the music to this movie is great. It’s not the best Disney’s had to offer (far from it in my opinion), but every single song fits into the southern vibe. There are a few great songs (My personal favorites? “Almost there,” “Dig a little deeper,” “Down in New Orleans.”) and some not so great ones. There are songs that are much better in the movie than on your computer (Friends on the other side). But all in all, these are wonderful songs that add to the movie. It’s also the first movie since Mulan that a character has actually sung an entire song….

Ok, now on to some not so great things/contoversies of the movie, and my take on them:

1) The Plot

Ok, I’ll admit it. This is probably the worst thing about the movie. It’s not hard to understand when you’re watching it, but it’s just kinda… boring. It’s a road trip movie to a point (Disney has loved those in the last 10 years…), but it’s not as exciting as even Bolt. It’s very compartmentalized. They go somewhere, they run into a problem, they repeat. I know that’s how road trip movies are, but with some, you don’t feel it as much as you do with this movie.

There’s also the fact that I still have no idea what Dr. Facilier was actually attempting to do with his little takeover thing. He was trying to take over New Orleans so the demons could run amok? why did he need Lawrence and Naveen for that? ugh I don’t understand!!!

2) The Humor

This one and the next one kinda run into each other, but I’ll do my best to try and keep them as separate as possible without reiterating too much.

To put it lightly, a lot of people criticized this movie because the humor, they felt, was inappropriate and “racist.” They’re quick to point out a few things:

The appearance of guns

It happens just after this. I just love this screen cap better...

It happens just after this. I just love this screen cap better…

The frog catchers

Princess-disneyscreencaps_com-5816

Ray

Ray_Princess-and-the-Frog_Green2

Ok. I don’t know about you, but personally? I laughed extremely hard when Louis was telling his story about how he tried to play on a riverboat and got guns pointed at him. I laughed like hell when the frog catchers beat each other up. You know why? Because it felt like an old school Disney movie! It felt like one of those old shorts Disney used to put on!

Does that mean it’s not racist? eh, I guess you could argue that type of humor still is, but then again there are people that live like that. Maybe they’re not that dumb, but I even think if I were in the situation with two frogs as smart as that, I’d get into trouble too.

As for Ray, he’s the one that sort of borders on racist, BUT is it just because of his humor and his accent? he’s not dumb, he’s got a huge heart, and he’s a good friend. I’m sorry, but to me, that’s not racist.

I didn’t see this humor as inappropriate. I saw it as nostalgic. And as for the guns… uh…. do you people see what types of movies 4-9 year olds are seeing these days? a few guns pointed at an Alligator for laughs isn’t what you should be criticizing.

3) The “Controversy” of Race.

I saved this for last because honestly I’m just going to talk and if I get myself into trouble than so be it. I could completely ignore this issue, but I’m not going to. I personally don’t think that there IS an issue, but when this movie was announced and promo footage and pictures were released, people, for some reason, flipped a shit.

They made a Disney Princess black.

Now I read a lot of stuff as it was coming out. There were the crazy white people who couldn’t believe it. There were the crazy black people who thought that Disney was just doing this to appease them, and the majority of us were in the middle thinking “Ok, Diversity, cool.”

Personally, I’m surprised it took them this long.

But… the more stuff came out, the more people started complaining. Disney changed Tiana’s name from Maddy because they didn’t want people thinking they were associating her with “Mammie,” or a term for a black maid in the south. I got the feeling that Disney had to walk over all these hot coals just to get this movie done and not cause a huge controversy, yet people still found one.

People are insane.

I’ve already talked about Tiana. I’ve already told you she is one of my favorites. Why should it matter what color her skin is? If anything, she is by far the smartest of the Disney Princesses. She teaches an extremely good lesson, and she’a great role model. If anything, she’s the normal person in this movie.

Lotte’s the one that makes white people look crazy.

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There is NO issue of race in this movie. There is NO controversy. If anything, this movie paints it like it was in the 1920s: White people had the big houses, African Americans lived in shacks and had jobs like seamstresses and waiters. There is nothing wrong with depicting life the way it was. It’s not like the white people were being rude to Tiana and her mother. I mean hell, Lotte and Tiana were friends! Her father respected Tiana’s! Geez

People make me so mad to think this had to be an issue.

Disney likes to claim that it was after this movie that they decided to shy away from movies with the word “princess” in them, and that they were done with 2D animation. That somehow, both these things detracted from people going to see the movie. Because this movie didn’t make as much as they thought it would.

That is bullshit.

You want to know why people didn’t go see this movie? (this is just my opinion, I really don’t know obviously). It was two fold:

1) the “Controversy” (as stated above) that surrounded this movie at the time of it’s production

2) At the time of its release, Disney still wasn’t known as a powerhouse of moviemaking! People probably saw the trailer and thought that Disney was trying to get back to what was important, but didn’t want to risk going to see if they were right.

Ok I’m done.

This movie is extremely underrated. Upon watching it, Tangled and Frozen in a row, I can honestly say this was my personal favorite of the three (although I do like the other two). I really encourage anyone who hasn’t seen this movie to give it a watch. You might fall in love with Tiana like I did. She’s awesome.

I give The Princess and the Frog (2009) a 4 out of 5.

Next up: Tangled (2010)

Bolt (2008)

 

a-bolt

Hello everyone and welcome back me! NaNoWriMo is over (Nailed it! Boo-yah!) and the world continues to spin. It’s December, and I am planning on doing a few Christmas-ish movie reviews, but I’m going to work hard to get these Disney reviews done and through the chute.

So let’s dive right in with Bolt. This was the first movie since 2003’s Brother Bear that I have an inkling to want to see in the theaters (but of course, I didn’t). Disney still wasn’t back up in the good graces of the masses. The so called “Disney Revival” wouldn’t happen until the next movie, but personally, I start the revival here, with Bolt. I’ll do my best to explain why, but first, let’s see what Bolt is all about:

In a nutshell, Bolt is the story of a dog who, unbeknownst to himself, is an action hero of his own TV show. He’s been brought up to believe the dangers that occur to himself and his human Penny in the show are real.

After ratings slip because the show is too predictable, the writers decide to end the show on a cliffhanger (aka bolt NOT rescuing Penny and her getting kidnapped by the villain of the show). To make it seem real, he can’t even see that she’s ok after filming, and because of such, Bolt (who thinks it’s all real) flips out, escapes the set, and attempts to go after the Green eyed man (the villain) but ends up knocking himself out and mailing himself to NYC instead.

Having no idea where he is but knowing he has to get home and find the green eyed man and save Penny, he enlists the help (more like kidnaps) of a cat named Mittens to take him to the green eyed man. Mittens of course thinks he’s crazy, but sees his collar with California on it and they begin their road trip from NYC to LA. On the way they meet a hamster who is a huge Bolt fan (but somehow thinks Bolt is really a super dog). They go through some things, Bolt becomes disillusioned, doesn’t know who he really is, but still yearns to make it to LA and find Penny (who unbeknownst to him is being forced to continue filming the show with a new Bolt.)

They get there, and yeah…. I won’t ruin the end (I’ll talk a bit about it later though…)

__________________________________

I’m going to be completely honest with everyone: I love this movie. I love the characters, the relationships, and even the storyline. My hardest issue to get over with this movie (and this becomes true for a few Disney movies as we move on – it’s the flip side to the coin of having Lassiter in charge) is that is doesn’t feel like a Disney movie.

Again, I’m going to remind readers that I grew up in the Disney Renaissance – to me, Disney is all about fairy tales, good characters, and good songs. I’ll have to wait one more movie to get me one of those…

Bolt is strange, because while I can see that it’s a Disney movie, to me it’s not really classic Disney. If anything, it actually reminds me of a live action Disney studios movie of the 90s. It includes and relies heavily on television and studio production. There’s lawyers and agents and executives. There’s freaking product placement – that’s right. We have a U-Haul and an iPhone. In a Disney movie!!! Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird?

Sure, Meet the Robinsons or Lilo and Stitch didn’t have songs and were a bit un-Disney and different, but they were fantastical. Bolt is grounded in reality. Maybe that’s why I just find it weird to call it a Disney Animated movie. Or at least I did at the time. Now, after movies like Wreck-it Ralph and Big Hero 6, I’m starting to understand that this is just how the studio is going to work now. It’s not bad – it’s just different. And I guess my traditionalist mind is having issues adapting to it.

That being said, it’s only my real big qualm with the movie. I’m not like all the critics who said that this was an overused story, or that the ideas had been done before. Have they? sure. Here’s a list of movies that Bolt could have taken from: Toy Story, Homeward Bound, Truman Show, Inspector Gadget (seriously, anyone see the insane similarities between that tv show and the one in the movie…?).

Girl named Penny and a dog who help solve crimes? Check!  Villain who hangs out with cats? Check!

Girl named Penny and a dog who help solve crimes? Check!
Villain who hangs out with cats? Check!

Now out of those movies, how many kids who were the target age of Bolt (Let’s say aged 5-10 in 2008) would have seen any of those movies? I have, but I’m much older. You get to a critics age, and they can probably pull out a few more movies that Bolt is like. Here’s the thing though: I hate this argument. I hate it! Just because a story has been done before doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. If the author or writer or studio can make something about it different enough, or make the characters memorable enough, then the argument, in my opinion, is crap.

That’s what they did here.

Sure, this movie has a lot in common with all those movies I listed above, but what makes this movie wonderful are the characters, their relationships, the humor, and the freaking cleverness of all the lines uttered.

First there’s Bolt, voiced by John Travolta. He’s been raised since a puppy to think that he is a super dog, with a super bark, super speed, lasers coming out of his eyes, and the strength to bend metal bars. Then he’s thrown into the real world and doesn’t understand why his powers don’t work. He blames it on the Styrofoam that was in the box he was mailed in, which I think is clever. But there’s only one thing on his mind: he has to get back to Penny and save her. Even after he realizes and accepts that he’s not who he thought he was, he still wants and needs to get to her.

Bolt-disneys-bolt-30523228-1920-1080

We’ve seen other characters like this (like Buzz Lightyear) but what I love about Bolt and his transformation from crazy super dog to normal dog is that is seems more… real. In Toy Story, Buzz sees a commercial and has an existential crisis and comes to terms relatively quickly of what he is. he’s more extreme. Bolt, on the other hand, questions why his powers don’t work, comes up with a hypothesis for why they don’t work, and then only through time and experience comes to the harsh truth that he’s not really a super dog. But does that mean he’s not special or that he can’t be a hero? no. And he comes to terms with that part slowly, which I think is nice. The entire movie really is about him discovering who he really is, and what or who is really important.

His traveling buddies, of course, help him on his journey. First we have Mittens, the cat he kidnaps from NYC who just wants to be left alone. She’s pessimistic and sarcastic and grounded in reality almost to a fault. She tries to talk some sense into Bolt and thinks he’s crazy at first until she realizes that he has a legit reason to think he’s super. She knows TV shows and understands the concept, and attempts anything to prove to him it’s not real. Once Bolt is disillusioned, She helps him see what life can be like as a regular dog. But again, she’s extremely pessimistic, and tells Bolt that “Penny” is just an actress and doesn’t really love him (which of course Bolt ignores). She has reason to be so pessimistic, which maybe you can guess, but I’m not going to give it away.

Some of her lines are the best...

Some of her lines are the best…

Then there’s Rhino the hamster, who is on the other end of the spectrum as Mittens. He’s a huge fan of Bolt but isn’t smart enough to realize that what he’s watching on TV isn’t real. He joins their party to rescue Penny from the Green-eyed man, and for the majority of the movie is in a hamster ball. Rhino is optimistic and believes with every fiber of his being that Bolt is the hero he knows him to be, and desperately wants to be like him. Even after Bolt tries to tell him he’s not a hero, Rhino refuses to listen. He spends the whole movie believing that Bolt really is as great as he thinks, and that every moment spent with him is the best moment of his life. He’s also hilarious and the main source for crazy humor in this movie, and it works as one of the movie’s greatest strengths.

"The road will be rough..." "I have a ball!"

“The road will be rough…”
“I have a ball!”

I think a character like this is extremely important in this movie because without Rhino, Bolt might have started believing he couldn’t be a hero or couldn’t do anything. Rhino inadvertently refused to let Bolt sink into a depression, and Mittens helps solidify his connection and loyalty to Penny, which does end up getting tested once they get to Los Angeles.

It’s like I said: The relationships between these characters is what really makes this movie special. It’s why I could watch this movie over and over. The voice actors are spot on (yes, even Miley Cyrus as Penny – ugh I hate saying that…). We get emotional moments that really tug at your heartstrings, and we have some humor that is just so smart but not overdone in the least. This movie has things that make is extremely memorable to the point where you see a picture and you know it’s from Bolt – what else could it be from? (waffle world maps, for one). It’s extremely quotable.

"How do you say 'I'm not doing this' in crazy?!?"

“How do you say ‘I’m not doing this’ in crazy?!?”

*Stomach Growls* "What was that? you have two seconds to tell me what you've implanted in me cat. Poison? A tracker? Poison? wait, I already said that. I'm all discombobulated!"

*Stomach Growls* “What was that? you have two seconds to tell me what you’ve implanted in me cat. Poison? A tracker? Poison? wait, I already said that. See? I’m all discombobulated!”

I figured out a good word to describe this movie: It’s clever. It’s clever in its humor, lines, situations, ideas, characters, etc.

I’m not going to say much else about this movie. I could delve into the whole lesson about the hazards of all work and no play, the morality of what the tv studio did to poor Bolt, or the idea of loyalty (I want a freaking dog like Bolt!). But instead, I’m going to tell people to go watch this movie if they haven’t seen it. You’ll watch it, and you’ll understand all of that, because it’s well dog.

Cute - dog face Bolt tells you to go see it!

Cute – dog face Bolt tells you to go see it!

It may not feel like a Disney movie. It may feel more like a Pixar one, to be honest, but that’s not a bad thing. Pixar makes us laugh and cry, and looking back now 6 years later, this movie really was the first one to show us where Disney would go. It was the last Disney movie I wouldn’t see in theaters, and I wish I had. I wish more people had. This movie should be the start of the revival, but instead I feel like people forget about it. You really shouldn’t. It deserves to be seen, and I watch it for the characters alone.

Note: The ending is also the most scary/sad thing I’ve seen in a Disney movie in a LONG time. I remember the first time I watched this I really didn’t know what was going to happen, and I still tear up to this day every time I watch it. That’s Pixar right there!

"You're MY good boy."  - It's something along these lines, but much sadder...

“You’re MY good boy.” – It’s something along these lines, but much sadder…

Note #2: This also marks the first time we get animation in the credits, which I have to admit I have loved ever since Lassiter took over.

I give Bolt (2008) a 3.8 out of 5. Solid, and if you haven’t seen it, SEE IT!!

Up Next: The Princess and the Frog (2009)