Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

I’m going to lead off with something that’s kind of small and petty, but it bothers me too much to wait: Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the second direct-to-video Disney sequel ever, and the second sequel to the 1992 blockbuster Aladdin, was released in 1996 on home video, in a 4:3 aspect ratio. This makes perfect sense, given that virtually all televisions at that time had just such dimensions, […]

Going to quite the Disney Top Tens with this one, and one of the most damnably difficult lists I’ve ever put together, it is. The ten best musical numbers in any Disney feature, as defined by the quality of the song, the visual, the performance, and so on and so forth. I have elected to limit myself to one per feature; the film that would have otherwise dominated the list […]

Once again, it all comes down to Howard Ashman: it was in the late 1980s, as animation was purring along for The Little Mermaid, and the story for Beauty and the Beast was just barely starting to take form, Ashman suggested another musical project for Disney: an adaptation of Aladdin, one of the tales in the European versions of the collection of Arabian fairy tales, One Thousand and One Nights […]

If you’ve seen Stranger Things or the recently released zeitgeist-embracing adventure The Kid Who Would Be King, you know there’s no shortage of nostalgia for the decades in which most of the folks reading this grew up. The 1980s and ’90s are en vogue and ready to transport you back to your Topanga poster-covered walls of your bedroom. Or whomever you were into at the time. Maybe it was just […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a hitman has a bodyguard. Do you perceive the knee-slapping humor of this incongruity? Because we tend to think of hitmen as being sufficiently capable to bodyguard THEMSELVES. Sadly, not […]

A review requested by Robert Hamer, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. It’s important to get it read into the record, right up front, that in a very real and very important sense, The Thief and the Cobbler doesn’t actually exist. Parts of it exist, and from these parts, we can generally extrapolate what the movie might have been like. This is indeed […]

A review requested by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. And now we come to a question of some real urgency: what the living hell happened to Don Bluth at the start of the 1990s? There’s a simple answer to that, of course. After Bluth spent the ’80s routinely handing his former employers at Disney their […]

A review requested by James Miller, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There’s nothing at all weird about a 1990s animated fairy tale/Disney knock-off with weak musical numbers and hardly any budget. In fact, this is one of the least-weird things imaginable: attempting to copy what works, cutting corners, and doing a poor job of it all is the very heart and soul […]

A review requested by Rebecca S, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Toys is one of the best examples I can think of why “kill your babies” is held to be important artistic advice. It is also one of the best examples of why I’m always privately happy when artists leave their babies alive, even if – especially if – they’re malformed and […]

Princess musicals. That’s the ticket: Walt Disney Animation Studios just needs to keep on making princess musicals. You can set the starting point of Disney’s second renaissance under the guidance of John Lasseter wherever you want – with 2008’s Bolt, which was the first film for which Lasseter was chiefly responsible for overseeing its production; with 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, which was the studio’s first fairy tale musical […]

It’s officially that most exciting time of the movie year: all of the most exciting stuff isn’t actually opening unless you are among the anointed within an easy trip of downtown New York or Los Angeles. And may I say that for all I would grouse and kvell about this (not always on this blog) when I lived in Chicago, my experience of last fall in Madison really brought how […]

The unifying characteristic of the vast majority of feature-length films made by Walt Disney Animation Studios has been an unflagging, self-conscious classicism. These films, by and large, exist out of time, adopting folklore from across the world and treating it with a careful remove, with only an isolated gag here or there reminding us that they were made at any given point in time. Thus even if two things are […]