Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

If we must get these Disney remakes of their animated features done in unattractive, narratively slack live-action/CGI hybrids – and 2019 is making a particularly loud case that we must – I would say that you could honestly do a lot worse than picking up 1941’s Dumbo as a target. The original film is pure bedtime story, 64 minutes of simple story beats, not so much telling a story as […]

In 1941, the fate of the Disney Studios rested upon a single film, for the second time in four years. The one-two punch of Pinocchio and Fantasia, both of them costing astronomical sums and both of them crashing and burning at the box office, had left the company teetering right on the edge of bankruptcy. The last-ditch effort to get some money in the studio coffers was to make an […]

Lady and the Tramp was the fifth, count ’em, fifth film released by the Walt Disney Company in 2019 that was more or less a redo of one of their classic animated features done up in some ungainly combination of live-action videography and CGI, following Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and it’s the one that was chosen to be part of the launch slate for […]

Pragmatically, Disney’s new version of Aladdin only had one bar it absolutely had to clear, and it clears it. While this is anywhere from the sixth to the eleventh entry in this unkillable cycle of live-action remake nostalgia jobs, depending on how you count them,* it’s only the second one based on one of the 1990s “Disney Renaissance” films that are in large part the reason anybody living in the […]

Happy May Day everyone! It feels a bit presumptuous to start looking at a new month of releases when I still have to catch up from April – I hear that there’s been an Avengers picture that made a bit of money. And just as soon as I have any sort of chance to clear five consecutive hours out of my schedule to catch up with it, I’ll be happy […]

There’s a large section of Disney enthusiasts who, like me, cannot stand these live action remakes. For almost ten years now, the Walt Disney Company has spent a lot of time and money to produce big budget retellings of the most popular movies in their animated canon. Because we live in the age of nostalgia, these movies have proven to be huge commercial successes, and Disney has doubled down on […]

We’re two months into one of the weakest years for box office in recent memory, though that’s about to change in a huge way. Quality-wise, though? I have my doubts, give or take a pair of genre films that look, respectively, gloriously trashy and just plain good. It’s a scrawny-looking sort of a month: only eight wide releases across five weekends, at least two of which are transparently just getting […]

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 […]

Really, how is anybody supposed to cope with something titled Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams? It sounds like the direct translation from the Japanese of an anime series that finds the Disney Princesses joining forces to fight their robot doppelgangers on a floating island in outer space. Or at least like Disney’s long-forgotten attempt to break into East German children’s entertainment. What is actually is, is the first […]

The responsible critic is supposed to at least give a movie the chance to defend itself, and this I did not do with Bambi II: I approached it with knives drawn, and have only myself to blame for hating it as much as I had every intention of doing. This is not, after all, like other sequels to Disney’s older movies, like Cinderella and Lady and the Tramp, films from […]

In the dark days of the early Aughts, when Disney animation was at its lowest ebb since the 1970s with critical and commercial washouts like Atlantis: The Lost Empire dragging the brand name down into the muck, everybody had an idea to save the company. Throw out Michael Eisner; re-commit to the most beautiful possible traditional animation; get the hell away from traditional animation; copy DreamWorks and Pixar; stake out […]

America’s entry into World War II, depending on which economist you listened to, finally lifted the country out of the last draggy bits of the Great Depression; yet it was not all good news for everybody*. Walt Disney, was among that small population of folks who’d done just fine for himself during the worst of the Depression, riding the public’s appetite for silly, diverting entertainment as successfully as any movie […]