Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In the words of Robert Worshow, “A man goes to the movies. The critic must be honest enough to admit that he is that man,” and in that spirit, I will lead with my bias: the 2012 Walt Disney Animation Studios release Wreck-It Ralph, 52nd entry in the company’s official canon of animated features, is […]

It’s not really accurate to suggest that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is the latest example of Disney’s irritatingly robust program of remaking its animated features in shrieking, shiny CGI and “live-action”. But it’s not really inaccurate, either: the feature makes more than its share of glancing nods back towards 1940’s Fantasia, mostly (though […]

For a company that has spent 90 years now insistently bathing itself in sweetness and light, there’s always been a certain love of dark, spooky shit driving Walt Disney Productions. In 1929, not even a full year after Mickey Mouse made his incredibly successful debut, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks oversaw the creation of the […]

Given the company’s current business model, it makes perfect sense that Disney would finally get around to releasing a film with the explicit message “constantly dwelling in nostalgia is good, and caring about adult things is bad”. I don’t even think I’m being ungenerous to Christopher Robin in summing it up that way; at least […]

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales shouldn’t exist, but as far as movies that shouldn’t exist go, it’s not actually half-bad. Six years after the franchise’s last, worst movie came out – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – it would have taken absolutely nothing for this to have avoided being […]

I would ask you, if you please, to consider the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, the crown jewel of the Disney Renaissance. What, pray tell, do you find to be wrong with it? Or let me rather put it this way: is there even one single image in that whole movie that generates the response […]

Disney’s current wave of live-action remakes of its old animated films (or “live-action” in the case of 2016’s The Jungle Book) will have reached its fifth title by the end of the first quarter of 2017. And of those five films, Pete’s Dragon is the clear outlier in all sorts of ways. It is, for […]

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; […]

The third and newest film produced by the Walt Disney Company to bear the title The Jungle Book significantly lacks the greatest strength of Maleficent and Cinderella, Disney’s other recent attempts to remake its animated features as realistic popcorn movies: it does not feature a world-class actress playing one of the studio’s greatest villains (which […]

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 […]

There has been some effort online to stress Damon Lindelof’s presence as co-writer of Tomorrowland and thus somehow save the reputation of the film’s director and other writer, Brad Bird. Which presumes in the first place that Tomorrowland is bad enough to justify insulating the beloved auteur from it, and I think that’s far from […]

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: Disney’s latest effort in brand-mining, Tomorrowland, takes the name (if nothing else) from one of the most famous attractions […]