Magical Movies Tour: Fantasia 2000

Watching Fantasia woke up something inside of me. I think it’s an incredibly special piece of art, interesting and idiosyncratic and unique. It was also a deep financial failure for Disney Studios and despite years of trying, Walt’s desire for a sequel never got off the ground. When Roy Disney took over, it became his dream to chase and, based on the reading I’ve done this year, really bugged the crap out of everyone else at the company.

The result of that war (besides Michael Eisner losing his job and Bob Iger becoming a thing) is Fantasia 2000, which is an interesting beast, and nowhere near as lovely as it’s predecessor. Choosing a slate of new pieces and remastering “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” the film is presented much more like a splashy symphonic event concert, complete with celebrity introductions and projection screens.

It is nowhere near as charming and the work on display feels a good deal less magical.

I liked a few of the pieces more than others. Interpreting “Rhapsody in Blue” as a bustling day in 1930s New York, drawn in the style of Al Hirschfeld is inspired and the resulting piece is a lot of fun to watch. “The Firebird” is interesting if imperfect and “Pomp And Circumstance” is a lovely little fable that features my good friend Donald.

At the bottom of the barrel is probably “The Pines of Rome” where several blue whales migrate and jump out of the water. While I’m sure this sequence seemed really cool on Imax screens in 2000, now the CGI looks dated and there’s no majesty on my home tv.

The celebrity narrators are well chosen and acquit themselves well, but still feel, off, I guess?

Next week, we’re talking about Dinosaur, which I genuinely cannot remember if I’ve ever watched before.

Better Than It Has Any Right To Be: The Legend Of The Three Caballeros

Remember back when time had meaning and I watched The Three Cabelleros and Saludos Amigos and was completely and utterly charmed. Well, this week, in an attempt to escape from just you know, life in general, I rewatched Gravity Falls(On second viewing, still totally rules) and then the first season of Duck Tales, and then a few episodes of season 2, until I got to “The Town Where Everyone Was Nice” which is where Scrooge, Webby, the boys and Donald go to Brazil and meet up with Jose and Panchito, who in this story were in a band with Donald in college. (They’re also, like Donald, lovable losers.) (They have an episode in season 3 as well, “Louie’s 11” and it is a delight) (So much Caballeros this week you guys!)

Then I remembered that the long whispered about in the corners of the internet where we all talk about how Duck Tales is better than it has any right to be, that The Legend Of Three Caballeros was also better than it had any right to be. I could have this conversation about Duck Tales infinitely, because Duck Tales is incredible and I love it so much. (Also I miss Aless and our morning after a night of fun ritual of ordering breakfast sandwiches and watching Duck Tales.)

But hanging with Jose and Panchito again, I decided to check out their show.

And it is, indeed, better than it has any right to be, and suiting The Cabelleros, it doesn’t make a lot of sense and is super silly. It subtracts the racism for the most part so, yay! The idea is that Donald, Panchito and Jose’s ancestors were mystical adventurers and it’s their turn to take up the mantel. There’s also a whole thing with a trapped goddess named Xandra, a villain who has been transformed into a magical staff, Daisy’s nieces, April, May and June. (They are fine, but I miss my boys).

The animation is great, and the story is bonkers and the jokes are good and you get to hear “The Three Caballeros” 13 times, because that’s how many episodes there are. (There are a few other songs too.) Donald gets angry a lot, a Jose flirts with every woman they meet and Panchito dives into adventure without thinking and it’s great.

Because I love those stupid birds and their dumb guitars and their absurdly catchy song.

“THEY SAY WE ARE BIRDS OF A FEATHEEEERRRR…”

It’s on Disney+ and I think people should check it out.

Magical Movies Tour: Melody Time

I’ve mentioned that I’m holding everything to the standard of Fantasia and by that standard, Melody Time comes up incredibly short. It is a sort of mid century pop version of Fantasia, using vocal music, jazz and story telling in a series of shorts.

I liked a few of the shorts, “Little Toot,” performed by the Andrews Sisters is irrestiably adorable, and “Johnny Appleseed” is gorgeously felt, if not really particularly interesting. “Blame It On The Samba” reunites Donald and Jose, so, I’m happy for it to be here. (Donde esta Panchito?) And I’m also happy to have watched “Pecos Bill,” as I have very much enjoyed eating chicken tacos in his establishment in Frontier Land.

The two long pieces, “Johnny Appleseed” and “Pecos Bill,” are just both from a branch of Disney obsession that have never held much interest for me, the retelling of American myth for the sake of Americana. I never appreciated the treatment of Twain’s work by the studio (I’m a little precious about Twain though, it’s a flaw.)  But I also don’t love the Paul Bunyan stuff, and “Johnny Appleseed” and “Pecos Bill” fit into that mold. There’s a “John Henry” short that got paired with “Princess And The Frog” that I’m also meh on.

Not loving this branch of story telling from Disney, means that this movie was held together by something I’m disinterested in, which gave it a it of an uphill battle. I enjoyed it well enough but it just wasn’t going to hold me interest.

The animation is uniformly great in these shorts, again, not up to the Fantasia and Bambi standards, but still pretty good.

Next week we get back into some long form with The Adventure of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, that is two stories not quite long enough to be a feature, but still just two stories.

Magical Movies Tour: Fun And Fancy Free

“Mickey and The Beanstalk” is a full stop perfect Disney Classic, doing some things that Walt did best in story telling, reinterpreting a classic fairy tale, incorporating the Mouse and his friends in ways that are both creative and satisfying. It’s also funny, has some neat music and cool character designs.

The rest of Fun And Fancy Free doesn’t quite live up. The title song performed by Jiminy Cricket is a delight, but the first short “Bongo The Circus Bear” is interesting but goes on too long and ends in a bizarre bear dance number about slapping to prove love. The middle segment is a showcase for veltriloquist Edgar Bergen, who is very talented and also narrates the Beanstalk portion, it’s quite a non sequiter, and doesn’t quite do it for me, despite Bergen obvious talent for a mostly lost art form.

But wow, I love “Mickey And The Beanstalk,” especially the opening segment which shows the depths to which Mickey, Donald and Goofy have sunk, with Mickey slicing that bean three ways to make sandwiches on bread sliced thin enough to be transparent is comic genius, as is Donald’s subsequent blow up. Willy the Giant is also a great deal of fun and the singing harp does the job as well as possible.

Seriously, I’m enjoying these anthologies much more than I thought I would. I was kind of dreading this month, and I actually burned through all of them in a weekend (giving myself a nice little cushion going into warmer weather!) and I will probably be revisiting them for casual cleaning the apartment or cooking type viewing. They’re such a delight!

Next week, we continue down this path with Melody Time, will I continue to love these? All signs point to yes!

Magical Movies Tour: The Three Caballeros

What a weird, trippy, again kinda racist, delight of a film! I’ve always been a fan of the Cabelloros, from Disney World and from those Disney Sing-a-Long videos, but had never watched the full film.

Again, we have a series of shorts, this time much more connected than Saludos Amigos. Donald receives a gift and it turns out to be a magical film meant to introduce him to his cousins from South America. He learns about some different birds, before making his way to Brasil, where hey look! Jose Carrioca is waiting for him! The two friends happily dance and sing in Brasil, and then wind up in Mexico, where they meet Panchito Pistoles. They hop on their magical sarape (I said, kinda racist) and fly about Mexico, singing, dancing, Donald hits on lots of pretty girls, and then finds his way home.

It’s just delightful, neon colored, displaying early attempts at integrating live footage and animation and seriously, the songs in this one are so much fun. Also, I just adore Jose and Panchito, and I’ve already explained that Donald is my favorite of the Fab Five. So I was just thrilled to watch the movie.

And as it descended into trippy madness, I was even happier. Singers become flowers, with singers faces, Donald skips around a technocolor wonderland while Jose and Panchito look on fondly. All three fly off on a magical serape.

Again, sometimes things just need to be what they are, and this is a silly cartoon about singing birds with some fun songs sung by Mexican singers. And this executes that conceit perfectly. It’s less “educational” than it’s brother production, and all the better for it.

Next week we discuss Fun And Fancy Free, we’re skipping Make Mine Music because it isn’t on Disney+ (bizarrely) and I don’t feel like chasing it down.

Magical Movies Tour: Saludos Amigos

When I went to San Francisco & Napa last year, I had one morning that wasn’t already scheduled with family wedding activities or something my dad had already put on the books for us. I decided to use it visiting The Walt Disney Family Museum.

The production of Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros (The subject of next week’s column) were well detailed in that museum, produced with funds from the US government to promote understanding with our southern neighbors. I don’t know how well they did that, but they are some fun cartoons.

Saludos Amigos doesn’t hide it’s framing device, and is all the better for it. A group of Disney Animators headed on a whirlwind South American trip to get some fresh inspiration. And wouldn’t ya know it? THEY GOT IT.

There’s four shorts. One is Donald learning about life around Lake Titicaca, one is about a little plane named Pedro who flies mail over the Andes. (I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little obsessed with Pedro, he’s super cute.) There’s one where Goofy learns the ways of the Argentine Gauchos. There are few things in the world I love like a Goody cartoon. (If you’re a Disney+ subscriber, watch “How To Swim” or “How to Ski” IMMEDIATELY. They are GENIUS PERFECTION) and then a samba short about Rio DiJenaero where Donald meets the sauve Jose Carrioca for the first time.

All four are delightful, and don’t overstay their welcome and while I’m not sure how much I learned about South America, I very much enjoyed the samba numbers and primo Donald content. (Big fan of Donald around here.)

Next week, we’ll talk about The Three Caballeros, which means even more primo Donald content. And more of Jose!

Cosplay Corner: March Disneybound Challenge Week 1

Hey all! So as a way to keep updating in March (since I doubt I’ll read as many books as I did in February. Seriously, it gave me a really good cushion for meeting my goal of 30 books this year!) And as a way to actually get into the work I’m doing (self-care wise) with these Disneybounds, I figured I’d write them up!

Challenge

So, once a week, when I feel like it, I’ll document the ‘bounds I did the week before.

March 1st

Theme: Big Hero Six

Character: Honey Lemon

While I prefer Honey Lemon’s yellow dress look, I didn’t have anything that worked for that, and one of my goals with this month is not to buy things specifically for the bounds. My budget is a little tight lately, and I have SO MANY clothes.

Anyway, all this to say, I have this pink cotton dress and plenty of purple accents so I did her superhero look instead. I’m glad I did too, because seriously, this is a cute outfit that I’m gonna just start wearing more. Also it’s work appropriate! And very springy!

March 2nd

Theme: Disney Sidekicks

Character: Launchpad McQuack

Word of warning: I will be sneaking as much Duck Tales into this challenge as I possibly can. For sidekicks, I went with Launchpad. Green sweater, jeans, and my oversize tan blazer. I didn’t have an appropriate hat, but that’s OK by me.

March 3rd

Theme: Fab Five

Character: Donald Duck

I uh, phoned it in on this one, but mostly because I was cleaning my apartment, cooking and binge watching Inuyasha all day so “what am I wearing?” wasn’t on the top of my list. But I did wear my royal blue tank top, to pay tribute to our angriest and best duck!

March 4th

Theme: Zootopia

Character: Judy Hopps

Sunday, like Saturday, was a quiet day for me, but I at least went to church and grocery shopping so I wore jeans and a nice top. Grey and blue, perfect for our favorite bunny-cop!

March 5th

Theme: Peter Pan Characters

Character: Wendy Darling

I love Wendy. And I particularly love that she wears blue because I have a lot of it! This skirt and blouse look is an oldy but a goody. (The blouse is fairly new, but the skirt I’ve had since high school!) I think the blouse has a bit of a Victorian vibe to it, which works for Wendy, and the skirt is the perfect shade of blue.

March 6th

Theme: Marvel Characters

Character: Princess Shuri of Wakanda

WAKANDA FOREVER!!!!!!!! I genuinely can’t wait to search the tag for the challenge today to see all of the Shuris. Here’s my take on her. The purple dress is one of my favorite pieces I own, and I thought the tunic look of it, and the studs on the neck were very Wakanda, and I added the brown leggings and boots to match her belt in her battle outfit.

That’s this week! I’m having fun with the challenge and it’s helping me get organized and keeping me on top of my laundry.

Not Pony Tails, Or Cotton Tails

ducktales-disney-xd-2017

When I heard that there was going to be a Duck Tales reboot, my initial response was, “but why though?” I had fond memories of the original, but saw no pressing need to bring it back.

Then they announced the cast.

Then the cast sang that adorable version of the theme song.

Then came the panels. (And my new crush on Ben Schwartz. Did I think I would ever swoon for Jean-Ralphio? No. Am I glad that I now do? You betcha!)

Then came the double length pilot. Then came the Youtube videos, and now, I am fully 100% OBSESSED with this new show.

Here are some of the things that I love:

Genuine Sense of Danger and Adventure

Something I’ve noticed a lot since Steven Universe pulled me into the magical world that is superior children’s cartoons (I’m trying with Gravity Falls at the moment, it hasn’t quite gotten me yet.) is that I really love the “big adventure” feeling of the shows, that I haven’t gotten from adult oriented genre entertainment in a while. I love my Berlanti-verse shows, but mostly for the interpersonal dynamics and awesome casting. Once Upon A Time I’m basically watching because I have Stockholm Syndrome, I think? Game Of Thrones was never about adventure, but Duck Tales really is. Scrooge is dead set on it, the Triplets & Webby (WHO I WILL GET TO) are aching for it, and even worry wort Donald is exceptionally GOOD at it.

Voice Cast

David Tennant. Kate Miccuci. Danny Pudi. Bobby Moinaghan. BEN SCHWARTZ.

Obviously, Tennant is the perfect choice for Scrooge, the Scottish accent, the quick temper, the thirst to find something new out there. It’s all in my favorite doctor. (Frankly, Capaldi could have done it as well!) And it’s creating a new version of Scrooge McDuck that we all should be grateful for, there’s a playfulness to him that I adore.

Kate Miccuci is voicing Webby Vanderquack. You know…the girl. But thank god they’re doing more with her. Webby is enthusiastic, nerdy, bright, lonely, odd, and puts glitter on her notebooks, because it is both pretty and functional (she can tell when the boys have gotten into her stuff by their sparkly feathers.). Miccuci is a treasure, and brings a sort of annoying but sweet energy to Webby’s manic pixie dream duck.

Danny Pudi’s work on Huey has been fine. He hasn’t gotten his spotlight yet, but the sense is that as the oldest (by however brief a margin) he feels the need to be the responsible one.  His dorky sea chanty mix tape and road trip itinerary reminded me of someone…I won’t say who. (*clears throat, closes touring plans and stares at floor*)

Bobby Moinaghan’s Louie is also kind of great. Louie is identified by his brothers as the “evil triplet” but he comes across less as evil and more as lazy and little bit entitled. His attempts to teach Webby to lie are kind of precious, and his overall belief that as Scrooge is old with one foot in the grave he is entitled to a fair share of treasure is hilarious.

And then there’s Ben Schwartz as Dewey. Clearly, Duck Tales has decided to focus on the middle triplet. And Schwartz is more than up for the challenge. Dewey is frustrated with is limited experience, especially his Uncle Donald and Great-Uncle Scrooge’s attempts to further limit it. He’s teamed up with Webby to find out the truth about what happened the boys’ mother Della, and he’s just overall the best. (Seriously, his dance through the death trap laser beams in Atlantis is BEAUTIFUL. “DEWEY Dewey, how does he Dewey it?”) It’s weird for me at the moment because I’m also re-watching Parks & Recreation and being this endeared to Jean-Ralphio is bizarre. But Dewey’s done it, and Schwartz is adorable so there’s that.

So far we’ve also had guest spots from Margot Martindale as Ma Beagle, Jim Rash as Gyro (which teased the arrival of Gizmo-Duck, who we already know is coming, who will be voiced by LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, because God, or Disney, or whatever, loves me)   and Mark Evan Jackson (ONUS!) as one of Scrooge’s board members. I’m sure every voice actor I love will pop up at some point, and I look forward to it.

Ship’s Ahead! AHOY!

On Saturday, Crystan and I discussed our favorite game, “why am I a horrible garbage person today?” My reason this week? I’m shipping Webby and Dewey.

Yes.

I know.

It’s terrible.

They are cartoon duck children.

I don’t care.

They’re adorable together. Dewey defends her to his brothers when they think she’s too weird. She enthusiastically signs on to help him find his mom. I love them together. Fanfic will be written. Tumblr gif sets will be searched. Every moment they are on screen together will be analyzed.

Seriously, you guys, I’ve been doing this for well over six years, you get how I am when I find a new ship, right?

The Girl

I want to give special attention to Webby Vanderquack. I barely remembered Webby from the original show, which sort of speaks to her importance there. Luckily, in the spanning decades, many entertainment companies, and Disney especially have come to understand the market power of young girls, so Webby’s been given prime billing along with Huey, Dewey and Louie! Hooray!

Of course this is an action adventure show, which gives some pitfalls, that it seems at the moment Duck Tales is sidestepping. She’s still the only girl around. (Though her grandmother, Mrs. Beakley also there…) But, she’s not a tomboy. Her head is adorned with a bow. She wears a dress. She coats her notebooks in pink glitter.

She’s imaginative, a little naive, very eager to please and a total weirdo.

I adore her.

Overall, I really can’t wait until to see what the new series brings.