Disney Odyssey #31 – Parkour, Parody, and a Princess With An Attitude

 The excitement to finally get to watch one of the best Disney movies of all time was immense – and the Fella and I were happy to share this milestone moment with our dear friend Alexis.

A fortune-teller, a comedienne, and a witch at different turns in her life, Alexis is talented performer and creator in her own right. She definitely brought her a-game to the table when it came to our next stop on the Disney Odyssey… Aladdin!

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The Film: Aladdin (1992)

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Disney Odyssey #30 – How To Win True Love By Being More Interested in Books Than Dating

Prologue

Many folks in my age group consider the Disney Renaissance to be the finest era of Disney filmmaking in its long history. Many people in that age group would further say that this next movie in the Disney Odyssey is one of the greatest Disney movies ever made. Though the current young generation of would-be Disney princesses would say that their favorite princess is Anna or Elsa, many of my generation would immediately and without hesitation say Ariel (who doesn’t want to breathe underwater and have voluptuous hair, but perhaps even more will name… Belle.

“Belle. It’s Belle. BELLE IS THE BEST DISNEY PRINCESS,” they will say, fervently and unyieldingly, gesturing to their bookshelves, their blue hair bows, their coordinated porcelain tea sets with pale purple trim and decorative candelabras.

Belle is the Elizabeth Bennett of the Disney canon: she is beautiful, deeply intelligent, and doesn’t have time for judgy small-town villagers. She earns her true love/destiny/happiness through Being Herself To The Max, that is, by loving books, caring deeply for her family member(s), and for not backing down in the face of a brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man. In fact, she doesn’t back down SO MUCH that that brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man totally falls in love with her, and then she’s immediately wealthier than her entire obnoxious town combined.

It’s the ultimate dream. Get rich and find the man of your dreams simply by being yourself and reading a lot.

Please don’t take any of this to mean that I don’t like Belle, or that I’m judging you for liking Belle the best. I’m absolutely not. I freaking love Belle. She’s great. She is the foundation for many strong-willed, deeply loving, action-ready heroines yet to come, and she is wonderful.

To celebrate Belle’s radness, the Fella and I invited some truly amazing people for this edition of the Disney Odyssey, one of whom was only seeing this movie for the second time… ever.

This time we welcomed my personal steampunk fairy godparents Tee and Pip, and their wonderful daughter (codename: Sonic Boom).

Award-winning authors Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine IN THE HOUUUUUUUSE!

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Tee, Sonic Boom, the Fella, moi. A true sitcom in the making (Pip is behind the camera).

Tee and Pip are co-authors of the award-winning series the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences – I’m sure if you’ve read anything else on this blog you’ve heard me mention them before – among other fantasy and science fiction stories of their own. They are fantastic human beings who also run a podcast called The Shared Desk about writing, publishing, pop culture, and social media. CHECK. THEM. OUT.

And now, on to the movie.

The Film: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

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Disney Odyssey #29 – Rule Number One About Rescuing Animals: Don’t Mouth Off To Poachers

Welcome to Australia! The landscapes are diverse and breathtaking, the animals strange and beautiful, only some of the people have funny accents, and everything is poisonous!

Wait.

Yes, that’s right… we’re on to our next film in the Disney Renaissance, and it’s a sequel! The very first sequel to make the list!

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The Film: The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

The Facts:

  • Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor returned to voice Bernard and Miss Bianca – but this would be Eva Gabor’s last film before her death in 1995. A third Rescuers film had been planned for 1996, but was scrapped after she passed away – and all future Rescuers films likewise were wiped off the drawing board. Additionally, the character of Orville was removed from this movie because his voice actor Jim Jordan had passed away. He was replaced with John Candy playing his brother, Wilbur. (Hashtag, Wright Brothers joke.)
  • This is the first animated sequel for a Disney movie – all following sequels would be straight-to-video (except for Fantasia 2000).
  • Use of the CAPS production system for this digital wonder of the modern animation world cut production time down by six whole months.
  • The flight scenes with Marahute (the great golden eagle) were heavily inspired by the work of Japanese animation maestro, Hayao Miyazaki.
  • The movie’s villain, Percival C. MacLeach, would inspire later Disney villains of a certain “masculine hunter” type, including Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Clayton (Tarzan), Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas), and Commander Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire).
  • Interestingly, it was released in the same weekend as one of the highest grossing films of the 90s – Home Alone. This was the primary factor which led to The Rescuers Down Under being the least (financially) successful film of the Disney Renaissance, and ultimately discouraged Disney from releasing other sequels in cinemas. Direct-to-video, however, was another story…
  • It is the only Disney Renaissance film to not be a musical.
  • The voice actress of Minnie Mouse – Russi Taylor – has a cameo line as one of the nurse mice in the hospital when Wilbur is about to be operated on.
  • The only actual Australians in the film are Tristan Rogers (the voice of Jake, the cool outback kangaroo mouse) and Peter Firth (the voice of Red, the male kangaroo in the MacLeach compound).
  • Disney master animator Glen Keane is responsible for the exquisite animation work on Marahute.

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Disney Odyssey #28 – Every Single Bubble In This Movie Was Drawn By Hand

This is it, folks. The moment we’ve all been waiting for… well, most of us, anyway. The first Disney princess movie in thirty years (since Sleeping Beauty). The first movie of the Disney Renaissance, heralding the utopian years of the 1990s when every film was a musical, every film was made of gold, and the very fabric of our childhoods was wrought with exquisite hand-drawn art painstakingly and carefully integrated brand new CGI techniques. The movie that made a generation of little girls long for perfect flowing hair, tiny waists, beautiful voices and powerful fish tails.

It’s time for The Little Mermaid.

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The Film: The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Facts:

  • Once upon a time… the story for this movie was drawn from the utterly disappointing and depressing fairy tale of the same name written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. In that version, the prince falls in love with another girl, and the mermaid vows to kill them both – but she cannot, and, brokenhearted, she dissolves into seafoam. Then she is transformed into a spirit of the air, bound to do good deeds for three hundred years in order to ascend into heaven. So there’s that.
  • It made $211.3 million at the box office.
  • Ariel is the first redheaded princess, and she is also the first princess to bare her midriff. She was made to be a redhead in order to differentiate her from Daryl Hannah’s character in the movie “Splash” which came out a few years before this. Ariel is the first princess to have siblings, as well, and all of her sisters’ names also begin with the letter A. Ariel’s physicality was based on actress Alyssa Milano, and she was voiced by the incomparable Jodi Benson. Jodi was so into the role that she recorded “Part of Your World” in the dark – to get that underwater, isolated feeling. Ariel was fully animated by Disney legend Glen Keane, who demanded the right to animate her himself after seeing Jodi Benson recording the song.
  • The role of Ursula almost went to Bea Arthur, Roseanne Barr, Jennifer Saunders, and Elaine Stritch, among others who auditioned for the role. Stritch was cast but left the project after she and Howard Ashman did not mesh well. Ultimately the role was filled by Pat Carroll, who based most of her performance off of Ashman’s renditions (and ad-libs!) of the song in rehearsal.
  • Did you know that all of the bubbles in this film are hand-drawn? None of the bubbles were Xeroxed. They even had to outsource some of the bubble-drawing to China, but this was interrupted by the student riots in Beijing. Watch this movie again and try not to think about the poor animators painstakingly drawing each and every single bubble… it’s madness!
  • Prior to this movie, songs for the animated features were written beforehand and then integrated into the story later. This marked the first time they changed that process: the songs were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman alongside the storyboard creation for the film, to make the songs more organically integrated.
  • There are plenty of nods to other Disney films and characters in this movie, although they may be more subtle than in some of the other movies.
    • In the concert crowd, Mickey, Goofy, and Donald can be spotted if you look fast.
    • At Prince Eric’s palace, a portrait on the wall in the dining room looks a bit like Aurora and Philip…
    • Ariel’s pink dress is a combination of Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora’s gowns in their respective movies.
    • the housekeeper in the palace is wearing the same clothes as Cinderella wears when doing chores, just in different colors
  • Scuttle’s ‘romantic’ vocals before “Kiss The Girl” are actually the melody from Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo & Juliet.”

Keep reading for the movie commentary…

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The Night’s Rewatch: S1 E6 “A Golden Crown”

Welcome back to The Night’s Rewatch! Join us as we replay our way through HBO’s Game of Thrones from the beginning of the show to the present day. Watch along with us by starting your episode at the designated time in the track. It’s like we’re all watching it together!

Put on your blackest hoodie and join us on the Couch… for now our rewatch begins.

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Season 1, Episode 6: A Golden Crown

Episode starts at: 1:18