Disney Odyssey #37 – Unrealistic Parkour and Male Hairlessness: A Musical by Phil Collins

As we wrap up the Disney Renaissance with #37, we were happy to finally have someone with us who we’d been looking forward to teaming up with for a while now. Justin Blankenship is a pretty talented guy we met here in Chicago when working on “A Klingon Christmas Carol” in 2016. Since then, he’s been gaming and hanging with us on all sorts of other fun things… but this is his first Disney Odyssey appearance. He also did a really hilarious (somewhat sweary, slightly NSFW) webseries called “Muggled” and we highly recommend it! Additionally, you can catch Justin on our brand new weekly live stream through One Shot Podcast Network, a Fate inspired game called Warda: Curiosities!

TL;DR – Justin’s cool and he came to watch Tarzan with us. Get hype.

large_clygh621qelv5dt0lpjoflkorpm

The Film: Tarzan (1999)

Continue reading

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!

1105705-rescuers1

 

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.

Continue reading

Disney Odyssey #26 – Stand Back, Dawson, I’m Going To Try SCIENCE!!!

HERE WE ARE. London 1896. The fog permeates every corner of the omnipresent darkness. The cobblestones are slick from an earlier rain. The gaslamps flicker and cast long shadows on every brick building on the street. The greatest detective alive is on the prowl for clues to his latest case… and no – it isn’t Sherlock Holmes. It’s an adorable mouse-based fan fiction of Sherlock Holmes! To dive into one of my favorite Sherlockian tributes of all time, the Fella and I brought our pal JR over to the house to watch and talk shop about mysteries, mustaches, and mice.

f1138a57a419eee3833163e3798ebd98

Admit it – you read this in Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice.

isd6oyy1hn8

The Film: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

Continue reading

Disney Odyssey #22 – Heffalumps, Woozles, and A Distinct Lack of Literacy

Winnie-the-Pooh is one of those things that transcends even the Disney juggernaut – young and old alike all across the globe relate to Pooh Bear and his friends – Eeyore and Tigger in particular has enjoyed a hefty celebrity status beyond their cartoon and storybook origins. To return to Pooh Corner (for the first time on this Disney Odyssey) we invited our friends Rhett and Mary to join us. These two fellow Disney dorks are the geniuses behind Disney Meals – which you can experience by checking out their blog here and their snazzy videos on YouTube!


Continue reading

Disney’s “Zootopia” Shakes Up Viewers With A Close-Up of Intersectionality

(This is a spoiler-free review/meditation on Disney’s Zootopia. A full Disney Odyssey post will be written when we arrive at this point in the Disney Odyssey timeline.) 

zootopia-logo



One of the things that Disney has cultivated as a theme over the years is the idea of a diverse and fantastical world full of unique people and creatures living in harmony. Look at the Disney parks for example: every princess lives there, every pirate, every talking animal and alien and toy and robot. They live in the Disneyverse without conflict, without enmity, except for their respective Villains who may cause mischief from time to time. But the bad guys never win, and the good guys are always happy, and there is peace in the kingdom.

This doesn’t work in the individual stories, of course, but it does work pretty well for the Disney parks. In an individual story  there needs to be conflict, confusion, a struggle, a change. When the first trailers for Zootopia were released, I thought it looked charming and sweet. Talking animals is a favorite Disney trope of mine, and this looked like a comedic romp in a world where only talking animals abound. Fun times!

What I did not realize (nor did anyone else, from what I can gather) is that Zootopia would actually turn out to be an immensely moving, eye-opening look into intersectionality, bigotry, profiling and prejudice.

The story of Zootopia hinges on Judy Hopps, a small town rabbit with big city dreams. Despite warnings from friends, family, and even childhood bullies, Judy digs in and works hard to achieve the otherwise impossible goal of becoming Zootopia’s first policerabbit. On her first day officially on the force, Judy noses out the trail of a missing mammal case and enlists the help of a fox (who, unsurprisingly, is a con artist) to follow the trail.

Pretty simple, right? Bunny = good and hopeful and brimming with justice. Fox = con artist who only looks out for himself. And to make things even simpler: the cops are all big, tough animals like wolves, bears, tigers, and rhinos, the mayor of Zootopia is a lion (duh), and his submissive assistant mayor is a lamb sheep. It all makes sense.

I’ll come back to this in a moment.

zootopia-clip

Savanna Central, in downtown Zootopia

All animals are different. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns. They originate in different ecosystems and climate zones. They pursue different things in life, whether it’s their dream career or their next meal. And all of these differences come together in Zootopia, a vast and dazzling city where animals of all kinds live in harmony. From Tundratown to Sahara Square, there is a place here for all animals. Whether they’re the jaguars of Rainforest District or the hamsters and shrews of Little Rodentia – all sizes, all kinds, all animals. There are even different sized doors, escalators, walkways, train compartments, and houses. It’s no coincidence that the city is named for its zoological citizens and for the concept of a perfect society (an idea and a term coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516).

The thing about utopias, though, is that it is basically impossible to establish one. Occasionally they exist in fiction, but they’re rarely a true utopia – there’s always some imperfection lurking underneath the surface.

Zootopia warns you at the very beginning of the biases yet to come, and then about halfway through the movie it becomes vividly clear. This movie isn’t about good guys and bad guys as we are used to seeing them in a Disney context. This movie is about bigotry and prejudice, and the manifestation those things have in our own current modern totally human society.

America – the melting pot. That’s what I was taught growing up; America is a melting pot where many race of people came together and became American, and pursued life, liberty, and happiness. (Thank you, Schoolhouse Rock.) But every day we hear the news, see the headlines, read Facebook statuses… More hate. More profiling. More discrimination based on skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, political beliefs. All sides say: “We love this country and we want it to be a good place to live again.” And yet no one can agree on how to do that. How do we keep people safe and happy, when everyone’s opinion of what that entails is different? How do we accept and celebrate differences while becoming closer together as a people?

zootopia-movie-poster
When you look at it that way, the intersectionality in Zootopia becomes more ridiculous than the fact that the animals talk and wear clothing.

But Zootopia isn’t a perfect place. It’s an extremely diverse metropolis with its own baggage of racial profiling and size stereotypes. The movie does an incredible job slipping it in just under the radar, so well that when it finally hit me what was going on, I felt the sting of familiarity and the jarring realism of this animated, animal-centered story.

Without spoiling anything, there is a huge conflict at the center of the story regarding the differences between predators and prey. All animals are civilized and choose to live together in the big city, but when a case Judy’s working on seems to point to predators… some words are said that ring painfully familiar to press conferences, political debates, and online rants of our own.

“Some of my best friends are predators.”

“I’m not saying that all predators are like this, but it seems like it’s just in their biology. They can’t help it.”

“Prey need to stick together.”

Oof. Right on target.

Big Hero 6 struck me as being important for its handling of grief. Inside Out profoundly explored the boundaries of happy and sad feelings in a young mind unused to  blurring the lines between big emotions.

Zootopia is the movie we need right now to remind us to stop and look in a mirror once in a while and ask how we can try to make things – ALL things – better for our fellow mammals. If we stop trying to be better and make the world better for everyone else, then surely we will fail.