Disney Odyssey #32 – Life is a Circle, and Revenge Happens Naturally

The next installment of the Disney Odyssey is an animal-centric movie, which means only one thing: the return of famed big game hunter and animal rights activist…. Professor Gordon! For this momentous occasion, we also invited comedic genius Andy Huttel to join us – and thus the meeting of the bearded gingers was begun. 

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An actual photo of Professor Gordon (left) and Andy Huttel (right) in the wild.

Both Bill and Andy had a lot of personal connections with The Lion King so it seemed only right to have them both weigh in on this highly formative film from the mid-1990s.

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The Film: The Lion King (1994)

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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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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.

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

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The Film: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

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Disney Odyssey #24 – We’ll Always Be Friends Forever, Won’t We? WON’T WE?!

Not going to lie, this is one I’ve been dreading a little bit. Pop culture and my foggy childhood memory tells me that The Fox and the Hound is simultaneously one of the most adorable and the most gut-wrenchingly sad Disney movies of all time. Possibly one of the saddest movies ever – although TIME thinks Dumbo and Bambi are sadder. Children all over the world have shed tears over this precious friendship between a foundling baby fox and a wrinkly puppy – and the struggle of love in the face of prejudice. And hunters with guns, too. 

Right? That sounds about right, doesn’t it…?

To cope, we invited our good friends Mel and James over to cry with us while we watched this tragedy unfold. Aaaaand they brought their corgi, Oliver!

Oliver, Mel, and James!

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The Film: The Fox and the Hound (1981)

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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!


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