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In the 1952 Disney short, Witch Hazel observes from her broom as Huey, Dewey, and Louie ring the doorbell of their Uncle Donald’s house. Donald has decided to trick the boys instead of giving treats. Donald is having fun with it, but Hazel feels sorry for the three boys. She attempts to get a treat from Donald, but he only offers a trick.
The little boy wanders through the forest, alone and scared. Unsure what to do or where to go, he clings to a book about Elliot the dog. It is the only source of comfort he has. There is a wide range of dangers lurking in the darkness. Among them lurks a little magic.
This is how Disney’s new Pete’s Dragon begins. It is gripping, demanding the audience to settle in to their seats and throw a few more pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Before the title appears on the screen, we have been introduced to the main character, a little boy named Pete, and met the mysterious creature in the woods. This magical creature shines compassion, erasing any fears we may have.
Disney brings the popular Broadway musical to the big screen doing very little harm to the story. Into the Woods is a mash-up of popular fairy tales, almost all of which have been animated features made by Disney. From the opening musical number, we learn that each character is wishing for something more. They are barely satisfied with the life they have.
They wish for more.
If you’re not familiar with the story, the plot centers around the Baker and his wife, wonderfully played by James Corden and Emily Blunt. The couple has sadly not been able to have a baby, the one thing they wish for the most in life. The Witch (Meryl Streep), who happens to live next door, explains that she is the cause of their infertility. It seems that in retaliation for something the Baker’s father did to her, she cursed the couple. She is, however, willing to reverse the curse if they collect four objects in three days:
‘The cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold.’
“Baseball isn’t just about business. You should have fun, too.”
One of my fondest memories growing up is tossing a baseball in the yard with my dad. There were days when I would toss the ball against the large brick side of our house (and a few times hitting a window or two). These memories are what make movies like Million Dollar Arm a fun, family film. It reminds us of how baseball has planned a role in our lives and relationships. Million Dollar Arm has the potential to be one of those Disney family film classics. It’s compelling story that is graceful and kid-friendly.
An American Tail is the second animated film from director Don Bluth after he left the Disney studio. The first was The Secret of NIMH. Both of these “mouse” films try to recapture the magic of the classic Disney films like Snow White and Pinocchio. Yet, it struggles to compare. The music and lip-singing is distracting. The animation is detailed and full. It makes use of computer animation in a way that was unique at the time. But, it is clear, that the vision comes from the early Disney films.
The hero of the film is the second child, Fievel. His and his family undergo hardships being ruined by an oppressive government of cats in 19th century Russia. Homes are destroyed and burned. The cats chase the mice away, and the mice decide to migrate to America, where there are no cats.