Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Best Summer Project You've Ever Heard Of

I started off this summer with the goal to read as many works of Shakespeare as I possibly could. I made a list, grabbed my roommate's anthology, and went at it. I did truck through Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, The Tempest, and Much Ado About Nothing in less than two weeks.

Oddly, I enjoyed it. Not so oddly, the project fell through the cracks in behalf of another, more amazing project--watching all of Disney's full-length, animated features. I figured out the order of the movies from the first one made and on and have now watched the first thirteen (don't worry, the old ones didn't last much more than an hour).

Note: Fantasia never happened. Also, I didn't include the collections Disney did during the World War II era.

My mom and occasionally another sibling join me, with an additional shout out to Amy who sat through Sleeping Beauty. Here are some thoughts on those classics you loved but never watch anymore:

  • I was intrigued by how many movies portrayed smoking and drinking. Pinocchio was loaded with it. Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians all had some (I'm blanking on whether Sleeping Beauty and Aristocats had any). Of course, the Elephants on Parade in Dumbo comes about because Dumbo and the Mouse get dead drunk (by the way, that's my least favorite part of any Disney movie ever. Don't talk to me about pioneering in animation. It's stupid). They've changed their tune nowadays, but I thought it was interesting. I'm also proud that I thwarted established research by being subjected to all these "influences" during my childhood and not ending up chain-smoker/drunk. But if I did, I'd definitely do it like this.
  • Briar Rose/Aurora from Sleeping Beauty is the prettiest Disney female ever. I will not argue about this.
  • The Jungle Book is highly underrated. I may have enjoyed it the most (Cinderella, a long-time favorite of mine, was also just as bomb as ever.) You'll really can't deny King Louie. Watch it. You'll like it.

  • I was a little bothered when, right after Jungle Book, I watched Aristocats and found that the main cat, Thomas O'Malley, had the same voice as Baloo. Now, early on in Disney voices were recycled all the time, but to have two main characters in back-to-back movies was a little much. Apparently it's still not over, either--the voice actor for them all, Phil Harris, is also in my next movie to watch, Robin Hood, as Little John.
  • Did you know the guy who voiced the Magic Mirror in Snow White is named Moroni? Yes, he was LDS.
  • I still think Ursula is the best villian in Disney history, but Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty is freaking crazy.
  • Bambi is still a horribly dumb movie, in case you were wondering. If you don't agree, remind me to offer you some of my jerky after the hunt this fall.
  • After Bambi, Alice in Wonderland was my least favorite. I know it's supposed to be nonsense...but it was still a little much for me. That said, I am all about Tim Burton's upcoming edition.
  • The fact that the cat in Cinderella is named "Lucifer"
  • Did you know Tinker Bell is actually a whiny and murderous little thing? She's all smiley in the Disney ads and such, but in Peter Pan she is best described using a word I don't use. Also, between her, the mermaids and Tiger Lily, there was a lot of girlish figures to go around in that movie. Just making an observation.
  • Aristocats, also fun. The kittens are actually quite cute and I never use that word. The villain in the movie has exactly zero scare appeal, however, though his fate (getting shut in a cramped trunk to be sent to Timbuktu) is the total shaft. Solidly entertaining though.
Finally, here are my Top Lists from the first 13.

Favorite Characters
1. King Louie (Jungle Book)
2. Jaq (Cinderella)
3. Marie (Aristocats)
4. The Crocodile (Peter Pan)
5. Mr. Smee (Peter Pan)
6. Gus Gus (Cinderella)
7. Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio)
8. Thumper (Bambi)
9. Lucky (101 Dalmatians)
10. Roger Radcliffe (101 Dalmatians)

Best Villains
1. Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
2. Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
3. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
4. Madame Mim (Sword in the Stone)
5. Share Khan (Jungle Book)
6. Kaa (Jungle Book)
7. The Queen (Snow White)
8. Stepmother (Cinderella)
9. The Mouse (Lady and the Tramp)
10. Jasper (101 Dalmatians)

Favorite Movies
1. Cinderella
2. Jungle Book
3. Aristocats
4. 101 Dalmatians
5. Peter Pan
6. Lady and the Tramp
7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
8. Sleeping Beauty
9. Pinocchio
10. Sword in the Stone
11. Dumbo
12. Alice in Wonderland
13. Bambi


  1. I am totally jealous of you! That sounds like a lot of fun! I really liked the jungle book too as a kid.

  2. Only you would watch all these and put actual thought into your critique. You're crazy- but I love you all the same!

  3. This is awesome! I love Disney, but I don't think I would have made as many observations as you have. Ditto on King Louie, and also on how dumb Alice in Wonderland is. Everytime my husband and I get a gift card to somewhere like Target or Walmart, we buy a disney movie. I bought Alice in Wonderland and couldn't even sit through watching the whole thing. Ick.

  4. Loved this post! I think your observations are pretty much right on.