A couple of words and some Oscars

16 Jan

Hello everyone, I hope that 2016 has treated you well so far! I want to thank everyone for being so supportive of my blog. I’m sorry it’s been slow content wise.

Now this is the point where I SHOULD say that’s all changing, but it’s not. Mother luck has smiled upon me this week and my laptop crashed (also my iPad screen cracked but that’s another story). I am unaware at this point when or even if my laptop will be fixed.

What this means for the blog is that updates will be slower for the time being, because it all depends on when I can get to the local library to leech off of their computers. I’m actually not too upset about this situation, as I need to spend less time online and walking 20 minutes to the library is good exercise.

I’m away in Wales next week for a conference, and the weekend after that I’m heading off to Rome. Which is fun for me, but not fun for people wanting to ready my goofy blog. I’m sorry, but I have big things planned in February!

I suppose I should say something about animation too? Since this is what my blog is about? Well this week we got nominees for the 88th Academy Awards. That’s fun!

Now, I’ve only seen a few 2015 animated features so far. Inside Out (which I saw AT Pixar, one of the greatest experiences of my life), Minions, Hotel Transylvania 2, and The Peanuts Movie (or as it’s called here in the U.K. Charlie Brown and Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie which is just a tad of an overkill IMO).

My thoughts on the films?

Inside Out

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Minions

15

Hotel Transylvania 2

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The Peanuts Movie

13

Alright, and my thoughts on the nominations?

Well, I’m overJOYed that  Inside Out received a nomination for Best Screenplay, very much deserved. I am a bit disappointed that it did not get a Best Score nomination however. Also, my favourite film of 2015, animated and not.

As for snubs? I’m also overjoyed that Minions was not nominated. Not only am I sick of seeing those little bastards everywhere, but the film was mediocre at best. I am also sad that The Peanuts Movie was not nominated. I felt that its animation alone justified a nomination.

I also want to say that I’m glad that Shaun the Sheep got a nomination on the basis that I love Shaun the Sheep. Aardman does great stuff.

What are your opinions on the 88th Academy Award nominees? Let me know!

 

 

 

TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece

30 Dec

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I visited the TINTIN: Herge’s Masterpiece exhibition at Somerset House. I went into it knowing next to nothing about The Adventures of Tintin. I saw Spielberg’s film adaption a few years back, and I don’t really remember anything about it except that it was enjoyable.

You see, I was born in the United States. In fact, I lived there until four months ago. While Tintin holds a special spot in Europeans’ hearts, it has next to no following in the States, where the likes of Schultz, Larson, and Watterson reign supreme. I never even heard of Tintin until high school. Hell, I have had no exposure to any comics of the Franco-Belgian comic movement. Except for The Smurfs.

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The worst exposure you can get

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to review the exhibit. For those also unfamiliar with this work, The Adventures of Tintin is a collection of comics created by the Belgian artist Georges Remi under his penname Hergé. The series is easily one of the most influential European comics in the world. The comic’s initial 1929 edition of Le Petit Vingtième was so popular that it led to 24 Tintin albums as well as several radio, television, theater, and film adaptions. In the comics, the titular Tintin faces adventure and mystery as a reporter alongside his fox terrier Snowy and friend Captain Haddock. 

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The above placard served as the introduction to the exhibit. Now, the text in the blue box is especially interesting. One of the high points of the exhibit was placing drawings on the room’s windows to suggest action. The above quote states that, “visitors are given the opportunity to view the art of Hergé through one of his favourite architectural and story telling devices- the window”. I thought that this was a very clever way to use a exhibition hall’s small amount of space to tell Hergé’s  story. Below are some examples.

Even the walls without actual windows ran with this architectural theme.

The below picture has one of my favourite quotes from the exhibit: “For me, the only way to tell a story was with drawings”.

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Aren’t cartoonists adorable?

 

Above is some pictures of newspaper in which Tintin first captured the imagination of readers. Another fun bit was the chimney, which had different pictures inside it on either side.

The exhibition was presented in a linear order, beginning with Hergé’s childhood drawings and ending with the influence Tintin has to this day.

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Did anyone make Spielberg aware of this?

I also learned a new term! The French refer to comics as the 9th Art, placing the ‘funnies’ aside the likes of sculpture, dance, and poetry. I am a big advocate of regarding animation and comics as art, so I of course fell in love with the idea. Hergé no doubt helped solidify comics as an art form, with his clear lines and realistic drawing style.

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The Dalai Lama reading a Tintin adventure, 2003

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An original Tintin comic.

I enjoyed the exhibit and am glad that I went. My one criticism is that it was small and low on information. And maybe that’s why for those reasons why it’s a great exhibit for families and children. It didn’t seem to get too boring for children, and focused a lot on graphics and interactions (there were a pair of fun house mirrors, for example). Overall, a wonderful way to spend 45 minutes or so in London. And for free too! The gift-shop is worth a check out as well.

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I’m really digging the top two books.

You can see the exhibit yourself at Somerset House in London, until 31 January 2016. Have a Happy New Year everybody!

 

Propaganda & Animation #1: Chicken Little

22 Dec

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Anyone remember Disney’s classic adaption of Chicken Little? You know, the one with the adorable little chicken and a recitation of Mein Kampf?

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Not as good as Pinocchio quoting Joseph Stalin.

No, I am not talking about the 2005 feature animated film. Although there’s some devious sub messages in that film, I’m sure. Instead, we’ll be looking at the 1943 short film directed by Clyde Geronimi.

This is my first installment of Propaganda & Animation, which looks into odd and fascinating union of (surprise, surprise) Propaganda and Animation. One of the main reasons I created this blog was to explore animation’s role in the exciting and disturbing world of Propaganda. Most people don’t realize this, but beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, and others were masters at Propaganda. And perhaps nobody in Hollywood was as great a Propagandist than Walt Disney. Heck, the US Government even commissioned Walt Disney to make films to convince Latin Americans to not become Nazis. But that’s a tale for another day. Aside from creating propaganda for potential international allies, Disney also created propaganda pieces to be used here on the Home front.

The reason I’m starting with Chicken Little is that it is incredibly blunt in its propagandist nature (which makes it easy to write about), and I automatically adore anything that has a farm animals in it (which makes it even easier to write about).

Let’s first take a look at the film, which you can watch right here. Now this particular video begins with a disclosure from Leonard Maltin, so you know some serious shit is about to go down.

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Thank you for gracing our presence Lenny!

Maltin doesn’t just spew out his usual “Beware of racism and violence” bit. He goes as far as to state that, “Chicken Little is one Disney cartoon that parents might want to see for themselves before deciding if it’s appropriate for their kids”. Yikes.

The film begins as your run of the mill Disney fairy tale. You have a nice little barnyard overfilling with cutsie little animals. We then meet Chicken Little, who is described as a “Playboy and Yo-Yo Champ”

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And manages to be nerdier than the 2005 Chicken Little.

 

The narrator explains that the farm animals feel safe and secure because they are surrounded by a big, strong fence (like some Americans felt safe because a big, strong ocean separated them from Hitler). Speaking of which, the villain then makes his entrance.

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Quick little side note, Foxy Loxy was animated by my all time favorite animator Ward Kimball, who readers of the blog know I’m a huge fan of. Instead of using physical force, Foxy Loxy decides to use cunning and Psychology to destroy the farmyard. Originally, the title of the book he reads from was Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Deciding to be a bit more subtle, Disney changed to the title to Psychology, but the passages that Foxy Loxy reads are still from Mein Kampf. Some choice quotations include; “If you tell a lie, don’t tell a little one. Tell them a big one” and “Undermine the faith of the masses and their leaders”.

After reading, “To influence the masses, aim first at the least intelligent”. He asks, “Who looks nice and stupid?” and settles on Chicken Little.

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Yeah…. that’s about right.

Foxy Loxy, using theatricals that would make Liberace proud, convinces Chicken Little that a piece of the sky hit him on the head. In a panic, Chicken Little tells the farmyard that the sky is falling and the farm animals proceeds to lose their shit. Cockey Lockey succeeds in quelling the future fox fodder’s fears, by pointing out that the piece of the sky is nothing more than a hunk of wood with a star painted on it.

Undeterred, Foxy Loxy employs drag and impersonation to make the farm animals loose their faith in Cockey Lockey’s reason. He then puppets Chicken Little to be the new leader, who evangelizes everyone to the way of the Falling Sky. Chicken Little encourages everyone to run hide in a cave, per Foxy Loxey’s suggestion.

As Foxy Loxey follows them into the cave, the narrator reassures us that “everything will turn out alright”. Very Disney. But then we are shown-

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Why isn’t this a ride at Disneyland?

In shock, the narrator proclaims, “Hey wait a minute, this isn’t right! This isn’t the way it ends in my book!” To which Foxy Loxey, holding his book responds, “Oh yeah? Don’t believe everything you read brother!”

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Why isn’t there a ride based off of this at Disneyland?

With a dark ending like that, I’m not surprised that Maltin recommends parents to view this short first. I don’t really need to analysis this short too much, the film is incredibly blunt in its message. Chicken Little is a wartime parable warning the American public to keep a calm head in tumultuous times. For Americans today, the end of WWII seems inevitable. Of course Fascism in Germany, Italy, and Japan would fall. Good always triumphs over that sort of evil! But in the 1940s, it didn’t always look that way. The intentions of this short were to, in a very macabre fashion, tell Americans to keep calm and be controlled by reason. Fear, irrationality, and panic is what the enemy wanted. Keep Calm and Carry On.

Interestingly enough, the original ending featured a gravestones with swastikas representing the dead farm animals (is that a sentence you expected to read on a cartoon blog?). But Disney changed it, along with the Mein Kampf reference, to make the film less dated and more lasting. Which I suppose is a smart move. Because this parable is applicable to our world today. Don’t panic, that’s what they want.

All in all, I like this short. The characters are fun, it’s not condescending, and it doesn’t sugarcoat what is at stake here. There is no happy ending for irrational behaviour. The writing is slick and the animation decent. And successfully gets the point across.

I hope you enjoyed my first post in THREE YEARS. How criminal is that? In addition to Propaganda & Animation, I have a couple of other projects in mind that will generate posts. So here’s to me staying around! Happy Holidays.

Despicable Me 2 Review

8 Jul
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As always, I have problems naming these damn articles, so you’re going to have to settle for “Despicable Me 2 Review”

One awesome thing about babysitting is that I get paid to do fun stuff sometimes. I babysit on a regular basis, and a couple weeks ago I was basically paid to take the children to see Monsters University (it was my second viewing).  And like most Pixar movies, the movie was even greater on a second viewing, and I was able to pick up on details I missed the first time around, as well as being able to admire the design and animation and less on story (Since I knew what was going to happen).

A week later, I was asked to take the kids to the movies again, this time to see Despicable Me 2. I’ll be honest, I did not have plans to see this film in my free time with my own money. But if it was free, then heck yeah, I’ll see it.

Now, I have seen the first Despicable Me. It was fun, it was cute, it was kind of forgettable. To be honest. And I was also not at all surprised when I heard there was a sequel. Since the vast majority of animated films as of late are given sequels. Hell, How to Train Your Dragon has a TV show and has been commissioned like a bazillion sequels.  That’s just the way things are now.

I was stoaked (originally) about a sequel, because Al Pacino himself was actually going to be in the film! And I was all aboard for that, until my happiness was crushed when Pacino left the cast due to “creative differences”

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I was robbed a pacino

Anywho, all interest in the film was drained after he left. But if I’m being paid I’ll see it.

My biggest worry about this sequel is that they’d go overboard with the minions. All merchandise you see is for the minions, oh and guess what, the whole fricken marketing campaign for this film revolved around the minions.

Ugggggggggggh

Ugggggggggggh

I know, people like the minions. I think they’re alright, but they are just so overused and get annoying really fast. I’m happy to report that the minions weren’t as bad as I anticipated. They were integral to the stories plot, but there weren’t (too) many unnecessary scenes of them being goofy. So there’s that.

I’ll continue with more good news. This movie was a riot. I was CRACKING up. But what else can you expect from a film headlined by Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig. The film had a nice balance between dialogue and visual humor. I think the most funny party about the film is Steve Carell’s character (Gru) and his being an overprotective father now to the three adopted girls. So if you want to spend a good part of a hour and half laughing, then this movie is for you.

Also a little note to say that the set design of this film is fabulous. The designers really had a ball creating this contemporary world, but with a crazy twist. The Mall, Anti-Villians league headquarters, the Gru’s lair are so crazy and fun to look at. They went all out on that, very creative.

The movie is incredibly predictable, but at least I can laugh at Steve Carell being an idiot in animated form.

The movie is incredibly predictable, but at least I can laugh at Steve Carell being an idiot in animated form.

Now, the bad news. If you want to see a film with a plot that holds integrity and actually makes god damn sense in the first place, then skip this one. I don’t want to go into any spoilers. But basically we are told and SHOWN that the villain and his plan is physically indestructible. There is no way to defeat him using brawn. But all of that is forgotten later on in the film, when the villain is destroyed in the most convenient and simple matter. It wasn’t an “underdog” thing, it was just, well lazy. Lazy writing. See the film and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Oh, and there was a terrible fart joke. And I hate those.

I think maybe part of the reason I’m so unhappy with this film is that I saw it a week after Monsters University, which was a fucking clever and brilliant. Like Despicable Me 2, Monsters U is hilarious. But guess what, on top of that it had clever writing, a fantastic story, and a “I didn’t see that coming at all” ending that kept the viewer on their toes and wasn’t condescending at all. Despicable Me 2 wasn’t any of those things. I know, I know. It’s incredibly biased and unfair of me to compare the two. But I never said that I was a fair and unbiased reviewer. And I don’t intend to start being that. I just write how I feel.

Am I glad I saw Despicable Me 2? I am. It was funny, I laughed, I enjoyed it. But it wasn’t story wise it wasn’t fulfilling at all, and I won’t rush back to see it.

Oh and PS. They’re making making a spin off starring exclusively the Minions. It’s slated to be released next year. You can imagine that I won’t be in line for that film.

 

A Nostalgic Look at Monsters University

24 Jun

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For most of us, Monsters University was a very nostalgic experience. Because of this, I’m going to be a bit nostalgic and go down memory lane (Stay with me, it’s relevant).

When I was but a small inkling, I was crazy for one movie. Monsters, Inc. I remember having it on VHS. For a month after getting it, I watched it every single day. I had the Monsters Inc video game, and I religiously played it when not watching Monsters, Inc. Heck, I even watched the bonus features from it. Who watches the bonus features on video games?

The Nepal level pissed me off to no end.

The Nepal level pissed me off to no end.

To this day I am an avid Disney pin trader, and guess what my first pin was?  Boo from Monsters, Inc. I also want to take a moment and say that most kids who saw Monsters, Inc. found a connection with Boo because she was cute, Mike because he was funny, or Sully because he was brave. Oh no, not me. I had a weird fascination with Randall Boggs, the villain. I seriously thought he was the coolest. I’m sure that says something about me, that as a child I was fascinated with such a villainous and despicable creature. But that’s between me and my psychiatrist.

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Basically the reason why I like Steve Buscemi so much

I loved all Disney movies at that age, but I’m going to have to give credit to Monsters, Inc. for being the catalyst in my admiration of animation. It’s not surprising that I would eventually become a moderator on a Pixar fan site and write for an animation blog.

I actually remember seeing Monsters, Inc in theaters. I went with my neighbors on opening night. And 12 years later, I went to that exact same movie theater to see Monsters University on its opening day. So yes, I’m pretty nostalgic about that matter, which is perfect because this movie is a pretty nostalgic thing unto itself.

FLASHBACK, FLASHFORWARD

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If you are a Monsters, Inc fan then this film is especially a treat. There were a lot of great references to its predecessor. The first of which I noticed was the score. Pixar staple Randy Newman returns as the composer for this film. Several pieces of the music can be traced to Monsters, Inc. Especially the scenes involving the factory itself. The soundtrack also has amazing new pieces of music, and the end credits song is the headliner on my tumblr playlist at the moment.

In addition, some lines and dialogue were taken directly from Monsters, Inc. Word for word.  Pixar cameo staples such as AII3 and the Pizza Planet Truck make appearances as well. I was especially happy to see that Mike brought Little Mikey to college, but my favorite nod to the first film is easily Randall’s “Winds of Change” poster.

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If you don’t know the reference, then I am disapoint.

 And of course, there are a lot of familiar faces. It was a real treat to see the likes of George Sanderson, Waternoose, Roz, and the Abominable Snowman.  This film is fun on its own, but being familiar with Monsters, Inc will make this film much more enjoyable.

SOCIAL MEDIA AT ITS FINEST

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I would definitely fit in with Oozma Kappa

I would just like to take a moment and applaud Pixar’s marketing department. Because they outdid it with social media. Any old movie studio can create some funny trailers and appealing posters. But oh no, Pixar won’t settle for that. They created a fully functional University Website. Because I spent the past year working on transferring to a University, I have seen my fair share of University websites. And Monsters University’s is completely accurate. They list the schools, the majors, the classes, even the fricken’ textbooks required. There’s a store where you can buy MU gear. The Greek Life gets a section, the faculty gets a section, the parents get a section.  You can read up on how MU’s football team is doing. Heck, there’s even a map and directions page.

And if that’s not enough. Pixar pranked its own website. On April Fools, the Monsters University website was ‘hacked’ by its rival school- Fear Tech.

Oh, and Pixar also created a tumblr account for a student at Monsters University- Grumblr. Grumblr is a “Monstropolis transplant, MU sophomore, and self-diagnosed coffee addict”. Grumblr posts about frustration when MU looses a sports game to what certain students are up to on campus. So kudos to Pixar, they definitely did a fantastic job drumming up interest for this movie (as if it wasn’t needed already!)

AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE

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I enjoyed Monsters University way more than Pixar’s last two endeavors (Cars 2 and Brave). I thought that Brave was a sub par film, to be honest. There are a lot of reasons, but for this articles purpose I will focus on one. One reason why Pixar movies work so well is that they create entire new universes. In most Pixar films, we get to see the second lives of toys, cities and colonies for bugs, an alternate universe for Cars, or the Monster universe. And they don’t half ass it either. These universes have rules on what can and can’t work within them, and there is continuity. This is sort of Pixar’s niche- glimpses into new worlds is the basis of most of their films. There are exceptions, and Brave is the most notable. It was in world with a precise location and time. I applaud Pixar for going outside its niche, but it isn’t that Pixar ‘flair’ that most of us know and love. Creating new worlds is, and they have fun doing it.

Monsters University works so well because the studio expanded on the idea of the Monster Universe. We get to see a bit more of the factory itself, but we also get to see a previously unexplored idea- how Monsters get to Monsters Inc.  We see how doors to the human world are made, how great scarers are made, and even what birds in that world look like. This film is remarkably creative, and that in itself makes it incredibly enjoyable.

THE UNIVERSITY LIFE

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Poor Mike can never catch a break

This movie is especially fun if you’re a college student. I graduated last month from my community college, and I’m transferring to a University this fall. I actually had my orientation the day before I saw Monsters University. Don’t you love how the pieces fall together like that sometimes? So the film’s setting especially appealed to me, and peers who grew up with Monsters Inc, and are now college students themselves. There was defintely a lot of familiar sites. From the overly excited Orientation Leaders to the pre-finals coffee addicted students.   We also see a student who is incredibly anxious and optimistic to see his dreams come true, and we also see the overpowering pressure sense of fear should failure happen. This film is remarkably east to connect with if you’re a student.

A POWERFUL MESSAGE

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~Alright, this next part has no outright spoilers. However, I will be talking about the overall theme of the movie, what the message was. I won’t be talking about plot points, but you might still want to avoid this part if you want to keep a blank slate before seeing the film~

Monsters University is unique in its message. Basically it’s, “Guess what, just because you put a lot of effort into something doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. There are some things you just can’t do. Not everyone’s dreams come true”. And I loved that. Too many films (notably from the House of Mouse) have messages along the lines of “If you believe in yourself, your dreams will come true”. While it’s good to believe in yourself and have a dream, in the real world things don’t work out the way you want them to. The fact is that there are some things we can’t change about ourselves. No matter how much we try. And that’s alright. Because everyone has their purpose, their place. Not everything in life will go according to your plan. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be happy or find new dreams. So thank you Pixar, for this very unique and realistic advice.

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I don’t know what else to say. Just go see Monsters University. I know that I will be seeing it again, and I can’t wait to see what details I notice the second time around.

P.S. Terri and Terry Perry were awesome.

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Did I Miss Anything?

21 May

Hey guys! I know I’ve been MIA. It’s been a crazy month, mostly with work and school. What time I’ve had online, I’ve spent on tumblr (Where I just did my first Disney giveaway, so that was fun).

Anyway, one of my followers on tumblr asked me why I haven’t posted anything lately, so I’ll just  copy and paste the my response post here:

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Anonymous asked: “When are you going to update your animation blog?”

The Green Bat: “Oh lord you’re not the first to ask! I’m so ashamed, it’s been like over a month!

My time on Internet in general has been cut down immensely due to finals week. I really only check tumblr, for a few mins each day. I plan to write my next article in a week, after my Junior College graduation.

But big things are in the works! I’m going to write the second installment to my “Dead Disney” series, as well as a look into Disney’s propaganda masterpiece from the 1940s, Chicken Little. (The ORIGINAL one). Also one of my followers asked if I knew anything about Disney voice actor José Oliveira. There is virtually no information in English online, but a shit ton in Portuguese, so I translated a couple of articles from Brazil for them. (I do take requests, if anyone has any article ideas let me know!)”

———-

So that’s that! I apologize for the inactivity, but I won’t let this blog die so early! So stay tuned!

Here’s a picture of Walt Disney making a salad to hold you over.

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Dead Disney #1- Dumbo II

23 Apr

So I thought that this would be an interesting series to do. There are plenty of blogs out there dedicated to reviewing movies or character that already exist. And those are great! But why not doing a tour of the Disney graveyard, and see the films and characters that weren’t fortunate enough to make it to the Big Screen.

There are A LOT of these. And I was trying to decide which dead Disney film to examine first. Most of the Disney films that were shelved are ones that I would love to see more of, and wish would of made it. So for my first post, we’ll examine one that I thank the Animation Gods for making sure it never saw the light of day.

The subject for my first post in this series is- Dumbo II

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You all aren’t aware of this, but Dumbo is one of my favorite Disney movies, favorite animated movies, movies of all time. It is very short, it doesn’t have Disney’s best animation, it’s simple, and it’s controversial. But none the less, I think it’s a brilliant film. I believe that it has the most underrated Disney soundtrack, and Timothy is one of my favorite characters in the whole Disney canon.

I’m not the only one who appreciates Dumbo so much. It’s actually John Lasseter’s (Director of Toy Story and chief creative officer at both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios) favorite movie of all time, and is a huge inspiration to all his films. I agree with Lasseter that Dumbo is a funny, moving, and entertaining film. Lasseter points out that it definitely lives to Walt Disney’s saying that ‘For every laugh, there should be a tear”.

What? No I’m not crying. I just have something in my eye.

There’s only one other Disney movie I like more than Dumbo, and if you’ve read some of my other posts you already know what it is (for those of you who are new, it involves a cricket).

So let’s take a look into Dumbo II. There’s actually a trailer of some persuasion out for this thing. It was included in the bonus features of the 2001 60th Anniversary DVD of Dumbo. It was to be a direct-to-video sequel. So we have a good grasp on the characters and story of what this film would of been. You can watch it right here. It’s narrated by the standard Disney voice over guy.

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The trailer is basically a behind the scenes look at the production of the film. It starts off with the artists talking about the legacy of Dumbo, and how sad the movie is, and how everyone can learn from it that we’re all different bladablhadablha.

The producer says that the challenge was to make a sequel that brings the same feelings that the original did. I try to be optimistic,  but I really know that that challenge would of failed. You can never recapture the magic of an original Disney film, isn’t that right Cinderella III and Peter Pan II?

I’ll be honest though, the only good part about Cinderella III was the Prince. He’s such a sassmaster.

Here’s the story of Dumbo II. It would of taken place a day or so after Dumbo ended. Now that Dumbo isn’t considered a freak (as he’s bringing in major bank for the circus) he’s made a group of super cool and hip friends. The major theme for this movie is friendship, and how friends are there for you and all that stuff we already learned in Kindergarten.

So who are these friends? Well Timothy for sure was slated to return, as he was Dumbo’s first friend when Dumbo had no friends. Timothy works on another level, as Dumbo is silent and Timothy can understand Dumbo and act has his surrogate voice.

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As for the new friends, each is based off of a different stage of development children go through.

There’s Claude and Lolly, the twin bear who rush to get every done, leaving a string of chaos behind them.

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chaos

Dot the Zebra the curious Zebra who always asks “whywhywhywhywhy”

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Godfey the ‘I can do it all by myself” Hippo.

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and Penny the adventurous Ostrich. She likes being in the spotlight and looks just like Daisy Duck.

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I’m not crazy for any of the characters  But I actually like Penny the Ostrich. The filmmakers point out that she’s a bit jealous. Dumbo is an elephant, who can fly. She’s a bird, who can’t fly. I think that would of led to an interesting conflict actually.

And the plot of the story is that the gang manage to get separated from the circus. Too hard to grasp? Not really. In Dumbo, the only boundary between the mother elephant and the spectators was a puny rope, allowing for that one bastard kid to enter the elephant arena and tease Dumbo. Security is not tight, so I’m guessing that it’d be fairly easy for a group of baby animals to escape.

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So now the animals are lost in the big city, and the major conflict is the baby animals dealing with their new freedom, but still trying to find the circus.

Isn’t that what this was about?

My main question about Dumbo II is this. How were they going to deal with the Crows? I’m not going to get too much into the Crows themselves in this post. I already addressed them a little bit in a previous post, and I’m currently writing a whole article about the controversy surrounding them. I won’t defend or condemn them in this post.

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But it is a fact  that they have a good deal of controversy about them. They have their fans, but they also have their criticizers. For those of you who haven’t seen Dumbo (who are you people, go see it!), Dumbo gets assistance from a murder of Crows. They are funny and helpful, and are basically the heroes of the film.

That’s right.  Heroes. Dumbo is cute, but is a baby and didn’t do much. Timothy tried to help Dumbo, but he actually made things worse. It was the Crows who suggested using psychology to get Dumbo to fly. So if they’re the heroes what’s the problem?

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They’re a group of jive talking Black stereotypes who are led by a crow who (although not called this in the film) was referred to Jim Crow in story production. While controversial now, they were in super strange way, progressive for their time (Show me a film from the 1940s where African Americans are the heroes, and are  shown as self confident and not dependent, intelligent and not stupid). These days Disney gets cited for being racist for having these characters in this films. So when it comes to Dumbo II, we run into a few problems.

The first option is to just ignore the existence of the Crows. Completely. Which I don’t like. They were such a big part of the first film, and Dumbo wouldn’t of gotten a happy ending without them.

The second option is to have the Crows in Dumbo II. But then it gets iffy, because while having jive-talking hipster crow was acceptable in the 1940s, it definitely isn’t savvy with our standards now.  South Park or Family Guy could get away with having characters like this, but I assure you people would get upset if Disney tried to pull this again. Generally, I find that people are forgiving of the Crows because they were products of the 1940s. But it wouldn’t fly now.

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Remember Princess and the Frog? People got all upset because the heroine was to be Maddie, an African American housemaid. Maddie was seen too close to “Mammy”, and her occupation was offensive as well. So Maddie the housemaid became Tiana the waitress. They made the film more PC because of criticism  which I’m not complaining about. I liked Tiana, and having her as a waitress/cook contributed to the story. Disney is very sensitive to how they portray race and gender in films these days. So it’s no question that if the Crows were in the film, they would of been made politically correct. And I’m very interested to see what that would of been like.

Although we don’t know for sure, I think (and hope) that the crows would of been in this film. They made cameo appearance on The House of Mouse. They also appear sometimes in merchandising, such as children books and pins. (I’m a Disney pin trader, and I actually have a Crow pin).

Remember what I said earlier about Disney being more PC? The crows’ grammar certainly improved.

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So what happened to Dumbo II? This happened:

John Lasseter!

When John Lasseter became the Creative Director for Disney, he put a stop to all Disney sequels. Because instead of introducing children to the classics like intended, the sequels often tarnished the spirit of the original films. And it’s not surprising that Lasseter wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to his favorite film.

So my final consensus on Dumbo II? I’m intrigued, very intrigued. I wish that we would know more information about this film, that’s for sure. But I’m a “purist” when it comes to Disney films. And I’ve never been impressed by a Disney sequel that wasn’t canon. And I’m a huge fan of the original Dumbo, and I’m certain it could never come close to the original. Also I think this sequel specifically appealed to small children and parents. The getting separated from parents is an archetypal fear for children, and  each of the new animal friends was based of a phase of child development. So it’s very relatable for children, and I’m sure parents would think that is interesting as well. But besides that, I don’t see this film reaching out to other demographics.

I want to know what you think! Feel free to make a comment on what you think of the plot, the new characters, and the crow situation. Thank you for reading!