Month: November 2013

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #41: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
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So you may have noticed that I’ve been doing a little housekeeping around here.
Anything to avoid doing a little housekeeping around here.

Anything to avoid doing a little housekeeping around here.

Since we’re now pushing fifty reviews I’ve finally organised the reviews by era and decade so you can more easily browse them. Longtime readers of the blog will know that I’ve got my own idiosyncratic way of organising the canon Disney movies; The Tar and Sugar Movies of the late thirties and early forties, the Never Heard of ‘Ems of the war years, the fifties Restoration, the sixties and seventies Scratchy Era, the Mourning Era of the eighties and the Renaissance of the nineties. I then had to come up with a name for this weird post-millenial chunk of movies between Fantasia 2000 and The Princess and the Frog and this had me stumped for a good while. I hear “The Dark Age” trotted out a lot as a description for this era but that just doesn’t sit well with me for two reasons; firstly I try to use a name that suits the overall style and tone of the movies and the movies of this period are not particularly “dark”. Then of course, “The Dark Age” implies that all these films are somehow inferior and you can tell me that The Emperor’s New Groove and Lilo and Stitch are bad movies or you can keep your limbs intact but you cannot do both. Finally, I settled on “The Lost Era” because this era, like the Mourning Era, was an experimental time where Disney was trying to answer the question “What kind of movies do we make?” The most sustained periods of success in Disney’s history have always been times when the company found a formula that worked. When they knew what they were about. In the fifties, it was fairytales and adaptations of classic children’s literature. In the sixties, it was jazzy Sherman Brothers musicals, in the nineties it was all about Broadway. The origins of Atlantis: The Lost Empire began in a Mexican restaurant when directors Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise and producer Don Hahn sat down to a big bowl of nachos and tried to figure out the future of Disney. These three men were the creative heads behind my personal favorite Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and this meeting was born largely out of a desire to keep the band together, so to speak. Trousdale, Wise and Hahn realised that they had put together an absolutely phenomenal team for Hunchback and were anxious not to see this incredibly talented group of people separated and put on other projects. The solution was obvious: Make another movie. But what kind of movie? It was clear by now that the Broadway Disney musical had been done. And done again. And then, why not, done a couple more times. And while those movies had been hugely (HUGELY) successful, it was clear that enough was enough. When you’ve got a formula that’s familiar enough for this kind of parody to work…
…it’s time to try something new. This was the paradox Disney faced in the early 21st century. They knew what worked, but they couldn’t do it anymore. For a while, Tarzan had seemed to offer a way forward, a pseudo-musical with all the songs sung by a big name musical talent instead of the characters. But then that had come a rather massive cropper with the Kingdom of the Sun/Emperor’s New Groove  debacle. Yeah, yeah, I know. You love the movie, I love the movie. That’s because it didn’t cost us $100 Million. More importantly perhaps, Trousdale, Wise and Hahn did not want to make another animated musical. As the nacho cheese flowed like wine, the three men began talking about the movies they had loved growing up, and specifically, the Disney movies they had loved growing up. Now, hold onto your hats people because I am about to blow your freaking minds. Did you know that Disney also made live action, non-animated, human-acted with actual human beings movies?
I warned you.

I warned you.

My paw to God, it’s true. In fact, my good buddy Animation Commendation even has a blog devoted to Disney’s live action efforts which I’ve been meaning to link to for ever. You should check it out. The germ for the idea that would become Atlantis began with a desire to do an animated version of the old Disney live action adventure movies. You know, Davy Crockett, Treasure Island and by far it’s most obvious influence, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. 

Atlantis represented a huge, daring creative gamble for Disney, an attempt to break out of the admittedly lucrative formula that had begun to stifle the studio creatively. This was going to be something new. There would be no funny animal sidekicks. The movie’s unofficial motto during production was “less singing, more explosions”. Comic book creator Mike Mignola was brought in to give the movie a new distinctive visual look.  This thing would have a PG rating by God!

I'm frightened.

I’m frightened.

One thing that really comes across watching this movie and the bonus material that comes with it is just how much everybody cared about this film. Seriously, you can tell, they worked their asses off on this. Did it pay off?

Well…read the review! You think I’m just going to tell you up front?

Nerve of some people...

Nerve of some people…

Let’s take a look at the movie.

(more…)

Video Reviews #1: Snow White

So now, not only do we have Erik Copper doing the audio versions of my reviews, Mauricio Guarua is doing video versions of Erik’s audio versions of my reviews. At this rate by next week we’ll have turned this thing into an all singing, all dancing musical and will be coming soon to a theatre near you. In the meantime though, please enjoy Mauricio’s/Erik’s/My review of Snow White:

 

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League of Volunteers now available for online purchase!

Right, so you may remember that back in August I mentioned that I was writing a three issue arc for superhero comic, League of Volunteers and that the first issue would be on sale soon. Okay, so I may have stretched the definition of the word “soon” to the point where it could now probably play in the NBA but I am delighted to announce that League of Volunteers: Return of the King #1 is now on sale at the Atomic Diner Website for €5 (’bout seven dollars). If you like superheroes, and you like this blog…you see where I’m going with this right?

If so inclined, you can buy the comic here. Ah go on.

old+time+radio

LISTEN UP!

Say, do you like reviews of Disney movies that are more surrealist stream of consciousness with a heavy seasoning of cuss words but don’t hold with all that fancy book reading? Well, starting from today we’ve got you covered. Erik Copper, a fan of the blog, has taken it upon himself to record audio versions of the reviews which I’ll be linking to and uploading as they become available. Now, at last, you’ll be able to enjoy Unshaved Mouse while driving, operating heavy machinery or making love to your spouse. What’s more, since I’m not reading them myself you can enjoy the reviews without being distracted by my impenetrable Irish brogue.

"Ah muise and begob sure'tis a fine Disney movie to be sure, to be sure, to be sure."

“Ah muise and begob sure ’tis a fine Disney movie to be sure, to be sure, to be sure.”

At the moment we have Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi
and Saludos Amigos. Erik’s done an awesome job and really should check them out.

All the best,

Mouse

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #40: The Emperor’s New Groove

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

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So let me tell you a little story about the worst movie Disney never made. It was called Kingdom of the Sun, an epic retelling of the story of the Prince and the Pauper set in the Incan Empire. Roger Allers, director of the Lion King was at the helm, Owen Wilson was cast as the Pauper, David Spade was the Prince, Eartha Kitt was playing the villainous sorceress Yzma who was to be animated by the legendary Andreas Deja. Oh, and the score was to be provided by legendary rocker Sting. Sounds pretty awesome, right? So what happened? Well, the movie making business is a huge, complex and labyrinthine affair and the reasons why certain movies fail and others succeed is never clear cut but if I had to guess I’d have to say it was because it sucked balls. Test audiences hated the movie, which was a problem because half the damn thing was already completed. So Mark Dindal, director of Cats Don’t Dance, was brought in to make the movie a bit more light hearted and audience friendly. Dindal and Allers pretty soon found themselves at odds to the point where each director was essentially making a different movie. The Disney execs had been willing to give Allers a lot of leeway because…y’know…fucking Lion King…but it was becoming increasingly apparent that Kingdom of the Sun wasn’t going to make it’s 2000 release date. And this was a problem because Disney had signed merchandising deals with McDonald’s and Coke who probably had Michael Eisner’s daughter as collateral or something. Allers asked for a six month extension to get his shit together. DeniedAnd so Allers left and it fell to Dindal to pull off one of the most amazing salvage jobs in modern movie history. Out of the ashes of Kingdom of the Sun, came Emperor’s New Groove, which I have now rewatched and feel confident in saying is the single greatest comedy in the entire Disney canon. Funnier than Robin Hood and Jungle Book. It’s hilarious. In fact, it’s so funny that I’m pretty much totally screwed. There is nothing harder to review than a good comedy, especially if you are a quote unquote “comedic” reviewer. I mean, look, I think I can be pretty funny on a good day, but there is no way in hell that I can write a review that will make you laugh more than just watching this thing. But, as long we’re all agreed that this is an exercise in futility, I’m game if you are. Okay, so Dindal basically decided that there was no chance in hell they could do the kind of epic, Lion King-esque movie that Allers had planned in the time left, so they might as well just have fun. Gone was the Prince and the Pauper storyline. Yzma was now a wacky mad scientist. The Emperor, Kuzco, was now an entitled jerk. The tapes for Owen Wilson’s performance were taken and cast out into the wilderness to be feasted on by jackals with a taste for deadpan Texan delivery and John Goodman was brought in to replace him. Everything was now stripped down, small cast, simple plot, no big animated set pieces. Oh, and all but two of the songs Sting wrote were tossed out. Sting would later say: “At first, I was angry and perturbed. Then I wanted some vengeance.” Well, having had to listen to My Funny Friend and Me, I too want some vengeance, Sting.

And here it is.

And here it is.

Let’s take a look at the film.

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(more…)

Well…that’s that.

Mr Neil Sharpson and the Sunday Independent

The Press Ombudsman has decided that the Sunday Independent made an offer of sufficient remedial action to resolve a complaint by Mr Neil Sharpson that an article published on 25 August 2013, reporting certain claims about alternative technologies, was in breach of Principles 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and 2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment) of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines.

The article reported on what it said was a groundbreaking new Irish technology that “could be the greatest breakthrough in agriculture since the plough.”

Mr Sharpson complained that the claims made in the article were not justified and that the newspaper had compromised its authority as a source of public information by publishing them. The newspaper responded that the complainant was perfectly entitled to enter into a debate on the merits or otherwise of the claimed breakthrough, and invited him to submit a letter for publication.

The complainant submitted two letters strongly challenging the scientific claims reported in the article and the newspaper’s decision to publish it. Neither of these, however, satisfied the newspaper’s requirements that the response should be a measured one capable of being published in a national newspaper as opposed to on a blog, and left open its offer to consider publishing a more appropriate version of his letter subject to the usual legal and editorial constraints.

It is clear that, in matters of controversy, newspapers provide a service to their readers by making space available to the protagonists of different points of view and this article was, on the face of it, likely to give rise to substantial controversy. At the same time, the newspaper was within its rights in limiting its offer to publish a letter from the complainant to one that would comply with the necessary legal and editorial constraints and, for this reason, the offer constituted an offer of sufficient remedial action to resolve the complaint.