(Non Canon)

Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)

Americans calling my nation’s national holiday “Saint Patty’s Day” is one of those things that, as an Irishmouse, I am supposed to be Very Annoyed About. Honestly, it doesn’t bug me. Way I see it, if Irish Americans hadn’t turned March 17 into a major celebration of Irish identity and history in the eighteen hundreds, today the feast of Saint Patrick would be about as big a deal as the third Sunday of Ordinary Time so I say let ‘em call it whatever they like. At this point, it’s as much theirs as ours. Ireland and America have always had a very close relationship, culturally. This has often been a very positive thing, but it does cause problems. Picture Ireland as a man with a very quiet voice and a huge megaphone with the words “MADE IN AMERICA” emblazoned on it. Ireland has a global cultural presence and clout far, far beyond what you’d expect for a small country with a relatively paltry population and that’s largely due to the outsize influence Irish emigrants have had in the shaping of the world’s only cultural hyperpower. But what that means is that what the world perceives as “Irishness” is often filtered first through an American prism. Small Irish voice, big American megaphone. The result is that how we’re perceived by the rest of the world is often completely out of our hands.  Take a look at this picture:

The photo was taken in 1946 in County Kerry in the West of Ireland. The gentleman on the left is one Séamus Delargy, the founder of the Irish Folklore Commission, an organisation tasked with collecting and cataloguing the vast body of oral folklore, songs and poetry that had been passed down by word of mouth by the Irish people since time immemorial. The Irish Folklore Commission, incidentally, later became the Irish Folklore Department in University College Dublin where I got the degree that has made me the wealthy, eminently employable mouse I am today.

Oh, and the guy on the right is Walt Disney.

So, around the end of the second world war, Disney had set his heart on making a film based on Irish legends (Disney’s great-grandfather was from Kilkenny). He was put in touch with Delargey and over the next decade the two men corresponded continously. Delargy viewed Disney’s film as a chance to bring some of the treasure trove of Irish folklore his commission had uncovered to a wider audience, and dispatched crates of books, plays and manuscripts to Burbank. To Delargy’s disappointment however, Disney eventually decided to base his Irish film on Herminie Templeton Kavanagh’s “Darby O’Gill” books. Here we have the relationship between Irish folklore and it’s American amanuenses personified. Delargy says “Here is a huge and varied body of folktales full of magic, heroes, epic quests, tricksters and romance.” and Disney replies “That’s nice. Leprechauns, please.”

This movie’s reputation is a little hard to assess. In America, it’s fairly obscure, but amongst those who know of it it’s quite highly regarded. Hell, no less an authority than Leonard Malthin, a man who eats Disney movies and shits special limited edition Blu-Rays , called it “not only one of Disney best films, but certainly one of the best fantasies ever put to film.”

Well. Clearly SOMEONE’s never seen Hawk the Slayer.

 In Ireland it is most certainly not obscure. And our relationship to this particular movie is…complicated. It was a huge hit when it was released here, with Disney himself attending the Dublin premiere which virtually brought the city to a standstill. But it arrived at a very crucial period in Irish history, when Taoiseach Seán Lemass was trying to cast off the nation’s image as a rural backwater and promote Ireland as a modern economy ready to do business with the world. The success of this movie and it’s bucolic image of rural towns and cheerfully superstitious peasants had many in government muttering between clenched teeth: “You. Are. Not. Helping.” Today it remains a staple of Irish television, particularly around Saint Patrick’s day, and is one of those movies that almost every Irish person has seen once, along with Michael Collins and Die Hard*. But there has always been an undercurrent of resentment to this movie, with many feeling that it’s…what’s the word I’m looking for?

“Racist?”

“Ah, no.”

But “Darby O’Gill” has definitely become a shorthand for fake, inauthentic Oirishness in film. But is that reputation justified? Let’s take a look, just to be sure. To be sure.

To be sure.

(more…)

DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)

(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.)

Eighties kids have a tendency to loudly proclaim that the cartoons they grew up with, your Masters of the Universe, your Transformers, your My Little Ponies were so much better than the cartoons made for kids today.

Why do they say that? Lead. Lead was in everything back then. Paint, exhaust fumes, you name it. And lead is well known to have a harmful effect on intelligence. Couple this with the radiation from the hole in the ozone layer frying their brains and the still lingering effects of Chernobyl and quite frankly it’s a wonder that your typical eighties kid can tied their own shoes, much less attempt an objective assessment of the state of made for TV animation then and now. God love them, they’ve suffered through so much. Now, I am an eighties kid by birth but I converted to the church of 21st century animation a looooong time ago so let me put this one to bed. No. Cartoons were not better in the eighties than they are now. Know how I know? Because cartoons have never been as good as they are now. Pretty much every cartoon made for television from the nineteen fifties to late eighties was garbage. Sure, there were talented people working on them, but they were people, not gods, and there simply was no way to contend with the forces of microscopic budgets, corporate mandated toy-schilling and stiflingly conservative broadcast standards and create something consistently excellent or even good. Yes, occasionally an episode of Transformers might get through that still holds up today but these were very, very rare exceptions (I’m talking exclusively about American TV animation I should hasten to add). Contrast that with today: American animation studios are consistently making shows for kids that are better than most of the stuff they make for adults. Pearl from Steven Universe is one of the most fascinating, layered, tragically flawed characters on television right now, period. Gravity Falls is unfolding an ongoing mystery plot with a skill and intelligence that The X-Files and Lost could only dream about. Adventure Time takes Twin Peaks to school with its pure surrealism. Eighties, I hate to break it to you, even our remakes of your shows are a tenfold improvement. You have Transformers? We have Transformers: Prime. You have Thundercats? We have Thundercats 2011. You have My Little Pony? We have Friendship is Magic.  

GIJoeHeader

You have an army?

We have a HULK.

We have a HULK.

So what happened? Whence came this huge leap forward in quality?

Where else?

Where else?

 

So some time in the late eighties Disney rolled up their sleeves and decided it was time to show these chumps who the big dog was. Disney began producing high quality TV animation intended for syndication. Critics scoffed, saying that this was an expensive folly that would bring the Disney company into bankruptcy.
"Ha. Motherfuckers never learn."

“Ha. Motherfuckers never learn.”

Instead, these shows completely revolutionised the American animation TV landscape. Soon after, Warner Bros also got in on the act with Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and Batman the Animated Series to name a few. In essence, all modern TV animation owes its existence to Disney’s gamble in the late eighties, and in particular to their most popular show; DuckTales.
The massive popularity of DuckTales is something that’s always confused me a little. I mean sure, I watched the show and I liked it fine, but what is it about this story about three duck kids and their miserly grunkle that made it to 100 episodes? Couple of things. Firstly, simply by dint of the fact that it wasn’t terrible it was already head and shoulders above pretty much any other cartoon on the air. But I think another key to its longevity was the fact that it’s quite similar to Doctor Who. One of the reasons that show is older than Jesus is because, aside from the fact that they can recast the main actor, the Doctor has a machine that lets him go anywhere in space or time. There is literally no end to the stories you can tell with that basic premise. And in a way, Scrooge McDuck also has a TARDIS. He’s so wealthy that there’s literally nowhere on Earth he can’t afford to go. Want to do a story on the bottom of the ocean? Scrooge buys a submarine. Want to take him to space? Scrooge buys a spaceship. Want to do a story with dinosaurs? Scrooge gets his personal mad scientist to build him a time machine. Want Scrooge to meet Satan? He has a heart attack and goes to hell because it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to see heaven. Again, you will never run out of stories.
Another thing to consider is that DuckTales was based on a hugely popular comic book, by the legendary Carl Barks. Although Donald Duck was of course created by Walt Disney, it was Barks who did more than anyone else to flesh out everyone’s favourite psychotic waterfowl, creating Duckburg and a whole host of supporting characters; Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica deSpell (it truly was a duck blur). The Duck comics have never really been huge in the States where the comics scene is of course SUPERHEROES SUPERHEROES SUPERHEROES NOW UNTIL THE END OF TIME but they’re very popular in what I like to call “Asterix country”, Europe, Latin America and Asia. In fact, I even tried to get my hands on a copy of The Many Lives of Scrooge McDuck for this review from my local comic shop. This lead to the following exchange. I swear to almighty God I am not making this up.
Comic_Book_Guy_WEE

“Sorry, it’s sold out. We sold the last copy to Killian Murphy.”

“…Killian Murphy? The actor?”

“…Killian Murphy? The actor?”

“The Scarecrow himself, yes. He came in here and asked specifically for anything pertaining for Scrooge McDuck. Who were we to refuse him?”

“The Scarecrow himself, yes. He came in here and asked specifically for anything pertaining to Scrooge McDuck. And who were we to refuse him?”

I SWEAR TO GOD.
But yes, Donald Duck comics are a big effing deal in many parts of the world. Personally though, I always found the entire concept of DuckTales the TV show to be really depressing. Think about it. Hewey, Dewey and Louie get sent to live with their uncle, Donald. I don’t think we ever found out why in the show, but there is no good reason that happens. And then, after losing their parents, Donald passes them off on his uncle, a miserly one-percenter who clearly cares more about his money than his nephews while Donald is off in the navy. Those three little ducks must be carting around a metric ton of abandonment issues. The reason why Donald isn’t present in the series apart from a few cameos is that Roy Disney didn’t want any of Uncle Walt’s classic characters getting TV stink on ’em. Instead, the character of Launchpad was created to fill the role Donald usually did in the comics. Today’s movie, Treasure of the Lost Lamp, came out in 1990 and served as a season finale of shorts to the beloved series. Did DuckTales go out with a bang or a whimper? Let’s take a look.

The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

 

(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.)

"So that’s why I’ve decided I should go back into therapy. I’m just worried that, what with my last psychiatrist turning out to be an immortal Lich King who tried to trap me in a hell dimension for all time…"

“So that’s why I’ve decided I should go back into therapy. I’m just worried that, what with my last psychiatrist turning out to be an immortal Lich King who tried to trap me in a hell dimension for all time…”

hannibal_nbc_screen_grab_a_l

“Your trust was betrayed. And now you worry that you may not be able to trust anyone again.”

"Exactly."

“Exactly.”

"Mouse, if I am to help you, you must feel comfortable in opening up to me. Only then can we overcome your issues and help you reach your true potential."

“Mouse, if I am to help you, you must feel comfortable in opening up to me. Only then can we overcome your issues and help you reach your true potential.”

"My true potential?"

“My true potential?”

"Yes. You should be killing people. Like, all the time."

“Yes. You should be killing people. Like, all the time.”

"Huh. Well, I did feed a friend of mine to a shark two weeks."

“Huh. Well, I did feed a friend of mine to a shark two weeks ago.”

"Excellent, then we are already on the road to recovery. But first we must deal with your trust issues. I am going to hypnotise you now."

“Excellent, then we are already on the road to recovery. But first we must deal with your trust issues. I am going to hypnotize you now.”

"Okay."

“Okay.”

"Listen to my voice. I am going to reactivate memories that have long since lain dormant. We are going to put you in touch with your inner child."

“Listen to my voice. I am going to reactivate memories that have long since lain dormant. We are going to put you in touch with your inner child.”

"What the...what's happening?"

“What the…what’s happening?”

"Hey, where am I?"

“Hey, where am I?”

"What the…who are you?"

“What the…who are you?”

"He’s not really here Mouse. He is a psychological projection of you when you were a child."

“He’s not really here Mouse. He is a psychological projection of you when you were a child.”

"Wow. I got REAL fat."

“Wow. I got REAL fat.”

"Ah yes. I forgot. I was a real charmer. What exactly am I supposed to do with him?"

“Ah yes. I forgot. I was a real charmer. What exactly am I supposed to do with him?”

"Spend time together. Reconnect. Try and recover the trust and innocence that you once had, and then we’ll be killing people together in no time."

“Spend time together. Reconnect. Try and recover the trust and innocence that you once had, and then we’ll be killing people together in no time.”

"Fine. What you want to do?"

“Fine. What you want to do?”

"What do you normally do?"

“What do you normally do?”

"Honestly, I spend most of my time watching cartoons and then making stupid jokes about them."

“Honestly, I spend most of my time watching cartoons and then making stupid jokes about them.”

"So…you haven’t actually changed in twenty five years?"

“So…you haven’t actually changed in twenty three years?”

"Well I don’t wet the bed anymore. You want to watch cartoons or not?"

“Well I don’t wet the bed anymore. You want to watch cartoons or not?”

"Okay. Oh! Oh! That one!"

“Okay. Oh! Oh! That one!”

Transformers-movieposter-west

"What? No. It's AWFUL."

“What? No. It’s AWFUL.”

"Nuh-uh! It’s the BEST MOVIE EVER!"

“Nuh-uh! It’s the BEST MOVIE EVER!”

"Kid, look, I know you have a lot of fond memories of this but, trust me, as someone who reviews animated movies for a living…"

“Kid, look, I know you have a lot of fond memories of this but, trust me, as someone who reviews animated movies for a living…”

"Really? You get paid to do this?"

“Really? You get paid to do this?”

"…Fine, let’s watch the movie."

“…Fine, let’s watch the movie.”

(more…)

Unshaved Mouse and Erik Copper review: Enchanted

 

(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.)

UM: Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Unshaved Mouse, with me tonight is my lovely assitant Erik Copper, say hi to the nice folks Erik.

 

EC: Hi to the nice folks, Erik!

 

UM: Alright, listen buster, you want a corny joke war you got a corny joke war.

 

EC: Oh, trust me, good sir, I am more than proficient in the art of the corny joke. How do the folks over seas say it? “You don’t want nunna this?”

 

UM: They do say that. In England. Which, for me, is also overseas.

 

EC: Ah, yes. “The pond” as I heard it once called. Anyway, there are people reading this post, and I’m sure they heard enough of your corny jokes from the past 47 reviews. Ohhhh! And that is what we Americans call a “sick burn”.

 

UM:  Yes. There are people reading this. Because it is my blog. Key difference. In Ireland, that is what we call “sruthán tinn.”

 

EC: You’ll have to excuse me. I do not speak–

 

UM:  Don’t say Gaelic. Don’t say Gaelic. I warn you. Do not say Gaelic.

 

EC: “Paddy-talk.”

 

UM: Much better. So, before we incite an international incident., how about we talk about Enchanted?

 

EC: Well…From last week’s “next week” preview, I have a feeling your thoughts of this movie might already incite an international incident. I hear you do not like this film?

 

UM: Ah….okay, I may have overstated the case. No, I didn’t. I hate this movie. But I recognise that it’s not bad, and that there’s a lot of good in it. But, I think it’s kind of mediocre and phoned in and really overrated. It’s like American History X for me.

 

EC: But isn’t that part of the charm? It’s supposed to be a parody/deconstruction of the Disney princess motif. And in that respect, I think it does it’s job really well. Showing that the Disney “magic” doesn’t really exist outside of film kind of makes the charm all the more endearing.

 

UM: Well, firstly I don’t think it does it WELL, I think it does it like…competently. Like, it starts with the premise of letting a Disney princess loose in modern day New York, gets the most obvious jokes it can out of it (and don’t get me wrong, just because they’re obvious doesn’t mean they’re not funny), but it never really goes beyond that. It does everything you expect with the concept and not a jot more. And it’s not that noticeable because Amy Adams and James Marsden are giving it so much energy. I mean, they are both really, really appealing in this. That’s why I likened it to American History X, a mediocre movie that people think is great because it has a really good lead performance. Also, it’s about white supremacy.

EC: I’ve never seen American History X, but that description makes me think I might have a Song of the South reaction to the film. While I do see the side of your argument (and believe me, this movie seems to have more sides than an octagon) I think the point of the movie isn’t to give more than what it did. If you think about it, the film’s concept isn’t really all that broad. “Fairy tale in New York” (No, Pogue’s fans, go away). That’s a theme you can’t do much with, because fairy tales are so confined to a certain kind of feel, and real life contrasts with it so much. I think what the movie did with what it had made it a better film than you’re giving it credit for.

UM: “It’s Christmas Eve Baaaaaaaaabe….in the drunk taaaaaaaaank!” I’m sorry, did you say something?

EC: Goddammit, I’ve lost the Mouse. After I fetch a cat to try and wake him up (fear is often the best medicine, I find), we’ll start the actual review.

Hssssssssssss!

Hssssssssssss!

UM: You ever….EVER  do that to me again. You just wait. I’m gonna get your natural predator and launch it at you when you least expect it!

 

EC: Somehow, I doubt that entirely. ANYWAY! How does the movie start?

(more…)

(Because I can’t pretend this thing isn’t happening) let’s take a look at the Maleficent trailer.

Unshaved Mouse has been nominated for Best Blog Post at the Blog Awards Ireland 2014. Please take a minute to click on this link and vote for me. You can vote once every week. Thanks a million, Mouse.

***

Sigh. You know, I told myself if I just stuck my head in the sand and pretended that this wasn’t happening everyone involved would gradually realise just how ill advised the whole endeavour is and this movie would quietly die like the sequel to 7even where Morgan Freeman’s character has psychic powers or the live action Akira remake with white actors. But no, this thing is apparently happening and what’s more Disney have released a trailer that proves once and for all that their marketing department is staffed by wizards who can make anything look good. Sorry, that sounds unfair and I know any movie should only be judged after it’s actually been released but…I have serious reservations about this. Now, granted, after seeing the trailer I am a little more optimistic for reasons that I’ll get into in a bit but firstly let me just point out that the basic logic behind this movie is flawed. That logic is as follows:

1) We need to make a movie about a character that people love.

2) People love Maleficent.

3) We should…what, you want me to spell it out?

Now, Maleficent is undoubtedly a fantastic character but it’s more complicated than that. She is specifically, a fantastic antagonist. Saying that a great villain will make a great leading character is like saying an astronaut is the perfect guy to perform your heart operation. It’s a completely different skill set. Villains, by and large, occupy less screen time than heroes. A villain is someone who you’re glad when they show up, do something outrageous and cool and then vanish again. A good protagonist is someone you have to be willing to spend two hours with. Villains are great in small doses, but the larger than life traits that make them so entertaining tend to get really wearying after too long. Of course, that’s assuming that this movie is just Maleficent as she was depicted in Sleeping Beauty but for two hours. It won’t be. Maleficent in the original doesn’t have an arc, her character progression in the movie is evil, evil, evil, evil, dragon. So of course this movie is instead going to make her an anti-hero, a troubled misunderstood figure whose motivations we will be able to understand and sympathise with through seeing her backstory and all the horrible things that happened to maker her who she is. This approach, historically speaking, has killed more awesome movie villains than cliffs and Arnold Schwarzenegger combined.

This is how..

anakin-skywalker-voice-as-darth-vader

This…

..this.

..became this.

This...

This…

...became this.

…became this.

And THIS...

And THIS…

....became...I don't even know what the fuck this is.

….became…I don’t even know what the fuck this is.

Now, if I’m wrong I will happily eat my words. I’m just saying I got history on my side. Okay, so let’s take a look at the trailer.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/_pgmFAOgm5E” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Alright, so here are my thoughts in order.

  • Angelina Jolie’s eternal status at the top of the A-List has baffled me for some time. Not that she’s bad, but surely you should have to have some critically/financially successful movies under your belt before they crown you Queen of Hollywood. Seriously, look at her filmography and find something that you’d give more than three stars. Having said that, that is an absolutely phenomenal impersonation of Eleanor Audley she’s doing, almost to the point where I’m not entirely sure they didn’t just dub some dialogue from the original movie over her. Also that smile she flashes is a good sign. Jolie looks like she’s having a blast. Above all, Maleficent should enjoy being evil.
  • Gotta say, loving Lana Del Ray’s dreamy, sinister rendition of Once Upon a Dream. Love the atmosphere.
  • Three fairies hovering by a crib while Maleficent stalks through the court. These aren’t Flora, Fauna and Merryweather even though they’re colour coded the same. According to wikipedia the fairies are Thistlewit, Knotgrass and Flittle and are all played by actresses in their twenties. Godammit, I loved that the heroes of the original movie were three dumpy middle aged women. Where else do you see that?
  • Maleficent standing with arms raised, wreathed in green flame and vanishing from the court. So it looks like we’re going to get a pretty faithful recreation of the cursing scene.
  • “NOW FIND OUT THE TRUTH” Ohhhh…first big warning sign. If they think that we’re actually going to accept this as a definitive take on the story that supplants the original then this ship is crewed by fools and madmen.
  • Okay, now this is different. Maleficent surpises Briar Rose in the woods, blows some sleeping gunk on her and then walks through the moonlit forest with the unconscious body floating behind her. Gotta say, it’s an eerie, beautiful image. Again, Del Ray’s vocals really setting the “dark fairytale” tone.
  •  King Stefan stabbing a table. Why is he stabbing a table? Maleficent controls the trees. Trees are made of wood. Clearly, this table is a spy.
  • "Urk! You may have killed me, but my mistress will crush you all! Also, would it kill you to use a coaster?"

    “Urk! You may have killed me, but my mistress will crush you all! Also, would it kill you to use a coaster?”

A green clad  Maleficent strolling through a field. Part of me really hopes that this movie ends with the reveal that Maleficent is actually Girl Loki and that this is all just a teaser for Avengers 3. Hey, they’re both owned by Disney, you can’t say it’s not possible.

Or even that it's not plausible.

Or even that it’s not plausible.

  • If I were to guess I’d say this is part of Maleficent’s origin. The movie seems to be playing up her nature powers, showing lots of sentient tree monsters and such. If I were to guess, Maleficent starts off with a naturey/defender of the forest kind of schtick, hence the green duds, and then King Philip does something to fuck with nature’s balance or whatever forcing her to go all emo and black. Which sounds pretty awful and again, why the character works better as a villain and not a protagonist.
  • Okay, seriously, what is up with her cheekbones? She looks like she swallowed a china plate.
  • The CGI at least, is going to look amazing. In fact, we can at least rest assured that this will be a very pretty movie.
  • The old knight with a beard is so dead.
  • “There is evil in this world. Hatred. And revenge.” Ohhhh stop that right now. That looks like Maleficent imparting some motherly advice to Briar Rose. That looks like Maleficent and Briar Rose bonding over a campfire. That looks like the movie is actually setting up that Maleficent secretly cares for Briar Rose. That looks like the still beating heart of Sleeping Beauty getting ripped out and stamped on the dirt. That looks like I’m gonna have to get mah pitchfork.
  • Okay, the little hurt “oh” followed by the pscyho laugh has me convinced that if nothing else, Jolie is going to kill the role.

So, colour me cautiously pessimistic. I still think that the basic concept of the movie is fails the smell test but there’s a lot in the trailer to give me pause. I’m certainly less sure now that it’s going to completely suck than I was. So, good job Disney marketing team. Good job. You have moved the dial in the right direction. Now if you could stop making me think that your awesome full length musical returns to form are going to be awful, weak-ass Dreamworks ripoffs, that’d be lovely.

Coraline (2009)

(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.)

"Tell me vat happened, Mouse. In your own vords."

“Tell me vat happened, Mouse. In your own vords.”

"Paper Alchemist...it was her fault! She told me to watch it...I thought she was my friend. Those eyes. Button eyes..."

“Paper Alchemist…it was her fault! She told me to watch it…I thought she was my friend. Those eyes. Button eyes…”

"I don't understand. You had made such fine progress. Ven last ve spoke you had overcome  your fear of Pinocchio and were reviewing the entire Disney canon. You seemed in good mental health. Vat triggered zis relapse?"

“I don’t understand. You had made such fine progress. Ven last ve spoke you had overcome your fear of Pinocchio and were reviewing ze entire Disney canon. You seemed in good mental health. Vat brough on zis relapse?”

"Pinocchio? That's right. I used to be afraid of that movie. God, I was a fool."

Pinocchio? That’s right. I used to be afraid of that movie. God, I was a fool.”

HELLO!

HELLO!

"Hey."

“Hey.”

"Then tell me, Mouse. What triggered zis episode?"

“Then tell me, Mouse. What triggered zis episode?”

"I remember it like it was yesterday. When in fact, it was the day before yesterday. I'd finally decided to start reviewing non-Disney movies regularly. Walt tried to warn me against it..."

“I remember it like it was yesterday. When in fact, it was the day before yesterday. I’d finally decided to start reviewing non-Disney movies regularly. Walt tried to warn me against it…”

"You're a fool mouse! Everytime you review a non-Disney movie you invite terrible doom!"

“You’re a fool Mouse! Everytime you review a non-Disney movie you invite terrible doom!”

"But I thought it'd be fine! After all, I reviewed Nightmare Before Christmas at Halloween and nothing bad happened!"

“But I thought it’d be fine! After all, I reviewed Nightmare Before Christmas at Halloween and nothing bad happened!”

"Ja...of course."

“Ja…of course.”

"You don't know that!"

“You don’t know that!”

"I am sorry, zis is a private session. I will have to ask you to leave."

“I am sorry, zis is a private session. I vill have to ask you to leave.”

"And who the stuttering fuck might you be?"

“And who the stuttering fuck might you be?”

"I am Herr Doktor Ernst Fiedelman. I am ze Mouse's  psychoanalysist."

“I am Herr Doktor Ernst Fiedelman. I am ze Mouse’s psychoanalyst.”

"Fiedelman? What is that, Jewish?"

“Psychoanalyses? Mouse why are you wasting your time with this flim flam? Some good old fashioned voodoo is all you need, where’s my cauldron?”

"Out."

“Out.”

"I think I am beginning to understand. You reviewed a movie horrific enough to undo years of intensive psychoanalysis. Something by Adam Sandler I am guessing?"

“I think I am beginning to understand. You reviewed a movie horrific enough to undo years of intensive psychoanalysis. Something by Adam Sandler I am guessing, ja?”

"Nein. Coraline."

“Nein. Coraline.”

"Mein Gott!"

“Mein Gott! Mouse, ve have no choice. You must face your fear, and talk me through the review. Only then can we undo the psychological damage.”

"Really? Because that sounds like it would make things so much worse."

“Really? Because that sounds like it would make things so much worse.”

"Ve're talking fifty fifty either vay. Now begin!"

“Ve’re talking fifty fifty either vay. Now begin!”

Well. Okay. Here we. go. Coraline.

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #666: The Nightmare Before Christmas

(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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Hi everyone. So, unfortunately I’ve got some bad news. I know you were all looking forward to my review of Emperor’s New Groove but I’m afraid I just wasn’t able to get it done on time. Sorry. I’ve actually been going through a lot of personal problems recently that’ve been making it hard to write. You all know of course that I recently suffered a severe trauma.

Why God?

Why God?

But reviewing Dinosaur was just the straw that broke the mouse’s back. I’m just…

I’m tired of this. I’ve reviewed over forty movies now and it’s just getting so hard to come up with new jokes every two weeks. It’s just the same routine over and over again.

And I! Mouse! The Un-shaved king…have grown so tired of the same old thing…

Oh, don't say that meu amigo. You just need a little break.

Oh, don’t say that meu amigo. You just need a little break.

Hmm…you seem vaguely familiar. I feel like I know you, but blocked out the memory for some reason. Weird.

I get that a lot. You know what you need? You need to review something a little different. Like this!

I get that a lot. You know what you need? You need to review something a little different. Like this!

The_nightmare_before_christmas_poster

The Nightmare Before Christmas? Well, it is a great movie. And it is Halloween. But…no, I couldn’t. It’s not part of the canon!

You've reviewed plenty of movies that aren't in the canon. You even reviewed An American Tail when you were in the Bluthverse.

You’ve reviewed plenty of movies that aren’t in the canon. You even reviewed An American Tail when you were in the Bluthverse.

That’s true…wait, how could you know that?

Let's just say I'm well informed. Come on Mouse. Review the movie. You know you want to.

Let’s just say I’m well informed. Come on Mouse. Review the movie. You know you want to.

No, no. I can’t. All the reviews I do are in strict chronological order. Nightmare Before Christmas came out in 1993, I’m already into 2000.

And what a great decade that was! You're right. I'll leave you to review Brother Bear, Chicken Little, Home on the Range...

And what a great decade that was! You’re right. I’ll leave you to review Brother Bear, Chicken Little, Home on the Range

Okay! Okay! You’ve talked me into it. I mean, it’ll be fine. So I temporarily forsake my sacred oath to review all the canon Disney classics in order? What’s the worst that could happen?

What indeed?

What indeed?

Okay. So, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Little basic housekeeping out of the way first, this movie was in fact neither written nor directed by Tim Burton.

Yeah, NO idea why you might think that.

Yeah, NO idea why you might think that.

You’ll remember from the Fox and the Hound review that Tim Burton was an animator at Disney before leaving to become a big time Hollywood muck-a-muck. He came up with the concept for the film, based on a poem he himself wrote in 1982, and designed most the of the characters but when the time came to actually shoot the thing, Burton was too busy making Batman Returns and handed directing duties off to Henry Selick, and scriptwriting chores to Caroline Thompson and Michael McDowell. However, I don’t want to undersell Burton’s contribution as this is still probably the most “Tim Burtony” film ever made. That’s really down to the fealty with which Selick treated Burton’s designs and ideas. I mean sure, they put Burton’s name over the thing because he was the bigger draw, and that kind of sucks for Selick…but at the same time,  it does very much feel like Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. But of course, the clues are there that Burton didn’t actually direct it. Because Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter aren’t in it and Burton never does anything without Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. And I’m not just talking about movies, either. Burton doesn’t go to the bathroom without Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (Depp pulls the fly down, Carter pulls it back up).

Nightmare has two big influences, the old Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas specials and even more so, the 1966 animated version of Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Jack Skellington was envisioned by Burton as being a kind of anti-Grinch, a macabre character who adores Christmas instead of loathing it, but whereas the Grinch changes once he comes to understand Christmas, Jack never does and the movie implies that really that’s okay. Christmas is not for everyone.

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Don Bluth Reviews with the Bald Mouse #503: An American Tail

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.

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My my. Has it really only been ten years since I began my epic quest to review every movie ever made by the greatest, most influential figure in all of American cinema?

The Master.

The Master.

And what a decade it has been. When I started this blog in 2003 Al Gore had just begun the third year of a momentous first term, the euro  became officially adopted as the world’s only currency and Iraq was not invaded.

Yeah I...I don't know why I felt the need to remind your of that.

Yeah I…I don’t know why I felt the need to remind you of that.

Little did I know then that I was starting what would go on to become the most popular blog in history. And yet here I am a decade later, millions of fans, a vast personal fortune and a statue on the moon. We’ve had good times, haven’t we? Remember when I paid for every reader of this blog to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Bluthworld, Florida?

Man those were some creepy mascots.

Man those were some creepy mascots.

And I owe it all to one man. One legend. The one and only Don Bluth. Thanks Don.

Hey, don't mention it  Mouse.

Hey, don’t mention it Mouse. It was my pleasure.

Wow, what a nice guy. So I thought that for this special anniversary I’d review one of Don’s earlier, lesser known works: An American Tail. Why this one? Well, granted, it’s not as influential as his other movies. It didn’t reignite interest in Elvis Presley like Rock a Doodle, or restore the Russian monarchy like Anastasia or unite all of humanity under a single canine worshipping religion like All Dogs go to Heaven.

God, I hope the next Pope isn't a Rottweiler.

Sidenote: Isn’t the new pope just freakin’ adorable?

But An American Tail occupies an important part of  bluthistory because this was the first bluthimation to be a major financial success and so paved the way for all the world changing masterpieces that were to follow. It also represented a major personal victory for Don, as this is the movie that once and for all finished off the…let me see if I’m pronouncing this right…”Dies Nee” studio? Sorry, that’s Disney.  Who were Disney? Well, I’m not surprised you don’t know. You’d probably have to be a hardcore Bluthimation fan to have heard of them but back in the day they were actually considered a pretty big deal. And yeah, some of their earlier works were really quite impressive, some almost rising to the standard of modern Bluthimations. Nowadays however they’ve faded completely into obscurity and are only really known as the studio that gave Don Bluth his start. Bluth left the studio in 1979, utterly disheartened with how the Disney studio was being run and the decline in the quality of their Bluthimated films. He left and formed Don Bluth studios and in quick succession released two films, the sublime and critically acclaimed The Secret of NIMH, and the box-office smash that was An American Tail. Upon which, the Disney studio rolled over like a dead dog and was quietly consigned to history. Some Bluthimation historians have speculated that if Disney hadn’t simply folded at the first challenge to their monopoly, that they might actually have had the talent and resources to push back, up the quality of their movies and maybe even experience some kind of “renaissance” and really give Bluth a run for his money. But personally I think that’s horseshit. Pure horseshit!

Hey buddy, gotta quarter?

Hey buddy, gotta quarter?

Sure thing. Here. Get yourself something to eat and find someplace warm.

God bless your sir.

Bless you, sir.

So let’s take a look at An American Tail.

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #20a: Bedknobs and Broomsticks

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.

 

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“It’s grand to be an Englishman, in 1910/ King Edward’s on the throne, it’s the age of men!”

George Banks, Mary Poppins 1964

“When you set aside your childhood heroes
And your dreams are lost up on a shelf
You’re at the age of not believing
And worst of all, you doubt yourself”

Eglantine Price, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971

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Well, you couldn’t really blame them.

Mary Poppins had been such a phenomenal hit for Disney that it was only a matter of time before they tried to recreate that success. The two films have a great deal in common, Robert Stevenson directed both, David Tomlinson plays the father role, there are scenes mixing animation and live action, the Shermans are back on song duty (the last time they’d work on a Disney film until The Tigger Movie thirty years later). Hell, Julie Andrews was even offered the part of Eglantine Price but turned it down. Considering how badly she was typecast after Mary Poppins and Sound of Music, that was probably the right choice. Instead, the part went to Angela Lansbury, who ironically was one of the actresses considered to play Mary Poppins which leads me to believe that Walt Disney only knew two actresses.

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #18a: Mary Poppins

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.

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As we move into December it’s only natural to take stock of everything that’s happened in the last year and I gotta say…2012 was very, very good to me. I married the love of my life, moved into a new house, had a beautiful daughter, and after years of smacking my head against a brick wall my writing career is finally starting to show signs of momentum. Oh yeah, and I started a blog that has done better than I could ever have envisaged. I thought this would just be me typing away every week being indulged by a few of my Facebook friends. Now I’m checking the stats every day and wondering why I’m getting fewer hits from the Philippines than usual.
They never forgave me for killing off Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe.

They never forgave me for killing off Sarcastic Map of Wartime Europe.

So yeah. 2012 was a very good year. It was like that song by Frank Sinatra. You know the one.“My Way”.
Having said that, I think it’s pretty safe to say that if I live to be a hundred I will NEVER have as good a year as Julie Andrews did in 1965. Her first ever movie, Mary Poppins,was the highest grossing film of the year and received a record breaking 13 Oscar Nominations, winning five. Oh yeah, and the second highest grossing film that year was a little picture called The Sound of Music which would actually go on to gross even more than Gone with the WindIn case you’re curious, the third and fourth most successful movies that year were Goldfinger and My Fair Lady. Yeah. 1965 was a GOOD year for movies, and an absolutely phenomenal one for Julie Andrews.