Don Bluth

American_tail_fievel_goes_west

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)

Hey everybody. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and for all you other religions…um…good luck with whatever you got goin’ on right now. Keep on truckin’. Yes it’s the night before Christmas, and despite belonging to a species that traditionally is known for not stirring at this time of year,  I’ve decided to review…
"Mouse...Moooooouuuuuse..."

“Mouse…Moooooouuuuuse…”

“Jacob Marley?”

“Jacob Marley?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life! Link by link! Yard by yard…”

“I wear the chain I forged in life! Link by link! Yard by yard…”

“Stop. Stop. No. Look, this is not going to be a Christmas themed review. We’re not doing the Christmas carol thing. Sorry.”

“Stop. Stop. No. Look, this is not going to be a Christmas themed review. We’re not doing the Christmas Carol thing. Sorry.”

“But it’s a tradition…”

“But it’s a tradition…”

“Yes. One that’s been done to death. Sorry, not happening. Get lost.”

“Yes. One that’s been done to death. Sorry, not happening. Get lost.”

“Dude, I’m a ghost, you’re going to have to do better than “Get lost!”

“Dude, I’m a ghost, you’re going to have to do better than “Get lost!”

“Sigh. AVAUNT THEE FOUL SPIRIT! RETURN TO THE NETHERWORLD FROM WHENCE THOU CAME!”

“Sigh. AVAUNT THEE FOUL SPIRIT! RETURN TO THE NETHERWORLD FROM WHENCE THOU CAME!”

“Oooh, nice. “Avaunt”. That takes me back.”

“Oooh, nice. “Avaunt”. That takes me back.”

Right. So. Today’s movie is An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West, a sequel to a Don Bluth movie made without the imput of Don Bluth. Now, “Sequel to a Don Bluth movie made without the imput of Don Bluth” is a sub-category of film with a slightly lower degree of prestige and respect than “Uwe Boll video game adaptation” or “hobo snuff film” and this film’s reputation is not exactly sterling.
40! There are Police Academy movies with higher scores than that!

40%?! There are Police Academy movies with higher scores than that!

So, following the stunning success of An American Tail (which, I remind you, was a big freaking deal) Stephen Spielberg wanted a sequel to be the first production of his new animation studio, Amblimation. Bluth by this time was based in Ireland and was working on The Land Before Time with Sullivan Bluth so Spielberg had to bring in a new team of animators under the direction of Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells. Amblimation is a weird little footnote in the annals of American animation history, tapping out after only three films (this one, We’re Back and Balto). I haven’t seen Balto and I do NOT care for We’re Back...
IT DID.

IT DID.

…but I think Amblimation could have been a real contender under different circumstances. Why? Because, if nothing else, the animation in these movies was SMURGES. Let’s take a look.

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The_Secret_of_NIMH

The Secret of Nimh (1982)

Know what movie I’m absolutely dreading having to review? Go on. Guess. You’ll never guess.
Seriously. You’ll never see this coming. Ready?
Land Before Time.
Toldja.
Why? Do I hate it? Do I think it’s a bad movie? Do I project some of my utter loathing for Dinosaur onto it inadvertently? No, absolutely not and yes, but I’m working through my issues with the help of friends and the love of Jesus. No, the reason is that any review of that movie has to address the elephant in the room, said elephant being the awful, awful tragedy that was the death of Judith Barsi.
I mean, you have to make note of it, and then you have to go back to reviewing the rest of the movie and cracking jokes and “Bahia! Kookaburras!” and…yeah. I don’t know how I could pull that off. Today’s movie offers me something of a dry run because it is another beloved Don Bluth film with the spectre of tragedy draped over it like a quilt (albeit not quite as awful). Elizabeth Hartman, the actor who voiced Mrs Brisby, tragically took her own life in 1987.
The Secret of Nimh was Hartman’s last major Hollywood role, a beautiful coda to a tragic career that exploded into existence with her rapturously received performance opposite Sidney Poitier in A Patch of Blue. At 22 she became the youngest woman ever nominated for Best Actress at the time but as the years went by both the roles she was offered and her problems with depression grew steadily worse. So it goes.
Since her death, Mrs Brisby has become Hartman’s defining role, to the point that amongst the movie’s fandom Mrs Brisby’s full name is “Mrs Elizabeth Brisby” (we never learn her first name in the film). And there’s no denying that the struggles of Mrs Brisby take on a special resonance when watched once you know what happened to her.
A mouse trying to stop a tractor.
As accidental analogies for the struggle with depression go, I’ve certainly heard worse.
As I went into in the Fox and the Hound review, in 1979, Don Bluth and nine other animators left the Walt Disney company with a simple mission; to save the feature length American animation as an artform. Bluth recognised that Disney basically had not made any major innovations in their animation techniques since the studio’s near-death experience with Sleeping Beauty in 1959. Ever since then, in order to keep costs down, the animation had been cheaper, scrappier and less technically challenging. Bluth envisioned a return to the dark, moody animation of Disney’s golden age; a film that would challenge formula rather than using it as a crutch. Basically, Bluth wanted to create a Tar and Sugar movie.
Did he succeed? Let’s take a look.

(more…)

Anastasia-Movie-Poster-Hiddem-Gem

Anastasia (1997)

(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.)

I love reading history. I have a copy of Tacitus’ Annals on my bedside table (because I’m just that kind of pretentious prick) and as a modern reader there’s something really bizarre about reading history written in ancient times.
See, you’ll be into a very serious passage about corruption in the Senate or the war against the Parthians (those Parthians, buncha troublemakers I tell ya what) and suddenly ol’ Tacitus will veer off into describing all the dire portents about Nero’s future rule and it’s all dreams of blood, and visions of locusts and more virgins giving birth to two-headed snakes than you know what to do with.
And then he’ll talk about taxes.
As if the previous stuff was just perfectly mundane. But here’s the thing; for Tacitus it was perfectly mundane. Magic and visions and miracles and supernatural powers were just an accepted fact of life back then. And as a modern reader, sure, we might be a bit sceptical but…we kinda just have to accept all that stuff as part of the historical record. Because Tacitus said it happened and he’s our guy on this stuff, you know? You going to call Tacitus a liar? Did you write one of the greatest works of Latin literature, serve in the Senate and later become governor of Asia?
Yeah. That’s what I thought.
Rome

It’s less impressive when you realise that “Asia” was just a chunk of Turkey back then.

Of course, when you start getting into more recent history, magic and mysticism aren’t part of the picture anymore. Or, at least, they’re not supposed to be.
I think that’s the reason I was always fascinated as a kid by Grigory Rasputin. Here was a twentieth century figure who seemed to come from a time when magic was still real. In the early years of the twentieth century, the Russian royal family had their own wizard.
Wizard
That is awesome.
In secondary school I actually did my final year project on Rasputin and the Romanovs and I’m something of a buff on this whole period of Russian history. And that low sound you just heard is all the Anastasia fans (of which there are a great many) in the audience groaning “Oh God. He’s going to pan it.”
And sure. I can get why you might think that. I mean, if I tore Saving Mr Banks a new one because PL Travers was crying for the wrong reason, I’m probably not going to look too kindly on the February Revolution being started by zombie Rasputin. Or am I? Maybe not. Or maybe yes? Ha ha ha ha! Which door do you choose, Anastasia fans?! Which door?!
“Ugh. Is this some kind of joke? I thought you were going to review one of my good films?”

“Ugh. Is this some kind of joke? I thought you were going to review one of my good films?”

“But…everyone loves Anastasia! It’s one of your most critically beloved movies! It made the most money of all of your films!”

“But…everyone loves Anastasia! It’s one of your most critically beloved movies! It made the most money of all of your films!”

“UGH. Yeah. And google it and see what comes up.”

“UGH. Yeah. And google it and see what comes up.”

Ooooh...thats gotta hoirt.

Ooooh…that’s gotta hoirt.

“Fox asked me to make a Disney princess movie. I was desperate for the cash so I sold out. How was I supposed to make a good movie under those circumstances?”

“Fox asked me to make a Disney princess movie. I was desperate for the cash so I sold out. How was I supposed to make a good movie under those circumstances?”

I dunno Don. But I’ve seen where you can go with unfettered creative control and it often involves trolls and penguins with teeth. If it wasn’t for artists just doing it for a paycheck we wouldn’t have I, Claudius, Sherlock Holmes or half of Shakespeare’s stuff. Maybe, just maybe, you managed to make an accidental classic.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at Disney’s Anastasia.
"UGH."

“UGH.”

Sorry. That just slipped out.

(more…)

Ah ha ha...really funny guys.

A Troll in Central Park (1994)

(DISCLAIMER: 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.)
Previously on Unshaved Mouse: After months of ominous threats and warnings, Mouse finally came face to face with his most determined enemy yet; the mysterious, lethal, Blucatt. Blucatt brutally murdered Gangsta Asia and then revealed himself to be none other than legendary animator Don Bluth, who accused Mouse of destroying him as an animator, a charge which Mouse shockingly did not deny…
“…and another reason why Emperor’s New Groove is the third most under-rated Disney movie…”

“…and another reason why Emperor’s New Groove is the third most under-rated Disney movie…”

  “…and another reason why Emperor’s New Groove is the third most under-rated Disney movie…”

“SHUT. UP. Shut up. You’ve been stalling for two weeks. Now tell everyone why it’s your fault that my movies suck.”

Alright. Alright. I knew this day would come. I’ve talked about Don Bluth on this blog before, mostly in the American Tail review and in passing when I covered The Fox and the Hound. But now it’s time to talk about Bluth’s legacy as an animator and how that legacy was destroyed by many factors.
“By you.”

“By you.”

“By many factors of which I was one.”

“By many factors of which I was one.”

“Funny, I don’t really remember there being that many factors.”

“Funny, I don’t really remember there being that many factors.”

Okay, animation history time. Don Bluth split from Disney halfway through production of The Fox and the Hound, taking a good chunk of the Disney animation team with him.
He told them they were going to pick apples. They never got to pick apples.

He told them they were going to pick apples. They never got to pick apples.

Now this group was known as Don Bluth Productions (and then later on as the Bluth Group) and in 1982 they released Bluth’s first directorial feature, the now legendary Secret of NIMH. NIMH had critics slavering all over it but died at the box-office as it only had a limited release and was released during one of the best years in history for genre movies.
There is no shame in losing to ET.

There is no shame in losing to ET.

In fact, between ET walloping NIMH at the box-office and an industry wide animators-strike, Bluth had to declare bankruptcy.  NIMH was therefore a once-off. Don Bluth Productions did not release any other feature length animations; the rest of their output during this period was stuff for TV like Banjo The Woodpile Cat (no, I’m not reviewing it. I’m done with cartoon cats for a good long while), the computer games Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace and animated sequences for the movie Xanadu. Most of what people consider “Don Bluth movies” were actually made by a company called Sullivan Bluth. Well, you all know who Bluth is, who the fruck was Sullivan? Sit down and I’ll learn ya.
By 1983 Bluth had managed to turn things around thanks largely to the phenomenal success of Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace.Sure, they played like mules on Quaaludes but those games looked a good two decades ahead of anything else on the market. But then, the video game market imploded in late ’83/early ’84 thanks in no small part to the white-hot grease fire of pure failure that was the Atari tie-licence game of…ET.
Man, Don Bluth must have hated that alien so much.

Man, Don Bluth must have hated that alien so much.

“Hes next on my list”

“He’s next on my list”

This left Bluth bankrupt again and it’s at about this point in the story that Sullivan enters the picture. Morris Sullivan was an Irish-American businessman who was also an avid cartoon nut who decided to invest in Bluth. To bring down costs and also to avoid the kind of industrial disputes that had plagued NIMH (and were also causing trouble for the early production of An American Tail) Sullivan convinced Bluth to move the newly formed Sullivan Bluth Studios to Dublin, Ireland*. This was pretty much the big bang for Irish animation, and the impact is still being felt to this day. Bluth set up an animation course at Ballyfermot Senior College that trained a whole generation of Irish animators. Nor was Bluth by any means the only animation company that set up shop here to take advantage of generous government support and an underemployed, English speaking workforce desperate for wages to pay the landlords and their thrice cursed gombeens.
The Bluth Animators circa  1989.

The Bluth Animators circa 1989.

They were daycent, hardworking animators. Quick with their fists, and quicker with their brushes. Why, you might even have heard of some of the movies and TV shows they created…
Remember this little thing? Rather popular at the time if you can believe it.

Remember this little thing? Rather popular at the time if you can believe it.

So, what’s all this got to do with little ol’ Mouse? Well, Sullivan Bluth employed hundreds of Irish people and one of those was my aunt**. So I guess you could say I had a very personal relationship with these movies growing up. I was able to hold the original cels from An American Tail and Land Before Time that my aunt kept around the house. I was at the European premiere of An American Tailin Dublin with my massive plushy Fievel Mousekewitz and wearing a Sullivan Bluth An American Tail kid’s T-shirt.
Mouse. Pre...mouse.

Mouse. Pre…mouse.

I saw all of Don Bluth’s movies. And the weird thing about that is I saw them even though they all TERRIFIED THE SHIT OUT OF ME LIKE RIGHT OUT SHIT EVERYWHERE.
I mean, I’ve already told you what a nervous child I was.
“I believe the term is “snivelling coward”.”

“I believe the term is “snivelling coward”.”

So how do you think I handled this?
sharptooth.jpg

Ah, there's that good old-timey Bluth terror.

HELLO!

Ah. There's that old timey Bluth terror.

The_Hellhound

These movies were not fun for me! They were endurance tests! Which is why…
Oh boy…
Okay, so…you’ve all heard of Rock A Doodle? You know the bits at the beginning in live action with the little blonde kid who makes Jake Lloyd look like Laurence Olivier? What you probably don’t know is that originally that movie was going to be all-animation. So, like when they brought deer and lions into the studio at Disney when they were making Bambi and Lion King, Don Bluth had a load of kids brought into the studio to run around and tumble and generally act like little idiots so that the animators could get an idea of how kids walk and run and act like little idiots.
And…I was one of those little idiots...
 dramatic chipmunk
And it was during this child-zoo that I found myself face to face with Don Bluth. And I told him his movies were too scary.
Now, you gotta understand, by then the Disney renaissance had started and Bluth had just been pummelled by Oliver and Company and The Little Mermaid. Things were looking grim and I can only imagine that Bluth was trying desperately to figure out a way to get back in the lead. Something, anything. And here’s a member of his target audience telling him to his face that his movies are just too damn scary.
Shortly after that, pre-production started on Thumbelina.
Guys, I’m sorry.
I am so, so sorry.
“After that everything fell apart. My movies became saccharine dreck. It was like I was cursed. That’s when the Horned King approached me. He offered to give me a world where I could rule for all time and all I had to do was slowly torture you for all eternity. It was win win. Win fucking win. But you couldn’t even let me have that, could you? You had to escape and ruin everything.””

“After that everything fell apart. My movies became saccharine dreck. It was like I was cursed. That’s when the Horned King approached me. He offered to give me a world where I could rule for all time and all I had to do was slowly torture you for all eternity. It was win win. Win fucking win. But you couldn’t even let me have that, could you? You had to escape and ruin everything.””

“Look Don, I dont know what to say. I was a stupid kid. I didn’t know what I was talking about.”

“Look Don, I don’t know what to say. I was a stupid kid. I didn’’t know what I was talking about.”

“Alright. Well, the important thing is that you learned your lesson. Bye.”

“Alright. Well, the important thing is that you learned your lesson. Bye.”

"Really, thats it?"

“Really, that’s it?”

““HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…no. No, revenge will be mine. You’re going to review A Troll in Central Park.”

““HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…no. No, revenge will be mine. You’re going to review A Troll in Central Park.”

“Never heard of it.”"

“Never heard of it.””

“Stanley’s Magic Garden.”

Stanley’s Magic Garden.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…”

foodfight-big

Twilight in Marketropolis (A Foodfight Tale)

Cursing under his breath, Dex Dogtective clutched his bleeding side and ran limping through the darkened streets of Marketropolis.
It was night. It was always night now.
The avenues of Marketroplis had once been filled to bursting with light and colour, the sounds of singing and laughter and the wholesome smell of high-quality brand name products. Now the city was cloaked in perpetual shadow and silence. It was a desperate kind of silence, stretched taut to breaking point. The kind of silence that comes just before the scream.
Dex tried to put the thought out of his mind and focused on the pain under his paw, a red-hot spider’s web of agony that flared with every breath. He wanted to stop running but he couldn’t. Not here. Still too close to Mouse territory.
Dex’s lip curled back in a snarl of impotent rage. Mouse territory. As if the whole damn city wasn’t his territory. As if he hadn’t already won.
Halfway down the cereal aisle the pain finally became too much and Dex almost passed out. Keep it together, he told himself. Go to sleep here and you might not wake up again. Gotta keep going, boy. Gotta keep going. Who’s a good boy? You are. You are. Yes you are.

(more…)

Charity Movie Deathmatch: FIGHT!

For the month of February on Unshaved Mouse we are running the Charity Movie Deathmatch and I need YOU (yes you, no, not you, the person behind you. Yes. You.) to make it as big a success as possible. Here’s how it works.
 
Below are the twelve movies that readers of this blog expressed the most interest in me reviewing. Here’s how to play.
 
  1. Go to this year’s charity, Love Without Boundaries, and make a donation, small or large. Love Without Boundaries provides vital services to Chinese orphaneges and is ranked four out of a possible four stars on Charity Navigator.
  2. Email me your receipt to unshavedmouse@gmail.com together with your choice of movie (movie. Singular. Although you can donate and vote as many times as you like for as many different movies as you like). Remember: Generosity is your weapon.
  3. The three lowest scoring movies will be eliminated on the 13th and again on the 20rd with the highest scoring three movies at the end of the month getting reviewed.
 
Simple right? And now, let’s meet the movies that will be brawling to the death for your entertainment.
 
AllDogsGotoHeaven
All Dogs Go to Heaven
 
Studio: Sullivan Bluth
Age: 26
Runtime: 85 Minutes
AKA: “The Rabid Redeemer”, “Ol’ Killer.”
 
ELIMINATED
Balto_movie_poster
 
Balto
 
Studio: Amblin Entertainment
Age: 20
Runtime: 77 minutes
AKA: “The Disast-ah from Alaska”
 
Younger, hungrier, leaner, Balto is probably what keeps All Dogs go to Heaven up at night. If they could put their differences aside however, these two canine-themes movies might be unstoppable and both get a spot in the final three. Regardless, Balto will be a formidable opponent, with plenty of support from the crowd and a reputation for being able to go that final mile.
American_tail_fievel_goes_west
 
Fievel Goes West
 
Studio: Amblin Entertainment
Age: 24
Runtime: 74 minutes
AKA: “The Don’t-Suck Sequel”
 
An immigrant kid with a tough upbringing, Fievel Goes West has battled his whole life against anti-sequel prejudice. Now, he takes that fight to the ring with everything on the line. Fievel Goes West is battling to support a family of less successful sequels and so cannot afford to show mercy to his opponents. If they die, they die.
 
220px-Fritz_the_Cat_(film)
Fritz the Cat
 
Studio: Various
Age: 43
Runtime: 80 Minutes
AKA: “Fritz the Blitz”, “The X-Rated Executioner”
 
The oldest fighter in this year’s death-match is a heel through and through, bribing referees, using illegal moves and feeding on the hatred of the crowd. That hatred may be his greatest asset. The question is, who do the fans want to suffer more? The Cat, or the Mouse?
How_to_Train_Your_Dragon_2_poster
 
How to Train Your Dragon 2
 
Studio: Dreamworks
Age: 1
Runtime: 102 minutes
AKA: “Babyface”
 
ELIMINATED
 
Layout 1
Kung Fu Panda
 
Studio: Dreamworks
Age: 7
Runtime: 92 Minutes
AKA: “The Beast from the East”
 
ELIMINATED
 
The_Land_Before_Time_poster
The Land Before Time
 
Studio: Sullivan Bluth
Age: 27
Runtime: 79 Minutes
AKA: “Extinction Event”
ELIMINATED
Maleficent_poster
Maleficent
 
Studio: Disney
Age: 1
Runtime: 97 Minutes
AKA:  “The Mistress of All Evil Morally Ambigous Anti-Heroism”, 
 
ELIMINATED
The_Secret_of_NIMH
The Secret of Nimh
Studio: Don Bluth Productions
Age: 32
Runtime: 82 Minutes
AKA: “Mouse of Pain”
Rounding out the trio of Don Bluth movies competing for a spot, Secret of Nimh may be the most formidable contender of them all. It’s not unknown for movies to enter the ring, see who they’re up against and say “Nah. Forget it. I quit. Yes, I know it’s a deathmatch. Just make it quick.”
Shrek
Shrek
 
Studio: Dreamworks
Age: 14
Runtime: 90 Minutes
AKA: “The Glaswegian Dandy”
ELIMINATED
The_Iron_Giant_poster
The Iron Giant
Age: 16
Runtime: 87 Minutes
AKA: “The Furious Fe”
Beloved by children, feared by his enemies, this gentle giant understands that as a role model he has to set an example. “STAY IN SCHOOL, EARTH-SPAWN!” he bellows as he crushes yet another challenger beneath his cold metallic heel.
220px-Movie_poster_watership_down
Watership Down
Age: 37
Runtime: 101 minutes
AKA: “The Black Rabbit of Inlé”, “The Tharninantor”
It’s a movie about bunnies. How tough can it be? Has been the last thought of too many movies to count.
***
Charity Movie Deathmatch will be running all through February 2015. Please donate whatever you can, big or small and vot for your favourite movie. And don’t forget to share on Facebook and Twitter and the backs of the heads of passing bald people.
See ya at the final bout.
Jesus, look at me. I look like a scheming penis. Pass me that bottle of Regaine.

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.

***

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.

(more…)

The_Fox_and_the_Hound

Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #24: The Fox and the Hound

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.

***

We’re getting close to the halfway point now in this mad fool’s quest to review every one of the Disney canon classics, so now is as good a time as any to make a confession.

I’m full of it. I’m a fake. A fraud. A charlatan.

I don’t know anything about animation.

I  make it up as I go along.

Also, I was in Dallas that day, I'm a crack shot former Marine and my best friend is  a Cuban communist crow. You figure it out.

Also, I was in Dallas that day, I’m a crack-shot former Marine and my best friend is a Cuban communist crow. You figure it out.

Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. What I mean is, I’m constantly learning as I do this. Every review I do, I’m basically sitting down to a movie I may not have seen for years (or in a few cases, never at all) and then researching on the fly. This means that a lot of my preconceptions of these movies are constantly getting blown apart, and it often feels like this one discrete group of films never runs out of ways to surprise me or to show me my own ignorance. That’s part of the fun. Take this week’s offering for example. I had this idea that the animation quality of the Disney movies declined terribly after Walt’s death, and wasn’t restored until the glorious Renaissance (praise to the great Renaissance!) of the late eighties/early nineties. I was convinced that pretty much every movie in the Mourning Era was an ungodly, poorly animated mess that wouldn’t pass muster in Soviet era Czechoslovakia.

I can't remember if this screenshot is from Rescuers or Aristocats.

I can’t remember if this screenshot is from Rescuers or Aristocats.

So then, imagine my surprise when I sat down to watch The Fox and the Hound only to realise I was looking at some of the most beautiful animation in the canon since…honestly? Sleeping frickin’ Beauty. I’m not saying it’s on par with that, obviously. I’m just saying you have to go back that far before you come to a movie with better animation. It’s a thing to behold. It becomes a little less surprising when you realise who was working on it though. Wolfgang Reitherman, who directed Sleeping Beauty and all of the Scratchy Era movies produced this film, his last for Disney before retiring. On animation duty were the last of the Nine Old Men; Ollie Johnston & Frank Thomas and a whole host of long time Disney veterans. But you also had the new generation of Disney animators which today reads like a “Holy Shit!” list of animation greats; Don Bluth, Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Glen Keane and Brad Bird.

This, but with animators.

This. But with animators.

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