Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 30: Beauty and the Beast

Series Intro: This is Part 30 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: Beauty and the Beast
Release: November 22, 1991
Running Time: 84 minutes
Estimated Cost: $25 million
Estimated Revenue: $377.35 million
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: Expanded
An introduction to the happenings of the Beast and his transformation by a hag is presented in stained glass. The prince turned an old woman away when she offered him a rose, but when she transformed into a beautiful woman, the enchantress curses the prince to be a beast and his servants into household objects. And only once the Beast learns to love and earns her love in return, will the spell be lifted.

In a golden age of Hollywood style, the camera pans across a “little town” in pre-industrial revolution France, as it follows a beautiful girl into the town. While there, Belle sings as she greets her neighbors on her trip to the bookshop. However, the entire town is singing about how she is odd (always reading, not interested in the hunky Gaston, and spending all her time with her father, the inventor, Maurice). She returns home to ask her father about being odd, while he is tinkering with his newest invention: a fire wood cutter.

When he successfully cuts the wood he loads up his cart and hitches the family horse, Philippe, to get to the fair. After being harassed by Gaston, Belle sings again about being different and wanting more from life than this small town.

Maurice gets lost and stumbles upon Beast’s castle, where he meets some of the enchanted servants (Lumière– the candelabra, and Cogsworth – a clock). Beast captures Maurice and throws him in the castle’s prison.

Philippe returns to Belle without Maurice and she goes to look for him. She finds her father locked in the dungeons and stands up to Beast as she offers her life imprisoned for her fathers. Beast and Belle fight for quite some time, especially about dinner that night.

Meanwhile, at the local tavern, Gaston and his lacky, Lefou, sing about how wonderful Gaston is, when Maurice comes in talking all crazy about the Beast. He gets thrown out of the inn and Gaston begins to form his evil plan. Maurice goes off to defeat the Beast himself.

Back at the castle, Belle enjoys a grand dinner and explores the castle until she is scared by Beast (for entering the forbidden wing) and runs away, needing to be save from wolves by Beast. Over the next few days, Belle and Beast become closer and the servants begin to believe that she will be the one to end the curse. This time includes the famous ballroom dancing scene.

But after sharing his magic mirror, Belle sees her father in trouble from exposure to the harsh winter, so Beast releases her, with the mirror. Belle rescues her father and returns them both to their home; where Lefou and Gaston attempt to take Maurice to the loony bin. But Belle sets the whole town straight by showing that the Beast is real, on his magic mirror. Gaston takes this opportunity to turn the mob against Beast and they storm the castle! The servants fight back, and save the castle. Gaston and Beast fight to the death on a high placed balcony. Just then Belle enters the scene and pulls Beast to safety, but Gaston stabs him right before falling to his death.

Belle announces her love for Beast just as he is about to die, just as the last petal from the rose that held the curse fell. Magic rain falls on the castle and transforms everything/one back to their former glory. Belle and Beast (no more) dance again to the applause of all of the servants and Maurice.


• Belle
• Belle Reprise
• Gaston
• Gaston Reprise
• Be Our Guest
• Something There
• Beauty and the Beast
• Mob Song

What great music again! Bell, Be Our Guest and Beauty and the Beast would quickly enter the Disney cannon as great songs.

Plot Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A smart princess who isn’t looking for love but finds it in a beastly place was a great change of pace from all the princesses so far. Belle and Beast truly represent a more realistic example of falling in love, as it takes time for them to get to know each other, first.

The servants, Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip added a great human problem to the spell and this Disney villain, Gaston, was truly evil without the help of magic!

WDAS produced this movie in two years, versus the normal four years. This gave them the luxury of taking a lot of what was learned from Oliver and Mermaid to make a wonderful story. This movie also was the first animated feature to start with a script, as previous movies started with storyboards. I believe this (in combination with Ashman and Menken’s score) is what made this movie standout against the rest of WDAS’ movies.

Animation Rating: 4 out of 5

Back at the top of their game. Despite watching this on an almost 20 year old VHS copy of the movie, I was still able enjoy the rich details and vibrant colors (although they were much muter on this copy than movies that have been digitally restored). These bright colors are owed to the fact that all the painting was completed by computers, as were several scenes (such as the background of the ballroom, where Beast and Belle were hand drawn and then manipulated against the background). This was much cleaner then the CAPS from Down Under.

The Test of Time:

Belle became a spokesperson for reading. Beast has spawned two midqueals, a live action television series and a long running Broadway musical (which itself was the forerunner of the “Disney on Broadway” brand). Bell is a staple of the Disney Princess brand, although I think misguidedly so (see below).

Beast was nominated for many Oscars and won a few and many other awards. Including the hornor of being only one of two animated movies to be nominated for Best Picture (Up holds this honor too).

I saw this movie in theatres!

Through the Modern Lens

My problem with this film doesn’t lie with the fact that it is yet another princess film. Belle really isn’t your typical princess, waiting for her prince to come. Belle is an intelligent woman, not ruled by her emotions, but her logic. She is longing for something different (like Ariel) but not to change who she is, but just wanting more. Who can’t relate to that? Belle isn’t a princess in the standard terms, she doesn’t fall madly in love with the prince the first time she meets him; and actual doesn’t fall in love with him because he’s beautiful, but because his soul was gorgeous. She isn’t your princess’s princess. And I kind of feel bad for her that she is now left to hang out with Ariel, Cinderella, Brier Rose and Snow White who’s lives were all drastically changed once they were married.

Next Up:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Winning an iPad from the Smithsonian!

Me holding the iPad as if it is an iPhone Photo Credit: @vintagehope
“Why are we up this early?” my boyfriend asked me this past Saturday morning.
“For the scavenger hunt on the mall!” I replied excitedly as I prepped myself in comfortable shoes and a lightweight shirt, for I knew the temperature would be scorching (as anyone who lives in DC right now can tell you).
He scoffed at me when I invite him to join me and he went back to sleep as I began my trek downtown on the Red Line.

I got off at Chinatown and hiked in the heat (already hot at 9 o’clock) down towards The Mall. Once I made it to the castle, I checked in with the Go Smithsonian and Scvngr people (who were co-sponsoring the event). I then found out I would be competing for an iPad (for up until this point, I thought I was just playing a game). That’s when things got serious.

The rules were simple: Using an iPhone or Android, you had to solve riddles and clues by exploring the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall and answer them on the Scvngr app. The person with the highest score at 2 o’clock would win the iPad! Scvngr and Go Smithsonian people would be monitoring our progress.

And off we went at exactly 10 o’clock. With just under four hours of battery life, I knew it was a race against the clock. So I slowly, but steadily, completely the six tasks for the Smithsonian Castle. Some challenges were extremely easy (Who’s buried in the castle?); others were harder (What animals were kept in pens behind the castle?).

Then off to Freer Gallery Of Art, for my plan was to complete a clock-wise circle around The Mall. Most of these tasks were easy, until I was asked to find a “sun” (the icon of the Smithsonian). As I won’t be giving away any of my answers, let me just say, this was my most creative answer of the whole game. There were four tasks here.

Twenty-five minutes in and I feel like I’m moving too slow, so I pick up the pace as I trek across The Mall towards the National Museum of American History (with a quick stop to complete one of “The Mall” challenges by snapping a picture of myself in front of the Washington Monument.) At the American History Museum, I began to feel time crunch on me again, as I waited in the bag check line! (Why did I bring a bag with me? Why was I carrying the heavy tome: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince?) But of the ten tasks, I only had to search for six of them, as I knew the answers to the rest. I was rude to the people who were standing in line at the First Ladies’ Dress exhibit, but I was on a deadline.

I snapped another picture of a sun (a running theme), and head out. That’s when I mistakenly checked the leader board. I was in 39th place! I was never going to win! So by 11 o’clock I was in the Natural History Museum. A much better pace and the best understanding of the layout of this museum granted me the ten answers in just under twenty minutes.

I then thought I was off to the National Gallery of Art, but to my surprise these museums are not part of the Smithsonian! Score, two less museums to visit! But the schlep from Natural History to American Indian was long and hot, and I wondered if I was going to make it!

During this time, my phone was at half battery, and I had received a phone call, which I promptly hung up on, and a text; which I stupidly replied to (wasting precious battery with six museums still to go!)

I completed another “Mall” task of a picture of me lifting up the Capitol Building. (Thank you stranger who has no clue how to work an iPhone!)

These six tasks were the hardest, as the app wanted an exact word order for many of the answers! Also, being the least familiar with this museum I had a hard time finding my way through the exhibits but thoroughly enjoyed them once I got to the correct place.

Then came the museum I was least excited to go to. I enjoy, in fact love, the National Air and Space Museum, but loath it on the weekends in the summer. The line wasn’t too bad to get in, but the lobby was crowded (as was the whole museum). I felt rushed here for the first time in about an hour. The crowds were making me anxious. This was also the first time in a long time that I had run into several people playing the game. But I soldiered on and completely the eleven tasks.

Then into the heat of the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden and the Hirshhorn Museum, probably my least favorite museum on the mall. But still easy to navigate (as the clues told me where to go!) Seven tasks completed; including a great haiku about the gift shop.

Final task on “Mall:” finding the odd animal on the carousel.

12:30, and I have plenty of time to find the last two museums (which I had never been in). The National Museum of African Art had some great exhibits that I can’t wait to see again, when I don’t have a time crunch. Six tasks in about fifteen minutes.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery had some great Asian art, and six challenges, done in fifteen minutes also!

Then I had one more task to complete: give this trek a tagline! I sat for the first time at one o’clock, outside, when I wrote the five words that won the iPad: “Trek Through History With Technology.” And I checked the leader board one more time, and I was first! So, I rushed back inside the castle, found the person from Go Smithsonian, Beth Py-Lieberman, to whom I announced that I was Thom F. (the leader). And at 1:10 pm I was finished.

I sat around talking to the people in charge of the trek, as we waited for the 2 o’clock deadline. I nervously watched the leader board as I slipped from 1st to 8th. But, as they deliberated on the results, they announced that some of the pictures didn’t count or the haiku’s weren’t written properly or some tasks were completed more than once! When they returned from deliberation, they announced their favorite haikus (mine was not one, and I feared that I just wasn’t a favorite to win). Then it was announced that the tie breaker (the tag line) was used! One of the Go Smithsonian people looked at me a moment before it was announced and I knew then, I had won!

I sat and talked with the runner up for a few minutes, and we walked across The Mall for a bit, until I finally ate some food at the American Indian Museum and schlepped back north to Silver Spring.

I had an amazing time in the trek. I got to experience new museums, such as the African Art and the Sackler, and revisit ones I hadn’t been to since they opened: American Indian. I have recommended this trek to all my friends (not ever just for the iPads that are still available, but for the sheer fun I had exploring something that I normally just take for granted).

The people at Go Smithsonian are incredibly nice and I hope to interact with them more! Check out the trek’s homepage here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 29: Rescuers Down Under

Series Intro: This is Part 29 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors.

Official Title: The Rescuers Down Under
Release: November 16, 1990
Running Time: 74 minutes (a bit on the shorter side)
Estimated Cost: n/a
Estimated Revenue: $47.4 million
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Cody, an adventurous Australian boy (though he does lack an Australian accent), saves a giant, golden eagle, Marahute. He has a network of native animals that help him in making sure all the outback animals are safe from poachers. This time however, after a flight on Marahute, he gets caught in a poachers trap. Percival C. McLeach discovers that Cody knows where the golden eagle nests and kidnaps Cody until he reveals the location.

Halfway around the world, the Rescue Aid Society headquarters in New York has heard about this kidnapping and request that Miss Bianca and Bernard (made famous by rescuing Penny in Rescuers) fly directly to Australia to solve this case. Bernard puts his planned engagement on hold as he and Bianca fly on Wilber (Orville seems to have retired) to Australia.

They arrive, worse for the wear, and meet up with Jake who leads them across the outback to McLeach’s hideout, while Wilber is being looked after by a crack-pot mouse doctor.

Cody, trapped at McLeach’s with several animals that McLeach has poached, tries to escape to no avail. That is until McLeach releases Cody, and lies to him, saying the mother eagle was shot and wonders what will become of the eggs. Cody wondered this too, and led McLeach straight to Marahute and her nest. Luckily Bianca, Jake and Bernard had finally caught up with Cody; but Cody, Bianca and Jake were all captured with Marahute. Bernard, again left behind (a running theme where he feels like a third wheel and wonders if Bianca likes Jake more than himself) saves the eggs from being eaten by McLeach’s pet lizard, Joanna. Wilbur rejoined Bernard by accident and is assigned to sit on the eggs.

Bernard followed the truck while on the back of a wild boar, to a crocodile watering hole, where McLeach is going to throw Cody. After some scary moments and some comical relieve Cody, Marahute, Jake, Bianca and Bernard are reunited on Marahute’s back! Bernard finally proposed to Bianca who gives him a resolved “Yes!” And Wilbur remained on the eggs as they hatch.


Another movie with no songs, but a wonderful score.

Plot Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The plot was amazing! It was similar enough to the original, as it put our beloved characters in o situations that we knew they would eventually be able to get out of; yet different enough that it did not feel at all like watching the same movie from thirteen years ago.

The exotic setting of the Australian Outback also gave it a renewed feeling. As hard as it was to believe that there were no other qualified members of RAS closer to Cody, the location really upped the anti and Bianca and Bernard had to rely more on their new friend Jake.

Animation Rating: 3 out of 5

I was very disappointed with the animation of this movie. First off, take a look at the following to pictures. 

The one on top was from Rescuers and the one on the bottom is from Down Under. The characters, although similarly designed, have completely different coloring and do have a much more cartoony feel. It was like watching the mice from Cinderella versus the mice in Rescuers.

This was the first movie to skip ink and painting! The APT process is gone; replaced with CAPS (Computer Animated Production System) which completely digitizes the whole post production process. In CAPS, the animators drawings are scanned into the computer, as are the backgrounds, and are colored digitally. Then (using the techniques from mutlipaning) CAPS artists would layer the characters on backgrounds and move them accordingly. CAPS was also used to create several scenes/props. It is a noteable effect, the CAPS drawn scenes (such as the opening flower bed) and props (McLeach’s truck), have a much darker feel and stand out against the hand drawn art that surrounds it.
The worst example of CAPS comes from the simplistic renderings of the Sydney Opera House. While the flower bed and the truck as least seemed real in the world of the movie, the Opera House stood out like a sore thumb; it honestly looks like they only did the initial renderings and said “hey the building’s white, let’s just leave it like that!”

The Test of Time:

So one of the problems with releasing one film a year is that WDAS doesn’t have the opportunity to learn from the previous film. Down Under was in production while WDAS was also producing Mermaid, Roger Rabbit and probably Oliver. So WDAS couldn’t see that musicals were selling. I’m not saying that this was a bad thing, but might explain why the movie wasn’t a box office smash like Mermaid

As I’ve said before about Rescuers I believe that WDAS doesn’t know what they’ve got. Bianca and Bernard have many more stories to tell, but are ignored by WDAS, Home video, Imagineering and Merchandizing. This holds true to this movie too. I had wanted to be Cody when I was growing up but my wants were ignored. Is this movie ignored because it doesn’t have a princess? Aren’t the suits trying to get away from princesses? Couldn’t Cody become a spokes person against animal cruelty (like Ariel against dumping in the oceans and Balou in support of recycling)?

Through the Modern Lens

Plot wise, the movie doesn’t seem to have any stand out flaws (other than Cody not having an accent). It was a strong movie with not too much to complain about from a social perspective.

Next Up:
Beauty and the Beast

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 28: The Little Mermaid

Series Intro: This is Part 28 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skipped will note missing movies that will be out of order).

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: The Little Mermaid
Release: November 17, 1989 (Let the yearly releases begin!)
Running Time: 85 minutes
Estimated Cost: $40 million
Estimated Revenue: $211.3 million
Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary: Expanded
King Triton, king of the merpeople, is holding a musical evening to display both his daughters’ singing talents and Sebastian’s (the crab) musical/conducting talent. The only problem is that Ariel (his youngest daughter) doesn’t show up, despite having the best voice of all her sisters.

Ariel has forgotten about the concert and is instead exploring a sunken ship with her fish friend Flounder. After a narrow escape from a hungry shark, Ariel and Flounder take their finds to Scuttle a bird-brained sea gull.

Triton reprimands Ariel for missing the concert, and more importantly, going to land where a human could see her. Ariel mopes in her hidden trove, where she has hidden her human finds and sings about longing to be part of the human world. Sebastian, having been assigned to watch over Ariel, breaks into the cavern and tries to convince Ariel that the human world is bad. However, a ship passes by during Sebastian’s big number and Ariel swims away. She sees the gorgeous Prince Eric as he captains his vessel for a birthday outing, when suddenly a storm tosses him overboard.

Ariel rescues him and sings to him on land, he catches a glimpse of her as she swims away and is enamored. Meanwhile Ursula, the sea witch, decides that Ariel will be her next prey, and convinces Ariel to trade her voice for legs, so she can get together with Eric. The caveat begin, that if Eric doesn’t kiss her by the sun set of the third day, Ariel will belong to Ursula!

Eric has trouble believing that Ariel is his mysterious singing savior, but treats this mute girl with respect. They spend her first two days exploring his kingdom. Ursula sends her pet eels to ruin what could have been Ariel and Eric’s kiss, where Sebastian has really set the mood. Ursula takes matters more into her own hands and uses Ariel’s voice and a powerful spell to deceive Eric into thinking that she is his savior! He agrees to marry the disguised Ursula and comes close, but Ariel’s friends step up again and prevent the marriage. However, they are too late, Eric and Ariel kiss after the sun sets and Ariel is turned back into a mermaid.

Ursula steals Ariel back to her lair, but before she completely transformed into one of the undead unfortunate souls, Triton takes Ariel’s place and Ursula becomes ruler of the sea! Eric, refusing to loose Ariel again, destroys Ursula, who in her expansion of power, becomes several hundred feet high.

As the last act closes, Ariel, in the sea, sees Eric laying on the shore and Triton says to Sebastian and Flounder that there is only one more problem… how much he will miss Ariel. Triton turns Ariel into a human and she and Eric proceed to get married. Ariel says good-bye to Triton and her sea friends as he sails off into the sunset with her love.

* "Fathoms Below"
* "Daughters of Triton"
* "Part of Your World"
* "Part of Your World (Reprise)"
* "Under the Sea"
* "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
* "Les Poissons"
* "Kiss the Girl"
* "Vanessa's Song"
* "Part of Your World (Finale)"

What can I say about the greatness of these songs. “Part of Your World” is possibly the best Disney song!

Plot Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman bring to life the Han Christian Andersen story of the little mermaid in this all singing, all dancing Broadway like musical. Taking it’s cues from the success of Oliver WDAS brought on Menken and Ashman to add music to Mermaid since they just wrote the hot Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors

This story told about a girl who didn’t actually belong and was longing to find the right place. I will comment more on the plot in “Modern Lense”

Animation Rating: 5 out of 5

Mermaid would be the last film to hand paint each cell (actual it would be the last one to use cells!) The animation of this movie was amazing. Taking cues from Oliver stray lines have completely disappeared, and not since Sleeping Beauty have we seen such amazing back ground art.

If I had to complain about anything, it would be all those bubbles. WDAS continues to tout that were over a million bubbles in the movie, (so many so that bubbles were outsourced from the two production studios: Burbank and Orlando’s Disney/MGM Studios). Look at any nature doc and tell me if when underwater animals are swimming if they make bubbles? Where is the air coming from?

The Test of Time:

Who hasn’t pretended they were Ariel longing to be part of the human world? Ariel and Mermaid revitalized the industry of animation (and sadly brought in the Princess genre).

Having just past the 20th anniversary of this hit, it still has the staying power it had then. Little children watch this movie and long to have the happy ending it shows. Ariel has no ride [yet] in a park, but has meet and greets and has one of the longest running shows at WDW: The Voyage of the Little Mermaid (playing at Hollywood Studios since early 1992).

Mermaid received many award nominations and won many also.

Mermaid also had a short run of Broadway (with the addition of several songs). I saw this show the second night! (Opening sold out before I could get tickets.)

P.S. I saw this movie twice in the theatres... I was 5/6!

Through the Modern Lens

Here’s the biggest problem with Ariel as a princess, most of the other princesses have little or no family that truly loves them, so when they leave their former lives to live with the prince, they aren’t leaving much behind. But Ariel has to leave everything! Everything! She gives up all that she is for Eric (someone she’s known for less than a week). How anti-feministic is that? I just don’t think that could happen today without the internet being up in arms about it.

Sorry for such a long post, but Mermaid is my absolute favorite WDAS movie!

Next Up:
The Rescuers Down Under

Friday, June 18, 2010

WDAS 27 and a Half: Roger Rabbit

Official Title: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Release: June 22, 1988
Estimated Cost: $70 million
Estimated Revenue: $329 million
Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Detective Eddie Valiant lives in the real world, but in this fictional Hollywood of the 1940s cartoons are real! They live in their own community called “Toontown.” Valiant is hired by a studio exec to prove to Roger Rabbit (an anthropomorphic, cartoon rabbit) that his long time wife, Jessica Rabbit (a cartoon pin-up girl) is cheating on him.

Valiant gets wrapped up in Roger’s world as he tries to discover who wants to knock down Toontown so badly that they would kill! Valiant has to put his differences with toons aside as he works to solve the case. Only when he lets go and behaves like a toon, does he successfully take down the judge (a toon in a human costume) and save Toontown.

Toontown is populated by every toon drawn of the time and even places Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny on the same screen twice!

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Animation Rating: 2.5 out of 5

It was very interesting watching the behind the scenes on how they had animated the characters and how they used robots to give the live actors something to look at. However, I found the animation a bit off, and all of my favorite childhood characters looked just a bit weird.

The Test of Time:

Why include this Torchstone movie in my WDAS retrospective? Well, Torchstone is just a subsidiary of Disney and Rabbit was drawn by Disney animators. I also have to include this movie because it simply fast tracked the Disney Renaissance. Although Oliver did much better than the previous films, I believe that Rabbit truly set the stage for successful animated movies. This film reminded the execs that there was money to be made in animation.

Thank you Roger for setting the stage for the future of WDAS!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 27: Oliver and Company

Series Intro: This is Part 27 of a multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors. They will mostly be in release date order, save for those that are not available on DVD at Netflix. (Numbers skipped will note missing movies that will be out of order).

Some background information: (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Oliver and Company
Release: November 18, 1988 (another one just over a year from the last one! We’ve truly begun the one movie a year that will last from ’85 until the present – save two years. The schedule from WDAS will change in the future as they alternate releases with Pixar).
Running Time: 73 minutes
Estimated Cost: ??
Estimated Revenue: $74.2 million
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Welcome to the first honest WDAS musical. This movie opens with a young cat, Oliver, being sold with the other kittens in his litter. But by the end of the day, he’s left alone. Oliver meets the artful Dodger (a stray mutt) who introduces Oliver to life on the street through a well placed song that moved the plot along.

Oliver follows Dodger back to his home and meets the rag tag team of strays Fagin has assembled to help him steal. Times are tough for Fagin as he owes a huge sum of money to Sykes.

So Oliver and company help Dodger in his plan to steal a car to help pay Fagin’s debt. However, things go wrong and Oliver is cat-napped (or so the dogs all think). In actuality he is adopted by Jenny a rich child that treats Oliver with class. Jenny also has a poodle (who’s a vain as she looks) named Georgette (who also sings a great musical style number).

Sykes finds out about Oliver and the girl, and decides to kidnap her for the ransom. The dogs all work together to help save Oliver and Jenny. However, after a great computer generated chase scene, Skye’s car is driven into oncoming traffic and is presumed dead.

1. Once Upon a Time in New York City
2. Why Should I Worry
3. Streets of Gold
4. Perfect Isn't Easy
5. Good Company
6. Why Should I Worry Reprise

Wow! “Why Should I Worry?” is a great song. It should be part of the Disney cannon of songs, but since it is more about defying authority rather than wishing and hoping, it hasn’t made it.

Plot Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dogs doing complex choreography! I was truly impressed. I think the plot once again was motivated by both characters and circumstance! I love that the music truly helped moved the plot.

Animation Rating: 3.5 out of 5

So APT only has one more movie and I honestly hope the next film process is as great as this one has been. Gone are the stray lines that were left from the artists drawing. However, this movie had the most computer generated images (CGI) to date in an animated movie. Unlike the simple CGI backgrounds in Cauldron and the more complicated Big Ben scene in Mouse Detective WDAS used computers to make all the backgrounds, the cars, the subway trains and many other effects.

Most noticeably were the two scenes when the camera would do a whole 360 or more! (When Georgette is walking down the long stair case, and when Jenny is in her bedroom near the middle of the Oliver/Jenny montage.) I couldn’t believe the way the new technology had advanced so much. No longer were characters mimicking proscenium theatre (where there is just one front), they lived in a 360 degree world.

I also find that this is the first movie to have honest choreography (although there were some simple dance sequences in early movies, they just weren’t as impressive).

The Test of Time:

Why hasn’t this movie permeated our culture as much as some of the other domestic animal films? Everyone has a connection to Lady or 101. This movie is much better than its predecessors are (and hundreds of times better than Aristocats).

As a note, this was the first Disney movie I saw in theatre. This started a long run - of nearly 15 years - of my yearly pilgrimage to the movies to see Disney, Pixar and Disney/Pixar films.

Through the Modern Lens

This movie acted like a primer for Charles Dickens’ Oliver and introduced many familiar names and characters to young audiences that might never actually read the book. But watching stray dogs steal and lie? I’m not sure that would fly with Disney execs now.

Next Up:
The Little Mermaid