Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Disney: It was 95 degrees and 90 percent humidity the other day. Felt like I was back in DC. To beat the heat, I took the boy (that's L'il Enobarbus) to see a piece of CGI dreck called Madagascar. Boy, did it ever suck. I'm a fool for kids movies. Love Fantasia, love Nemo, even Toy Story has small charms, and Incredibles rocked. We took the DVD of Dumbo with us on vacation in March; I bet the two of us watched it six times. Anyhoo, this plotless, wafer-thin fiasco of a movie consists mostly of zoo animals shouting dumb catchphrases at one another for an hour plus. Gratuitous example: A zebra tells his lion pal (wait for it), "You da cat!"

Worth mentioning: Every Disney flick, even the suckola ones, are redeemed by minor characters. It's like Walt's first commandment: Though shalt find a place for quality comic relief. Think of the dwarves' dance party in Snow White, the hep-cat crows jiving in Dumbo (now, I presume, officially considered minstrelsy), and Potato Head and Ham insulting each other in Toy Story. Even the execrable Lion King was redeemed (partially) by Timon and Pumbaa. Madagascar is no exception. Ali G turns in a great performance as a fairly witless King of the Lemurs. Cedric the Entertainer plays (wonderfully) his rather unimpressed assistant.

Rent the DVD for the kids, Razor, and you can watch the good parts.


Razor said...

Funny, I'm reading "Disney Wars" right now, which is the book by James Stewart (who also wrote "Den of Thieves" recounting the Michael Milken era of junk bond thievery). It's really excellent, in that besides just the gossip, it tells you about how Disney changed after Eisner took the reigns and shook the company out of its complacency.

In any event, despite all the negative things that could be said about Eisner, Katzenberg, et al, what really comes through is that every single person who works at Disney, regardless of rank, seems to genuinely care, nay obsess, over Walt's legacy, and trying their very best to only produce top-quality animation, with compelling stories.

Deride the tie-ins and marketing all you want, but the company has the right to make money. But when it comes down to story-telling (which Walt was a master of), Disney has no equal - Pixar having been quasi-Disney up until recently.

Flyer said...

I don't know that this is at all to the point, but since Razor's opened the door to saying nice things about Disney I'll step through it. A friend of mine works for the Radio Disney company, as a station manager in New Orleans. He's told me that he and everyone he works with would damn near walk through walls for Micheal Eisner. The radio business is notorious for its cutthroat mentality, but Disney shows a loyalty to its employees that is a real exception to the rule.

My pal is in Iraq now, due to return from his year of Guard duty in September, and not only did Disney protect his job back home (which they must) station managers from other markets take turns visiting his office to run things while he's gone. Disney can be hit and miss on some of its products, but I've looked differently on them since hearing his take.

Like I said, it's not exactly on topic. But I don't watch very many Disney flicks, so there you go.