1 The Mickey Mindset: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Disney Animation Reviews #2 - Pinocchio

Disney Animation Review - 2/52: Pinocchio

Ryan Dosier - It’s amazing to me that I am only two films into my review countdown of Disney animated features and I’ve just watched Walt Disney’s masterpiece. That film is Pinocchio, Walt Disney’s 1940 piece of brilliance, his magnum opus (words I don’t often use lightly) (because I don’t really know what they mean).

From the opening credits and the chords of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Pinocchio sets itself apart from the rest. It is clear almost immediately that this film is brimming with heart, charm, and unflinching artistry. Jiminy Cricket steals the picture right away and never gives it back. Jiminy’s voice (provided by radio man Cliff Edwards) is so distinct and his mannerisms are so funny that he shoots to the top of my list of favorite Disney characters. Jiminy also benefits from being animated by a Disney master: Ward Kimball. Jiminy dances and jumps and flirts hysterically all through the film with some of the finest character animation of all-time. He quips and insults and solidifies himself as the movie’s moral compass, driving force, and most entertaining character.

That isn’t to say that Pinocchio himself does not make for a wonderful protagonist and a true hero. As soon as the Blue Fairy brings him to life, Pinocchio is funny, sweet, and adorable. Unlike his forebear (I can’t believe I used that word either), Snow White, Pinocchio is interesting, entertaining, and adorably flawed. The little wooden boy is innocent and ridiculously naive, but this never works against him. If anything, it makes him more lovable and fun to cheer for. Just look at the lively “I’ve Got No Strings” song for Pinocchio’s most charming moment as a character. There are moments where Pinocchio fears and we fear with him, where he laughs and we laugh with him, where he is heroic and we root for him. That is the making of a great character, and that is what Pinocchio is.

The other characters in the film are truly wonderful as well. The Blue Fairy is a stunning animated feat—she’s so realistic it’s incredible. Gepetto is the film’s most sympathetic and lovely character. Figaro, the cat, and Cleo, the goldfish, serve their purposes as comic reliefs well. Each character has a sense of purpose, fun, and magic, something that was painfully lacking in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney’s story department had evolved immeasurably for Pinocchio.

Through it all, there are an incredible five villains in Pinocchio. Honest John, his sidekick Gideon, Stromboli the puppet master, the Pleasure Island Coachman, and Monstro the whale. Unbelievably, all of these villains work to enhance the movie. They are all unique, whether they are sly and silly (Honest John and Gideon), a cruel blowhard (Stromboli), pure evil (the Coachman), or just an unstoppable force of nature (Monstro), all of the many villains filter in and out of the film and provide a new sense of danger or comedy, working wonders for the fantastical plot.

The movie is clearly a fantasy, with the wild Pleasure Island, the fact that Honest John is a fox and Gideon is a cat... oh, and it stars a talking puppet and a talking cricket. But Pinocchio possesses a sense of fun and joy that elevates it from the weird plot points. Viewers simply pass off the outrageousness of an island where little boys turn into jackasses because they are having so much fun with Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. It is remarkable that a film with so many crazy things can work so wonderfully.

Everything about Pinocchio is masterful. The animation is perfect, the backgrounds and layouts are remarkably gorgeous, and the colors burst from the screen. But the true wonder of the film is its characters. Pinocchio, most of all, wins by fighting for his happy ending himself. He saves the life of Gepetto, sacrificing himself in the process, and so becomes a real boy. But unlike Snow White, Pinocchio grabs his happy ending himself. He earns it and he deserves it, and Walt Disney and his team of animators and filmmakers earned this film and deserve the label of masterpiece.

5/5 Russian Puppets

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone here at The Mickey Mindset would like to wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving holiday! Enjoy family, friends, food, and Frozen, now in theaters!

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Walt Disney Studios hits $4 Billion at the Global Box Office

Mitchell Stein-  Disney is proud to announce that with the release of Frozen, the Walt Disney Studios has succesfully hit the $4 Billion dollar mark at the box office, of all time. 
This of course is very exciting news for Disney and marks a historic event in Disney history. Some of the recent films including Iron Man 3, Monsters University, Oz: The Great and Powerful and Thor: The Dark World contributed and grossed over $1,797.31. 

Frozen's early engagement also contributed gaining $243,390 in it's early run. That's pretty good for a film that wasn't even released yet. Frozen will hopefully live long in the theaters and will most probably see another life beyond the screen. 

Congratulations Walt Disney Studios! May you continue to empty our pockets! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Disney Animation Reviews #1 - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Today marks the first entry in a 53-part series of reviews of every animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Two reviews will be posted every week until we finish. We're excited to share our opinion of some of the greatest films of all time!
Disney Animation Review - 1/53: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Ryan Dosier - Last night I watched Walt Disney’s 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If you don’t know, Snow White was the first animated feature film ever produced, Disney or otherwise.

So there’s your history lesson. The film itself is a product of a bygone era which is almost entirely unable to connect in modern times. From her very first scene, Snow White is as obnoxious as Jar-Jar Binks and Councilman Jamm combined. (Yes, I did just reference Star Wars and Parks and Recreation while reviewing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.) In fact, Snow White is barely a character. She is a device with zero motivation, no faults, and absolutely nothing interesting about her. In a world where we have dynamic characters like Rapunzel, Jessie the cowgirl, and Merida, it’s even more jarring to watch the ultra-pathetic Snow White prance about.

Thankfully, substance finally comes to the film about 20 minutes in with the introduction of the Seven Dwarfs, who are instantly and infinitely more interesting than Snow White. Grumpy, Dopey, and Doc are particularly fun characters with humorous quirks and quips. Grumpy is perhaps the most broadly drawn (pun intended) of the Dwarfs, but they are all fun in doses. In fact, the only scenes in the film that I legitimately enjoy are the Dwarf’s mining scene and the Dwarf’s party scene. They’re fun, silly, energetic, and showcase the beautiful animation of Disney’s team of expert animators better than any other scenes in the film.

Then there’s the Evil Queen. The first Disney villain is interesting but lacks the depth and quirk of a truly great villain. She is nothing but pure vanity, greed, and hate. Maybe her character could have developed into something better if she had more screen time. The Evil Queen is briefly present in the first few minutes, then disappears until 45 minutes in. It’s bizarre and you completely forget she’s a threat. Although, by the end of the film, I did find myself more interested in the Evil Queen as a character because she exhibited flaws and interesting character traits.

Unfortunately, Snow White keeps hitting with drawback after drawback. The voice acting is distinctly unremarkable. There is no character whose voice adds depth or Disney magic, a la Jiminy Cricket or Aladdin's Genie. The most interesting thing I noticed on this viewing is just how painfully long sequences in the film last. The sequence of the Dwarfs discovering Snow White in their home lasts an incredibly long time and plays out like one of Disney's “Silly Symphonies” shorts. It certainly stands out in today's fast-paced film world. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is odd.

All in all, Walt Disney’s first feature film is obviously a labor of love by Disney and his unmatched team of animators. The animation is beautiful, the colors are vibrant, and the layouts are some of the best. If only the story department would have been up to par with the rest of the crew, it could have been so much better. But still, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs deserves to go down in history as one of the most important animated films of all time because of what it brought about, not because of what it is.

And hey, it’s still an infinitely better movie than Snow White and the Huntsman.

3.5/7 Dwarfs

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Disney Fan Art Showcase: Kevin Arsenault

Today we're thrilled and really, really proud to present a dozen pieces of original, amazing fan art from our friend Kevin Arsenault. Kevin's art style is one of my favorites and I really can't get enough of it. Be sure to visit Kevin's EeyorbStudios Deviant Art page for even more outstanding artwork!
"It's the World According to Goofy"
"Foul-Feathered Friend"
"Croissant de Triomphe"
"Panchito Pistoles"
"Have You Been to Bahia?"
"We're Just a Couple of Crazy Rascals!"
"Huey, Dewey, and Louie"
"Bless Me Bagpipes!"
"Roger Rabbit"
"We Love You, Uncle Donald"
"Battle of the Mallets"

Huge thanks to Kevin Arsenault for letting us share his amazing work!

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

Friday, November 22, 2013

Michael Wermuth's Ten Favorite Disney Villains

Michael Wermuth, Jr. - Many of the animated Disney and Pixar shows have great villains, and today I present my list of the top ten Disney villains. Oh, and I must warn you that most of these entries contain spoilers.

10. The Big Bad Wolf, from "The Three Little Pigs" shorts 
The Big Bad Wolf is, obviously, a big bad wolf wanting to eat the Three Little Pigs. He appeared in all of the shorts with the Three Little Pigs, eventually becoming the papa to Three Little Wolves. But even The Big Bad Wolf has standards--in "The Practical Pig," when he captures two of the pigs, he orders his sons to NOT eat them until he captures the last pig (though they disobey their father and attempt to eat the others anyway).

9. Randall, from Monsters, Inc.
Randall was one of two top scarers, second only to Sully. While Sully was quite humble over being top scarer and saw it as friendly competition, Randall was a bit more competitive. When he was discovered working late hours and was responsible for Boo being let lose in the monster world, it was assumed he did this just to make his score higher, when it turns out he was really trying to kidnap her to test out a scaring invention. I can identify with Randall a bit, wanting to be a bit competitive. Though I don't think he really looked scary enough to even be #2.

8. Ursula, from The Little Mermaid
Ursula is a sea witch, banished from King Triton's underwater kingdom. She manages to make a deal with Ariel, where she'll give her legs and let her live outside the water for three days, in exchange for her voice, and if Prince Eric doesn't kiss her in three days, Ariel will become a tulip. She does a good job at preventing this, and the sun sets just in time, only for Triton to agree to be turned into a tulip instead of Ariel. And it's cool when Ursula becomes a giant. And Ursula is probably one of the hammiest Disney villains.

7. Scar, from The Lion King
Scar was hoping to be king, but then his brother Mufasa had a son, Simba. Scar set out to kill Simba and Mufasa. Scar led Hyenas in a plan, killing Mufasa and thinking he killed Simba. Scar then became king, only to cause a great drought to the pride lands. When Simba came back to challenge Scar, he ordered Scar to leave and never come back, but had to fight Scar for the throne. Simba tossed Scar over a cliff, where Scar was attacked by the Hyenas, whom he had previously blamed for everything. I can identify with Scar being jealous of his brother and wanting to be in control. And his villain song "Be Prepared" is such a great song.

6. Syndrome, from The Incredibles
As a boy, Bucky, who would become Syndrome, wanted to be Mr. Incredible's sidekick. Mr. Incredible refused because he didn't want or need a sidekick. Eventually, after superheroes were forced to retire, Bucky became Syndrome and became a villain, setting out to invent the ability to become a superhero, because when everybody is super, nobody is. And after he was defeated, he ended up going so far as to kidnap Mr. Incredible's youngest son, Jack-Jack, unaware that he had gained superpowers.

5.  Jafar, from Aladdin
Jafar was the royal visier to the Sultan, and was able to hypnotize the Sultan with his magic scepter, causing the Sultan to allow Jafar to marry Princess Jasmine. Jafar was also interested in the magic lamp buried underground, sending Aladdin in and then attempting to kill him after getting the lamp. After eventually becoming the Genie's new master, Jafar was tricked by Aladdin into wishing to be an all-powerful genie... Not realizing this means being trapped in a lamp. Of course, Jafar was freed in the sequel, Return to Jafar, where he's an evil genie but ends up being destroyed at the end.

4.  Captain Hook, from Peter Pan
Perhaps one of the most iconic Disney villains, Captain Hook is the leader of the pirates in Neverland, and wants to kill Peter Pan, particularly due to Peter being responsible for getting Hook's hand eaten by a crocodile. While a ruthless pirate, he is also quite clumsy, constantly needing his first mate Mr. Smee to help him. Captain Hook bombs Peter Pan's hideout, nearly killing Peter and Tinker Bell, kidnaps Wendy, John, Michael, and the Lost Boys, and attempts to drown the Indian princess Tiger Lily. Although a buffoon at times, Captain Hook showed he can also be truly evil.

3. Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast
Gaston started out as just an egotistical jerk who wanted to marry Belle. But her rejection of him combined with her father Maurice telling the town that Belle was locked in a beast's dungeon led to Gaston paying the head of an asylum to have Maurice committed unless Belle agreed to marry him. When Belle was able to prove that the Beast was real, Gaston set out on a new mission to kill the Beast.. Gaston showed what a real jerk he is by stabbing Beast in the back (literally) right after the Beast decided not to kill Gaston, only for Gaston to fall to the death (but nobody falls to the death like Gaston). The townspeople never turn their back on Gaston, and they follow Gaston when he wants the Beast killed. I wonder how his funeral turned out.

2. Megavolt, from Darkwing Duck
My favorite villain from Darkwing Duck, Megavolt has electrical powers and a fondness for electrical puns. Originally a science nerd named Elmo Sputterspark, he got his powers after bullies sabotaged an experiment in static electricity, and he decided to use his powers for good... By getting revenge on the bullies and becoming a bad guy. I wouldn't call him the main villain of Darkwing Duck, but he is surely one of Darkwing's most important enemies. After all, he appeared in more episodes than any other villain (17, to be exact) and he was the first bad guy Darkwing fought (in fact they went to high school together).

1. Cruella de Vil, from 101 Dalmatians
A fashion designer who went to school with Anita Darling, Cruella has a desire for a dalmatian-skinned fur coat. When Roger and Anita's dogs had puppies, she wanted to buy them all, and when they wouldn't sell them, she had her henchmen Horace and Jasper steal them, and a lot more dogs, totaling 99 dalmatians.In the sequel, she starts out being good (after being on probation and prohibited from buying furs), but after gaining an interest in art she once again desired to kidnap the puppies. Cruella de Ville is such a cool villain, with her hair being two different colors, her desire for fur coats, and her reckless driving. The "Cruella de Ville" song is awesome as well. And she has such great lines, like "Poison them! Drown them! Bash them on the heads! I don't care how you kill the little beasts, but do it, and do it now!"

These are just some of Michael Wermuth's favorite Disney Villains. If you would like to contribute a list of your ten favorite Disney Villains, email us at mickeymindset@gmail.com!

The Mickey Mindset, mickeymindset@gmail.com

Thursday, November 21, 2013

FROZEN Film Review

Ryan Dosier - Yesterday I had the incredible opportunity to see an advanced screening of the new Disney animated feature Frozen. The 53rd animated feature from The Walt Disney Animation Studios is loosely based off of Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen and stars Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, and a host of others talented actors. Frozen is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, written by Jennifer Lee, and with songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

I'll be honest, when I first saw a trailer for Frozen (with Olaf the Snowman and Sven the Reindeer), I was not too thrilled. Because of this, I avoided most plot details about the film. That paid off in spades when I finally saw it, because I was floored by the wonderful story, the fantastic characters, the soaring music, and the unbelievable artistry put into every single shot by the animators. Put all of these elements together and Frozen is a fresh, stunning take on the fairy tale genre. The filmmakers put a spin on this story that I was so thrilled with and I truly adored every minute.

My favorite aspect of the film was far and away the music. The husband and wife team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez created such a brilliant, uplifting, and stunning soundtrack. Their combined effort makes for the best Disney animated feature soundtrack since The Lion King. Every song has been stuck in my head since last night, but none more so than Elsa's power ballad "Let It Go." The song is delivered with unbelievable wonder by the great Idina Menzel (Broadway's Wicked). She absolutely blows the song out of the water. In the pantheon of Disney princess songs, "Let It Go" stands as the absolute best--and that's saying something.

The other songs are all magnificent as well, especially "Do You Want to Build a Snowman," which is an earworm if I've ever heard one. Olaf's song "In Summer" is funny, charming, and performed with outstanding ease by Josh Gad. Anna and Elsa's duet "For the First Time in Forever" is reminiscent of Tangled's "When Will My Life Begin?" and works just as effectively. The Troll song "Fixer Upper" is a delightfully fun ditty, and the duet "Love is An Open Door" is a spectacular Disney love song. Again, this soundtrack is just out of this world good. I can't wait for November 25th so I can buy it and listen to it over and over.

Another stand out aspect of Frozen is its outstanding cast of characters. Anna is my favorite of the group. She's quirky, awkward, funny, and determined. Her journey in the film is magnificent and she is a strong, stand-alone woman. Elsa, on the other hand, is serious, stern, and powerful. Her presence alone is enough to unnerve someone. But when she finally lets it go (during "Let It Go," no less), she turns into her true self: a free spirit who has been contained far too long. Elsa's journey is very different from Anna's, but just as powerful. Disney has once again gotten their female characters so very right.

Kristoff and Hans, the two male leads, are vastly different as well. Frozen really excels at accentuating the parallels between people. Kristoff is sort of a yokel, Hans is a wealthy prince. Kristoff lacks charm altogether, Hans has charm out the wazoo. Both of these characters have twists near the end that you probably won't see coming--I know I didn't. I love Kristoff's relationship with Sven the reindeer as well. They're like brothers when they bicker, but they would both do anything for each other. It reminded me of Aladdin and Abu in all the best ways.

But the character that will latch onto your heart and never let go is Olaf. The little snowman is hysterical, aloof, loving, daring, and just plain excellent. He is like no other character in a Disney movie, and that's such a refreshing thing to see. Olaf gets the best lines, the best gags, and the happiest ending. This frozen fellow will melt your heart--guaranteed.

Visually, Frozen is simply breathtaking. There are moments when you won't believe you're watching an animated film. The ice and snow look so real that I found my mouth dropping open just from that. Elsa's crystaline ice palace is a visual marvel both inside and out and an absolutely gorgeous animated spectacle. The visuals that accompany "Let It Go" are the most spectacular in the film and make it absolutely the best scene. Every time a character falls in the snow, it looks perfect. The layout team for Frozen deserves all sorts of praise and reward. They truly broke the mold.

There are so many aspects of this wonderful film that I didn't mention... the character design, the Duke of Wesselton (voiced by the enigmatic Alan Tudyk), the score... it all just comes together to create a beautiful, touching, and magnificent Disney animated feature. Disney Animation continues to be on a major hot streak that started with The Princess and the Frog and continues bountifully with Frozen. I can't recommend this film highly enough.

Frozen - 5/5 Singing Trolls
And as if that weren't enough, Frozen is accompanied by a brand new Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse! There are not enough positive adjectives in the English language to describe how much I adored Get a Horse! The short breathes exciting, impressive, and unbelievable new life into Mickey Mouse--and it does so by tapping into his history. Get a Horse! is a triumph of animation in every possible way. The reaction of the audience in the theater watching the short was incredible. There were audible gasps, huge laughs, and major applause at the end. I can't say too much more about the short without giving away the incredible surprise within it... but prepare to be blown right away. Get a Horse! is animated perfection and I hope beyond hope that this is just the first of Mickey Mouse's return to the big screen in staggering fashion.

Get A Horse! - 5/5 Turkeys in the Straw

Get into The Mickey Mindset by emailing us at mickeymindset@gmail.com