Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)
Written by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
So much nostalgia that you feel like you’re going to vomit; this is what American mainstream media feels like these days. Every week, another intellectual property is rebooted, remade, sequel-ized, etc. Most of it is complete garbage. Nostalgia is a type of feeling that appeals to very regressive, reactionary, infantile minds. People are reasonably on edge because Western civilization seems to have reached its zenith and is now in a spiral of decline. The Boomers were the first generation that began to dominate with nostalgia; we saw multiple television series from their childhood made into feature films. Nothing has rivaled the Millennials’ slavering thirst to relieve every Saturday Morning Cartoon and blockbuster movie they saw growing up. So it was only a matter of time until Chip ‘n Dale saw this treatment, shaped by the cynical nature of animated comedy.
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Tron: Legacy (2012)
Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
In 2012 it was evident that director Christopher Nolan was having a massive influence on Hollywood and moviemaking. You could see this in the trailer released post-Inception with their Hans Zimmer-inspired “bwaaaaa” sounds. It was also seen in the cinematography that had become popular, very sterile, clean framing. The scope of a setting was essential, and the camera often paused to take in mind-bending landscapes, which sometimes superseded character development or plot. Tron: Legacy is clearly a film not just inspired by the 1982 original but shaped in the popular aesthetics of the time. On paper, this sounds like something that could work but could also fall completely flat.
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Written & Directed by Steven Lisberger
I never grew up aware of this movie, but around 2000, it suddenly became an old Disney film thrust back in the spotlight. Possibly due to a lack of cable, thus an absence of access to the Disney Channel (Tron was shown on the channel’s first day on the air), I just passed it by. I had seen bits and pieces of the movie and wasn’t too terribly impressed, but I am always fascinated with this period of Disney’s output, a weird dark territory where they were taking risks and on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s a much more interesting time for the company than now, where they churn out processed formulaic drivel. So I decided to give the two films in the Tron series a shot and finally see what drew a cult following to them.
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The Devil and Max Devlin (1981)
Written by Mary Rodgers
Directed by Steven Hilliard Stern
This Disney film began life in 1973 as a concept developed at Hammer Films. It was going to be called The Fairytale Prince and star Vincent Price as a dead actor who collects children’s souls for The Devil. Now that would have been a movie. Instead, we got this uneven, poorly written & directed embarrassment. By the 1980s, Disney was not in a good spot. Changes in leadership since the death of Walt led to a company that seemed to lack a clear identity. They produced live-action movies like Escape From Witch Mountain or Freaky Friday, which performed poorly at the box office. Their animated fare (The Rescuers, The Fox and The Hound) weren’t doing too well either. But even those look good compared to this one.
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Recently the Orlando Sentinel published an op-ed by Clark County, Nevada district attorney and human thumb Jonathan VanBoskerck titled “I love Disney World, but wokeness is ruining the experience.” Vanny begins his rant by complaining about Disney’s new employee dress code, which allows visible tattoos, culturally inclusive uniforms, and natural hairstyles. Now, Disney is a demonic megacorporation that should be burnt to the ground, but this is just basic minimum human decency. They will still mistreat employees, but at least these workers aren’t being forced to suppress their race or cultural heritage.
Continue reading “Song of the South or Why Disney Has Always Been Politcial”
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Written by Caroline Thompson and Michael McDowell
Directed by Henry Selick
While the idea and production design were initially conceived by Tim Burton, the actual execution of The Nightmare Before Christmas was done by a bevy of other talented creators. However, the film is associated with Burton, and many mistake him as the director. We love and remember the picture for Danny Elfman’s music, Henry Selick’s direction, and the fantastic script by Thompson and McDowell. Thompson co-wrote Edward Scissorhands, and McDowell also penned the screenplay for Beetlejuice, so they brought all those elements to the table. The result is a gorgeous macabre take on the Christmas spirit that endures because it stands out from the crowd but reminds us of childhood favorites.
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The Shaggy D.A. (1976)
Written by Don Tait
Directed by Robert Stevenson
I remember watching the original Shaggy Dog film as a kid and enjoying it quite a bit. I remember memorizing the Latin incantation and playing the film out with my siblings. Now it’s been twenty-plus years since I last saw that movie, and I never happened to sit down and watch the follow-up. By this time, the original Wilby Daniels, Tommy Kirk, had been arrested for marijuana possession, and thus his career with Disney was terminated. In 1976, Dean Jones was a go-to in the studio’s acting stable, and so he was put into the role.
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The Million Dollar Duck (1971)
Written by Ted Key & Roswell Rogers
Directed by Vincent McEveety
This was the first film that critic Gene Siskel walked out on. He would only do that with two subsequent movies (1980’s Maniac and 1996’s Black Sheep). The story is a stock Disney script for the time, one of the gimmick comedies, not rising much above a Disney Channel original movie. The production quality is at the television level as well. By the midway mark of the film, I was checking out, despite trying to stay engaged from the outset. There are only so many gags you can do with this plot before it wears out its welcome.
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The Barefoot Executive (1971)
Written by Lila Garrett, Bernie Kahn, Stewart C. Billett, and Joseph L. McEveety
Directed by Robert Butler
At some point in the late 1960s, Disney shifted from more fantasy-oriented live-action films like Mary Poppins or Bedknobs & Broomsticks to what is referred to as “gimmick comedies,” spurred on by the phenomenal success of The Love Bug. These movies were intended to be silly for kids and more “mature” and contemporary so that the parents would enjoy them as well. Roy Disney, Walt’s older brother, took over after Walt took ill and eventually passed away in 1966. The company actually created a cinematic universe with some of these movies, starting with The Absent-Minded Professor and leading into a trilogy of films starring Kurt Russell as college student Dexter Riley. A total of five films were set at the fictional Medfield College. The legacy of these movies can be seen on the Disney Channel with its original sitcoms. They are the spiritual successors to the cheap television-style plots of these movies.
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Old Dogs (2009)
Written by David Diamond & David Weissman
Directed by Walt Becker
How does one end a year and a film series about forgotten terrible movies? Well, the best way, in my opinion, is by subjecting yourself to one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Yes, this is the second time I’ve watched Old Dogs. Do you see what I do for you people? Old Dogs came out a decade ago, a film that marked the movie duo we’ve always wanted to see, John Travolta & Robin Williams…? This is a film with so many strange things happening on the screen, and I have some theories about what the picture was originally going to be. Let’s not waste a single moment more.
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