Head Games with Mary Poppins

A spoonful of sugar and some trust issues!

A spoonful of sugar and some trust issues!

So it’s no secret that Mary Poppins plays mind games. Most famously, she takes the kids out for a day trip in a chalk drawing, then when they return she tells them they’re making the whole thing up and she’s offended. She denies knowledge of the entire day’s worth of events and they’re flummoxed.
She also pulls a similar move on Mr. Banks:

Mr. Banks: Just a moment, Mary Poppins. What is the meaning of this outrage?

Mary Poppins: I beg your pardon?

Mr. Banks: Will you be good enough to explain all this?

Mary Poppins: First of all, I would like to make one thing quite clear.

Mr. Banks: Yes?

Mary Poppins: I never explain anything.

This is like Mary Poppins's Troll Face.

This is like Mary Poppins’s Troll Face.

Why, precisely, Mary Poppins does this is never overtly explained. Does she honestly not remember the chalk drawing adventure?  Did it perhaps not even really happen, and she’s telling the truth?  Given how she departs at the end, that’s not likely.  Perhaps we can assume that she’s got a contrary nature and it amuses her to mess with people… right?

But the other day while going over these events in my head, it dawned on me why she’s got this character trait. She was hired for it! Mary Poppins used the advertisement written by the children (and torn up and tossed into the fireplace) to draft her position requirements.  One of the specifics: Play games, all sorts.

The kids don't really mind. They get it.

The kids don’t really mind. They get it.

Be careful what you ask for, I suppose. 🙂

Muppet Shorts: Beaker

Several years ago The Muppets set up a YouTube channel to put up little short videos. These are usually along the same line as the brief skits they did on The Muppet Show in years back.  While I do prefer the actual clips from The Muppet Show, some of the YouTube clips are hilarious. So I thought I’d present a few of each, focusing on certain characters at a time.  Today I’m going to start us out with Beaker.

Beaker – or as my son calls him, Meeper – is perhaps the unluckiest of Muppets and exists solely to demonstrate Bunsen Honeydew’s ridiculously dangerous inventions.  For whatever reason, Beaker more or less has faith in these inventions and shares Bunsen’s enthusiasm for them and how they will better society and the world in general – until he has to test them.  And they unfailingly turn on him. XD  Here are a few of Beaker’s best classic turns:

Fireproof Paper:

I love this one. Fireproof paper! Actually a great idea! The second one… not so much. LOL!

Edible Paperclips:

Notable for Beaker flat-out refusing at first.

Germ Enlarger:

Goes about as well as you’d expect such an idea to go…

After years and years, Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker are still churning out the “That’s a really bad idea” inventions. New Muppet Labs skits showcased their newest developments:

Carve-O-Matic:

Note the gag with the clock, which is a callback to the earlier clips 🙂

Ghost Hunt:

This one is not actually the best or the cleverest, but it’s a fun romp.

And then there was the time when Beaker decided to use the Internet to showcase his artistic side and attempted a one-man video cover of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy”:

This, I avoided for several years, because I thought it was just obvious. It turns out it’s classic. In spite of the setup that each camera angle (six in all) is filmed separately, the classic Muppets metaphysics are involved so everything is happening at the same time and can influence each other. XD

And I’ll close out with a great moment from The Muppets in 2011: Beaker, Rowlf, Link, and Sam the Eagle perform a Barbership Quartet rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with an unwilling Jack Black as their customer:

 

Beaker was initially performed by Richard Hunt, until 1991 (last performance was in MuppetVision 3D), and since then has been performed by Steve Whitmire, who does a terrific job with him IMO.  Whitmire has a great insight into Beaker, which I always appreciate the performers having; he sees him as being an introverted lab guy, smart but socially inept, so when he’s not working he’s probably on the computer. Which is the reason for the non-Muppet Lab YouTube videos, they’re his attempt at “branching out” and they go just as well as his day job. LOL!

The other thing I like about Beaker is his appearance; I can’t remember where I read it, but basically Beaker’s bug-eyed, frowny-faced look and shock of stand-up hair come from his being the lab rat in so many experiments. He’s been electrocuted enough times that his hair is permanently upright, and his eyes and mouth are because he’s perpetually living in fear of the next disaster. 😀

Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

It’s not that often that I get to see new movies. 🙂  The reasons are lengthy but boil down to: I only see 1-2 movies in a theatre per year and at least one is a child’s movie, I don’t have cable, and I only have streaming Netflix and not the discs so basically, if it ain’t on Netflix, the chances are not that great that I’m going to see it. Plus I split the kids-movie detail with my husband, so I see about half of the main releases. (This means that to date I STILL have not seen Wreck-It Ralph. I know.  No, really, I know. ^_~)

Anyway!  When I recently took a long work trip to San Francisco, I had a six-hour flight both ways.  Lucky me. 🙂 On the return flight the DirecTV option was free for some reason!  So I took advantage, and although “Wreck-It Ralph” was available, I (for reasons that are valid but I won’t go into) opted to save that for later and selected “Oz The Great and Powerful”.

I'm sure if you actually see it in 3D, it's like being inside this poster.

I’m sure if you actually see it in 3D, it’s like being inside this poster.

When I heard of the movie’s upcoming release, about a year or so ago, I wasn’t sure what I thought about it.  I am well-used to Disney doing really awful live action movies.  Even the recent ones that I’ve enjoyed (“Tron Legacy” for instance) have been more like… “I’m not sure why I’m enjoying this, because I can see EVERY SINGLE TURN this script is going to take, but I like it anyway!”  On the other hand, Sam Raimi and I are old friends who go way back.  Yep.  We are buds.  I won’t take this line of thinking so far as to let anyone think I’ve actually met him, oh no, but like… I saw “Army of Darkness” when I was in college, so… 😉  No, but seriously, I did discover the whole Evil Dead thing when I was the appropriate age, and I have a fierce love of Bruce Campbell – as everyone should – and you can’t really separate Bruce from Sam. I mean, if you love Bruce you have to at least like Sam because Bruce is in nearly every movie Sam makes; conversely, if you love Sam, you have to at least like Bruce, for the same reason. *G*  It doesn’t hurt that I adore Bruce, who comes across as the most incredibly snarky yet still honestly NICE guy ever, and Sam is a really INTERESTING and inventive director.  I – um… this is really turning into an unnecessary digression, isn’t it. 😦  *Ahem*

So the thing I like about Sam Raimi is that he’s got a very recognizable style. I really appreciate and like directors where you can look at a movie and say “Yep, that’s Sam Raimi!” or substitute, say, “Wes Anderson”, “Tim Burton”, etc.  So my hopes were mixed for this film, because Sam Raimi is a great director, but Disney has – pardon me but it’s true – ruined films by good directors before this.  I also dislike prequels as a rule, but that is not a subject I’ll go into here. 🙂  SO – I was wary.  I heard good reviews but I was still wary, because a lot of times I and the general movie-going public disagree. *G*

Well, here’s the spoiler-free Teal Dear (TL;DR = Too Long; Didn’t Read) summed up version: I liked it.  I had issues with a few things, but I liked it over all and I call it a solid film from Sam and a successful live action film from Disney. Yay!

She is never not adorable. Seriously.

She is never not adorable. Seriously.

Here’s the spoiler-free longer, but still not too long, version: I really liked it as a standalone movie.  I went into it without any spoilers so other than most of the cast I didn’t know what to expect.  I did have some issues with a little bit of the casting but most of it was excellent, particularly Rachel Weisz.  The film was a little bit pat in spots, but one of my favourite things was the China Girl – not for how cute she was, though she is adorable, but for the way that she links back to the opening sequence.  Also, an issue that I have with 3D movies is that I normally don’t see them in 3D (remember what I said early on about not seeing them in theatres often, and even when I do I usually opt for the cheaper 2D), and when you view a film in 2D that was created for 3D, the sequences with the 3D effects usually stand out. Painfully, sometimes (like “Hugo”).  But Sam Raimi’s visual style lends itself extremely well to 3D, and as a result, there are very few moments where the scene’s effects fall flat without the 3D aspect present.  In particular the twister scene is excellent; I can see how it would be enhanced with 3D, but it’s really well-composed even without it and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

I was less impressed with the hat flying out at you, since that was more obvious, but ya know.  Raimi likes flying objects. 😉

I wasn’t able to view this film as a prequel, or as related to the Oz books by Baum.  Why?  Well, although Disney had to avoid all direct references to the MGM movie from 1939, they still seemed to follow that film’s continuity rather than the books’.  Having read the books a lot throughout my youth and now going back to them with my kids, the movie bears very little similarity to the books.  The Wicked Witch is not green in those books, Glinda is not the witch of the North, lots of other things.  They DO pick up extra details from the books: the Quadlings, the China Dolls, some of the beasts that the Wicked Witch commands.  There are also direct visual cues that clearly are inspired by the MGM film even though they’re not replicas of them: Glinda travelling by bubble, etc.  So – this movie feels like it’s intended to be a prequel to the MGM movie even though, by legal rights, it can’t be.  It isn’t based on any existing Oz stories and it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be linked to that world.

The Wizard himself... duh. :)

The Wizard himself… duh. 🙂

Having said that, it does not work for me as a prequel either, and here’s why: James Franco.  I think he gives an excellent performance and is a real natural; but if you look at his performance in this movie, and then you look at Frank Morgan at the end of “The Wizard of Oz” and how he presents the character, it’s night and day. I cannot see James Franco developing into that man, pure and simple. 🙂  I mean, it would be nice for Franco’s Oz to say, in his old age, “No my dear, I’m a very good man, I’m just a very bad wizard”, but that’s not who this character is.  There are also aspects of the Oz and Glinda relationship that make me want, on a personal level, to keep this movie separate from the MGM film.  And I’m not talking about a romantic relationship, but if I go into it, I’ll be giving spoilers. I’m trying to avoid the spoilers.

My casting issues are mainly with the Wicked Witch of the West.  I just don’t buy her.  I actually love her origin but I don’t buy her performance, I’m afraid.  Not her fault, I think she was just miscast.  If you don’t know who plays her… DON’T look it up.  It’s worth not knowing for the scene when you find out. 😀  That was one area where I was kept guessing for a little while, and I enjoyed that.  I liked Glinda, but I thought the interpretation of her character was a little one-note.  She’s smart and strong, and that’s great, but she also ends up boring.  There are ways to have a female character be strong and inspiring and GOOD without having her be dull.  I felt the women characters in this didn’t quite make the grade; the most interesting ones are evil, and the good ones are uninteresting. 😛

The Oz Ladies. There are differing reasons why I feel like each of them is kind of an incomplete character, but they're also all kind of awesome in their own way.

The Oz Ladies. There are differing reasons why I feel like each of them is kind of an incomplete character, but they’re also all kind of awesome in their own way.

So!  I recommend this movie, I think it’s appropriate for kids ages… let’s say, ages 8 and up?  I think anyway… And I’d like to see it again.  I’m really looking for someone I can discuss it with, but nobody I know has seen it yet, so if you want to have an in-depth discussion in the comments I am ALL for that! 😀

 

I actually like how they "updated" the whole travel-by-bubble effect from the MGM movie.

I actually like how they “updated” the whole travel-by-bubble effect from the MGM movie.

 

I do hope that Disney does something else with the Oz rights, though.  The books are SO good, and I love that they tried to adapt “Ozma of Oz” before – back in the 1980s with “Return to Oz”  – but it’s too bad that film turned out the way it did.  I love it, and I loved it when I saw it in 1985, but it really is messed up.  They took what was already a story with a few slightly weird/frightening elements and made parts of it downright sinister – changing the gnomes from funny little elf-like guys into giant creepy rock faces, having Mombi take over Oz, and LORD ABOVE, committing Dorothy to an asylum at the beginning for electro-shock therapy…!  WHO MADE THESE CHANGES? 😀  There’s so much whimsy in the Oz books, and some of it is dancing the edge of creepy, but it’s never sinister.  I hope Disney knows enough to blame the creative changes and NOT the original content for the failure of Return to Oz, because they have huge amounts of material to mine in order to make another Oz movie and I’d hate to see that wasted. Especially since they’re basically holding those stories hostage so that no one else can do them, either. 😛

Unpopular Opinions: Monsters University

Rule of Hollywood: Buddy Movies Are Funny.

Rule of Hollywood: Buddy Movies Are Funny.

So I’m going to admit to something right now, and everyone in the world is going to disagree with me.  And you know what?  That’s COMPLETELY OKAY.  But still, I’m working up to it; in part because it’s going to sound a lot more “definite” than it really is.  Well… I guess I’ll just spit it out there and be blunt, and then hedge my way defensively through the rest of my post.
So here it is.  Ahem.  Um…

I have misgivings about “Monsters University”.

Okay, so I said it. Now before you kill me, or think “OMG Rebecca hates a movie that hasn’t even come out yet!!” or even just, more rationally, think “Yeah, you know, I’m not worried… I think it’ll be good, because Pixar is usually good anyway”, let me say one really important thing: I think that too. I’m not worried that it won’t be good. I’m sure it’s going to be funny, emotionally resonant, and very, very, very entertaining. Oh, and awesome to look at. *G*

I’m not worried about MU, I have misgivings about it.

So. I’ll explain what I’m talking about, though it probably won’t come across all that well… See, I just… well. I read the general synopsis of the plot and while I knew it was a “prologue” taking place before Monsters, Inc, I didn’t have a lot of details. What was a disappointment to me was to find that it’s a kind of a standard story – Jocks vs. the Nerds and they discover that they get along and become best friends. Well, I guess that SPECIFIC story hasn’t been done, but let me put it another way: a college story about jocks vs. nerds teaming up; also a story about two guys who don’t like each other much at first, working together and becoming the best of friends. That second one, see, that was called “Toy Story”.

Before you say it, I know. I know already. I know that I’m reacting to a theme of what will be a quite different movie. I know that there are only so many ideas and themes out there, and if we never reused any we’d never have anything new, b/c there just aren’t many original ideas left. I know that they can take a theme or idea and reshape it. It’s more sort of the fact that Pixar has done this idea/theme before. More than once actually, but it’s most closely related to Toy Story; and one of the things that appealed to me about Monsters, Inc was that we came into it with this buddy story between Mike and Sulley, who despite their differences are a great team and close friends. I guess the only way to show the beginning of that friendship and make it interesting is by having them NOT get along at first, otherwise it’s just “two guys who meet in school and hang out and like each other” which isn’t a whole lot of movie.

But still I can’t get past this. All Pixar movies have a theme to them beneath the plot, and this theme is such an echo of their first theme. Protagonist who tries hard and knows his stuff gets upstaged by cool popular guy and hijinks ensue until they are forced to work together and come to understand how alike they are. …Wheee. That’s different from the mismatched comedy duo of Dory and Marlin, or … uh… any of the others…? 😉

But in spite of that misgiving feeling nagging at the back of my skull, I still know that the writing will be great, the direction will be excellent, and a lot of people will be very, very happy with this movie. Probably including me. I’m not COMPLAINING, I’m just… vocalizing. 🙂

I will admit that this image cracks me up.

I will admit that this image cracks me up.

OH! Okay, one thing I am complaining about. You know how in the first movie their names are all just Regular Ol’ Joe names? Bill, Celia, Randall, Mr. Waternuss, James P. Sullivan and Michael Wazowski? I’m probably jumping the gun but the name “Dean Hardscrabble” gets under my skin for exactly this reason. The fact that they didn’t get “cute” and give everyone in MI a “Monster-Pun” name is one of the things I really LIKE about it. Lots of visual gags but normal, every-joe names. Even Waternuss is fancy but not “cute”; it shows that he’s an upperclass guy, white collar instead of blue collar. It contrasts against Sullivan and Wazowski, but it’s not actually a pun. Now, Dean Hardscrabble… that’s not really a Monstery pun but it is still “cute”. I think it’s a reference to college farce movies, rather than an effort to be monstery, but it still kind of pokes under my skin and wiggles around there uncomfortably. So I guess that’s a complaint, but I will happily admit that – hey! – I haven’t seen the movie and this assumption of mine might be REALLY, REALLY WRONG! I’ll take that name stuff back happily if that’s the case, and there’s a good chance it is. 🙂

As for the “frenemies” aspect, well… I doubt I’m wrong on that. I also doubt anyone, including me, is going to mind because I don’t think it means they can’t do a good movie. It’ll probably be a somewhat fresh take. But it remains to be seen how closely it will remind me of Woody and Buzz… Here’s hoping not at all once I’m immersed in the film’s reality. 🙂 Here’s to Pixar! I haven’t loved every one of your movies but many of the ones I have SEEN have been among my faves. 😀

To appease you, here are the trailers for the movie that have been released so far!  Enjoy! 😀

***All of the above is my opinion only, and is not meant to represent anyone else’s views, nor is it meant to try to invalidate anyone else’s opinion. Thanks!

Top 5: Pixar Movies

Got a favourite Pixar film? Nearly everyone has at least one. I don’t know anyone who says “I don’t have a favourite Pixar film ’cause I hate all that junk.” I might know some people who may say they don’t have a favourite because they like them all, but most people have at least some they like more than others.

My Triumphant Return To the Top Five today is not here to tell you which Pixar movies are no good, though. Unless you consider a lack of inclusion in this list to mean that they are no good, which you shouldn’t; because there are 13 Pixar features released as of today, and this list can only take five, meaning that by default 8 cannot be listed. However, I am going to rank the little buggers and prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that there can be no argument: my top 5 should be your top 5.

(Disclaimer: doubts may in fact be shadowed. In reality this is my opinion, which can and will vary from yours, and I’m writing like this for entertainment value and also because I had some wine with dinner and I’m a lightweight. SO.)

Honourable Mention: “Up” from 2009. WHY, I can hear you wailing, WHY IS THIS ONLY AN HONOURABLE MENTION?! Do you have no HEART? Okay, the fact is, I haven’t seen this one. Reason being that I have put it off due to my full awareness that the opening can very possibly destroy my soul. 🙂 No, but in all seriousness, Pixar is fully capable of reaching me on an emotional level that many movies can’t reach, and I know that I need to be ready for the beginning of “Up”. So I’ve put it off. To be completely fair to it, I think I would have it on my Top 5 if I had seen it, based on everything I have heard. So it’s Honourable Mentioned. Yeah, I know that this technically makes the list a Top Six but just… shut up. 😛

#5: Monsters, Inc., 2001.

image (c) Disney.com

image (c) Disney/Pixar, from Disney.com

I find this movie to be utterly adorable, and not only for the utterly adorable little girl. No, it’s actually because of the design and the sheer silliness of the Monstropolis world. You know how there are various scenes that exist only to show the day-to-day life of weird-looking, but ultimately harmless and even Just Like Us monsters? Like during Mike and Sully’s walk to work in the morning? That is the sort of thing that appeals to me. A million and one background gags. However, MI also has a great heart to it, and the ending – the VERY ending – always makes me tear up a little. Somehow I got it into my head that years and years have passed for Boo and when Sully comes out she’s not a little girl anymore, but it doesn’t matter for either of them. I’m not sure where that idea came from, especially since her voice sounds the same, but I’ve always felt it every time I watch. Add to that some great voice work – this is one of my favourite Billy Crystal roles – and animation that really shines, and this is a great movie.

#4: WALL-E, 2008.

Image (c) Pixar.

Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from pixartimes.com

I think the most amazing thing about this movie is that they sustain an entire, what? 30 minutes? 45? At the start with NO DIALOGUE. I might be overexaggerating on that because I didn’t time it, but regardless, it’s impressive no matter how long it’s for. The entire story and everything in it comes across visually and you get a strong sense of the characterization – of a ROBOT who has developed a personality – anyway. And you can follow the story. It’s brilliant storytelling and the use of WALL-E the cutie makes you instantly empathize. With a ROBOT. Additionally, I ended up loving the humans, especially the Captain, with his complete lack of realizing that he’s useless. And the way that doesn’t matter to him once he does realize it. Oh, and plus, Fred Willard. That’s all I need to say.

#3: Toy Story 2 & 3.

Image (c) Dixney/Pixar, from storylineblog.com

Image (c) Dixney/Pixar, from storylineblog.com

It’s a tie so I count them both together. Yes, I like Toy Story, it started the whole thing after all! But I think TS2 is the stronger movie for some reason. Plus it brings in Jessie, a character I like in spite of myself. I know some people find her annoying and I get why. I think she’s great. 😀 But it’s Jessie in the second movie who really moves me, and the theme they introduce with her – kids outgrowing their toys and the toys having a hard time dealing with the rejection – is the central theme of TS3. (You could argue that it’s the theme in TS1, as well, but I feel it’s approached differently in that one but in largely the same way in 2 and 3.) I also just feel like the writing is top notch in these, especially 2.

#2: The Incredibles, 2004.

They say that Frozone is a bad mother- *shut your mouth!* But I'm talking 'bout Frozone!  *We can dig it.*  Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

They say that Frozone is a bad mother- *shut your mouth!* But I’m talking ’bout Frozone! *We can dig it.* Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

This movie, honestly, this movie needs more love. It’s got some amazing jokes but even more its characters are SO strong. This is a family that feels like a family, and in particular the adults are so relatable. Elastigirl is my hero on many levels. The fact that the movie is largely about having powers and yet feeling powerless is a nice touch. I feel like, out of all of Pixar’s movies, this one may be the most adult of any of them. It definitely seems to be the one that is most relatable TO adults, and in my eyes it’s about ADULTHOOD in a way that the other films are not. Their other movies are about emotional themes, and this one honestly seems to be about growing up, about a midlife crisis. I truly feel like it’s handled very well.  Also I really can’t go an entire paragraph without mentioning Frozone. YEAH Frozone. 😀

#1: Finding Nemo, 2003.

Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

Image (c) Disney/Pixar, from fanpop.com

As I get older and understand myself more, I realize more and more that this is my favourite Pixar movie. It has layers. Its writing is terrific, to start with, but the acting is as well. From the first time I saw it, I cried in no fewer than six different scenes – sometimes tears of happiness and others, tears of genuine sadness. The funny thing is that as I’ve rewatched it, I still cry in the same spots every time. Something about this movie just resonates with me emotionally. It’s something to do with the parental/child relationship, but there’s more to it, there’s also the lopsided friendship between Marlin and Dory, the Tank group, and Marlin’s loss and how it defines him, as well as how he overcomes that in the end. I think what endeared this film to me so much, in the end, was my realization that – intentionally or not – it is a beautiful allegory for depression. “Just Keep Swimming” indeed. That is advice to live by.

And yes, I am looking forward to the sequel. 🙂

Disney Top 5: Live Action Films

Okay, we started our Top 5 feature with an easy one but now we’re going to jump into a less-travelled path. I’m going to count mixed-media films in here, not strictly live-action only, but something like “The Three Caballeros” is out even though I love it because it’s mostly animation with a bit of live action. On the other hand, something like “Mary Poppins” is mainly live action with a bit of animation, and that’s okay.So without further ado, here we go: my top 5 picks!

Isn't this how you were with your sister growing up?

Isn’t this how you were with your sister growing up?

#5: The Parent Trap. I’m referring to the original, starring Hayley Mills, although I have to give some props to the remake with Lindsay Lohan. I watched that while I was working at a video store while in college and I was sort of surprised by how charming it was and it still kills me how cute that poor girl used to be. Wow. But I digress! The original is goofy, and dated, but it’s honestly a fun movie. And I wanted to have some classic films represented on here, not just the more recent fare. I can do without the silly duets with herself, but Hayley’s two different characters are pretty well-played and it’s fun to see them “swap”. Plus of course you want to see them succeed and repair their parents’ marriage. The likelihood of this setup, really, seems pretty farfetched but that’s what movies are for. 😉

Kirk Douglas, the Singing Tough Guy

Kirk Douglas, the Singing Tough Guy

Honorable mention to: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which would’ve been my other choice for an earlier live action movie if I had more room. The difference is because I like family comedies more than adventure films and although I enjoyed this one, it went a little slow for me. But it has Kirk Douglas singing in it, and the song is great, so see it just for that if you haven’t yet. 😀

The poster makes it look all wholesome and non-disturbing.  Don't be fooled.

The poster makes it look all wholesome and non-disturbing. Don’t be fooled.

#4: Return to Oz. I think everyone and their mother thought this was a weird and not great movie but I love it. It’s actually relatively faithful to the two books it’s based on, “The Marvelous World of Oz” and “Ozma of Oz”, although liberties are taken. The effects are marvelous. The downside, and this is a valid complaint, is that it is an intense and freaky movie. Even before the Wheelers, the many heads of Mombi the Witch, and the Gnome King we start out with Dorothy being commited to a Sanitorium for shock therapy! This went over my head as a child but I loved the sort of creepy feel to it regardless. And as I said, many of the creepiest elements are straight out of the books (which is what makes Ozma of Oz one of my daughter’s least favourite Oz books right now). I still recommend it, just know what you’re getting into before you show your kids – some of the Gnome scenes are pretty heavy.

Honourable mention to: Flight of the Navigator, another 80s Disney movie I loved as a kid. We used to watch it over and over and OVER on the Disney Channel. Honestly this is an overlooked gem, IMO. 🙂

This is more like "TROOOOON!" which would rhyme with "KHAAAAN!" so there you go.

This is more like “TROOOOON!” which would rhyme with “KHAAAAN!” so there you go.

#3: Tron. I didn’t really care for it so much as a kid but somehow now that I’m older… maybe it’s because of my growing love for Jeff Bridges, maybe because I just appreciate the subtler aspects or the nostalgia of it, I’m not sure. But in any case I have a growing love for this movie, the idea behind it, the look and feel of it – everything! Even the music! I can’t in good conscience put Tron Legacy on here even though I honestly loved it. The thing is, it’s not actually a GOOD movie, it’s just a really fun and entertaining one. I had so many moments of “HAHA WHAT” while watching it but loved it all through. Especially ol’ hippie Jeff. 😀 But well. “Tron” falls short of its Legacy in a few ways but totally wins over it in many others. It’s exciting and well-acted, and oh David Warner. It transcends its rather goofy start to be really great in spite of a somewhat silly concept, in my opinion. 🙂

Pirates and guns and skulls.  Seems legit.

Pirates and guns and skulls. Seems legit.

#2: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. So first of all, this movie is responsible for igniting my love of Walt Disney World about 8 years ago. Secondly though, it was just SO MUCH BETTER than I thought it would be. Johnny Depp is… he’s unexpected. He’s hilarious and poetic in his role. Orlando Bloom is less than that, the show is definitely all Jack Sparrow’s, but both Bloom and Keira Knightley (who, I must admit, I am not a big fan of most of the time) are really great in spite of all that. And the backup cast! And OH Geoffrey Rush! Everyone. Just everyone! Come on, this is Pirates, I don’t have to explain any of this to you. 😀

Honourable Mention to: Enchanted, with Amy Adams. Pirates Vs. Princesses, eh? 😉 Fact is, though, I really enjoyed this movie… but not enough. It felt to me like Disney wasn’t quite sure how to poke a little fun at itself and its conventions without skewering them, so to avoid skewering them they went too far and honoured them a bit too much. There’s a little too much “Aren’t we being funny? Look how we’re making you notice that this is a thing we always do!” but it’s done with SO MUCH LOVE that it kind of… I don’t know, it felt wrong somehow. Don’t get me wrong, the parts of the movie that are NOT being self-referential are actually wonderful. The music is great. Amy Adams is great. The love story is great. EVERYTHING is great except that the whole “We are Disney and you know you love us” attitude hurts me a little. Even though I do love them. 😉 I would love to see more Giselle love in and around Disney parks though. 😀

Practically Perfect in every way!

Practically Perfect in every way!

#1: Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins. This film seems to me to capture everything that Disney is about. The message is subtle, the music is marvelous, Julie Andrews is shiningly gilded with sweetness and a tiny bit of snark you’ll miss if you blink. It’s funny, it doesn’t talk down, it’s deeply layered with things I didn’t get until I was a parent. The animated sequence is a standout but some of the best moments are with Mr. Banks and are quiet. Also, if you haven’t read the books you won’t feel like you’re missing a thing, but if you HAVE, you’ll catch a few little nods that they tucked in. Very few of the actual Mary Poppins stories are precisely followed, but several are referenced rather slyly. It’s fun. 😀

Honourable Mention to: Bedknobs and Broomsticks. This film is NOT on the level of Mary Poppins, however, it’s still really fun and holds a nice place in my heart. My kids watched it recently and really enjoyed it, the Sherman Bros music is great as always, but I also was watching it when I got some very good news and now I associate it with that. Haha. So there you are. 😉