Monday, December 15, 2008


Took my boys to see Bolt on Saturday, and I have to say that it was a hit.

It's a less 'cutting edge' film than any of the Pixar releases. There didn't appear to be any gags that were aimed over the heads of its audience, including the adults there. It was just a nice, simple story, about friendships, about not judging "a book by its cover", so to speak, and about determination.

Bolt, the title pup, is the star of an action show, where he's led to believe that he really has super powers, thanks to the magic of special effects. When he is separated from his "person" and accidentally shipped across the country, he has to journey back to the left coast in the company of a cat and a hamster. The journey is challenging, all the more so when Bolt realizes that he doesn't actually have the super powers he thought he did.

It's a movie that works on the level it is intended to work on. A fun family film.

Next up: Despereaux

Thursday, December 11, 2008

PJ. O'Rourke's take on Tomorrowland

I saw this over at Epcot Central.

A recent article in Atlantic Monthly by P.J. O'Rourke focuses on Tomorrowland at Disneyland in California, though it could just as well be about the Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom, or as Epcot82 points out, about Epcot as a whole.

The article is called "Future Shlock", and it is interesting, in that someone who is sort of an "outsider", not really part of the crazy Disney fandom (with which I'm proud to identify myself), saying the same thing that I've heard and read in so many Disney criticisms on fan sites.

O'Rourke points out that it is likely more a failing of our society in general and not Disney in particular that Tomorrowland (and Epcot, though he doesn't mention it) is not very forward thinking or fact it is just the opposite - a "retro" Tomorrowland.

I tend to agree with O'Rourke. (He's one of my favorite writers - I've read a lot of his humorous commentaries on politics and sociology.) Our own society has gotten far less forward looking, instead we are focused on problems which are becoming huge right before our eyes. Health care, war and religious extremism, global security and terrorism, jobs and economy, corruption in government - all of these things seem more pressing than worrying about where Humanity (with a capital "H") is going down the road.

I just think that, and wish that, Disney (among other institutions) could provide some of the inspiration for looking to the future, instead of simply reacting to the times as they are. I'd love to see Disney be a source of optimism and forward thought, instead of being an escape/fantasy place with its parks and with its films.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Declining or Just Fine?

I was thinking about this as I read other blogs today. I really enjoy reading the Disney critics' work; people like Epcot82, the guys at Reimagineering (their blog has been quiet of late, but a couple of posts in the last week livened things up), and the guys at MiceAge, Kevin Yee and Al Lutz. I think it's clear that these guys love Disney and they make an effort to point out the good things along with the perceived bad. (Perhaps this is because there always seem to be some responses taking them to task for being so negative, or accusing them of hating the very things they obviously love so much.)

Is Disney really and truly declining, or is it just the inevitable effects of age? I sincerely do not know, because while I've been a Disney fan all of my life, I really only became "crazy" about Disney in the last 5 years or so. I know, from reading the bios of Walt and Roy and reading something about the history of the company, that the film division really fell off after Walt died, and maybe some before he passed on, if only because Walt's attentions were focused on other projects (like Epcot and the "Florida Project").

I know that when we go to Disney World (next trip: January of 09 - coming up!) and the one time we've been to Disneyland Resort (next trip: April of 09 - but not sure how much time we'll spend at the Disney parks), we had wonderful times. We had good meals, we had fun on the rides, at the shows, and even in the stores.

I'm all for making it better. Newer, fresher - these are good things. But is it really going downhill? Or is it just, as I'm sure Team Disney would say, catering to what the paying guests want, and don't care as much about?

Walt did everything to please himself, I believe. Who's the "Walt" for this bunch? Lasseter? Maybe he can partially fill those shoes, but with Disney being the huge corporation it is, controlled by huge stockholders and institutional investors, can ANYONE be the "Walt" of the 21st century? I really don't think that there is anyone who can do things just to please him- or herself, and there will likely never be such a person again, at least not with Disney. Maybe Steve Wynn comes close with his Vegas creations, but I can't come up with anyone else.

They did all this with virtually no competition, the first time around. Maybe competition is what they need.

Or do they need anything at all?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pixar's PRESTO

We were going to watch our newly acquired DVD of Wall*E last night, but we got involved in doing Christmas decorating of the inside of the house (I got the outside done on Friday the 28th, and the tree was set up and decorated on the 29th). And today was a school day, so the boys had to go to bed earlier than they had over the last week or so.

But there was time to watch some of the extras from the DVD. And one was this Pixar short that we also saw in the theater. In the theater, I think the boys were overstimulated by the refreshments they were just starting to dig into, and by all the previews they had just finished showing, so I don't believe they paid as much attention to the short as they did in this more dedicated viewing session. They didn't seem to remember the subject very well, and I certainly don't recall them laughing at it uproariously as they did when we were watching it on our own TV.

Because laugh uproariously is pretty much what they did for the duration of this short film. The rabbit certainly got the better of the magician. I have to admit, I don't remember laughing as much at it in the theater as I did at home, either.

I can't wait to see the short entitled Burn*E. Maybe tonight.