Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Disney Films That Aren't (Part Two)...

The response to the last one of these was enough to warrant a sequel...

There are plenty of good movies out there that were made by others or even sometimes were turned down by the Mouse. I'm sure I won't get through all of them, but I figured we'd have another round of...

"This coulda' been a Disney film."

The last day of March we did "Part One" of this series so it's kind of appropriate that the last day of April we post "Part Two", don't you think? Without further ado...

Stuart Little

I know, I know... It's way too sweet, but it has an endearing quality to it and focuses on family values. The Littles are a family that plans to adopt a new family member. They wind up adopting an idealic, sweet young mouse named Stuart. A film about love and surviving the trials you face in a family disguised as a children's film. I've tended to shy away from all these CG films where they make realistic animals talk, but I must admit this one warmed me up to it. Now as for "South Of The Border"... I'll wait and see.

The Neverending Story

The story of a young man, Bastian, who retreats from the problems of our world into a book called “The Neverending Story”. The tale is an allegory involving the land of Fantasia whose existence threatened by an enigmatic force known as “The Nothing”. Great fun, beautiful scenes and a charming tale for families the world over.

Field of Dreams

This one could fall in the same line of films as "The Rookie", although it's far superior to that one. This "Capraesk" look at a small town farmer played with subtlety and charm by Kevin Costner, who hears a voice in his head that causes him to build a baseball field in the middle of his corn field is a great look at what makes a life have meaning. The heartwarming tale is filled with imagery and scenes that make you feel what is right about America and right about Disney.

Nanny McPhee

I actually was forced to watch this... and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's a blatant rip-off of Mary Poppins even if it comes from original source material. But never-the-less, it's a truly touching family picture that's good for families and a great film to show your daughter or niece and not have to worry about being bored. Emma Thompson wrote the script as well as starred in this story of a magical nanny and if the result was an example of her writing skills, I think she has a future in this business.

The Goonies

Essentially, "The Little Rascals" for the 80's or picture "Stand By Me" as envisioned by Steven Spielberg. A fun, flawed story about friends growing up in a small Oregon town that find lost pirate gold along with a family of bumbling crooks. I'm smiling just thinking about it. Stories like this would be great for Walt Disney Pictures to explore if they find the right material... hint, it's out there.

Mouse Hunt

Granted, this could easily be a live-action Warner Bros. cartoon as well. But this weird and stylized tale of a mouse that ruins the lives of the brothers who inherit the house it lives in is a fun, zany romp. Gore Verbinski("The Ring" and the "Pirates" trilogy) had a stylish turn in this, his second film. While not deep in terms of character it has one thing going for it that no other film has... Christopher Walken as an insane pest inspector. Totally funny. Now that's a character I want to see roaming around the parks.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the WereRabbit

Ok, truthfully... ANYTHING that Nick Park does should be under the Disney label. The guy's a genius(he's the claymation Brad Bird) and his greatest creation of the eccentric inventor and his introspective dog are perfect characters for the Mouse. This story of Wallace falling for a woman, while a savage beast resembling a giant rabbit roams the land has all the trademarks of W & G's earlier shorts... and it's charming.

Big Fish

I know not everyone is a Burton fan, but I think that this story, with a few minor alterations would be great for Walt Disney Pictures. Ewan McGregor as the young version of Albert Finney's character; a father that has told so many tales his son can't determine which are true and which are make-believe. Billy Crudup is the skeptical son in this compelling story of love, pain and the need for belief... no matter what its price. There's no reason we can't have a Disney film with a little melancholy in it and Burton's films are doused in it.

Back to the Future

Now, you could include all three of these films and say it was the trilogy that should have been a part of the Mouse, but even though the sequels are fun and entertaining, they just don't have the magic that the original does. This film was pure fun. Plain and simple. The story of a young, everyboy teen who works odd jobs for an odd inventor that designs a time machine in a modern day version of the Edsel? With all its plot twists and clever banter between the way things were in the 50's and how they were in the 80's is great. Now, if Zemeckis would just fall in love with live-action film making again, sigh...

The Mummy(1999)

As I happen to love serials and my favorite film is "Raiders of the Lost Ark", I think it's apparent that this movie would come along sometime in this series were it to continue. This Stephen Sommers film doesn't take itself as serious as the Indy films and it does carry a lot of cheese, but it's a refreshing action yarn that is the perfect thing I expect when I sit down in the dark with my soda, popcorn and milkduds. Too bad no Disney logo was before this one... Oh, well.

Edward Scissorhands

Another Tim Burton film. Also my favorite Tim Burton film(just ahead of "Ed Wood"). This modern day version of "Pinocchio", I don't know if you caught that, but it is... this story about a sweet, shy man with scissors for hands that falls for a beautiful teen in an "Idealic" Burtonesk suburb is his most heartfelt project. I think what "E.T." is to Spielberg, this is to Burton. A marvelous film that would/could easily fit into the Disney canon of films.


The tale of an endearing little girl, who's to be a genius, and her inspiring teacher as she deals with horrible parents and a school principal that is her worst nightmare. Sweet, if uneven tale, based on the book by Roald Dahl and adapted to the screen under Danny DeVito's direction. A treat, although not a perfect one... but worthy of entry into the "should of been" category for Disney.

Big Trouble in Little China

John Carpenter's classic, cheesy play on B-movies is a wonderful film and a textbook example of what a "movie night" at a friends house should be. The story of an American truck driver that gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in China Town after going to help a friend is both funny and action packed. Filled from the bottom to the brim, it never lets up and never lets us take it too seriously. Good stuff.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Ok, is there someone out there that doesn't think this deserves to be a "Disney" film? Heck, even when Spielberg finished his cut of the movie he had "When you wish upon a star" as temp music for it. This tale of ordinary people all across the earth and their experience with strange lights in the sky is mesmerizing, beautiful and poetic in its portrayal of an alien invasion that really isn't. If there is one person other than Lucas that is the heir to the Disney throne, it's Spielberg and it's also a reason why so many of his films would wind up on a list like this.


This Jim Henson directed film about a young girl named Sarah left home alone to babysit her little brother. While trying to get him to sleep, she tells him a fantasy story that inadvertently brings a Goblin King from a far off land to steals the child and whisk him away to a castle in the middle of a vast labyrinth. She is told to rescue him before midnight or the brother will became a goblin forever... Cinderella it ain't, but an entertaining fantasy it is... most worth, I say.


This one has a lot of great names attached to it. Spielberg produced it. Joe Dante directed it. Chris Columbus wrote it. It was actually his first movie... well before we would know him as a director for such things as "Harry Potter" and "Mrs. Doubtfire", a time when he was known by a word I first became aware of... "wonderkund". It even has a cameo by the great animation director Chuck Jones. This film about a young man, given a present from his father of a little creature that doesn't mix well with water and the hi-jinx that follows once rules are violated is a great example of an 80's high concept movie. Spielberg at his producing best and well worth of the label of the Mouse.


Anonymous said...

Well, I think they could be disney movies, but the ones with monsters like Gremlins or Never Ending Story feel a bit like George Lucas movies...

Anonymous said...

The Goonies was directed by Richard Donner (of Superman and Lethal Weapon fame).

I think you may be mixing up Gremlins with The Goonies in the case of Joe Dante.

Honor Hunter said...

Uhmmm... where did I say anything about Joe Dante directing the Goonies?

Anonymous said...

The Goonies is set in Astoria, Oregon, not New England.

Anonymous said...


Someone else had written about Joe Dante and then deleted their comment. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

I love Gremlins, but it would not have made a good Disney film. It's quite scary and violent, with a dark sense of humor. Along with "Temple of Doom", it helped push the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.

"Stuart Little" and "Mouse Hunt" both have their charms, but I was appalled that they both have bad language in them. They're kids movies! They both could/should have been rated G, but for whatever reason they made them PG to be "edgier" I guess.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on Nick Park. Would have loved to see Disney pick him up after DreamWorks dropped him (btw, how obvious is it that DW is really just after the money after they dropped him?).

Maybe Disney didn't even think about it because they already had Tim Burton signed up.

Ghosthost2 said...

To the person who said Gremlins wouldn't be a good Disney movie. Well, some of the finest Disney acheivements are filled with dark humor. The rides: The Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, POTC (more dark humor in DL version than WDW version), and Jungle Cruise are filled with morbid humor, and that is why I love them.

The only reason there was outrage over Gremlins, was because parents took very, very young kids because Gizmo looked cute. Gremlins is far from being a really scary or really violent movie. The reason there was outrage over 'Temple of Doom' was because people took very, very young kids. Even though 'Temple of Doom' was actually a scary movie, there had been many PG movies before it, that were far more violent such as Jaws and a 1970s version of Tales from the Crypt. The reasons those two didn't cause outrage, is because they weren't marketed to kids like Gremlins and Temple of Doom were.

Anonymous said...

I'm really not trying to be mean for no reason here...but these lists seem fairly pointless. It's basically just a list of family movies that are good and so you wished they had been Disney movies because you like Disney. Or am I missing the point? Because that's just silly...these movies probably would have been totally different if a different set of producers/studio heads/whatever had been involved and wouldn't have turned into the movies that we love today. So since Back To The Future is probably the greatest movie ever, I'm gonna say thank you to the fact that Disney was not involved.

Anonymous said...

The very fact that you think Back to the Future is the greatest movie ever makes your post fairly pointless.

Anonymous said...

To GhostHost2-

I see your point about Gremlins. I guess I was actually trying to say that it was scary and violent for very young kids, and if it had been branded as Disney it would most certainly have attracted more young kids. Perhaps today's Disney, which is willing to put its brand on somewhat scary/violent PG-13 fare such as POTC would have been a good fit for Gremlins. But the Disney of the early 80s, which always failed when it tried to market darker stuff like Black Hole, Black Cauldron, Dragonslayer and Something Wicked This Way Comes (I like those movies, but they were not successful for Disney), would not have been able to pull it off.

For the record, I was 9 when I saw Gremlins in the theater and I loved it, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

I seriously got no idea what I should think about this list. It just feels like you put some random movie names together and said "Oh, this one should be Disney".

BTW: Rumor has it that "Back To The Future" was offered to Disney back then, but they felt uncomfortable with making a movie about a mother who developes a crush on her own son. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, if you've read the original post you'll notice that he talked about how after seeing a movie he would have thought it would have made a good Disney film, but I guess you didn't bother to read that far back? Did you?

If you don't like it. Don't read it. It's the guys blog. It's his opinion. Start your own if you want to whine and bitch. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

I hope Emma Thompson has future in the screen writing business. Her script for Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility won an Oscar!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Sense and Sensibility? Now THAT would be one heck of a Disney film. Ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

How about JIM HILL: The Movie?!?