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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.