Thursday, March 12, 2020

Disney Animated Movie Challenge: Part VI







Cue Something Rotten's opening song "Welcome to the Renaissance". We are officially in what's known as the Renaissance Era of Disney movies. 
Quick history lesson, this is considered the Renaissance Era because it is the rebirth of Disney Animation. While we also consider Disney as the go to company for animated movies, there was actually a time when the animation department really struggled. Not only that but after Walt Disney passed away, the company put more of their focus on live-action movies. 

The Renaissance Era is where we start seeing all our our favorite Disney movies that we grew up with and so for this blog post, I actually invited my friend Mary Ellen to be a guest reviewer. We actually started this animated movie challenge together about two years ago on a blog we had and I'm so excited to bring her back for this part of the animated movie challenge. Here's a quick introduction of Mary Ellen below

I’m back in the saddle after not writing for a blog for 2 years! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mary Ellen (@mellenkidd). Melissa & I lived together in NYC for a year, and we had a blog together, NYC Livin’ Y’all. We had been doing an animated Disney movie challenge, but only got to The Rescuers Down Under before we started watching our favorite animated Disney movies out of order in an attempt to complete our challenge! Since Disney+ wasn’t around then, we had to find the animated movies that weren’t on a streaming service somewhere out there on the internet. Let me tell you, that was not the best way to watch these movies. I’m so glad that we have Disney+ now!

Since then, I’ve moved back to Dallas, TX. I work at an elementary school and run a small baking business, MEK Bakes (check me out on Facebook and Instagram! @mekbakes). I’ve mainly been focusing on baking all my yummy treats and spending time with my family and friends as well as finding opportunities to travel. I’m hoping to visit NYC soon.

I was so excited when Melissa asked me to collaborate on this review! It’s just like old times. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts on some of my favorite Disney movies!




The Little Mermaid (1989) 

There are so many classic songs from this movie and you can never go to the beach or the pool without doing the classic rock pose. Of course I had a cartoon crush on Eric; I mean who didn't? The only glaring plot hole of this movie that I love seeing around the internet, it everyone wondering why Ariel didn't just write notes to Prince Eric when she had no voice? Even though one of the first animated movies under Michael Eisner's term as CEO was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I honestly believe this film started a successful steam of animated films for him and brought animation back to the forefront of the Disney company. Easter egg spotting: the Duke and King from Cinderella appear during the wedding scene on the ship.

Mary Ellen: Welcome to the Disney Renaissance! Disney animation had been in a slump for decades until this magical movie came out in 1989. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great movies that came out before the Disney Renaissance began, but The Little Mermaid is really what sparked my favorite era of Disney animated movies. The combination of hand-drawn animation, a compelling story, and amazing music were what made this movie great, and would continue to impress with classics like Beauty & The Beast and The Lion King (but we’ll get to those later). 



The Rescuers Down Under (1990) 

Sequels are very hard for me to like because they are never as good as the original (Finding Dory being the exception for me), but this movie was very good. It was exciting to continue watching Miss Bianca and Bernard's lives and go along on the next big adventure they go on. I loved that they picked Australia for this film because it is such a different place than Louisiana. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when they were sending the message to the other mice and all the mice in Hawaii were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Mary Ellen: I’m usually pretty skeptical of sequels, but this one was great! I think I even liked it better than the original. The storyline of this one was a bit more engaging, and you get to know the characters even more. Bernard spends the entire movie trying to find the right moment to propose to Miss Bianca. He also ends up being extremely clever and saving the day! This movie was the second of the Disney Renaissance, and the first animated sequel produced by Disney. Nowadays, animated sequels are common (who else went to see Frozen II in theatres? I know I did!), but back then, they weren’t. It also doesn’t hurt that this movie takes place in Australia!


Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Belle is one of my favorite Disney princesses. I think she's so relatable as a Disney princess because she loves to read, which is one of my favorite things to do in my spare time. I find it so cool that the story she's reading to the sheep in the opening number is the biggest mystery that people are trying to figure out. I believe that it's a foreshadowing to how her actually story is going to turn out. For a fun fact for this movie, they actually reused the animation from the end of Sleeping Beauty at the end of the movie. This was the first movie that was transformed into a Broadway musical and I'm so excited that Disney is bringing it back as a revival so I can finally get a chance to see it.

Mary Ellen: Without a doubt, Beauty & The Beast is my absolute favorite animated Disney movie. I wore out at least 2 VHS tapes of it when I was little. It seemed fitting that it would be the very first movie I watched on Disney+. If you’ve watched a never version, you’ll notice that there’s an additional song in it that was cut from the original movie because of time. It’s called “Human Again.” It was brought back for the Broadway musical and eventually added to the special edition of the 1991 classic. Beauty & The Beast is also one of my favorite musicals. The only version I don’t seem to like is the 2017 live-action version. It’s not my cup of tea.


Aladdin (1992) 

Jasmine is my other favorite Disney Princess. What I love about her is that she's wanting to push for a change in history where a woman shouldn't be forced to marry someone just because the law says so. This movie is actually interesting because of this movie is the only movie that has a Disney Princess where the movie is named after them and actually follows the story of the prince. I honestly believe that whenever my generation thinks of Robin Williams, most people think of him as the Genie. You can't beat a song like "Friend Like Me". They created a musical adaptation for this movie in 2014 and I've been able to see it twice. The songs they added to the musical are beautiful and I love that they brought back "Proud of Your Boy", which was sadly cut from the movie before it was released. There's a lot of Easter eggs throughout the film. The most noticeable are Genie's head turning into Pinocchio, Genie grabbing Sebastian out of a book while a clip of Under the Sea is playing in the background, and the Beast shown as one of the wooden animals in the Sultan's toys.

Mary Ellen: This movie. I love it so much. Again, another fantastic animated movie that was eventually made into a Tony Award winning Broadway musical. If you haven’t seen the musical, I highly recommend it. Melissa and I (on the spur of the moment) went to see the musical on my birthday in 2018, right before I moved back to Dallas. It was incredible! The music in the movie definitely lends itself to Broadway. “A Whole New World” has to be one of my favorite Disney songs ever. Aladdin gave us the gorgeous voice of Lea Salonga as well. 



The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This was my first time watching this movie. I'm not sure what it was, but apparently I tended to shy away from the darker movies, which is what Tim Burton is very well known for. This is the first movie Disney has done that was complete claymation and you have to be in awe to see all that they were able to accomplish with it. I love how the story line of Jack can be relatable to so many people. He's considered the king of Halloween and is getting tired of doing the same thing year in and year out. He stumbles upon another universe where Christmas exists and decides he wants to be in charge of Christmas that year. In the end, he learned that Halloween is really where he belongs and finds his passion for it again. It's relatable because so many people do the same thing day in and day out and when they start getting bored of it, sometimes just trying something else once can help them rediscover their passion for what they were doing before.

Mary Ellen: This one was also a first-time watch for me, and I have to say, even though it’s not one of my favorite movies ever, what impressed me was the animation. I’ve been told year after year that this movie is a Christmas staple, but I don’t agree with that. I think it’s more of a Halloween movie with a Christmas flair. I would, however, love to see the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland! It runs from October thru December, so if you’re ever at Disneyland in those months, check it out!



The Lion King (1994)

Everyone talks about how this movie is the greatest Disney movie out there. While it's not my favorite movie out there, you can't help but agree that it is one of the best Disney movies created. I love that they based the movie off of Shakespeare's classic play, Hamlet, with a score by Hans Zimmer and songs created by Tim Rice and Elton John. It's no surprise that the musical adaptation has also become Disney's most successful musical, currently the third longest running musical in its 22nd year on Broadway. "Be Prepared" is honestly one of my favorite villain songs and honestly I when I think of this movie, I always think of James Earl Jones as the voice of Mufasa and the amazing score written by Hans Zimmer.

Mary Ellen: I always take so much pride in the fact that I was born in the year of The Lion King. What a great movie to share it with! I’m seeing a pattern that all my favorite Disney animated movies eventually were made into Broadway musicals. It’s my two interests converging! Some people assume that the music in The Lion King was composed by Alan Menken, but it was actually Elton John. I didn’t know that for a long time. The score was by the incredible Hans Zimmer whose other credits include The Prince of Egypt (definitely see that movie if you haven’t!).



Pocahontas (1995) 

This was the first movie I ever saw in theaters and it was one of my favorite Disney movies when I was a kid. I think what's interested about this movie is how different is is from the actual story, but Pocahontas is the only Disney Princess based on an actual person, which I love that Disney did that because it helps children get a basic understanding of the settlement times in the US. Again with my theme of loving the animal sidekicks, I had an obsession with Meeko when I was a kid and had tons of Pocahontas related toys and activities. The animation of the colorful leaves floating in the wind is amazing and just thinking of how animation has changed from the leaves in Pocahontas to the water in Moana is mind-blowing.

Mary Ellen: I may be in a minority, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Pocahontas. It’s probably because I didn’t watch it when I was growing up. My staples were Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, and, of course, Beauty & the Beast. Even though it wasn’t my favorite Disney movie, I still loved the songs “Just Around the Riverbend” and “Colors of the Wind.” I can definitely crush the second one at karaoke!


Some parting words from Mary Ellen. I had so much fun watching these movies and writing my reviews! Maybe we could do a franchise review (Star Wars or Harry Potter) next?!? I'm sure we'll see her again as we continue to grow this series.
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