What did you do at the weekend? I watched 17 Disney films.
You won't be surprised to learn that this is the highest number of Disney films I have ever watched during a weekend. Have you even come close? If you have, fair play to you. My marathon involved doing almost nothing other than loading DVDs into my laptop, watching them, taking them out, and then loading up some more. I set an alarm on both days and barely moved from the sofa for 48 hours. In other words, it was one of the best weekends of my life.
Here is how things went down, and what I learned from the experience.
8.47am: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (not Dwarves? Right, OK)
I started with Snow White, the first of Disney's big load of films.Lots to say about this one. First of all, Snow White (is that her real name? This has to be the worst of all the Disney names, especially on account of the reason I'm about to explain). Her skin isn't "white as snow". It just isn't. The narrator is lying to us. In the film and in all of the associated photos, her skin is basically the same colour as the dwarfs' skin, and - if anything - darker than the Evil Queen's. People need to stop going on about her white skin. This is false advertising. It might even be racist advertising - the worst kind of advertising.
Bit of analysis of Snow White as a person:
- She runs like she needs a shit.
- She is thunderingly stupid. "Don't let nobody or nothing in the house," she is told point-blank by Grumpy, after the dwarfs have entrusted her with their entire house. First stranger that waddles along, she lets in. Just lets her in. It's not like she even succeeds in kicking away any initial strangers; it's literally just, "Hello fucking creepy old witch-woman, yes, come in, yes, I think I will eat that apple you're giving away for free." Jesus Christ.
- When she dies and is in a coffin for ages, doesn't anyone think it a little odd that her body isn't decomposing? She should absolutely stink; her face should be putrid brown and infested with the worst kind of maggots.
1. Why aren't the dwarfs (not dwarves? Really?) living in better accommodation? They extract diamonds from a mine that seems to be basically made of diamond. They pick up diamonds that are almost as big as their head. Why are there so many diamonds? What happens to all of the diamonds? Why can't they afford a full-time cleaner? Why are they all living in the same shithole when they could each live in an actual palace?
2. Something must be seriously wrong with Dopey. The other dwarfs are refusing to address what is likely to be a serious psychological problem.
I then moved on to Pinocchio, perhaps the trippiest of all the Disneys. I mean, where did this come from? Boys turning into donkeys? People getting swallowed by whales?? This was fucked UP. My notes are as follows:
- There's a lot of emphasis on bums in early Disney. A lot of bums. Maybe this died out with Walt himself. Something to look out for, anyway.
Pinocchio boasts what is perhaps the greatest line in all of Disney: "I never thought it would end like this...starving to death in the belly of a whale." (Close second: "Are you crazy? Don't you realise he's in a whale?")
- While we're on the subject of the whale: why is there already a house inside when Geppetto arrives? I mean, he might not be the first guy the whale's swallowed, but how did any previous occupants have the materials necessary to construct a house?
- If your business revolves around turning young boys into actual donkeys, you must have had a terrible childhood.
12.27pm: Lady and the Tramp (bit harsh)
I hadn't seen this before, so this was a treat. Not a bad film; not bad at all. I don't know why Lady drinks coffee though. Do dogs like coffee? The answer, my friends, is no. If you check the indispensable website CanIGiveMyDog.com, you'll discover the following: "Dogs should never consume coffee." This is why the internet coming along was so valuable. Before this website existed, everyone was just giving coffee to dogs, forcing cats to eat pizza, throwing croissants at bats... Disgusting.
- Lady thinks her owner is called 'Darling'. What an idiot.
- Lady and the Tramp has, for my money, the funniest scene in all of Disney. Watch the beaver from 2:35:
2:11pm: The Sword in the Stone
Uh-oh. Now we're entering Nostalgia Village. I remember this film incredibly well from my childhood, largely because I found the doddering owl Archimedes (yep, that's him above) so damn funny. Watching this again was therefore an emotional roller coaster. Do you remember the Marvellous Mad Madam Mim? Good times.
The Sword in the Stone is animated in a markedly different style to the preceding Disneys I watched - it is messier, and the lines rougher. The film is a barrel of laughs and there are some bloody classic moments in there: Ector getting Merlin's name wrong and repeatedly calling him 'Marvin'; Merlin in squirrel form trying to resist the advances of a horny female squirrel; and the epic duel between Mim and Merlin.
My other thoughts:
- There's yet another song about cleaning. Perhaps even more than it loves damsels in distress and comical sidekicks, Disney loves people singing about cleaning. There must be a cleaning song in every other film. If these are still happening in the modern iterations (I don't watch them any more - I'm 25), they should be sponsored by HI I'M BARRY SCOTT.
- The film has a great message for kids who wanna learn. Stay in school, kids.
3:35pm: The Jungle Book (The Jungle Film, surely?)
If you write a book called The Jungle Book, shouldn't it just be called The Jungle? People get the idea that it's a book; they can cope with that. You don't need to say To Kill a Mockingbird Book, or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Book, do you.
The Jungle Film has its moments but it's a bit of a drag, let's be honest. I was hitting my 3pm slump and was beginning to lose a grip on my sanity. I'd already seen four Disney films and they were beginning to merge into one another, a technicolour splurge of songs and comedy fights. We all know the story. Bagheera, a black panther, finds a baby in the jungle. But he's a bachelor, so he's only got time for ladies, not for babies - he don't want no sprog. So he just lobs the baby into a den of wolves and lets nature take it course. Good on him.
My other thoughts:
- At one stage, Bagheera says "Go on, go on" in a very familiar way. I think this was the inspiration for the Mrs Doyle character in Father Ted. Just sayin.
- More than any other, this is the film in which characters should die as the result of the awful things that happen to them. At one stage, Baloo falls backwards off a cliff and then a massive rock lands on his head. He's fine. What's going on?
- Whatever you say about the film, 'Jungle VIP' is a serious contender for Greatest Ever Disney Song.
Bit of trivia for you guys: the bloke who voices Kaa the snake is the same man who voices Winnie the Pooh. His name is Sterling Holloway. You're welcome.
4:55pm: Robin Hood
OH THIS IS MORE LIKE IT. This is when I really started having fun.
What a film, eh? What a film. If you haven't seen the Disney version of Robin Hood, you need to stop reading this immediately and go out and buy the DVD. What a sensational film. One thing you should be aware of, however, is that there is a LOT of dialogue about taxes. So if you don't like taxes, sorry, this one's not for you.
My other thoughts were as follows:
- Cheeky Disney got Phil Harris to voice two big bears, Baloo and Little John, and thought we wouldn't notice. WE NOTICED, DISNEY! And we love him. What a voice. Like salted caramel being poured directly into your ears.
- In The Jungle Film there's a hypnotic snake. And in Robin Hood there's also a hypnotic snake.
- Wait, are these two films basically the same?
- Nah, probably not.
- Maid Marian promises to kiss whoever wins the big important old archery tournament. This...is...dubious, no? Not sure she should be advertising her body as a prize like that. Bad Disney. Bad Disney, go to your room.
This was the first moment at which the similarities between Disney films became increasingly apparent to me. We all know that there are a hell of a lot of similarities, but check out the video below to get an insight into how animation sequences were literally picked up and lifted from one film into others. So cheeky.
7:23pm: Basil the Great Mouse Detective
OH FUCK IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER. I have since discovered that there are plenty of people uninitiated into the splendour of Basil the Great Mouse Detective. If this is you, I pity you. As well as being a lovely mouse version of Sherlock Holmes, this is perhaps Disney's scariest film. So take a clean pair of underwear when you get around to watching it. I soiled mine.
It is 1897. The eponymous Basil is a mouse detective who lives in 221.5 Baker Street, directly beneath Sherlock Holmes. He is visited by Dr David Q Dawson, a mouse who has just returned from Afghanistan. (What was he doing in Afghanistan? No idea, really. Probably helping out in some kind of mouse war.) The pair need to work together when a toy-maker goes missing and all the signs point to disgustingly evil crime genius Ratigan (who, though in denial about it, is a smelly old rat).
My notes about this film seem to zone in on one thing above all others: how dark and scary it is. I mean, it is freaking bleak, I won't hide that from you. In one of the songs about Ratigan, I had to rewind to confirm that I heard the following line correctly: "...worse than the widows and orphans you drowned". Wow.
Wow. I was six films in and Adult Disney had made its entrance.
Seriously, Basil is a gruesome, challenging film. It deals with disturbing issues, even if they are acted out by, er...by mice.
This, by the way, is the terrifying beast that is Ratigan:
Admit it. You just pooed yourself a bit.
9:10pm: Beauty and the Beast
Before I go any further, I should explain that the Beauty and the Beast DVD I was using did not cooperate with me and refused to make it through the entirety of the film. So, although I've seen it before, my notes here are only about the first 54 minutes:
- In the beginning, Belle sings of a "little town full of little people". What? Why's everyone little? Is she massive and we've never noticed? Or is she just being a sassy biatch? Wouldn't put it past her.
- The villagers call Belle strange - simply for possessing the capacity to read - but, mid-song, one of them screams "I NEED SIX EGGS." Who's more strange here? I think we know. It's the woman who goes around screaming "I NEED SIX EGGS", isn't it. It's her.
- The line "So, you've come to stare at the Beast, have you?" is, funnily enough, also what I say to people when I go to the beach.
- In Beauty and the Beast, for perhaps the first time in Disney, animals don't speak. This is important...but I don't know why.
- The Beast can see into Belle's room whenever he likes. He exercises a considerable amount of self-restraint and should therefore be applauded.
- Who makes the Beast's clothes? What a job.
- Lefou is abused on a phenomenally regular basis and it is wonder he is still alive, let alone that he hasn't tried to find other friends.
- Gaston mentions in song that he eats five dozen eggs a day. That is SIXTY EGGS. He eats SIXTY EGGS A DAY. The man finds the time to put SIXTY EGGS INTO HIS MOUTH every day without fail. This is too many eggs for a human. That he isn't dead is absolutely remarkable.
9:12am: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This is one of the most mature of the Disneys, choosing as it does a sightly more complex plot: the protagonist does not get the woman he fancies for the entire film; he comes to terms with the fact that he must let her love whom she loves. Nice. Good Disney.
- Frolo says, "The world is cruel; the world is wicked" AND HE'S NOT BLOODY WRONG.
- Frolo sounds a lot like Frodo. Look into that.
- Quasimodo's mother dies after being flung onto some snow-covered stairs. Let's remember that Baloo in The Jungle Film doesn't die after falling backwards off a cliff and having a huge rock land on top of his head. Pull it together, Disney, this is madness.
This guy. What a legend. Worth watching just for him, am I right?
- We have another contender for the greatest line in all of Disney: Esmerelda says, "Maybe Frolo's wrong about the both of us." Hugo, one of the gargoyles listening, says, "What did she say?" Laverne, the old one, replies: "Frolo's nose is long and he wears a dress." Hugo, triumphant, says to the third gargoyle, "Ha! Told you! Pay up." Brilliant.
- Frolo has some serious, serious issues and, let's be honest, it's a good thing he dies.
This is such a strong film that I have very little to say about it. Extremely self-aware, this one. When films are very self-aware they're extremely difficult to mock. So I'll just say this: Danny de Vito plays a centaur. Here is a great GIF of Danny DeVito:
(And that's basically the least sexually arousing one I could find.)
It was 12:25 and that could mean only one thing: time for Mulan, baby. I hadn't been able to remember much about Mulan, and it turned out to be absolutely epic. 'I'll Make a Man Out of You' - wow. Wow. 'With all the force of a great typhoon...' One of the best ever Disney songs, no question about that, my friend.
Time for the big question: is Mulan the Disney film with the greatest message at its core? My answer: yes.
Phil Collins does a lot of singing in Tarzan, and I'm happy about that. I'd had a long day of Disney films. His voice was soothing to me. Like being stroked by a soft flannel.
Interestingly, Tarzan was also the first of the 12 films I'd seen in which none of the characters did any of the singing. This was obviously because Phil was on board. Once Phil's on board, what's the point of anyone else singing?
Phil Collins aside, Tarzan was all right. Strong. There's a great bit of dialogue that goes like this:
"There are no piranhas in-"
Further to this, my insights were as follows:
- We know Jane falls in love with Tarzan. But should we discuss his personal hygiene? That man is gonna stink all over his smelly old body.
- Why is Tarzan not naked? I'd be much happier seeing a pixellated version because at least then it would be accurate.
- BRIAN BLESSED is in the film, meaning it's automatically the greatest Disney film of all time. In an ideal world, Brian Blessed would play all the characters in every Disney film.
3:55pm: Emperor's New Groove
You cannot possibly convince me that Emperor Kuzco is a good guy in any way. What an absolute knobhead. By the end of the film, the only thing he's done that doesn't make him a total, irredeemable bellend is saving Pacha's life. But that only makes him slightly better than shit. The rest of the time, he's the biggest prick known to man.
- This is the single funniest Disney film, largely because it is arguably the most self-aware. There are numerous tongue-in-cheek jokes, all of which make watching the film as an adult (sort of) a joy. It is the most Simpsons of the Disneys, let's put it that way.
- Pacha's son - a tiny little child - knows how to use the word 'careening' in an actual sentence. Most 30-year-olds wouldn't. This is either the smartest child ever to have been born, or it is an old man dressed up as a baby.
- Emperor Kuzco is a complete cock. Can't make this point often enough.
I have nothing constructive to say about Atlantis, other than that there's a huge metallic lobster and everyone's fingers are really weird. Look at the man's hands! LOOK AT HIS HANDS!
(By this stage in my marathon I was in a very strange mood.)
7:38pm: Brother Bear
At the end of Brother Bear, the narrator sums up the plot thus: "The story of a boy who became a man by becoming a bear." I know what you're thinking - oh no, not that one again! That is so old! But wait. Wait. Come back. This one has Phil Collins songs in it. ...Yeah, welcome back.
Brother Bear is an odd one. If you've seen it, you'll know it's about a boy who kills a bear because the bear killed his brother. After doing so, the boy is turned into a bear himself, so that he learns an important lesson about life: stop killing bears. If you haven't seen the film, well, now you know that that's what the film's about.
It's sadder than most Disneys, Brother Bear. You need to be mature to be able to handle it. So obviously I loved it. I also loved the scene in which an old bear tells all her friends that she misses her dead husband but he is heard shouting in background that he is still alive. Ha ha ha. Old bears.
9.19pm: High School Musical
Christ. 9.19pm. Nearly there. Now it was time for the worst film on the entire list: High School Musical. My God...
This was my 16th film, and it was the first one that was immediately laughable. Whether it was the names (Troy...Sharpay...) or the appalling dubbing, this brought the quality plummeting immediately downward with a loud crash. High School Musical, as you may know, is about Troy and new girl in town Gabriella, and their attempts to enter the school's winter musical auditions. I don't need to tell you the rest. You can predict every single scene and every single line.
- The high school is in Albuquerque. There is therefore a chance that the students could have been taught by infamous meth cook Walter White. Realising this cheered me up no end,
- Troy has a good voice but he's new to music; he's never explored this side of himself before. How therefore is he able to read music with no problems at all?
- When the students go online, the search engine they use is called 'Search the Internet'.
Yep. Still going.
Luckily, Tangled is considerably, considerably less shit than High School Musical. This was my last film, and I ended on a high.
The animation in Tangled is of a totally different texture. We are in the realm of CGI now and the images are rich and remarkably realistic as a consequence. Made in 2010, Tangled is the first film to use the word 'like' as a punctuation point in a song - as in "For, like, the first time ever". Yep. Disney went there. Disney went teen girl.
Tangled, as you may know, is the story of the princess Rapunzel, trapped in a tower by an old bitch called Mother Gothel. As Rapunzel was stolen from her parents by Mother Gothel, her parents mourn her loss, releasing fire lanterns every year on her birthday, along with the rest of their kingdom - lanterns that Rapunzel sees and ignite in her a desire to explore the outside world. With the help of Eugene Fitzherbert, Rapunzel does exactly this, and discovers that she never wants to return to the tower. Who can blame her.
I bloody loved this film, but I am very concerned about the number of cows that would have died as a result of thousands of fire lanterns being released into the air every single year. Those things kill cows, guys. The cows eat the lanterns and the cows die, but you're just releasing them over and over again. Don't you care about the dead cows? Won't somebody think of the dead cows?
There we are. That is my story. I am exhausted. Needless to say, I will never be watching any Disney films ever again. I won't even provide my voice if they ask me to star in one of their films. Actually, I would do that. If that opportunity came up, I would definitely have to take it.
I owe my dear friend Becky Westwood heartfelt thanks for providing me with the DVDs for this article. Without her, none of this would have been possible.