Growing up, I saw many of the classic Disney films – Pinocchio, Bambi, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, etc. – but as a child my favorite one was without a doubt the 1973 version of Robin Hood, with a foxy Robin Hood and Maid Marian, a petulant shorn lion as Prince John, and various other characters given appropriate animal form. I didn’t know it at the time, but Disney was in recycle mode here, not even bothering to disguise the re-use of Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book as Little John, or the King of the Animals from Bedknobs and Broomsticks as the ineffective Prince John. Sometimes there’s something to be said for ignorance, and my childhood glee at watching and rewatching this film is something that will never escape me. I’ve heard others who saw this film first as adults say that they didn’t like it much at all, but I’ll never be able to watch it without nostalgia glasses, I guess. Thankfully, Jonathan feels the same way about it, so at least I have one very important person on my side. If you do have kids who are into adventure but may not quite be ready for the 1938 Errol Flynn The Adventures of Robin Hood quite yet, give the Disney version a try. It’s a good stepping stone, and they won’t know that it falls into Disney’s “lazy” period.
Disney has been producing new Mickey Mouse cartoons for a while now, but I first really became aware of them when I happened to catch one playing at the Disney Store and was like, what is this, it’s awesome! Because they are awesome. I’ve been pretty vocal in the past about how little I like the things that Warner Brothers has tried to do with Looney Tunes in recent years, but for some reason, I have absolutely no problem with the way Disney has brought Mickey into contemporary cartoons. For one thing, they aren’t using gimmicks like 3D, they aren’t trying to fit the characters into a sitcom format, and most importantly, they’ve got a distinctive but classic-looking style to them.
Here’s this month’s short, appropriately Halloween-themed with a zombie Goofy. I’ve embedded the playlist below – check out the others as well, because this one isn’t even my favorite (that might be “Bad Ear Day,” which uses sound really cleverly or “Croissant de Triomphe,” which was the one I saw at the Disney Store and immediately grabbed me with its Parisian setting and stylish backgrounds).
Disney Animation is certainly holding its own against sibling Pixar, and nothing proves that better than the short Paperman, which preceded Wreck-It Ralph in theatres and is now available online. I may have only seen four animated features this year (but I’m fairly confident those four were among the best American animated features of the year, and not just because they all got Oscar noms), but I’m pretty sure Paperman is better than all of them.