New Releases

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

The misguided husband is currently taking a break from writing and after watching this film, it became apparent why.

I decided that now, whilst I am at home this much (Covid-19 lockdown, for those reading this in the future), I will watch through the Disney releases of 2020 and review them (which was something I was going to do with all new releases moving forward anyway, but Mulan has been delayed). It is very interesting seeing through the eyes of a non-nostalgic Disney viewer, as the style of film ‘Timmy Failure’ falls into the category of films that I don’t tend to watch (aimed at the age group below ‘teens’ and not animated). image-4They just don’t appeal to me. So, I was interested to see what I thought of it and went in with an open mind, convinced that as it’s Disney, I will love it. So, I said to Ben, “I’m going upstairs to watch a new Disney film”, to which he responded (as he had briefly misheard me), “That sounds like my kind of ‘Isney’ film” (say my sentence out loud, if you missed what he might’ve heard). The fact that I’d said that I was going upstairs, in the middle of the day, to watch it, must’ve very much raised his eyebrows. Anyway, onto the review!

The story is based around a boy called Timmy Failure (shock), that looks like he is about 7, but apparently is 11 (thanks IMBD). As surnames tend to start as one word and evolve into another over time, I’d love to know at which point his evolved to ‘Failure’, because I think I would’ve changed it much further back in the ancestral chain, if that had been my family name. image-7Timmy is an only-child that lives with his single mum (you see his Dad walk out on them at the beginning of the film) and believes that he runs his own detective agency with his partner, Total, a full-sized polar bear. Now, initially, I was wondering how he managed to own a polar bear but, alas, Total is essentially his imaginary friend. I should add here that the polar bear is seriously cute, for a 1200-pound carnivore. The film follows Timmy’s life as he tries to run his detective agency and deal with school, whilst trying to prove that all the crime in the area is being perpetrated by the Russians that live in his city (Portland, Oregon).

That’s it. That’s the whole story. Haven’t even given away spoilers because nothing unexpected happens. I’m now going to cover all the parts of the story that I liked before I start my rant about cover all the parts that I didn’t like.

Look how amazing her hair is!

I liked the polar bear, probably because it appeared to be a real bear. I’m assuming that this was done using CGI or something, as I don’t think it would be possible to tame a polar bear to that degree. I could watch animals all day, so I should probably check out some of the nature documentaries on Disney+. Hmm, what else did I like? I like Molly Moskins’s hair… and her cat. I liked the effort that Timmy’s mum’s new boyfriend was making such a genuine effort to bond with Timmy and that they do get closer throughout the film.

Sorry, that’s all I could give you. Four things (and two of them were purely the existence of certain animals). Onto the things I didn’t like.

Timmy just wasn’t the sort of character that I felt I could get behind. He seemed too… broken. I know that sounds awful and I genuinely don’t mean it the way it reads, so let me try and explain. I have two children. A 15-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. I was a single mother to until my daughter was around the age of 3 and one of my biggest fears was that I would let her down as a parent and wouldn’t be able to raise her to be a strong person that can cope with the world. image-8I felt that Timmy wasn’t coping with the world at all and his mum’s frustration was all too close to home, for me. I do have a habit (as does Ben) of getting too emotionally invested in fictional characters (see Ben’s Bambi review if you want to see how much). It was quite clear that he had created this world of ‘being a detective’, as I way of attempting to gain some control of his life. We see that ‘Total’ comes into his life shortly after his dad leaves. The child has developed an ability to block all his emotions. He says, “Affirmative” instead of “Yes”, “Negative” instead of “No” and, more concernedly, he can not bring himself to say the word, “Sorry”, when he has done something wrong (even to his mum) and instead says, “Mistakes were made” (hence the tagline to the film). Timmy clearly has compassion, and we see this a few times throughout the film, but at times my heart breaks for his mum. Funnily enough, I don’t want to watch a Disney film and feel like I’m psychoanalyzing the characters. I appreciate the most people just watch films and switch off from seeing the characters as humans, but I really struggle. My issue. Shall we psychoanalyze me? Let’s not, eh. By the end of the film, he has developed in his character a bit, but not enough to make it worthwhile. image-6Then the film just ends. It doesn’t seem to have the usual beginning, middle and end. It just… is. There is no real sense of starting at an equilibrium, getting into a disequilibrium and the ending at equilibrium again. I found that at 25 minutes in, it was really struggling to hold my attention.

On the upside, this film has given me a new level of appreciation for how Ben feels when he watches Disney films without the nostalgia that I have of my childhood-self watching them. It is difficult to write a review when you didn’t find the film interesting and I can see why he is currently needing a bit of a break. He’ll be back very soon though.

In conclusion, I found that nothing really happens in this film and that I really didn’t enjoy it. Would I watch it again? Think I’ve just answered that. Mistakes were made.


Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

The Sword in the Stone

“Well Disney writing team, profits are up and families all over the world keep watching our films! Well, most of them anyway, I don’t think even Walt’s seen ‘Fun and Fancy Free’ if truth be told. Anyway, so I took the liberty of watching through our back catalogue again to see what could help us going forward. I felt it important we remember what works and more importantly, what we can learn from and improve so we keep things from becoming stale. Firstly, Mary, you were responsible for the endless Latin American dance scenes interspersed with Donald Duck’s attempts at sexual harassment that took up the final two-thirds of ‘The Three Caballeros’ yes? Yeah, so you’re fired. Moving on, I have noticed that rather a lot of our films contain some of, or all of the following:

  • Multiple drawn-out scenes of frolicking animals. Or as we call it, “Filler”.
  • Lead protagonists, often princesses, playing and dancing with frolicking animals.
  • Animals displaying human traits and intelligence
  • Animals chasing or trying to copulate with other animals, usually with a bit of frolicking thrown in.

It’s extremely cute, but eventually even the biggest softie who watches our films in order, will start to find these scenes… slightly repetitive. I want you to think of something with a different feel for our next film”

“How about we do an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book?”

“No, that still involves someone playing with various animals. We’ll do that one once we’ve run out of other ideas.”

“How about Sword in the Stone”

“What’s that?”

“A 1938 novel about King Arthur’s ascent to the throne in Medieval England”

“Perfect, I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to get distracted by frolicking animals retelling that story!

George, despite your history of killing mummy-deer and creating donkey slave children, I know you’re the right man to help us mix it up, keep it fresh and show the extraordinary depth we possess! Now get working!”

I’ve heard a lot of good things about 1963’s Sword in the Stone (or SITS as I will refer to it from now on). It’s possible that I saw some of it when I was young. I think I remember seeing something with ‘Stone’ in the title that I enjoyed, but then I also think I saw something with stone in the title that bored me. Perhaps I’m confusing this with the 1984 romantic comedy ‘Romancing the Stone’? I’m sure I liked one of them, hopefully it’s SITS. It depends. This Disney classic does feature Danny DeVito yeah?

images(9)We have Arthur, or as he’s more commonly known, Wart, who lives in a castle with his mean Foster-Father, Ector and his brutish son Kay (Ector’s son is Kay, not Arthurs, I know they sometimes mated young in the extremely-olden days but let’s not go there). He is downtrodden and expected to all the chores, while Kay receives preferential treatment. If at this point, you’ve thought of a fifth century Harry Potter and a Vernon and Dudley Dursley, then you and I are of accord. To be honest, once we are introduced to the ‘Dumbledore-without-enigmatic-lovability-and-rational-thought’ that is Merlin, I realise that subconsciously JK Rowling clearly had a desire to create a story that took the basis of SITS and add heaps of character depth and logical motives (and Quidditch).

Merlin, who can time travel, knows that Arthur / Wart will amount to something special, so when Arthur / Wart unexpectedly, or to be more accurate, expectedly drops into Merlin’s home, the Dumbledore-light decides to help him to achieve greatness by moving in with him. Fun Fact: Today, when an old man takes an interest in a young boy, he’s usually not allowed to shack up with him. Shook, yes? Just what has the world become!

At this point in the story, England has no King and the legend is that the next King would be the one who could pull a sword out of a rock. All fairly standard and logical stuff. But this sword in the stone has been forgotten about. Probably because it’s stupid. So, they’re having a jousting competition in London to find the next King. Ector has entered Kay. Wart is to be the squire for him. Merlin knows he can do much better, so he decides it’s time for some lessons…

images5“So, tell me George, what have you and the writing-team come up with so far? I can’t wait to hear the new and original ways that Merlin will teach Arthur new skills!”

“Well after a lot talking, we’ve got something you’re going to love! Merlin is going to teach Arthur about Physics by turning them both into Fish!!!”

“Erm…Right, so that would involve animals again yes?

“It’s in the original story Sir!”

“Really? I’m regretting this idea already. What exactly will they do when they’re fish?”

“Well they’ll play around with other aquatic creatures. They’ll get chased by an extremely large fish. And generally, they’ll… you know… frolic.”

“I see. Not quite the ‘new and interesting’ I was expecting. And how are they going to escape from this extremely large fish?”

“They’ll get assistance from Archimedes!”

“Who’s Archimedes?”

“Merlin’s highly intelligent, talking owl”

“OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GEORGE! Right I’m going outside for a smoke to calm down….”

“Boy, it’s lucky I didn’t tell him about all the escapades involving the wolf…”

20200418_204534So, there’s a wolf that is constantly trying to eat Wart and failing. Merlin has an owl called Archimedes. This owl is highly learned but is mostly just a negative, cantankerous dick. He is a highly annoying example of a fictional owl. And as the snippet from the completely real and not at all fabricated writers meeting above shows, after moving in with Wart (they had permission to do this after scaring the crap out of Ector with magic), Merlin decides to teach Wart a lesson in physics. It’s also a way of showing how becoming something with real life and death problems forces the need to use one’s brain more.

And so, they become fish. I’m sure a lot of kids will find their fishy adventures hilarious, fun, and exciting all rolled up into one. I’m sure plenty of adults feel the same. I’ve watched seventeen Disney Animation Studio films in chronological order in a matter of months, and I been there and seen this sort of ‘animal in peril’ scene MANY times now. It’s not even like I don’t like a good cartoon fauna chase scene either. I love Tom and Jerry. I love Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote. This I think is symbolic of something I also felt as a child. That basically, I genuinely find that ‘Hanna Barbera’ and ‘Looney Tunes’ a lot funnier than Disney. There was a point during this journey through Disney, around the mid 1940’s, that the Animation Studio’s branch seemed more interested in showing off their artistic skills, emotional rollercoasters and Latin American propaganda, over making people laugh. And don’t get me wrong, that’s absolutely fine if you have a penchant for pretentious creativity with a pen, mixing tears with smiles or Paraguay. But I want a simple giggle, and I prefer Jerry hitting Tom with a frying pan before setting his tail on fire. Disney still adds humour, but still less than some of their animating rivals.

Wart has been given a lot of washing up to do by Ector. This much:

Washing up

Now I don’t know about you, but I consider that to be rather a lot for a family of three. They probably have some live-in staff, but considering Wart has to wash up every day, that’s a ridiculous amount even if they had some two dozen servants to feed! Consistency Disney! Consistency! Merlin and his delightful owl appear, and Merlin uses magic to wash up everything automatically. I think it’s time for another lesson…

“So how is the adaptation coming on George? Did you get rid of that damn owl?”

“Well we’ve just covered Wart’s second lesson boss. And No.”

“Ok, and what is that lesson?”

“Gravity and instinct, I suppose.”

“Ah yes, that classic combination. Just what a future king needs. And how is Merlin going to teach him these things?”

“He’ll turn them into frolicking squirrels!”

“Oh for fu…. Frolicking squirrels?!”

“But wait, it gets better! There will be this sweet girl squirrel. And she’ll fall in love with Wart and decide that he’s her mate for life! And there will be this fat-chick-squirrel that wants to be humped by Merlin-squirrel too!”

20200418_204735“And how does this get resolved? Does this teach a valuable lesson?!”

“Not really. And Merlin will just turn them back into humans so he can scare the fat-chick-squirrel away”

“And what happens to the sweet girl squirrel?”

“Well when a female squirrel meets a male squirrel that she fancies, she will make him her mate for life. So obviously she’ll end up being emotionally ruined! She cries and everything!”

What is it about Disney making cute animals cry or suffer? Why is it that Disney make animals cry or suffer when there’s very little necessity for it in order to progress the plot? What the fuck is wrong with Disney?! The whole squirrel segment seems to damage the real female squirrels far more than it progresses Wart in his education. Perhaps the segment is not even supposed to teach Wart anything. Maybe it’s supposed to be just entertaining and we, the viewer, are supposed to be rejoicing in a sweet female squirrels’ new mate for life turning into a human boy, leaving her permanently damaged? And even if this batshit lesson does teach Wart some useful lessons, is the best way to do this have to involve EMOTIONALLY SCARRING A CUTE FUCKING ANIMAL?!!! Later on, after all the squirrel scarring, Ector sacks Wart as squire because of the whole magic washing up thing.

“George, please tell me you have something different to tell me this time. Got rid of that negative owl now maybe?

“No Archimedes is still there!”

“Oh, for the love of… I swear to god George, if you had your way, the whole film would just be a boy playing with animals in a goddam jungle! Ok, well as I can see this ruddy owl is clearly not going to be scrapped altogether… just make sure he’s not too much of a focal point and all will be ok, I suppose.”

images7“So, Archimedes is taking over tutoring Wart and…”

“For fucks sake…”

“Wart is turned into a bird….”

“Of course, he is…”

“and after a good bit of….”

“frolicking, yes…”

“he ends up in a witch’s kitchen and she tries to kill him!”

“Obvious… Wait, what?!!! Oh ok, interesting, whys that then?”

“Because she’s a dick. We haven’t decided exactly which bits from the book we’re taking or changing here, after our initial discussions we’ve decided unlike in the original novel, the witch won’t strip Wart naked”

“well that’s one good decision at least”

“so, for now, we’ve just added a placeholder for the next scene that says, “inconsequential time filling magic fight.”

index3The witch Madam Mim, and Merlin have a battle that lasts a long time and is remarkably unimportant in terms to the direction of the film. I’m pretty sure the need for more action was the driving force of this being included. After Merlin’s victory, Wart finds out that he is to be Kay’s squire again. Wart is happy but this causes Merlin to lose his absolute shit. Merlin feels that because Wart has been turned into multiple different forms of wildlife and has now almost been Killed, eaten and/or molested, he should now aspire to having bigger goals in life for some reason. You would think as Merlin can travel into the future and seems to know everything, that he would know that Wart HAS to go to London as he will pull the sword out?! But Merlin clearly hasn’t done his homework properly and buggers of to 20th century Bermuda in a sulk.

Wart goes to London but forgets to bring a sword. He pulls out the sword in the stone and becomes king Arthur. Merlin returns in stupid shorts and everyone is happy.

images4Based on everything I’ve written, it could be easily misconstrued that I really didn’t like this film, which actually isn’t really the case. The fact is that we’re in the middle of a pandemic lockdown (holy shit that feels weird to write), and Disney has an uncanny knack of making me feel like the walls are closing in on me even when I have the freedom of the whole wider world at my disposable, especially when someone sings. Speaking of Covid-19, considering his time-travelling abilities, I’m surprised Merlin didn’t mention the virus to Wart at any point. Probably because it would result in a lesson about properly washing your hands, and that’s fucking difficult to turn into another animal frolic.

Also, SITS was one of the few times that I was going into the film in question with a certain amount of expectation. I was legitimately expecting to really like this movie. Maybe not at the level of ‘Lady and the Tramp’, but I was expecting to like it more than I did. As a result, it was an unfortunate case of being the wrong film (a Disney film) at the wrong time…

There were enjoyable moments, don’t get me wrong. And more than in a lot of the films so far, but I found I was more triggered than usual by certain Disney tropes. If you hadn’t guessed, two of them are Frolicking animals and repetitive animal chases. I try not to go on about it though… But I thoroughly blame George for those issues though, even if there is a very strong chance that I completely made him up (the next film will be ‘The Jungle Book’, which I believe features a boy in a Jungle with a load of animals, so maybe this fictional George chap has far more influence than I realised…).

To summarise, I will do my best not to let external factors or repetitive tropes effect my reviews. HOWEVER:  if I have to hear my wife and daughter singing many, many Disney songs in a house that I CAN’T ESCAPE… then I make no promises…

5.5 / 10 (one mark off for emotionally breaking a squirrel)

Ben 🙄

Well that was a surprise for me. I really thought he was going to like that film a lot. It’s one of my favourites! It’s quite amazing how he can take a scene that I found hilarious as a child and ruin it by pointing out how heartbroken a female squirrel gets. Dick! That is (was) one of my favourite Disney segments ever. The ‘fat-chick squirrel’ (as he so politically-correctly refers to her), used to have my brother and I rewinding the video over and over to re-watch and each time we would be literally rolling on the floor laughing! I still laughed as an adult.

Oh well. We can’t agree on everything I suppose (and we don’t, obviously, because that would be weird).

Onto ‘The Jungle Book’ next with… more frolicking animals… *sigh*. Fuck him, it’s awesome. He could shock me and thoroughly enjoy it, I guess. I mean, it has Baloo the Bear! What’s not to like?!

As for Sword in the Stone:


Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

101 Dalmations

Misguided Husband (should just call him Ben really, shouldn’t I) had a little business meeting (with each other) the other day and decided that my feedback on his reviews should come at the end of that review and not at the beginning of the next one. This is the crossover post, as I don’t want to dismiss the Sleeping Beauty review… which I personally think was his best review yet. If you haven’t read it, please do.

I did think he’d enjoy that one a little more, but he didn’t hate it and we did get the My Three Mum’s song, so… swings and roundabouts.

Onto 101 Dalmations and I’ll catch you again shortly.

Kerry 😁

Synopsis for ‘101 Dalmatians’:

“Delightful family film in which 99 really cute puppies spend half of the movie’s runtime, desperately trying to avoid being heinously murdered and skinned! With villains that receive virtually no penance for their attempted cruelty as well as relentless tobacco abuse, 101 Dalmatians is sure to delight both adults and young children alike!

watching tvBut of course the synopsis on IMDB and every other movie website doesn’t say this, because then who the hell would watch it? Of course even without a synopsis like that, I didn’t want to watch the film, because I’m a Disney-cynic who is watching through every Disney film to find out exactly which of their films an average adult dude would find enjoyable without the bias of any childhood nostalgia. Oh, and because my wife has made me… For the record, we’re on film sixteen now. I’ve liked one film and tolerated around three more (considering we’ve had plenty of relatively unknown oddities, propaganda travel films and deer-snuff, this is actually quite a success). So the odds of me enjoying this motion picture are fairly slim even before we delve into a healthy slice of attempted puppy skinning.

4 dalmationsThe big problem with this film is just how much of its eighty minutes, is spent building up drama about something we KNOW will not happen. I mean, could you imagine if Cruella De Vil had succeeded in her plans? If she had, people would never even mention the mummy-murder from Bambi in tear-jerking Disney scenes. People would just say, “remember when that psycho woman drowned some of the cutest puppies ever animated and skinned them in front our childhood eyes? I don’t, but my therapist reckons it’s a key reason why I fear interpersonal contact and why I like to peel labels of bottles whilst crying.” Even Bambi would never go THAT far, so any rational adult is left with a sense of inevitability with how things will play out. That’s not to say a film with a largely inevitable plot cannot be good. It’s just that for me personally… this film… isn’t really.

Cruella De Vil. With that name, her parents never gave her a chance. When your family name contains ‘devil’, adding ‘cruel’ to the forename is asking for trouble. Either that, or her maiden name was ‘Cruella Smith’ and she subconsciously seeked out a husband that could befit her first name better? Either way, I reckon it would be nice to mix it up or swerve the audience by calling your villain ‘Aurora Feelgood’ or ‘Suzy Sweetie-Pie’.suzy sweetie-pie

How can you doubt this woman now?! She now looks like a good egg and sounds like a delightful woman who really wants to fuss some cute little dogs or at worst a slightly pervy old lesbian. A Suzy Sweetie-Pie would surely never skin a puppy. So when it transpires that Suzy Sweetie-Pie does indeed have desires of skinning baby canines for winter garments, the audience is well and truly shook. Or perhaps, just maybe, I’m overthinking this? I have to find something to think though, because this film clearly isn’t going to help me out.

Cruella (or Suzy as she’s now known, only by me) leads me onto the thing that I find unforgivable in this movie. There are two things that we have to see, on our screens before the end of the film , as a result of Cruella’s evil intentions. These are non-negotiable. jasper and horraceThe first is that the puppies, the adult dogs and the owners are happily reunited by the end, safe in the knowledge that the threat is now null and void. The second is that we see the perpetrators of grotesque villainy suffer a horrific fate, preferably with extreme pain and/or death, or even just honest to goodness imprisonment for our delectation. Now, the bad buys having a minor car crash and getting a bit of snow on them IS NOT A FUCKING COMEUPPANCE!!!!!!! Where’s the perverse joy in her suffering that we, the viewers, so desperately crave? And as a result, even though the puppies, dogs and owners are indeed reunited at the end, what’s to say that Cruella and the two bad dudes don’t just show up at the house after the films finished, and take the puppies at gunpoint?!

pongo and perdyThe second thing that really stood out to me in this film was the animation. It’s different to the Disney that I’ve been used to so far. I’m not an artist or a professional animator, so I can’t tell you the technical reasons or names for why or how it’s different, but if there were differences in prior films, they never really stood out. This time however, it’s a glaring step forward. Or more accurately, a giant saturated step back. The vibrancy of colours from previous films has gone and everything looks slightly grim. Combine this with the plot and everything felt cold. On top of that, everything looks so…. drawn. Everything looks like it has a pencil outline. I just don’t like it. This is very much just my personal opinion. It’s like the animators (who I’ve complained about a few times for their self-indulgent tendencies) wanted to really make sure you know that they were good with a pencil.

I’ve said this before, but I would much prefer my Disney film to be stupid and illogical as it gives me so much more to work with than a film that I can only describe as “meh”. Regardless of quality, or how much I like a film, I want plenty of “why the fuck is that happening?” moments like we had in the last film ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Although, not always to my taste, at least kept my attention and gave me plenty to say. What those films give, and what this film didn’t, is 101 reasons to care.


Ben 🙄

I’m baaack!

When I was watching this film with Ben, it did occur to me why I hadn’t watched it as much as some of the others, growing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good film. It just drags a lot. I did enjoy the Twilight Bark scene, although Ben started groaning everytime it continued longer than expected… and it did go on for a loooong time. Again, I’ll absolutely agree with him about the puppies being cute. They are adorable. Almost makes me want to get a dalmation!


Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

Sleeping Beauty

Ben got a bit miffed by something a week and a half ago which surprised me. We were setting up our Disney+ profiles and he was genuinely annoyed because he couldn’t make his avatar Tramp, from Lady and the Tramp. Yes, that’s right. We are (*counts through list*) fourteen films in (fifteen if you include the film review you’re about to read) and Ben now has a favourite Disney character. That is how much he enjoyed Lady and the Tramp! A result and much sooner than I expected (I mean, I was expecting his favourite character to be Maui in Moana, so that gives you an idea of the timescale… I’m lying, I expected it to be Robin Hood, but it’s still earlier than I expected).

Let’s see if he finds another one in Sleeping Beauty… maybe.

The original story of Sleeping Beauty is thought to date back as early as the 14th Century, but the more well-known version was adapted and published by Charles Perrault and then re-adapted by the Brothers Grimm (because, I mean, which one’s didn’t they re-adapt). The tale is of a beautiful princess, who is cursed by an evil fairy to die when she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel spindle, but instead of sleep, a good fairy alters the curse so that the princess will only fall asleep, rather than die and that true-love’s kiss will awaken her.

Do I think Ben will like this one? Tough call. He liked Cinderella and didn’t hate Snow White, so don’t think he’ll hate this one. However, I think it will be his least liked of the three ‘Princess’ films he’s seen so far. We’ll just have to see, won’t we.

As for me, I have fond memories of this film and always enjoy watching it. I think Aurora is sweet and Prince Philip has the most character of the princes that we have met so far (and an actual name, unlike the previous two). My favourite characters are the three good fairies and love the dress/cake scene. Definitely worth a watch.


Kerry 😁

“Right team, we’re going to do an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty for our next film

“Hmmm… It’s quite similar to Snow White isn’t it?

“Rubbish! How?!

“Well… Jailbait Princess that likes to natter with wildlife, crazy bitch wants her dead but ends up condemning her to eternal sleep, adult Prince that likes to appear from the bushes and sing at the girls manages to break the spell by making out with her whilst she’s zonked out

“Ok I see your point, so any ideas how to make this film different then?

“How about we take away the entertaining Dwarves and make sure the Princess has next to no dialogue or personality?

And so in 1959, we get the barely legal and largely mute Aurora to round off the decade for Disney Animation Studio films. My god the fifties went quicker than the decade that preceded it (although I expect a lot of people who lived through both decades felt the same way to be honest). At one point it felt like 1940’s Walt Disney was a never-ending trawl through propaganda and a few forgotten films that could be a hard watch even for someone who doesn’t break out in a cold sweat every time the Disney logo appears. The fifties, however, have flown by in comparison. ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where enjoyable enough, ‘Peter Pan’ showcased most of what makes Disney-fanatics fanatical but Disney-cynics cynical about their films, ‘Lady and the Tramp’ was the first true triumph in terms of changing the negative connotations I entered this project with, and now ‘Sleepy Beauty’ is already bringing the decade to a conclusion. But will the fifties have a happy ending?

Before the film starts, Kerry offers me a rare warning: For most of this love story, the heroine is literary just turning sixteen. So it’s a bit… you know… dodgy. However, the fact we’re going to be watching a story where the grooming of a minor is seemingly avoided by a mere fourteen hours or so, does at least have the silver lining of only containing one real song. That’s a pretty good silver lining. Some of the films have contained at least half a dozen too many. What she failed to mention is that this one song appears many, many times. She also failed to mention the song is ‘Once Upon a Dream’, which is famous enough that even I know it. And hate it.

As the narrator tells us about a King and Queen having a daughter called Aurora (which is a cracking name, always loved it), a random choir take it upon themselves to repeat everything that is said. I assume this won’t happen through the whole film as that might become annoying after a while. Saying that, it became annoying after the third time it happened. The King and Queen have arranged for Aurora to marry Prince Philip from a neighbouring kingdom when she grows up. Euuugh. I HATE the arranged marriage concept.

fairies with baby auroraThey throw a party to honour Aurora’s birth. Naturally, like at any good party, three fairies must give some presents. The first fairy, Flora, gives the gift of beauty, and waves her wand. She could have given the gift of intelligence, positivity or perhaps the ability to fly. But no, she just makes sure she’s good eye-candy. Flora also clearly doesn’t have faith in the King and Queens genetics to pass on some aesthetically pleasing features themselves. The second fairy, Fauna, gives the gift of song… The gift of song. Again, she could probably hold a tune anyway, and does this gift really have useful applications in the real world? She could have given the gift of intelligence, positivity or perhaps the ability to fly… The third fairy, Merryweather… Merryweather? Plants, Animals and Merryweathers…. Right then. The only ‘Merryweather’ I’ve heard of is a security company in ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’ but I doubt she was named after that… Anyway, she’s about to give her a no-doubt equally useful ability, probably being able to wiggle her ears or something, when a goth walks in.

This “evil fairy”, named Maleficent, with loads of dark eye makeup, black clothes and a penchant for saying how evil she is, is really pissed off about not being invited to the party. So yeah, a goth then. Something needs to be addressed here. Most evil people don’t think they’re being evil. Hitler. Stalin. Kanye. None of them acted how they did, because they thought they were being dastardly. They all believed they were doing what they were doing, or saying what they were saying, for the greater good. Even Kanye. Their highly questionable goals were the cause of their nefarious actions. Of course this doesn’t excuse any of them in any way. But to celebrate being evil, as well as all the forces of evil, is just plain attention seeking in my opinion. Bit like a goth again.

maleficentNow because she didn’t get invited to the party, she casts a spell which states that Aurora will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, before sunset on her sixteenth birthday, and die. That is a really specific sequence of events. She could have just killed Aurora there and then. But instead she decides to go with the “James Bond villain” approach of an unnecessarily drawn out and complex death containing multiple potential pitfalls. Why?! Again, Maleficent is coming across as an attention-seeking-psycho-….goth.

So, conveniently, there are loopholes that can create much hope, drama and potentially save the day. Merryweather says “hold my beer” (if your siblings were called Flora and Fauna and you were the runt who was left with the name ‘Merryweather’ you would probably drink profusely too) and decides to use her spell to act as a counter to Maleficent’s.  Quite a convenient plot-device, however, is that Merryweather’s spell can’t just stop Maleficent’s, it can only offer a ray of hope at the end of it. They’re really setting up the potential for drama and excitement, aren’t they? This counter-spell will stop Aurora dying, but she will be unconscious and can be revived by love’s kiss. So, simply put. Merryweather’s IDEAL solution to wake Aurora here, is to most likely find a random dude that is willing to make out with  an unaware, unconscious sixteen-year-old girl. In fairness, the odds of that happening are disconcertingly high, but surely, she should be taking into consideration the nature of the suitors this is likely to attract.

After the spell is cast, the fairies also agree to hide Aurora for sixteen years to keep her safe. All the spinning wheels are to be destroyed too. All in all, a pretty crappy day for the King and Queen. They probably wish they just sent out one extra party invitation now. Although I can understand why they didn’t invite Maleficent to their party due to her love of being evil and the fact she’d probably keep flooding the stereo with Cradle of Filth or My Chemical Romance.

Sixteen years later and Maleficent still has no idea where Aurora is. She is still obsessed with finding her. All because she didn’t get a baby shower invite. SIXTEEN YEARS AGO! ABSOLUTE PSYCHO! How two dimensional can any character be?!!! This is just beyond stupid. She has a load of weird, shadow like demon animals that she bosses around as well. They haven’t found her because they were still looking for a baby. Dipshits. Off they go to look again.

Now. Disney being stupid alert. The plan is to return Aurora, or as she’s been renamed whilst in hiding, Briar Rose, to the castle on her birthday. Before sunset. Before when the spell is supposed to come to pass. You hid her for sixteen years and apparently the day when the shit is supposed to go down, you return her back to the castle. Why?! Wait ONE MORE DAY!

Either way, Briar Rose has spent the last sixteen years living happily in the woods, and probably getting into all sorts of hijinks with her three temporary mums (or if you’re North American, Moms). It sounds like the premise for an 80’s American sitcom. And she has no idea who she really is. The three temporary fairy-mums are trying to make a cake and dress for their temporary daughters’ birthday. Obviously, even more hijinks occur.  Just like a sitcom. I have a theme tune forming in my head.

I sing to the animalsNow we meet Briar Rose who is doing what all princesses do in their spare time, it seems. Talking at wildlife. Now how do I put this. She looks… sort of… well put it this way, as she’s awake right now, the film’s title is currently deceptive on two counts. I just don’t find her attractive. Is this a common thought or am I alone thinking this? And don’t forget, she was given the gift of beauty. You would think that spell would absolutely make her a ten. But in my view Cinderella was hotter. As well as many of the princesses I’ve seen since. I wonder if the gift of song spell worked. I get my answer very soon afterwards when she starts to warble at the wildlife. As I suspected. Many dodgy spells were cast. Better voice than Snow White though.

As she sings and plays with the animals a dude overhears her and cops a perv from the bushes with his horse. He then does what all dudes in Disney-Princess-Land do when they meet an attractive piece of jailbait: Appears from nowhere and starts singing and dancing with her. This has no doubt given a few generations of Disney-loving girls nothing but disappointment in their teens and early twenties when they discover the reality of this courting ritual is more commonly a wasted dickhead slurring how he wants to finger her while his even bigger dickhead mates watch on smirking. They sing that ‘Once Upon a Dream’ song from the film’s opening credits. Briar Rose immediately falls in love. Because of course. Fortunately, unbeknownst to them both, they are already arranged to be wed in the future, as this perv with a horse is in fact Prince Phillip. She suddenly realises she needs to get home, but she invites him over to hers later that day. Remember kids, on your first day of being legal, tell an older guy that’s been watching you from the bushes where you live. That’s smart thinking. All the time I’ve been watching this, it’s been hard to concentrate as I’ve been more focused on developing the theme song and intro credits to my “new” eighties’ sitcom ‘My Three Mums’.


My theme song has a few too many syllables in the last line. Otherwise I’m quite happy with it.

Meanwhile the fairies have made a shit cake. One thing leads to another and they have a wand war for some reason and cause magic sparks to erupt everywhere, in the process giving their location away. I’m not really paying attention as I’m humming the theme tune to ‘My Three Mums’. Briar Rose comes home singing ‘Once Upon a Dream’ and declare that she’s in love with a random dude she’s just met. She’s informed that she is in fact a princess that already has a marriage arranged for her to a dude called Phillip. Bombshell. The news is taken as you would expect by a hormonal teenager. She runs upstairs throwing a tantrum. Not shocked about the magnitude of the news. Not ecstatic that she is a princess that one day will become a queen. Not angry that she is trapped to a potentially enforced, loveless marriage. No, she’s just pissed that she therefore can’t marry the dude SHE’S JUST MET! Bloody teenagers. There’s no reasoning with them.

The two kings that have decided to force their children together in potentially unholy matrimony are hanging out and getting drunk. Some random dude with a guitar keeps stealing the wine and gets completely inebriated. Disney once again continuing their love of smoking and alcohol abuse in their early family films… Aurora / Briar Rose’s father is already thinking about grandkids. She’s sixteen for crying out loud. Later Phillip turns up to tell his father that he has fallen in love with a peasant girl. For some reason that doesn’t go down too well.

aurora and spindleThe three mums bring Briar Rose (or Aurora as I guess she’s now known again) back to the castle. She’s about to meet her parents for the first time and see the huge castle where she will start her life as a princess. But she’s still sulking that she can’t marry the dude that, I reiterate, SHE’S JUST MET!  Even for a teenage girl, this is getting a bit ridiculous. Her problems are about to get worse though thanks to that wand fight, moving her a day earlier than necessary and the bizarre decision upon reaching the castle to leave Aurora on her own for a bit. Seriously, the fairies have royally fucked this whole thing up, SIXTEEN YEARS work and concealment down the drain for nothing!!! Maleficent entrances Aurora and lures her to the very special spinning wheel she has prepared. Just rereading that previous sentence really drives home how absurd and tenuous this whole thing is. Aurora pricks her finger and falls asleep. Maleficent has a good old cackle.

Fortunately the fairies have a simple way to cover up their kerfuckery. They’ll just put everybody in the kingdom to sleep until this whole thing blows over. See, simple. Seriously, these fairies good or goth, are fucking up the kingdom for everyone. Flora then finds out from Phillip’s father that Phillip has fallen in love with a peasant girl and has been singing that ‘Once Upon a Dream’ song. And the penny drops that it’s Phillip that Aurora fell in love with. How very convenient. What’s less convenient is that Maleficent has captured him.

But remember. These fairies are experts in fucking up. Whilst taunting Phillip, Maleficent tells him who the girl he wants to bang is, what she has done to her and where she is. It’s really like Maleficent tries to make things as hard for herself as possible. She says it will be the first time in sixteen years she sleeps well. All this because she didn’t get a party invite. And all this because she cast a spell that took sixteen years to implement. She’s brought it all on herself!

dragonThe good fairies then turn up to rescue Phillip. They also arm him with a fuck-off-big sword. I should probably mention at this point that Maleficent has a black crow. I should have mentioned him before, but what with all the other nonsensical happenings I wanted to talk about, as well as writing the intro for ‘My Three Mums’, I forgot. Either way, the good fairies turn him to stone, much to Maleficent’s chagrin. Phillip, now back on his horse, fends off the creepy shadow animals and escapes. So now she’s more pissed off than ever. As Phillip runs towards the castle where Aurora is sleeping, Maleficent casts spells shooting bolts of lightning at the pathways that are holding him up. After that fails, she has no choice but to cast the most heinous and potent of spell of all to stop him: BIG THORNY BUSHES. TAKE THAT PHILLIP! But as he now has a fuck-off-big sword he just cuts through it and keeps going… So then she resorts to plan C, which is to turn into a giant fire-breathing dragon and fly in front of him, ready to attack. A questionable order for the spells in my opinion. So the hierarchy of attack for an evil fairy: disrupt your foe’s transport network, then whilst they’re reeling, finish them off with dense shrubbery. If they somehow survive, as a desperate last resort, become a giant dragon that can incinerate everything…

However, perhaps there was a good reason for her not to have too much faith in the giant dragon idea, as Phillip throws the sword at her and kills her… It’s great that we get a proper comeuppance for a villain for a change. There hasn’t been one since the very first film, Snow White. And my word it’s satisfying. Not as satisfying as in Snow White, but very pleasing none the less. Hang on, doesn’t Maleficent have a spin-off film later on? Maybe she doesn’t die? Kerry has informed me that it’s a prequal. Ooh, that could be interesting. I predict that it will be the story of a bullied teen who one day is introduced to a Marilyn Manson album. It could make sense of everything.

aurora and philipSo Phillip makes out with Aurora, everyone wakes up, The Kings are delighted to find their kids are getting it on and they all live happily ever after. Except Maleficent, who’s dead.

This was an ok film. The worst of the three Princess films so far as there was quite a bit of rehashing, particularly from Snow White. But generally it’s a sub-genre of Disney I don’t mind too much. I think that might be less ‘praise for Princess films’ and more ‘criticism of their action films’, but it wasn’t a dreadful way to spend eighty minutes and to top it all off I’m going to change the world for the better, once I build a time-machine, travel back to 1985, and take my sitcom idea to some TV execs.


Ben 🙄