Misguided Reviews


I guess you could call this a review, as I’m going to write EXACTLY what I think of today’s film, ‘Pocahontas’ and leave a score at the end, but in reality, this is going to be more of a rather angry rant. So, as a disclaimer, there will be spoilers and probably more bad language than usual.

With that out of the way, I’m really pissed off right now. For some reason, a couple of films ago, I had the somewhat “misguided” notion that the bad days of Disney were in the rear-view mirror and you know what? I even started to recklessly feel emotions such as optimism. Then along came ‘The Lion King’ which served as a timely reminder that with Disney, sheer unbridled misery and the harsh realities of existence are never more than a stone’s throw away. I was hoping that this would be a one off, but then along came ‘Pocahontas’…

There have been plenty of examples of modern day “family” films, most of them in fact, that demonstrate how a light-hearted fictional story is more than adequate to fulfil the entertainment needs of Mum, Dad, Son and Daughter, in which an occasional teary moment is often balanced out with laughter, happiness and an ideal opportunity for everyone to free themselves from the very real worries of bigotry and corruption that they are prone to experiencing in the three-dimensional world (or in the news). By all means, have issues and dangers that our animated hero must overcome, but as I will be discussing today, firstly ensure these issues and dangers aren’t proverbially shitting on your own doorstep, and secondly, don’t pick a real story that backs you into an “unsatisfactory conclusion” corner.

This film carries a big message. Ok two messages as Disney are clearly screaming from the rooftops “Look everyone! We no longer have any connections to racist ideology! Song of the South? Never happened! Black slave unicorns? That doesn’t reflect the beliefs and attitudes of this company! Well… anymore.” To be fair I do genuinely believe that Disney were now trying to deliver a more positive message and have generally set a fantastic example to today’s kids with their more recent films, but back in the mid-nineties I’m sure some exec’s at chez Disney felt the need to demonstrate that their company had indeed progressed with the times.  But I digress. The real big message from this film states loud and clear: “The British are bastards!”

And they are correct. Quite a lot of the time anyway. I should know, as I’m not just British, I am English. The entitled, arrogant icing sugar on the British Victoria sponge. Going back half a millennium, a few European countries decided to compete in a war of douchery, that mostly entailed seeing who could rape, pillage and erect their flagpoles (euphemism and literal) in more of the non-European world. After watching the Spanish leave a not-so-clean-cut mark on the new world, the British responded with “hold my flagon of mead”, and a new era of pastier skinned bastard arrived on American soil. One of the many places they essentially invaded and took over, was Jamestown, Virginia. Lots of historical stuff happened, and then many hundreds of years later, Disney decided that it would be a perfect setting for a family film…

That’s right. Whilst Pixar were preparing to change the animated world with films about children’s toys magically coming to life, animal adventures, monsters and highspeed racing cars, Disney were thrilling kids with a tale of natives fighting seventeenth century colonial repression. I genuinely feel a good bellwether for gauging that you haven’t picked a good theme for a family cartoon, is when the writer and viewer both have to tiptoe around and ignore the reality of rampant racially charged enslavement (there were many African slaves brought over by the British to do the legwork, which of course are nowhere to be seen here) and sexual aggression in order to make a half-arsed love-story. And half-arsed it most definitely is, and thanks to that “being backed into a corner” by the fact that Pocahontas famously married someone else, she never even has a “living happily ever after” with the male hero, John Smith. This means that the equilibrium that the viewer has been patiently waiting for to bring the film to a satisfactory conclusion is in fact merely finding out that the British leave, sparing the lives of the natives in the process. That would be fine, except for the fact we know in reality this probably wasn’t the case, and even if John and co had buggered off, they would be replaced by another fleet of Cockney thieves and rapists before long. Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle and Jasmine all got their man in the end, and whilst I’m a believer that a strong independent woman don’t need no man, this film doesn’t have enough going for it elsewhere to be the first that takes that approach.

Sorry if this seems somewhat cynical, but that’s what happens when we make family entertainment out of the darker moments of human history. Usually Disney covers dark stories that are largely fictitious, mostly because they like to be pretentious and consider themselves the animated version of fine art or high-brow jazz. Just watch ‘Fantasia’ or the behind-the-scenes parts of ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ if you question this. Of course you don’t want slaves, pillaging and far worse included in a family film but at the same time, ignoring it altogether is equally disrespectful for those who have suffered. So for me, when you have to water down the realities of a story this much, just maybe you aren’t the ones that possess the appropriate vehicle to deliver that tale in the first place.

But of course with this being Disney, when stubbornly trying to deliver a largely depressing scenario in a way that will be entertaining for the little ones, what do you do? Well unsurprisingly, the writers have their perfect solution…

 A fun frolicking animal sidekick! But can an animal sidekick alone compensate for a dark story such as this you say? No? Well then…

Two fun frolicking animal sidekicks!!! I don’t know about you, but I feel this is a jovial treat in waiting now! What you’re still not convinced?

Fuck it, many many fun frolicking animals, there, and we’ve even stuck them on a tree with a face that vaguely resembles an upturned vagina. Don’t believe me?

See? We’ve made a film that is both high-brow and fun and playful at the same time! Are you happy now?

Well actually no, I feel fed-up, and a little sad. But I shall cheer myself up knowing that the next film will involve the good people at Pixar, who feel that it is perfectly acceptable to make a family film about a fiction box of children’s toys. It may not be based on a literary classic or tackling the moral impurities of human history, but you know what, I think both myself, and the rest of my family for that matter, will manage just fine.


Ben 🙄

Great. How do I follow that?! I think that Ben has a lot of good points and I can’t really argue with any of them.

However, the songs are amazing. Ok, ‘Colors of the Wind’ is amazing. ‘Just Around the Riverbend’ is good. The rest are mediocre at, best.

I think this is another one of those Disney films that is great when you’re a child and are yet to discover the cruel, harsh realities of the world, but as an adult, it’s kinda… just… wrong!

However, what I will say is that it has some good characters, an iconic song that gives me ‘the feels’ and adorable animal sidekicks (yeah, that’s right Ben. I like the animal sidekicks! You wait for Mushu!).

Initially, we weren’t going to review the Disney Pixar films until we’d finished all the WDAS ones, but after watching The Lion King and Pocahontas (and the film after is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I think he will also find bleak) , I think Ben needs a bit of light, comedy relief. So I’ve decided the bring the Pixar films into the mix.

Watch this space. I think he’ll love Toy Story (hope I’m right!).


Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

The Lion King

*knock at the door*

“Come in”

“Hi boss!”

“Ah George, come in. I’m glad you’re here, I wanted a word. Obviously, you’ve seen the success our other team of writers had with Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin… Impressive films, weren’t they?”

“I guess so. I mean, if it were me, Beast would have been turned into a donkey-slave-child and the flying carpet in Aladdin would have been used by Donald Duck to chase barely legal Latinas on a beach, but we all have our own ways I guess…”

“Ok, Whatever. Now our new team have been really busy with their new project ‘The Lion King’. It sounds very exciting, and they’ve even got Elton John singing some deep stuff about… you know circles, life and shit. But then I got thinking how you’ve been awfully quiet recently, so what have you and your team been doing lately?”

“Well boss, hold onto your hat because we’re about to break new ground and revolutionise animated film! We have a new film ready to roll…. The Rescuers PART THREE!”

“Get out.”

Whoever at Chez Disney decided to cancel the second sequel to ‘The Rescuers’ and focus on films like ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ should be commended for making a move so financially and creatively shrewd. I reckon there’s probably an alternative reality somewhere in which Disney never changed up their team, and the mid-nineties were a time where Disney tried to turn around its continual descent into irrelevance with ‘The Rescuers 3: Child-slave-farm-on-Mars’ followed by an animated adaptation of a Shakespeare play featuring the lead characters as beavers, complete with timeless songs influenced by ‘Kris Kross’ or ‘Madonna’s’ ‘Erotica’ album. It’s a scary, yet not completely unlikely possibility, with the most remarkable thing being that those hideous prospects would still have probably been better than ‘The Black Cauldron’…

But today in this universe, I’m reviewing ‘The Lion King’… and despite being glad I’m covering this film over yet more shenanigans featuring Bernard and Miss Bianca, I’m about to make myself unpopular, I think. In the early days of my Disney reviews, I would find myself slagging off much loved classics such as Pinocchio, Bambi and Dumbo whilst feeling slightly guilty for doing so, but mostly angry for having to sit through them. Then the films turned to proverbial shit and whilst I still slagged the films off, I felt at least a little less like a complete bastard knowing that most hardened Disney obsessives felt the same way and that we were, in that moment, of accord. Then along came the likes of ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and I shared the love that many others felt for these movies and for a short while at least, we were all still united. But alas with the much loved, critically acclaimed, multi-award winning ‘The Lion King’, I feel alienated once again from popular opinion.

The thing is, I can recognize why people love this film. I can see how the soundtrack, animation, characters and story fuse into a magical trip to the movies for so many families. But for anyone who has read through my reviews to this point can probably see how so many of the ingredients of this film would combine to make this a hard watch, or as an unprofessional psychiatrist might say, fuck me right up…

But before you cast me off to Pleasure Island for my CAD (Crimes Against Disney), let me explain why ‘The Lion King’ was for me, so disappointing, following ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Aladdin’.

First and foremost, I think if you’re a ten-year-old kid going to the Cinema and watching this film without preconditions, you would probably have a cracking time. If you quite like that sort of film and you had watched one or two other Disney films prior, you would also come away feeling pretty content with how you just spent the last ninety minutes. If you’re a Disney fanatic, there are obviously many boxes ticked here for you as well. I’m neither of those things. I’m a thirty-something dude with quite an aversion to many Disney tropes, of which this film contains many. I’ve also had the “pleasure” of watching all the Disney films up to 1994 in order for the first time, which as I’ve mentioned previously, gives me a somewhat unique viewpoint on the films.

So, controversial statement number one: This film is far too safe. Why? Because although I’m not expecting Disney to reinvent the wheel with every film, I at least want to see it turn a little bit. I’ve watched thirty Disney films prior to this, and I feel like I’ve seen it all before, multiple times. Yes, this is one of the better stories (thank you Hamlet) and it comes kitted out with computerized animation and Elton John to boot, but I still felt a sense of “been there, seen this, not for me”.

Speaking of “not for me”, there is one film in particular that sprang to mind whilst watching Simba and co. Bambi. Oh Bambi. You came and you gave me… trauma actually. Twenty-five films later and I still haven’t recovered. A lot of people really liked that film. I really didn’t (see review for more life-scarring details). But there are plenty of similarities between these two films. In order to be a hero, a once cute, now grown-up, animal must get over the harrowing death of their parent. What I find impressive though, is that while “Bambi’s mom” is down in cinema folklore for breaking hearts, Mufasa’s death is distressing but also more explicit. Not only to we get more character development of the soon to be deceased, but we also get a good long look at the cub weeping over the corpse. I don’t approach a film on a Saturday night looking for a metaphorical “bunny slope” for dealing with grief.

Controversial statement number two: I don’t like the soundtrack. It’s really not my cup of tea. I quite like Elton John. ‘Step into Christmas’ is one of my favourite seasonal songs and I love a bit of ‘Crocodile Rock’. But there’s plenty of stuff he did that I’m not fond of and this soundtrack falls into that category. I can respect it from a musical standpoint, but I would be more than happy never to listen to any of those songs ever again. That last sentence is a hint to my wife.

I also found I laughed less during this film than I did during films like ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ for example.  Aside from Timon and Pumbaa, this film also reals a little more…  I suppose, serious. I personally want humour to play a more central role in what is essentially a family cartoon. Basically, more laughs and less parents dying, characters being eaten and in the case of Scar and Sarabi, less domestic violence. So as much as I should be scoring this film a solid eight out of ten, I have to score this as a non-Disney fan, reviewing as a guide for other non-Disney fans, which brings me to controversial statement number four:


Ben 🙄

I can’t believe he didn’t like The Lion King. I mean, if I’m honest, I had my suspicions that it might not be his cup of tea. It’s one of only two Disney films he admitted to seeing before. Apparently, I subjected him to it when we first got together (clearly, I don’t remember it, so it must’ve been when I was in the haze of new love… awwww!🤢), but that was over a decade ago AND he previously had an annoying habit of deliberately not paying the blindest bit of attention when I put a film on anyway! He says that he didn’t remember the film, only that I put it on once (see!!!). Clearly now that he’d watched it properly, he was obviously gonna love it. Sadly, no.

The thing is, when someone watches a film with you that you know and they don’t, and they don’t like it as much as you do, it tends to remove the rose-tinted specs a bit. I loved The Lion King, but he’s tainted it now. I can see his point on a few bits and I’m not quite feeling as enamoured as I once was. I am so easily swayed by my husband’s opinions. For shame!!!!

If you want to see Ben’s real-time reaction to The Lion King, I filmed it and stuck on the @disneygftm Instastories, saving it as highlighted stories (because I’m weird nice like that). So, you are welcome to check it out (and see that he does actually exist in case you were strangely debating it).

Onto Pocahontas next. I can assure you that he has definitely not seen that one and I’m quietly confident (“quietly” yet saying it on the internet for all to see!) on this one. We will have to see. I will, again, film his real-time reactions and put it on the ‘Stories’ for all to see (because it amuses me).


Kerry 😁

Top Tens

Top 30 of the first 30 (according to Ben)

To celebrate watching 30 Disney films, I’m doing something a little different today! All good films need a catchy zingy catchphrase to accompany them (“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”, “In space no-one can hear you scream” etc…) and I felt most of the Disney ones could be improved and made a little more accurate. I will also rank the films from worst to best as I like to celebrate my geekery with as many lists as possible.

30. Bambi (1942)

“In a woodland where seemingly NOTHING ever happens, a cute fawn is callously orphaned.”

29. The Black Cauldron (1985)

“When a Divination-blessed Pig is kidnapped, a really shit film occurs.”

28. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

“Disney’s latest epic will transport you to a magical new world! Full of misery. And no magic.”

27. The Three Caballeros (1945)

“Learn what a Bahia-boner is and how to molest Latin teenagers from a flying carpet!”

26. The Adventures of Ichabod and Toad (1949)

“Not one but TWO classic tales to nap through!”

25. The Rescuers (1977)

“An epic adventure involving two mice you couldn’t give a crap about.”

24. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

“Be nice about Disney or we’ll make a third one.”

23. Saludos Amigos (1943)

“All the crazy fun, frolics and hijinks of Latin-American wartime propaganda!”

22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

“Addict bear? Check. Bastard Bunny? Check. Annoying tiger? Check. Submissive pig? Check. Suicidal donkey? Check. What the fuck else do you want?! Particularly fun for young children…”

21. 101 Dalmatians (1961)

“Prepare to visualise in your mind a scenario where a crazy lady rips the skin off of cute puppies. You’re welcome.”

20. Peter Pan (1953)

“Peter Pan may never grow up, but you’ll be amazed how much older you’ll feel after watching him for eighty sodding minutes.”

19. Pinocchio (1940)

“When an old man prays for a young boy, will a middle-aged fairy ignore the creepiness of the wish as well as more beneficial uses of her powers such as solving war, world hunger and inequality and deliver?”

18. Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

“Two more fun-filled Disney tales that are sure to delight children of all ages, assuming the creepy-ass ventriloquist dummies don’t haunt their dreams deep into adulthood…”

17. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

“Do you love investigative mice? Because we love investigative mice, so here’s some investigative mice!”

16. Sword in the Stone (1963)

“Can a crazy old dude and his bastard owl help a boy become king by inexplicably making him fly, have him be chased as a fish and tormenting lovesick squirrels?”

15. Oliver and Company (1988)

“The story of Oliver Twist entwines with the modern trends of MC Hammer and Paula Abdul to form a classic that will never awkwardly age!”

14. Dumbo (1941)

“After being teased about his big ears by bellend children and elephant bitches, can Dumbo use his affliction to his advantage with the assistance of racially-stereotyped-crows and an alcohol induced trip-out?”

13. Fantasia (1940)

“As requested by young children the world over: eight pieces of classical music complete with symbolic and sometimes metaphoric animation, all presented by the wild and untameable Deems Taylor!”

12. The Reluctant Dragon (1941)

“Will an unsolicited and totally random tour of Walt Disney Studios and a blossoming romance with a sound effects lady cost Mr Benchley the opportunity of a lifetime?”

11. The Jungle Book (1967)

“When an abandoned child is raised by frolicking animals, a film that is extraordinarily Disney occurs.”

10. Alice In Wonderland (1951)

“Take a magical trip into a world where nothing makes sense, most of the characters are annoying, character development is non-existent and yet we promise this is still a hundred times more watchable and enjoyable than The Three Caballeros.”

9. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

“When Maleficent fails to receive a party invitation, suffice to say she does not take the news particularly well…”

8. The Aristocats (1970)

“Lady and the Tramp but with felines and Frenchman”

7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

“Our first Animation Studios film, and remarkably not the only one to feature a grown man making out with an unconscious teenage girl…”

6. Cinderella (1950)

“Ugly = Bad”

5. Robin Hood (1973)

“In a world full of unpredictability and chaos, the only certainty is that the whistled theme tune will be in your head when you do the shopping, the household chores, have sex, everything you attempt to do for the rest of your existence until the day you keel over begging for escape…”

4. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

“Will Belle fall in love with the douchebag who imprisoned her just because her elderly father got lost and needed shelter from the cold?”

3. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

“When a spoilt dog is no longer the centre of her owners’ worlds, she finds a bit of rough to fool around with and then eats spaghetti.”

2. The Little Mermaid (1989)

“Just how far will young Ariel go to obtain a vagina?”

1. Aladdin (1992)

“Other films may win more awards but this is endorsed by Ben and his hard-to-please-academy so it must be doing something right.”

I’ve recently been looking at many different lists ranking the Disney films from worst to best, and it’s remarkable how different the lists are. One list has ‘Beauty and the Beast’ taking top spot while another has ‘Pinocchio’ narrowly beating ‘Sleeping Beauty for first. The films in the lower half can be all over the place, so ultimately it seems that the Disney series are some of the most subjective and debated films out there. Obviously, that’s why I needed to compile lists like this, so people know what the actual correct order is. I’m joking, I promise. I know there are a few films most people seem to rank higher than I do (Bambi and Pinocchio for example), not many people would have put Aladdin at number one out of these films and some films I seem to be in the minority of favouring so highly (Lady and the Tramp and Robin Hood), but I prefer to focus on the things that bring us all together. Namely, that The Black Cauldron is shit.

As always thank you to everyone who is reading these reviews and I shall continue plugging on, next stop ‘The Lion King’!