Misguided Reviews

The Black Cauldron

I’ve noticed a good way to tell if I have really disliked a Disney film is by how long it takes for me to summon the motivation to persevere and watch the next film. It’s been a good month or two since I’ve sat in front of the TV with notepad and pen in hand, so suffice to say, “The Fox and The Hound” didn’t really do it for me. Instead, the film brought out all my tendencies of avoidance, to protect me from more arduous “frolicking-animals-that feel sad-and/or-die” experiences. I even wrote about a fictional trip to Disneyland to put off watching another film, for Christ sakes. And yet, as inevitable as Disney premature parental mortality and equally as painful, I drag myself back to the armchair with no remaining excuses but with much beer in hand, to embark on another journey through the Disney back catalogue. We’ve reached 1985, and we’re in the middle of the “great Disney depression”, full of titles that even some big Disney fans won’t waste their time on, and suffice to say, films I’ve never even heard of. There are even negative reviews and box-office flops (such as the film I’m reviewing today), which is something of a rarity it seems…

Kerry has informed me that this film “doesn’t feel very Disney-ish”. What I find funny here, is that she tells me this as if this is a bad thing… I’m not sure what she expects my response to be?

“Really? This film isn’t very Disney-ish? Well this is a most upsetting turn of events! Surely it must be a least somewhat Disney-ish otherwise what hope is there for the film? If it’s not at least a little Disney-ish how do you expect me to get my fix of nauseating ballads, frolicking animals and their shiny orphan tears? Why are you wasting my time here? I WANT DISNEY DAMMIT!”

But before I start whooping with elation however, I have another, extremely disturbing thought… What if this film introduces me to a style even more unbearable that the standard type of Disney feature? Not possible I conclude…

The film starts by stating: “There was once a king who was such a prick, even the Gods were scared shitless of him. So, they chucked him into some molten iron. But as you would expect when you chuck an evil king into molten Iron, his demonic spirit was captured into the form of a great black cauldron, which would mean in the future, some other bad dude would be able to summon a load of deathless warriors from it, and wreak some serious shit upon the world. Tut. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?” I admit, I’m paraphrasing slightly here. But the point is this: That is the stupidest plot introduction I think I’ve ever heard. It’s so tenuous and stupid, I feel like I may be about to sit down and watch a particularly bleak episode of ‘Saved by the Bell: The New Class’.

We switch to some woods, and there’s a squirrel. Are we going to have five minutes of filler involving watching it frolic with all his woodland friends? No, we aren’t.  Wow. Kerry’s right, this really isn’t like Disney at all! We now go to a house with an old dude, a young dude and a cat. The old dude, Dallben (the first of many daft names in this film that my spellcheck is going have a hissy fit about) is the guardian of Taran who looks after a pig called Hen Wen. They talk about many a boring thing that doesn’t hold my attention. However, I find my focus is channelled again when I hear this:

Eventually however, my brain processes that he doesn’t say ‘cat urine’. In fact, he says:

‘Cat You’re in’ does sound a lot like ‘cat urine’ though.

Dallben feeds the cat. Next Taran feeds the pig. This is all exciting stuff. You know what this film needs to really spice it up? An extended pig washing scene. Fortunately, as luck would have it, we are now treated to an extended pig washing scene. This is how you use a films run-time wisely. Oh, and by the way, the Pig is magical and can create visions of the future in water. Thought I should put it out there just in case you hadn’t already assumed Hen Wen possessed this trait… Anyway, Hen Wen is spazzing out about something so she must be seeing something pretty horrible in the water bucket. Probably involves a barbeque and apple sauce.

Dallben and Taran take the Pig to a big water trough so they can find out what’s wrong. Dallben sees a vision of the Horned King in the water. I see a giant squirrel humping a Dragon.

Apparently, the Horned King (stupid name) wants to kidnap Hen Wen and make her show him where the black cauldron is. So Taran must take the pig into hiding. Ok, we are now way past ‘Saved by the Bell: The New Class’ levels of tenuous stupidity now. We are quickly approaching ‘Malibu Ca’ levels of dumb now. If you’ve never heard of ‘Malibu Ca’, feel free to remain living under your rock of fine taste.

Scene change. We now see a dark castle. This must be where the “baddie” lives because only baddies live in dark spooky castles. It’s a classic home for an antagonist that requires no thought whatsoever. I would love to have seen what was going through the minds of those at chez-Disney at times with this film…

“Right George, as you know I wanted you and your team to make the Horned King a complex and multifaceted adversary, with psychological depth, reasoning and purpose.”

“I think you’ll be very happy boss”

“Good! So, what have you done to convey this then?”

“We’ve made him look like a skeleton!”


“Is that it?!”

“Not just a skeleton. A green skeleton!”

“God damnit George! I want depth of character! Where does he live?”

“A dark spooky castle”

“Of course he does”

“But not just a dark spooky castle. We did that psychology thing you said about to show the viewer just how bad the mind of the man is!”

“Oh? How have you done that?”

“We stuck some pictures of skeletons faces by the front door!”

“Ok… Erm… and what’s inside the castle?”

“Well we had a long discussion about the décor inside the castle and after several hours we think we cracked it!”

“And what did you decide?”

“More skeletons!”


“ Well we figured that skeletons are evil and we haven’t used many skeletons in Disney yet so when someone suggested a sofa, I suggested a skeleton, when someone suggested a suit of armor, I said “that’s great, but you know whats more evil? A skeleton!” and it sort of snowballed from there.”

“George, how long have you worked here?”

“48 years!”

“You used to come up with brilliance like Donkey Slave children and drunk elephants and now you’re resorting to a skeleton…”

“A green Skeleton!”

“… a green skeleton in a skeleton decorated castle that is full of yet more skeletons…. I won’t lie to you, I’m not sure this is really going to be a success… what other film ideas do we have at the moment?

“Another Rescuers film. But in Australia!”

“…OK keep going with the stupid skeleton. A sequel to The Rescuers?! We’re not THAT desperate!”

Seriously though, that skeleton king thing is so fucking two dimensional though. Even for Disney. And this is from the company that created Princes that could go an entire film without so much as a discernible facial expression. He talks about raising an undead army from the cauldron. What a shocker. Just one of these days, one of these films will curveball me, and the grand scheme of the sinister dude in the creepy castle will be the planning of a charity dinner followed by a raffle.

Back with Taran and the dipshit has managed to lose the pig. You had one job. So, he tries to lure her back with an apple. But what he lures isn’t a pig. Instead he’s lured a….. a….. um…… ok, what the hell is that?

Seriously. What is it?!!! Kill it with fire! I’m sure the Disney wiki page will clear this up…

“a strange creature named Gurgi, who likes apples.”

Not really the answer I was looking for. Maybe Wikipedia can help?

“he is described as being a cross between man and beast”

Hmmm, still not satisfied. If they said a cross between Boris Johnson and Shih Tzu, then we might be getting somewhere. Based on everything I’ve seen so far, I’m forced to conclude that this planet they’re on is really fucked up and the best outcome for this creepy world of skeleton kings, human-cum-cauldrons (I’m not implying the name of some weird bukkake film here), pigs emotionally scarred from their powers of precognition and Boris Johnson / Shih Tzu hybrids, would be an apocalyptic fireball that blows them out of existence.

Boris Shih Tzu first tries to steal said apple, but when an enraged Taran forces him to return it, he cheekily takes a bite before giving it back. It turns out apple theft is a serious no-no in Taran’s world. For the first time in a Disney film, I’m also taken aback by how BAD the voice acting is. Taran sounds like he’s reading from a script and more concerned with annunciating correctly than actually conveying emotion.

Hen Wen gets kidnapped by dragons. Nothing surprises me anymore. Taran is going to go and rescue her. But Boris Shih Tzu wants to make friends with Taran first. But we must remember that Boris committed the heinous act of taking an apple from him, which I’m guessing we are all supposed to consider as equally ghastly and unforgivable as Taran does. “You’re no friend of mine!” he ferociously tells him in that wooden, read off a page kind of way that I’m now becoming numb to.

Taran reaches the Horned Kings castle, sneaks in and discovers all the Kings henchmen having a debauchery laden party. The problem here is that is, although in reality the debauchery would be worthy of a Roman Emperors stag-do, Disney are somewhat hampered by the “family friendly” restrictions placed on them. Instead of scantily clad prostitutes, orgies and perhaps even a cheeky spot of buggery, the henchmen instead just feast on chicken. Oh, and watch a rotund lady flashes her undergarments whilst table dancing… I’d like to say I’m joking with that last part, and that Disney of course would not include something like that in one of its presentations. But…

Yeah. Sexy. Still, it’s not exactly Debauchery though is it? But if that’s what tickles their pickles, then who am I to judge?

There’s this weird green goblin thingy that appears to be the Horned Kings bitch. It brings out Hen Wen and tries to force her to tell the future by looking at the water. Taran appears but the Horned King threatens to kill the pig unless she does what he asks. He sees a black cauldron in the water but then Taran kicks the same water over The Horned King, causing an acid like burning effect on his skin for some strange reason before he can find out where this cauldron is, and Taran and his weirdly gifted pig make a run for it. Taran is captured but the pig escapes by falling from a great height into the moat. This should kill a pig. But obviously in this case it won’t. This film is stupid.

Taran is now in the castle dungeons when a girl appears with her pet orange ball of light… Apparently this is a magic bauble, but like many things in this film, we are not expected to ask too many questions about what, why’s, where’s and how’s, nor should we expect any answers. Her name is Princess Eilonwy. *sigh*. Please, could the next character please, please, please have a nice normal name that I can remember how to spell and that my spell-checker won’t get all angry-red-liney about?! Eilonwy was captured because the king thought the pet light could guide him to the cauldron. He’s fucking obsessed with this cauldron, isn’t he? Everything comes back to the bloody cauldron. Just like Maleficent was obsessed with Aurora and Cruella was obsessed with a puppy skin coat, Disney villains are one-track minded to an unhealthy level! If he put this amount of focus into the charity dinner and raffle, think just how much money he could raise.

I really don’t like Eilonwy. Not only is she cursed by another abysmally wooden voice actor, she sounds annoying and condescending. I think what annoys me the most about her though is her response to Taran telling her that he has a magical pig. Let’s play a game of guess Eilonwy’s response to being told that the boy she’s just met has a magical pig. Pick from the following:

  1. “Excuse me?!! What the fuck did you just say?!!!”
  2. “No, you don’t. That is obviously a lie.”
  3. “Is that a euphemism? Eugh… are you hitting on me?”
  4. “Is that a euphemism? Because if your pig does do its best magic when its near water, you should know that my pigpen is very, very wet….”
  5. Ok I think I’m going to go now. It’s one thing having a pet ball of light but this is just too fucked up..!”

If you said any of those things, then you’re wrong! But if you said option 4 then you and I shall be friends. The answer is in fact this:

Interesting. A magical pig is interesting. Not so interesting that its worth dwelling on though, or worthy of follow up questions. I wonder what would actually be worthy of a “wow!” or a “holy fucking shit!” in her world if a magical pig is merely “interesting”? I don’t like her.

Anyway, they don’t seem to be imprisoned very well as they start to wonder the lower confines of the castle without difficulty. They follow Eilonwys pet light, which leads them to a sword, which Taran takes. Then they find a prisoner, who is a minstrel (which is a medieval musical entertainer. Thank you dictionary) that is cursed so that every time he lies, a string on his harp snaps. Weird. Speaking of weird, I now need to find out if I will get my wish of the next character not having a weird name. Maybe Alan or David or Martin will do nicely? His name is Fflewddur Fflam…………. You know what, fuck this shit. I’m calling him Fred.

With the help of the sword Taran, Eilonwy and Fred manage to escape the castle, although Fred’s pants get ripped around the buttock area in the process. Once free, Eilonwy sews up the tear, to which a grateful Fred states that he would write a song about it to show thanks. Eilonwy says he should write a song about their heroic escape instead. Fuck that! I want to hear the ‘sewing up the pants song!’

Eilonwy (Ok, I’m seriously fed up of spelling her name wrong and having to correct it, so from now on I’m going to call her Ethel) and Taran (I’ve remembered his name but I don’t like it so fuck it, I’m going to call him Tim) have a really pointless argument where Tim gets all cocky about getting them out of the castle alive, resulting in Ethel losing her shit and walking off crying. Boris Shih Tzu then reappears and tries to take Fred’s hat.  Fred asks Tim if he’s friends with Boris Shih Tzu. But still reeling for the despicable apple theft, as well as the fact Boris wouldn’t go to a demented skeletons castle with him, Tim aggressively states “HE’S NO FRIEND OF MINE! HE’S A THIEF AND A COWARD!” He doesn’t forgive easily that Tim…

Ethel on the other hand really likes Boris Shih Tzu. And Boris knows where the Pig is, so he agrees to take them to wherever the hell Hen Wen is. But as usual, things go up shit creek when they’re sucked into the underworld. We’ve all had that happen at some time or another.

At this ridiculous juncture, I’ve just about had enough with this film. When it turns out this underworld is full of what look like “The Great Gazoo’s” from The Flintstones, that can take them to Morva, the land where the Cauldon is, I throw my notes down in despair. This is so crap.

And so, they visit Morva, where the cauldron is being kept by three witches. They trade it for Tim’s sword. There’s just one problem. There’s always just one problem in Disney films. And of late, these problems have become more and more tenuous and bizarre. It turns out the cauldron cannot be destroyed, but its powers can be diminished by someone jumping into it, which unfortunately, involves giving one’s life in the process. Bugger. Boris initially offered to chuck himself into the cauldron until he discovered it will result in death. Fair enough. I don’t like the fact that Boris is repeatedly portrayed as a coward for not wanting to risk his life by going to a really bad dudes castle because some kid he just met wanted him to, and for not being the one to give his life at the drop of a hat by jumping into an evil cauldron! Give him a break!

Now in possession of the cauldron, Tim, Ethel, Fred and Boris Shih tzu sit around a fire. We get a strong indication for the first time, that Tim and Ethel would like nothing more than to have a good hard shag on the ground beneath them. It looks like Fred and Boris find the idea of them doing that appealing too…

But before the show can begin, the bad guys turn up and kidnap them.

Finally, we’re in the home straight of this god-awful film! The Horned King releases his undead army from the Cauldron, Boris sacrifices himself which somehow stops them. The horned King gets sucked into the Cauldron, Tim trades back the cauldron to the witches if they bring Boris back to life and he and Ethel get to have their hard shag (presumably). For some reason in all of this, The Horned Kings castle starts to collapse, seemingly without reason other than visual effect. I stopped questioning things like this a long, long time ago, back when I thought things happened in this film for a reason, and also when I gave a shit. The film ends with Dallben (or as he’s now known, Dave), Hen Wen and one of those Great Gazoo type creatures, watching Tim’s adventures in the water trough. I’ve skipped over most of the bits involving the Great Gazoo type creatures in the film, as well as most of the bits involving the witches and The Horned Kings green goblin bitch, as to be honest, I couldn’t be arsed to talk about them. Dave says that Tim has done very well.

You may have gathered from this review, that I thought this film was crap. But I’m not sure if I successfully conveyed just how crap. Put it this way, I gave Bambi one out of ten, more because of the emotional scarring than the films actual quality. I want it to be in no doubt that for me, this is the worst Disney film I’ve ever watched. Possibly the worst film I’ve ever seen period. The characters had no depth. Their interpersonal relationships were woefully underdeveloped, and we were expected to invest in the happenings as if we somehow filled in the blanks ourselves. The film turned up the “scary” factor, which could have made The Horned King a truly iconic Disney villain had there been a well told story to go with it.

And I think that is what frustrates me most, is that there is a good story buried in there somewhere. I’ve been told that the book series is far better than the film. And I think the key word is ‘Series’. This film is loosely based on the first two books of a five-book series. As a result, they’re clearly trying to cram as much into the runtime as possible, which explains why everything feels rushed and underdeveloped. As always, this is just my opinion of course, and if someone out there loves this film, I’m slightly jealous that they get a far happier ninety minutes watching it than what I endured.

I can sort of see why Kerry says the film doesn’t feel very “Disney-ish”. To start with, the film has no songs. For me that’s a silver lining. But my earlier fears of a style ghastlier than ‘typical Disney’ appear to have been realised. If you’re looking to convert someone from being Disney-cynic to Disney-fan, then this film is a terrible place to start due to it not only being a weak entry, but also as it isn’t a good representation of the Disney brand. That being said, I can still see plenty of ways in which it definitely IS a Disney film. We still get usual chase scenes and production. The animation is good. The film struggles not to take itself too seriously. But most of all, when you watch these films chronologically, it feels like a logical stylistic progression that we’ve seen over the last decade. It also feels like the quality has consistently worsened as well. I can only hope and pray that this is a bell curve that we’ve just reached the bottom of, and that things will now improve. To be honest, it’s hard to see it getting worse!


Ben 🙄

I tried to like this film. I really did, I’d heard only bad things about it, but hoped the reviews were just overeacting. Nope. It’s just shit. It is a shit Disney film and, as much as the 80s haven’t been a great decade for the brand so far, this film could’ve finished it completely for them. I’ve got nothing else to say. I agree with every point Ben’s made and hope that The Great Mouse Detective (another film I’m familiar with, but don’t recall much of) fares better. I’ve been told by a colleague that it’s good, so fingers-crossed I share their opinion.


Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

A Misguided Expectation of Disneyland Paris

It’s sods law that Covid-19 forced my trip to Disneyland to be cancelled, whilst no global pandemic could save me from watching Disney films week in and week out. As part of my education, the trip to the Paris theme park was the one part I was really looking forward to. But having watched their first fifty-odd years of Animation Studios films I started to think, “just what would Disneyland actually be like, and more to the point, would I actually enjoy it?!” Happily, I won’t have to wait too long to find out, as services are reopening, and we’re scheduled to go at the end of the summer (all be it in a very face-masky way but needs must). Until then all I can do is speculate based on all I’ve seen so far, and I have speculated A LOT. So, with the knowledge I’ve collected, here is how I expect my trip to go. So, join me on this fictional journey into the possible future, and if you do, I will sweeten the deal by including some ‘completely real and not entirely made up off the top of my head’ facts to boot.

N.B. With the tendency some people have in internet land of believing everything they read, I feel I should clarify that all that I’m about to write is entirely fictional and HAS NOT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Yet…

Day One: We arrive in Paris on a sunny summer morning. I’m relieved to discover that the temperature is cooler than usual at 102F, which is good news for my pasty British skin, as there’s now only an 80% chance of heat-stroke during the trip. As we make our way up to the front of the castle that will be our gateway into the magical Disney resort, we are chased by some crazy bitch who tries to block our path with some bushes and lightning because we didn’t invite her on the trip  with us, whilst threatening to curse the children with a needle. Apparently, this is all part of the experience. We hastily make our way through check-in and then make our way straight to the hotel rooms to drop off our luggage. Our suitcases are taken to our rooms by what appears to be a donkey slave child.

Fun Fact: Don’t worry! The donkey slave children are not really so. Disney have taken a very strong line in prohibiting the employment of Donkey slave children, and have rigorously enforced this rule for many, many months.

The rooms are designed to be reminiscent of a Princess’s chamber right down to woodland creatures bringing your clothes and towels. It’s only when you experience it first-hand you stop to appreciate that it’s actually creepy as fuck…

Once settled in, we head into the theme-park itself.

Fun Fact: In a reckless and deeply questionable move, over a third of the theme parks original design was dedicated to the Adventures of Mr Benchley and the sound-effects lady from the 1941 feature ‘The Reluctant Dragon’. When it became apparent that the film had only been seen by two dozen people, the plan was quickly quashed.

The park is so big, the question is which attraction do we visit first?! A quarter of the grounds has been dedicated to frolicking animals as a ‘space filler’, in the same way that a quarter of Disney films are dedicated to frolicking animals for the same reason. Maybe we should go to the Mermaid Lagoon so we can be on the receiving end of passive aggressive insults from its inhabitants? Maybe we should go to the ‘Pointing and laughing at the big-eared baby elephants’ exhibit? There are obviously many attractions dedicated to films post 1981 that I’m yet to watch, so I deem them not worthy of my attention and we’ll conveniently just skip over them…

After a busy afternoon, it’s time to head to an on-site restaurant for food and drink. It’s a little expensive, but if you’re happy to forego food and heating for the rest of the year you can order a second round of drinks. In fact, providing you’re not too bothered about having the resources to pay for college level education for the children, a woman can pick from a selection of delicious cocktails, which in Disney tradition, result in a state of unconsciousness that can only reversed by a kiss from one of the princes that roam the park.

Fun Fact: The parks princes that revive young ladies are not actually real princes. Princes would never be involved in such a thing.

After dinner, it’s time to enjoy some of the on-site entertainment. I recommend the comedy show from none other than the MC from Fantasia, the hilarious Deems Taylor. It’s rather raucous, at one point he even smiles, and his bowtie becomes five degrees off exactly horizontal. What a maverick. It absolutely justifies their decision to keep him cryogenically frozen for seventy years. If you haven’t seen it already, I thoroughly recommend watching Fantasia to see just how vibrant and full of personality he is.

After all the excitement of the day we fell asleep quickly and enjoyed a good night sleep. At least until those bastard birds and rodents opened our curtains and forced us into our clothes at the crack of dawn. I don’t know how those princesses tolerate it…!

We start the adventures of day two by going to the on-site arcade. It’s a regular arcade full of videogames but they have all been given a Disney makeover. For example, the shooting game involves trying to take-down wild animals but with the added caveat of every successful kill resulting not just in tickets, but also the sight of its offspring weeping before your eyes. If the intention was to create a very Disney experience, then they have succeeded admirably

Next, it’s time to go to Winnie the Pooh land! At least we would have if there wasn’t some fat-fuck bear’s arse blocking the entrance. To make matters worse, the next attraction was puppy-skinning which really wasn’t our cup of tea. But we weren’t going to let these disappointments ruin our day, and as luck would have it, we found Donald Duck wondering round the grounds trying to put smiles on people’s faces! Ok, maybe not all faces. He certainly was trying to put smiles on the female faces. He was really trying to put smiles on the female faces (which reminds me, the sexual harassment suit is scheduled for late November). Once we escaped moved on, we went to watch a show. It turned out to be the ‘who can do the best lazy impersonation of Cruella De Vil’ contest. What fun! If anyone’s interested, it was won by a woman called Madame Medusa….

Time for rides! The idea is, in order to recreate the wildest “out-there” experience for the customer, the park creators recognized the need to put the customer into the wildest “out-there” mindset anyone has been known to historically feel. That mindset, of course, is how the Disney animators felt before making the ‘elephants on parade’ segment of Dumbo. Have you ever flown through bubbles in the sky on a pink elephant with the rides theme song seemingly coming from inside your brain? Well at Disneyland you can. Because that’s the sort of magical place it is… (the lysergic acid contained in the sherbet lemons given on entry also helps. Just like it helped the animators all those years ago…)

I wake the following morning in my underwear, high up in a tree with nothing but a mouse named Tim and some racially stereotypically cigar smoking crows for company. I don’t stay with them for long though as we have more one day of adventure ahead of us…

Fun Fact: The fact that the crows are smoking has nothing to do with maintaining an authentic Disney-style experience. It’s because they’re French.

The one more day of adventure consists of a mandatory nine-hour lecture demonstrating the evolution of animation techniques that Disney has long been so keen to impress us with. Any of those two-dozen people that have watched ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ will know the sort of thing I mean. It was quite an enjoyable way to spend a sunny day at a theme park, although the lunch of half a cup of tea and jam on a clock was a questionable move…

Thanks to the unsatisfying lunch and the thrills and spills of finding out how historically Disney made cute little animated animals walk, talk, dance and die, by dinner time I was famished.

Unfortunately, after ordering the Italian special and waiting what felt like an age, I discovered that I would not be receiving my meal as the maniac chef decided to give it to two stray dogs that he was forcing into having a romantic meal. Apparently, this is the fourth time he’s done that this week. To make matters worse, the dogs started humping and knocked over the table and candle the chef insisted on laying out, which caused a large-scale fire throughout the Western portions of the complex. And some of East… And South.

Finally, it’s onto the princes’ ball which is the culminating event of the last day. We get dressed up, and make our way to castle, being sure to avoid both Donald Duck’s lecherous attentions and the now significant fire and two-dozen fireman on route. The ball mostly involves the parks princes passing critical judgement of all the attending females with much eye rolling (unless one is considered particularly attractive, in which case love at first sight is expected, nay demanded). It’s not really my cup of tea, but a lot better than our other option which involves watching a hippo ballet….

We couldn’t leave the following morning without being chased to within an inch of our lives (including many dramatic near misses) by the same crazy woman who still can’t let her lack of invite go. Fortunately, thanks to Kerry having a good rapport with small to medium sized fauna, she summons them to assist us in our escape, in true Disney fashion. After successfully getting away, it crosses my mind to file a complaint, but I know deep down that it’s all part of the joy and that this place is called Disneyland for a reason…

Fun Fact: The ‘Disney’ in Disneyland is named after Walt Disney. ‘Land’ comes from the English word ‘land’. Which means land.

I know Disneyland won’t really be like this. Primarily because my experience of Disney merely consists of twenty-two films between 1937 and 1981 so I don’t have comparatively that much to go on. But what’s really significant though, is if there had only ever been those twenty-two films made, I’m not sure I would have been a million miles away from the truth… (maybe hallucinogenic laced sweets and preying princes is a tad extreme admittedly). However, with a few months I will be able to provide a true Disney-cynic review, so I shall go with an open mind, and fingers crossed I will report back about something legitimately magical! Watch this space…

Ben 🙄


This was written back in July, when we were planning on rebooking our trip for the end of August. Unfortunately, due to all those returning from France to UK needing to quarantine for two weeks, and my daughter starting her GCSE school year the week after our planned return date, we have had to postpone the trip once again. However, we are planning on rebooking for May 2021. Fingers-crossed,

Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

The Fox and The Hound

If a film franchise you love goes through a “creative downturn” or your favourite band have a spell consisting of a couple of drab albums devoid of fresh ideas, you could compare it to travelling aboard a luxury cruise liner on a tour of the South Pacific, but encountering some turbulent waters in a force nine gale. As someone who is by no means a Disney fan, yet somehow finds themselves trawling through the series anyway, the company’s creative downturn of the late 70’s and 80’s feels like travelling over the same turbulent waters in a force nine gale, but in a garbage boat heading for Pleasure Island. Despite the, at times unpleasant, journey, I’m persevering on this rocky trip of watching through all things Disney, even if by continuing, I await a fate comparable to the obnoxious brats that end up on Pleasure Island. For those that aren’t as big a Disney fan as me (sarcasm), that means being turned into a Donkey-Slave-Child.

image 8With that in mind we come to today’s film, the world famous and highly renowned (again, sarcasm.) feature, ‘The Fox and the Hound’. As someone who is “misguided” when it comes to Disney, I look to offer advice to other “misguided” people who are nervous about which films to commit precious minutes of their life to, as well as to Disney fans who are trying to gently manipulate share their passion to their partners / spouses and friends. By advice, this mostly means saying which films will be tolerable to someone who doesn’t like the Disney approach to cinema, and a warning to those well-meaning Disney fans as to which films could result in break-up / divorce or unfriending on Facebook. If a friend decided I would enjoy and then made me watch “The Three Caballeros”, I would probably go a step further and block them. ‘The Fox and the Hound’ is a perfect example of a film I would not recommend to a fellow “misguided” person. I’m not saying it’s a terrible film, It’s just very, very…. “Disney-ish”. All the stereotypical characteristics that make up a film that is unmistakably Disney are present in abundance here. And if those characteristics don’t usually appeal, this film most definitely won’t be for you…

The one thing about the film that doesn’t reek of Disney is the opening credits. There isn’t that happy-go-lucky tune or warbling major-key choir. There’s a dark, ominous ambience. And a feeling that something horrible is about to happen in the woodland that we’re panning across…. Ok, maybe it reeks of Disney a little bit…

image 9We see a vixen running with her fox-cub as they’re being chased by hunters… It’s rather familiar. It reminds me of a certain Disney film involving deer. That’s never good. But surely they won’t kill a baby’s mother in the opening two minutes of film would they? Even Disney wouldn’t be that… Oh, they have. Just great. After taking the fox-cub to safety, she gets shot. This is going to be a long eighty-something minutes.

Now obviously by the title alone, I was expecting a plot that alluded to fox hunting, and by that fact alone, it was likely to be an emotional rollercoaster… but this in two minutes? Really? I wasn’t prepared for that. The only silver-lining is that it happens so early in the film, there isn’t chance to become invested in the mother / son bond, or the characters themselves, like you do in Bambi. That still doesn’t take away from the emotional fuckery that’s been put upon the viewer with so much of the film to go. I know there are plenty of films where a character dies, and death is a part of life, especially if you’re a fox dealing with bastard humans, but a death like this stands out for a few reasons. image 6Firstly, being a baby’s mother that dies, the viewer knows that the cub will always be an orphan, and never have protection from the one source that any person or animal most wants and needs. There is next to nothing that the film can do in its remaining runtime to cover the eternal loss. I give kudos for Disney giving him a loving owner, but later on they even have to fuck with that. Another reason that Disney takes a character death to the next level is that the fox-cub is ridiculously cute. Human empathy is always triggered more from the suffering of something cute. Especially if the animal has been slightly humanised. The other reason that this is hard to deal with, is that it’s in an animated family film. Even though I expect Disney to do this sort of shit, it’s still harder to deal with it in this setting rather than in a horror film and is a fairly grim start to a family cartoon that contains virtually no comedy, and repeatedly adds new grim or depressing aspects to it. The fox-cub named Tod is adopted by a nice old lady and befriends a bloodhound-puppy named Copper, and they play and frolic. image 4But once the bloodhound has been taught how to hunt, it inevitably ends up with Tod being viewed more as prey than a friend. And of course, sadness at the end of this friendship follows. Later on, in order to protect Tod, the nice old lady releases him into the wild, which of course leads to more sadness. There are a few instances where an animal nearly gets itself killed in true Disney fashion. And there’s the moment where Tod looks in the back of Copper’s owners hunting truck to see many, many fox skins, which becomes grimmer the more you think about it.

So, this has caused me to have an internal debate. I feel that usually, a family cartoon’s primary purpose is to be warm and light-hearted. I also feel that being funny is important because one of the main perks of a family film for any parent is seeing the children laugh. Tom and Jerry, this film isn’t. The debate I’m having is whether this should be a problem or not. Even Kerry, who is a major Disney fan, found the previous film ‘The Rescuers’ to be lacking in humour and light. I suppose a family cartoon can be a serious drama, but I would choose something more playful every time.

image 2To give the film some credit though, every low point has a high point after. After the mother dying, Tod gets a loving owner. After being left in the woods, Vixey (original name) proves to be a good love interest for Tod that ultimately makes him happy. And ultimately, despite wanting him dead, after Tod saves Copper from a bear, the two of them end up as good as they can be in the circumstances. But ultimately, this is still possibly the hardest film I’ve had to review, outside of Bambi. As I’ve said in the past, the easiest films to review are funny films, bad films and films with inexplicable headfucking moments, which Disney usually gives me in abundance. This is a serious film and, as I said before, isn’t even that bad (the low grade I’m giving it is purely based on my personal enjoyment factor) so this has been a slog. I’ll finish with my usual ‘predictable things Disney does’ rating:

⭐ For inexplicably cheesy songs. Also, in recent films Disney has taken to having lyrics that basically just say what is happening in the plot under the assumption most kids (and me) had stopped paying attention at some point.

⭐ Parent snuff. Say no more.

⭐ Frolicking animals. As always.

⭐ High-drama-physics-bending chase scenes.

⭐ To be honest, I’m going to have to start adding a star for Disney forgetting that a bit of light amusement goes a long way as that’s certainly been absent for the last 2 films…

So, all in all, this was a VERY Disney film. Black Cauldron next. The hits just keep coming…


Ben 🙄

I’m not shocked at Ben’s opinion of this film. I was, however, surprised at my own. I actually quite enjoyed it. Despite what he said in his review, I found quite a few bits funny and found a lot of characters very endearing. Yes, the fox-cub’s mum dies at the beginning. I can’t see how that could’ve progressed the story without the death, so she was essentially collateral damage for the greater good of the film.

image 7What I found interesting was, (and I’m sure a lot of people are aware of this, but the discussions have clearly bypassed me) how Disney have created a very good metaphor for institutionalised racism in society, particularly towards natives. Copper represents the white person and Tod represents the native, showing that as children, before being trained to hate by their parents or peers, they don’t notice any real differences between them and just see someone that they can play and become friends with. Then, once Copper’s owner takes him away to ‘train him to be a hunter’, he learns to see Tod as the enemy that must be destroyed.

Much like the theory behind Elsa singing ‘Let It Go’ because she’s had enough of hiding who she truly is, being a metaphor for coming out as gay, Disney’s broaching these subjects at all is welcomed and needed but could definitely do with being less subtle and a little more in-ya-face.

Or maybe it’s nothing to do with that and just a film about how fox hunting is bad. As a hunting-hating vegetarian and an anti-racist, I’m happy either way. Still look forward to the first openly-gay (and mentioned-is-actually-gay-rather-than-just-alluding-to-it-through-stereotypically-gay-mannerisms) lead (or even strongly supporting) Disney character.


Kerry 😁

New Releases

Artemis Fowl

Happy Monday to you all! As I am still furloughed and my six-year-old is back at school four days a week, what better way to spend my time than by watching Disney’s most recent offering, Artemis Fowl. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t even aware of the book series existence, let alone read any of them, so I had no idea what to expect from the film. When I first saw the title advertised, my instant thought was that it was another Star Wars spinoff. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that it wasn’t. Not that I have anything against Star Wars films, I just don’t intend to review or even watch the new ones when they are realeased. I think the last offering from that franchise that I watched in full, was Episode 1: Phantom Menace, about a year after it came out. So, *checks IMDB*… Fuck! 2000?! 20 years ago, then. Suffice to say, if anyone wants to discuss the latest offerings, I tend to refer them to my brother or my dad. As always, I just heinously digressed. Back to Artemis Fowl.

image 1Based on the book by Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl is the story of… Artemis Fowl (Jr, to be precise). A twelve-year genius/prodigy who’s father (Artemis Fowl Sr) gets kidnapped by a fairy (I mean various synopsises say it’s a fairy, although their voice and demeanour didn’t seem overly fairy-like). Artemis has to devise a plan, requiring other creatures from the fairy realm, to help get his Dad back. That’s the story in a nutshell.

Now, as I said, I haven’t read the books. However, looking at the reviews for the film IMDB, I’m quite glad that I haven’t. Those that are lovers of the series seem to hate the film as it is so far from the story in the first book. I think that this is similar to how Harry Potter fans felt after those films came out (although not quite as hateful). I hadn’t read the Harry Potter books until, I think, Order of the Phoenix was released in the cinemas and, as I had nothing to compare them to, I loved the Harry Potter films and thoroughly enjoyed Artemis Fowl. image 8I can see where the book lovers are coming from though. It was quite vague in parts, which I’m sure is where the books would fill in the gaps. However, despite not knowing the characters, I enjoyed the casting choices. Current Disney-darling, Josh Gad, is great in every role he plays and his portrayal of giant dwarf thief (he is a giant dwarf that is a thief, not a big guy that steals dwarves, I should clarify), Mulch Diggums was no exception. It was nice to see Colin Farrell not playing a bad guy for a change and he is very easy on the eye, so his presence in the film as Artemis Fowl Sr, was appreciated by me and my daughter. Judy Dench was Judy Dench, so no complaints there.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the film a lot and can’t wait for the sequel, which was nicely set up.


Kerry 😁

Misguided Reviews

The Rescuers

I’ve now watched the first 22 Disney Animation Studios films (not including the racist one that is hidden from history, at least on Disney+) and I’ve discovered that the franchise isn’t just one continuous success story of box-office smash hits, all renowned for their artistic mastery and exquisite storytelling. Ok, admittedly as someone who is a lifelong Disney cynic (or “Disneyphobe” if you will), and that is on a journey through their back catalogue, I’m unlikely to think that the series is consistently wonderful anyway, but it’s still surprising to discover that Wikipedia and most mainstream media group Disney Animated Studios cinematic releases into “golden era’s” and “periods of creative decline”…

The last film I watched was ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh’, which, although fine for kids under ten, was hardly the most gripping of stories ever put on tape. Today I will review “The Rescuers”, who’s title hardly carries a ‘Cinderella’ or ‘The Lion King’ level of head-nodding recognition. Next, I will review ‘The Fox and the Hound’, which sounds like a right barrel of laughs. Then it’s ‘The Black Cauldron’. One question: What the fuck is ‘The Black Cauldron’?! No really. Never heard of it. Then we have ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ and ‘Oliver & Company’… Hmmm. So, seeing as those titles aren’t exactly household names either, no wonder Wikipedia has stated that we’re entering a “period of creative decline” then…

But let’s deal with one creative misstep at a time, and so onto ‘The Rescuers’. From my experiences so far, Disney films have always started with a VERY Disney song and some VERY Disney intro credits. It’s a sure-fire way to reassure other people that they are about to watch something very Disney, and a sure-fire way to warn me, that I’m about to watch something very Disney… But this time it doesn’t start with the credits and a god-awful tune! It jumps right into the first scene. I’m disconcerted by this. For most companies to justify changing that tried and tested formula of decades, it would mean that they’ve written one hell of an impactful opening sequence involving fascinating scenery, intrigue and/or characters so enigmatic that the viewer is sure to stick around for the remainder of the movie. For Disney it’s so we can be introduced to an old ship containing what appears to be two BDSM sex-slave alligators….BDSM Sex slave Aligators

And then the intro credits start. I’m now hooked, what about you? 🙄

Maybe they decided it wise not to start the film with the opening credits, due to the fact the accompanying song is really rather bad. Even for them. It’s a reminder that we are now well into the 1970’s. It is also a reminder that for all the disco, rock, prog, funk and punk that made the decade special for musical innovation, it is also the decade that gave us this. And by “this” I mean a woman warbling over the top of some stoned dudes playing acoustic guitars and flutes. It’s the sort of whimsical folk music that sounds so dated because next to no-one has felt the urge to listen to it in the last forty years. And now the film’s opening credits have finally started, it appears that it doesn’t want to ever end. My god it’s long. And it repeats the line “who will rescue me?” many, many times. I’ll happily rescue her if she shuts the hell up.

Two days later and the opening credits draw to an end, and now the story can continue. Will we find out some backstory about our BDSM sex-slave alligators? I’m guessing no, seeing as the scene starts at the United Nations conference in New York (unless one of the delegates gets some interesting questions regarding his expenses later on). Obviously as this is Disney, we don’t find out the important, and no doubt significant happenings involving the people in the building. We find out what the mice are doing. Image 11.2It turns out they’re copying the humans and having a general assembly of rodents from across the globe. Which reminds me that I award a ⭐ for every time Disney does something that is so “predictably Disney”. And this is a doozy!

⭐ One star for the spectacular racial stereotyping of the nationalities of the different mice.

⭐ Another star for the mice frolicking and engaging in slapstick visual comedy, in that way in which Disney, bless them, have cornered the market…

As has been the case in a few of the Disney films since ‘101 Dalmatians’, I’m really not keen on the animation. Although probably more skilfully drawn, it lacks the bright warmth of the simple bold drawing that other companies and even Disney themselves often incorporate. With this sort of animation, I find I’m always aware that I’m watching drawn characters in drawn settings as the pencil outlines seem to dominate the visuals. It’s like someone in Disney’s animation department was desperate to make sure the viewer never forgets how hard they had to work in developing the end product you see in front of you…

Anyway, these mice are part of the International Rescue Aid Society. They have received a message in a bottle about a girl in trouble. And that they need to save her. Then they start singing. This is exactly why mice aren’t usually deployed in high-risk rescue missions. You have a young girl in peril and rather than rushing off to sort shit out, or better yet inform the authorities, they have a good old song and dance! Get you shit together mice. Eventually, they send the formidable sounding duo of Mr Bernard and Miss Bianca to solve the case… Sleep easy little girl.

image 13I can’t properly recall what happens next but in my notes, I wrote “Mr Bernard and Miss Bianca piss off a lion. Then we go to an orphanage because it’s Disney”. I’m sure that sums things up fairly accurately. The mice are in said orphanage. They speak to an old cat. We know he’s old because he has a moustache and glasses, as all old cats do… I’m zoning out throughout all of this because I’m incredibly bored. He tells them about a girl in the orphanage that went missing. Apparently, in the flashback we see from the cat’s memory (and why would we question the recollections of a potentially senile feline?), the missing girl’s name is Penny. She really wanted to be adopted but was ignored on adoption day. Typical happy fucking Disney. Not for the first time my mood is substantially lower now that it was before the film began… Interesting, Penny’s toy bear looks an awful lot like Winnie the Pooh, who just happens to be the star of Disney’s other release from the same year. That’s subliminal advertising for you right there. I wonder if Winnie the Pooh is carrying around a ‘Penny the Orphan’ doll and I didn’t spot it? Anyway, some bitch from a pawn shop once tried to lure her away in a car, so she’s a suspect.

image 8.2Now we go to the pawn shop, which will indeed almost certainly, contain the antagonist who took the girl. I know this will be the case because of the sinister music. You never get sinister music before a happy scene of frolicking baby rabbits. Unless one gets shot perhaps (although knowing Disney it would probably be one of the parents who snuffs it). But happily, inside the shop there are no dead animals, but there is a woman. It’s a white trash Cruella De Vil. The mannerisms are the same, facial expressions are the same. It’s as though they were sisters separated at birth, one was raised by English gentry in a manor house and the other in a trailer somewhere in Louisiana. The writers have clearly just made this woman a budget-Cruella here as the original one was regarded as a successful antagonist. It feels lazy. After yelling at someone on a phone, she packs her bags and is off on a trip to her boat on the Bayou.  Where she will probably do something mean and original, like skinning 99 kittens maybe. The two mice sneak into her car though, so they can keep track of her… until they are flung out by her terrible driving. Which means they need a new way to complete their journey.

image 6This leads us to what is most likely the longest ‘two mice planning their travel arrangements, then travelling in a sardine tin on an albatross’s back’ scene in the history of film. I haven’t researched it to confirm if it’s definitely the longest, but I’m confident that the scenes multi-day runtime will easily put it in contention. I didn’t time it either by the way, but that’s how long it felt.

⭐ I’m giving Disney another star here for the predictably horrible music that accompanies their journey. I hate the soundtrack for this film more than anything I’ve watched since I heard Snow White sing. And that was in the first film…

Now we switch scenes to find budget-Cruella along with what turns out to be her sex-slave alligators. She has a slave / servant / partner / bitch (not sure which) called Snoops. They are after a diamond but need someone small, like a young orphan for example, to retrieve it for them as they are too big to fit into the cave type thing where it’s hidden. This is a REALLY stupid story. Why not just use explosives or machinery to retrieve it? For plot purposes, they decide to use Penny instead.

image 12Meanwhile, the mice have fallen out of their sardine-tin-albatross plane and have ended up in depths of the Bayou. There’s lots of animals, such as rats and a dragonfly and more utterly horrific music. I’m done with this film. I haven’t found myself invested in a single character so far. None of them have any depth whatsoever. There’s no reason to care about the mice other than the fact that they’re trying to save the orphan. Not only that, but there’s no light in this film! Usually when Disney have a dark storyline, there’s always a lot of fun things to offset it. But here, the slapstick feels forced and dull and there’s no humour.

Budget-Cruella and Snoops are now making Penny retrieve the diamond. Clearly concerned that while kidnapping an orphan to retrieve a diamond is indeed bad, it’s still not a heinous as skinning puppies. So, they try to add further shade by having her tell Penny things like “no-one would ever adopt you”. At one point after Penny retrieves the diamond, budget-Cruella won’t give her teddy back to her, for literally no reason whatsoever. It all feels forced.

image 1With the diamond now in budget-Cruella’s hands, she turns on her slave / servant / partner / bitch (still not sure which) and tries to escape with said diamond and inexplicably, Penny’s teddy (seriously, why? What’s the point?). But yeay, here are the mice and some of the other random animals to sort shit out (I should point out that have been a few scenes involving these animals that I’ve completely skipped over. That is because most of them involved more horrible music which has caused me to repress them. It’s not as though these scenes contained anything of importance anyway).

⭐ Typical Disney high drama chase scene.

To cut a LONG story short, the teddy is retrieved, the animals save the day, they get the diamond back, and budget-Cruella is left angry, bounty-less, and for good measure her BDSM sex-slave alligators turn on her and try to eat her. There’s no explanation why her faithful sex-pets turn on her. Perhaps diamond theft is a line crossed in an alligator’s eyes. Penny gets adopted and Bernard and Miss Bianca get together. I get the feeling that the writers were intending this eventual mouse coupling to be a grand payoff that everyone was hoping for all along. Maybe some people were. I wasn’t. I know there was a couple of moments of foreshadowing some mutual attraction between the two during the film, but the way I see it, is that they’re mice. A mouse will hump its own sibling if you give it a couple of days, so the fact that two mice can spend as long together as these two have, and not have produced three litters already makes me think that they can’t be that into each other… So, when they get together at the end, I didn’t really care.

Image 10The other reason I didn’t care about the coupling of Bernard and Bianca is the same reason that stopped me caring about anything else in this movie. I wasn’t remotely invested. As protagonists, Bernard and Bianca were simply nice. Lots of characters are nice. There was nothing memorable about them. There was nothing to REALLY make me care about them. We had no backstory, no character development…. just nothing! Budget-Cruella was a rubbish antagonist. She wants a diamond and spends her time with BDSM sex-slave alligators and her bitch (because let’s face it, he was her bitch, nothing more, nothing less. She has BDSM sex-slave alligators so you can bet she’s the type to have a bitch), but other than that she’s painfully two-dimensional. I obviously wanted Penny to be rescued and be adopted by a nice family, because I’m not a sociopath, but the lack of personality and screen time afforded to the orphan devalued what should have been a more of a real feelgood moment.

As is probably obvious by now, I didn’t like the film. Disliking a film is nothing new to me, but this time rather than putting it down to my own personal taste, I really thought the story and characters were lazily handled. Furthermore, and the thing that really pisses me off here, is that Disney have forty years of filmmaking under their belt at this point, so they really should be at the stage where they can produce full length features of the quality that I’m assured their modern films possess. I know Walt Disney dying probably threw a spanner in the works with regards to their creative direction, but by all accounts, Walt never wanted this film to be made anyway, so the creative team have no one to blame but themselves.

The film ends with Bernard and Bianca setting off on another adventure, which tees up a sequel. Of all the films they could tee up a sequel, they went with this one first?! Seriously?! Will the characters develop some personality next time? I suppose it’s still better than the first sequel being “Bambi II: Now We Target His Wife and Kids”. Or Fun and Fancy Free II: Exponentially Funner and a Fuck-ton Fancier Freeish. Or Gloria Estafantasia: Animated stories set to late 80’s commercial pop music.

So, I’m not being a completely cynical bastard (despite the fact this film has made me one), I will finish on a positive: the film has a cute dragonfly. It’s a reassuring fact that despite how lazy and shit everything else around it gets, Disney knows how to draw adorable animals. And even more positively, on occasion they don’t injure them, make them cry or kill their family.

Disney Predictability: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (I gave a fifth star for them blatantly ripping off Cruella…


Ben 🙄

I realised about 10 minutes into this film that I don’t think I have ever actually seen it. If I did, I can see why I don’t remember it though. Ben’s right. It’s awful and for all the reasons he’s stated above. Very little character backstory, very little character development and a very basic plot line. I think it may have actually been me that mentioned how dark and unrelenting the film is. Sorry to those of you that like this film, but I agree with Wikipedia. It’s definitely Disney’s period of creative decline and I’m struggling to think of a film I’m having fond memories of until The Little Mermaid, at this point.

Still, must continue for the sake of this ‘experiment’. The Fox and The Hound next. Again, don’t think I’ve seen it. I wonder why my parents never bought me or my brother any of these films when we were children? Probably because they knew they were shit and wanted us to have positive associations with Disney (which we both still do, so good job Mum and Dad!).

I’m really not looking forward to The Fox and The Hound. I’m familiar with the story and as someone who is a ‘hunting-hating vegetarian’, it’s filling me with a sense of dread. I could be wrong. We’ll have to find out, won’t we.

As for The Rescuers…


Kerry 😁