I can’t believe he didn’t like Dumbo! One of my work colleagues asked me which film we’d reviewed most recently and I said it was Dumbo, to which they replied, “Well that’s a nice one for Ben. No one can dislike Dumbo”. Au contraire, mon amie. Never underestimate my husband’s ability to dislike popular films. In fact, he prides himself on it. Awkward fucker.
To be honest, I do understand his grievances. Once again, the bad guys don’t get their comeuppance, which leaves a distinct lack of closure. Still, Dumbo is so cute and he gets his happy ending!
Onwards and up… Bambi. Oh, he’s gonna hate it. I mean, I think he’s gonna hate it. I haven’t seen it since I was a small child and there must be a reason why it never graced the screens of young Kerry’s childhood household. I genuinely don’t remember much about it, other than his Mum getting shot (which I’m sure contributed to my being a vegetarian now, although I never ate venison when I was an omnivore either!). Now I’ve watched it again, I can see why we didn’t have it on video. It is BORING! I’m sorry, I feel like I’m letting the side down, but it is. Nothing happens. It’s just a load of woodland animals pissing about, until the fawns mum gets shot by hunters (which is brutal, very emotional and I really don’t see how it adds to the story). Bambi’s desperate cries of, “Mother! Mother! Where are you?” is truly heartbreaking. His Dad shows up, tells him that he’s his father and that he won’t be able to see his mother again and, before you’ve had time to grieve for the poor little guy, we’re suddenly thrust forward in time to Bambi’s adulthood and a happy little tune about spring is playing. Then… there’s a random fire. No one dies. End of film. THIS FILM HAS NO STORY! But, I will leave it to Ben to go into detail. Maybe he liked it.
SPOILER ALERT! He didn’t. I didn’t.
2/10 (because the baby animals were cute)
With my now well-established aversion to sadness in films, this is the film that I’ve most dreaded watching. The reasons for that should be fairly obvious. However, I’m not going to completely write this film off before I’ve even viewed it, I’m going to attempt to be open minded. There just better be a pretty damn good reason to kill a fawn’s mother, and the only way I can think it justifiable is because the plot cannot function without it, and that the plot is so damn amazing, that the pure idea of not putting it on tape because of such horror, would be a crime against art, and a loss to the whole world.
And so I’m sitting here waiting for the film to start when the Disney Life app crashes (a now familiar occurrence by the way), which I fear is a bad omen. Even my Firestick thinks I should leave this film well alone. The app begins working eventually and with 30 seconds of the film starting I realise that my fears were very much justified as the typical early-Disney Intro starts up, but with a tune that is ten times more annoying. This tune is so annoying that even Kerry has picked up the remote and skipped it. Mercy.
The film starts with the world’s longest panning-through-woods scene in the history of cinema. The film is an hour long and this intro is so long I’m assuming the film’s story arc must literally consist of: Pan through woods → shoot mummy deer → back to the woods → end. Anyway, after an age we see an owl:
He’s defecating in a hole in a tree. Well if the birds in the hole downstairs will insist on playing Dubstep until four in the morning then it is only fair Mr Owl pops round to leave them a token of his appreciation…
Now we have a squirrel. Now a chipmunk. Nothing’s really happening. Now a mouse. A rabbit. Birds! All these animals are really cute. Still fuck-all happening, mind.
An announcement is made that a new prince has been born. So all the animals go to visit him. He’s covered in amniotic fluid. Actually that’s a lie, there’s just nothing else of interest to talk about otherwise. Bambi is adorable. His mum looks content. I’m thinking I should switch the film off now in the style of Phoebe Buffet’s Mum (Mom) in ‘Friends’. All the animals come to offer their congratulations. Bambi tries to walk but falls over. Now he has a sleep. We see over yonder what appears to be Bambi’s Father, looking wistfully off into the distance. Probably wondering how six months ago he was a free-agent stag-king and one night of passion has resulted in this.
Next day the animals are still frolicking in the woods and they all say “Hi” to Bambi. We’re a quarter of the way through the film and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. We learn one of the young rabbits is called Thumper. He and his siblings spend an age trying to teach Bambi to walk. Rabbits teaching a deer to walk. Now that’s some essential cinema.
Bambi gets taught the difference between birds and butterflies. And flowers. He calls a skunk a flower to much mirth. Then he gets scared by a storm… That’s it I’m done, now there’s a song about rain. Fuck this shit. Now don’t get me wrong, I did continue to watch this film because I will sit through all these films and I will review them because its what I’ve idiotically signed up for, but there’s not a lot I can say about most of this, hell, I may as well be trying to write a 3000-word review about what air looks like. All I can do is point out those few things of significance that do actually occur.
Bambi and his mum go into an open meadow where there is “nowhere to hide”. Ominous. Bambi meets a doe and its pretty clear there’s some chemistry there. Well, she licks him anyway. I don’t know what signal that is supposed to convey in the cartoon animal world. In the human world, greeting by the licking of face suggests someone has bad social skills or has taken good LSD. They continue on their way to meet all the other deer. One of them is Bambi’s dad. I really wanted the mum to go up to dad and say, “where the fuck have you been?” but alas, she doesn’t. That would have been too interesting I suppose. The birds around them all start kicking up a fuss and there’s gunfire. All the deer wisely run away. Bambi’s dragging his heels though, this better not be what causes mummy deer to snuff it… Fortunately, it’s not. Which means we’re over half way through the film with still sod all occurring.
We go forward in time to Winter. The rabbits are playing on ice and some animals are hibernating. Bambi and Mum are really hungry and the only grass that’s not covered in snow that they can eat is out in the open. Here we go. Inevitably, they start getting shot at and have to run. Now I’m typing this over a month after watching what happens next. And it’s still no easier to put it into words. After the frantic dash back to the woods we see Bambi, and he says, “We’ve made it!”. But of course he’s the only one there. Because we don’t see what happens to Mummy deer. We have to create the mental image ourselves. And we have to focus on Bambi as he comes to realisation that his mum hasn’t made it. And don’t forget, he’s really cute. So the writers have made absolutely sure that they cause as much psychological damage as possible. This can never be unseen, and I very much blame the wife for inflicting this disturbing film on me.
The film continues. Even though life now has no meaning. Dad appears and takes Bambi away for a talk.
This scene is followed up with A HAPPY SONG ABOUT THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING!!!!! Are they taking the piss?! The writers are on the psychopath spectrum, surely. It appears we’ve skipped forward a few years as Bambi’s voice has now broken. Of course, as life now has no meaning and I’m sinking into deep depression I stop really paying attention to the film. Its descended into a documentary about animal mating rituals anyway. Bambi wins a fight against some random stag dude, then has some kids (not as a result of the fight, that would be a bit strange. He gets it on with that face-licking Doe from earlier). Oh and in the midst of all this, the hunters come back and nearly shoot more animals and then attempt to burn down the forest. It would have been fitting for the film if Bambi had his house and mate torched to death as well, just to properly psychology ruin him. Fortunately that doesn’t happen as Bambi, being the brave prince he is, makes sure everyone is ok and they all live happily, and slightly scarred, ever after.
Anyway. After watching and writing the reviews for the previous Disney films on a regular weekly basis, the review for this film is being completed a good few months later. One reason is that this film was hard enough to sit through and finding the motivation to relive it in my head to type up the review was almost too torturous to endure, so I have procrastinated on it in the hope it will write itself. I found the movie, in most part, had very little plot and dragged from scene to scene. Was Mummy Deer’s demise essential to the plot? Hell no! Actually, I reckon this was the only reason it happened in the first place:
“Right guys, great job by the animation team on drawing these really cute animals, but at the minute they’re doing pretty much sweet-fuck-all plot wise. Anyone got any ideas on a good plot twist?”
“I swear to god George if you mention turning them into Donkeys and selling them into slavery, you’re going to be straight out that door.”
“I wasn’t going to say that!”
“Oh… good. What’s your suggestion then?
“Ok, um, um, uuuuuuum, um…………um, ok got it! We shoot his mum!”
“Shoot his mum? His mum?! Animation have drawn their cutest animal yet, and you’re suggesting we shoot its mum? George, you need to go back and see your shrink again. Now come on, think! We’re going to think of a grade-A plot for these cute creatures that will wow entire families around the world!”
(After five hours)
“Ask the sound-effects department if they can record a shotgun sound.”
One argument that I’m sure people will make is that the film makes a compelling argument against hunting. Without going too deep into the politics of this, I absolutely hope that it has talked someone out of hunting for sport, but if you want to kill an animal for the sake of killing an animal, you’ve probably shut down enough processes in that part of your brain for a Disney film to cause any major epiphany’s. Furthermore, I know some people could, and would, argue that it forced Bambi to grow up and prove himself as a man (stag), but that isn’t the only way that Bambi could find maturity and bravery, and in a film where I want some enjoyable escapism, this certainly isn’t the best way to achieve that. But I know some will say “but this is life and you shouldn’t sugar-coat it as it will make it easier for children to cope when this sort of thing inevitably happens in their own lives!”
You see, the other reason this review is so far behind schedule is that on the very same evening of watching Bambi, I received a message saying that my Father almost stopped breathing and had been rushed to hospital for emergency heart surgery. I was already feeling hopelessly depressed from watching the film and during that afternoon I accidentally kicked an ottoman as a result. Almost certainly broke a little toe! Bad things come in three’s indeed. After a further four operations and near-death moments, he is now slowly beginning the path to recovery but did the film in some way help to put his near-death into some sort of prepared-for perspective? Did it fuck! It just meant my Dad nearly died and on top of that I was depressed from watching a miserable and shit film! And my foot hurt too, but compared to a father on the operating table and the cries of a semi-orphaned fawn, it wasn’t a real concern… and the fact this wasn’t a real concern probably most brutally demonstrated my feelings towards Disney’s sixth offering: That it ranks somewhere between a parent undergoing emergency surgery and a broken toe.
The Reluctant Dragon – 7/10
Snow White – 6/10
Fantasia – 5.5/10
Dumbo – 5/10
Pinocchio – 3.5/10
A Broken Toe – 1.5/10
Bambi – 1/10
Emergency surgery on Family members – Bad.