Misguided Reviews

Lady and the Tramp

I wasn’t wrong, was I. Knew he wouldn’t like Peter Pan. I know my husband (#smugwifealert). I’ve noticed, however, that Ben tends to warm towards the films with cute and/or sassy animals. He liked Jiminy Cricket and, despite not being massively keen on the overall film, he did like Dumbo and Timothy Mouse. Which leads me to our next Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp.

Based on a magazine story, “Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog”, 1955’s Lady and the Tramp, follows an American Cocker Spaniel, ‘Lady’, who lives with her upper-middle class owners, ‘Jim Dear’ and ‘Darling’. A beautiful, well-behaved dog, Lady is loved and pampered by her owners. However, when ‘Darling’ has a baby, Lady starts to feel pushed out. She meet’s a stray dog named ‘Tramp’ and, after a traumatic experience one day, they run off together and Tramp shows her what life is like on the other side of the picket fence.

I know that Ben does vaguely recall seeing this film as child and enjoyed it, but whether he’ll feel the same seeing it 30 years later as an adult, I don’t know. I think he’ll like it, as Lady is cute (particularly as a puppy) and Tramp has that sassy attitude that he enjoys in Disney animals.

Lady and the Tramp is another of my favourite Disney films and I would watch it over and over as a child. It has a good, strong storyline, beautiful animation and fantastic characters that you can really get behind (another factor that Ben likes in a film). There are only a handful of songs, which in a film based on animals works well for me. It also has, arguably, the most romantic scene in any Disney film (I mean, who hasn’t tried to recreate the iconic spaghetti kiss… even if it was with strawberry bootlaces!). I feel that there’s very little to dislike about this film (besides maybe the casual racism regarding the Siamese cats).



P.S. Just watched the live action and I will be reviewing it in due course, so stay tuned for that.

Things have been finally starting to look just a little bit more auspicious for this cynic of all things Disney, to the point where I can now say I’m just cynical of ‘most’ things Disney.  These tentative steps in a direction that Kerry has been desperate for, for over a decade now, were helped to a large degree, by ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’. These steps were not helped by ‘Peter Pan’. But where I had deep-rooted aversions to ‘Peter Pan’ that were carried over from childhood (and no amount of “Mermaid Lagoooooun’s” could change that), 1955’s ‘Lady and the Tramp’ is a rare Disney entry, in that not only did I watch it in childhood, I also really liked it. I was very young at the time, and therefore have literally no recollection of anything that happens in the film, but I’m at least hoping that there are still some positive connotations deeply engrained in my subconscious that will give me a more positive eighty minutes or so than that I had to endure our previous time out… 🤞

lady puppy 2The usual Disney choir on sedatives opens up the film, before we join a snowy scene in a posh neighbourhood. A dude is giving a box to his wife as a Christmas present. Not just a box obviously. She opens it and there’s a puppy inside. It’s fricking cute. I need to point out right now that I’m a beta-male that’s comfortable in my skin, and I HATE bravado. I’ll still enjoy sports and ‘manly’ things, but I like cute baby animals and have no problem going “aww” once in a while. So I’m very happy to watch this adorable puppy frolic around, and as long as I don’t have to witness her traumatised face as her mother is savagely murdered, I’ll be happy. As this is Disney, my confidence is low. I don’t recall being emotionally scarred by this film in childhood though. But saying that, my anxiety disorder must have come from somewhere, who knows what I’ve repressed? I really hope she wasn’t in that box for too long. That’s a shit way to present a puppy.

The couple go to bed and put the puppy in her bed in one of the downstairs rooms. They named her ‘Lady’ for some reason. Probably because if they called her something like ‘Twinkle-Toes’, the film would be called ‘Twinkle-Toes and the Tramp’. And that’s a shit name. ‘Rhubarb and the Tramp’. Just doesn’t convey that she’s a posh dog. No, Lady is a very convenient name. A good choice. Lady, however, doesn’t like being downstairs, so with some good manipulation and howling, she ends up on the bed “just for the night”.

We then switch to her being a bit older, but still sleeping on the bed which is a nice way to show that she continued to get her way. After that, we get a good chunk of the usual Disney ‘go-to’ of largely plotless meanderings show cute animals being… cute. I used to sit there impatiently waiting for some sort of plot development during these moments, but after discovering that ‘development’ usually involved mummy-doe-murder and donkey-slave-children, I’ve stopped waiting, and now just sit back and watch the animals do their thing. In this case, chasing a rat.

LadyLady is bought a nice collar with a badge on it, that she is very proud to wear. She goes and meets up with a couple of her friends from the other big houses. Jock, who is the world’s most stereotypically Scottish dog ever, because he is a Scottish Terrier, and Trusty, an old Bloodhound who seems to only pretend to have a good sense of smell. They talk about how Lady now has a ‘Badge of Respectability’. When her male owner returns home she races back excitedly and jumps at him, whilst barking excitedly. This is something that I LOVE in this film. The way we switch seamlessly between dogs interacting like humans would, as well as seeing things from their perspective, then switching to dogs acting like dogs normally do whenever humans are around with a traditional dynamic. They do this perfectly and it’s funny as well as feeling natural.

We now head to some railroad tracks where we meet another dog. I have deduced that he is The Tramp. He has a chat with some cute little puppies in a shop window and scabs some food from a nice if somewhat overly exuberant and generic Italian restaurant owner. Then he breaks some other dogs out of a dog-pound van, escapes capture himself and finds him the posh suburbs of town. I’m liking this dog. He’s got balls (probably literally as he’s a stray so likely unneutered), a lot of character, but also a lot of warmth too. He seems like a good egg.

JockLady is sad because she was called “that dog” and is being ignored by her owners. She calls them Darling and Jim Dear as that’s what they call each other, so that’s what she assumes their names are. A nice touch. I’ve realised that I’m so far being far more positive about the details of this film than any other I’ve reviewed so far. It’s also less ridiculous than most of the films I watched so far too. Trusty and Jock tell her about, in their words, “the birds and the bees”. Well, they tell her that Darling is pregnant, anyway. They weren’t giving her an impromptu sex-ed class or anything. Tramp appears in the garden to warn lady that she will be basically ignored now that there’s a baby on the way. Jock and Trusty try to reassure her.

Darling is desperate for a girl and is (recklessly in my opinion) only knitting pink things. Jim Dear wants a boy. After the baby is born, we get our first song. Well I say it’s the first song, Lady starts singing about the new baby as she goes up the stairs, But Kerry says that it doesn’t count as it’s not a full song and isn’t on any albums. I dispute this, and say we’ve had our first song twenty-eight minutes in. As we get a ‘proper’ song a mere three minutes after, it doesn’t really matter and either way, I’m happy the first song is so far into the film. I wonder if there will be a correlation between number of songs and how much a film pisses me off? I might make a spreadsheet at some point to find out. I like spreadsheets.

As Darling and Jim Dear are going away for a few days, Aunt Sarah is looking after the baby and Lady for a few days. I learnt in Media class back in the day, that a lot of films (especially ones made in America), follow a classic pattern of:

equilibrium → disruption → resolution → new equilibrium (that’s often even better than the first one).

To be honest with most American films, between disruption and resolution you could probably chuck in ‘cheesy-as-fuck-montage’ too. We’re at the disruption stage here, therefore Aunt Sarah is a bit of a battle-axe, and has two cats. So let’s play a game: Based on this film, does Walt Disney prefer dogs or cats?

It’s a close call that can only be separated by a dash of horrifically sadistic evil.

Lady tries to stop the cats eating the goldfish and tearing shit up and in the commotion that follows, she gets the blame. As a result she’s taken to the pet shop for a muzzle. Even though they attach it, the positive is that she escapes. She gets chased by three stray dogs after running into the rough part of town, but Tramp saves her and their journey to ‘hooking up’ can begin.

I’ve said it before, but I really like Tramp. Best character in Disney so far for my money. The princesses, Snow and Cinders were nice but a bit weak. Peter Pan was a bit of a bellend as were Mr Toad and Ichabod. Donald Duck is a sex-pest who I’m happy not to watch ever again, and the less said about José-bloody-Carioca the better. Pinocchio was a just a gullible fool. The Princes have had zero personality. Bambi, Dumbo and Bongo were all cute enough, but the animals in this film are far above them because they also have bags of charisma.

lady and trampNext, we get some beaver eating. Specifically, eating the straps on Lady’s muzzle. What a helpful beaver. Following this, Tramp shows Lady the benefits of being a stray and his tricks for getting food. He takes her for an Italian. The one owned by that stereotypical and exuberant dude I mentioned earlier. He’s very nice but a little batshit crazy. It may just be me who thinks that. It may seem perfectly sane to some people that when two trampy dogs turn up outside your restaurant, the logical thing to do is light some candles, serve them up a portion of your house speciality and SERENADE THEM WITH YOUR FUCKING ACCORDIAN! It’s a lovely gesture though. The speciality in question is spaghetti and everyone knows this scene. It’s beautifully done.

The next scene is them, awakening on a hill somewhere the following morning. We all know what happened. And as they’re dogs, we can safely say that alcohol wasn’t a factor in that decision, so no regrets all round. Tramp tells ‘Pidge’ as he likes to call her about the joys of being free. Life without fences rather than life on a leash. He makes a damn good point. Obviously being free involves scaring the crap out of chickens, so that’s what they do. Unfortunately after being chased away, Lady gets caught by the Dog Warden and taken to The Pound.

dogs singingNow Disney clearly likes to try and ruin everything they touch in some way (just my experience, don’t yell at me), and they have a bloody good go now, using a couple of their preferred methods of torture, namely, hideous songs and animal death. Firstly, the dogs in the pound literally howl a rendition of some famous song I vaguely recognize. It’s unpleasant. What’s more unpleasant is that they felt it necessary to have one of the dogs destroyed, just so we, the viewer, can never fully escape from reality and all the misery that accompanies it. I do understand that the grisly demise of most of the Pound’s residents is a good plot device to make us really worry about Tramp’s capture later on, but still… a little escapism please. A couple of the stray dogs in The Pound are the two that Tramp freed from the Dog Warden’s van, earlier in the film. They’re jealous of Lady’s collar as it means she’ll basically get out alive. The dogs are, however, digging a hole so they can escape. Clever dogs. Lady is informed that although he is very cunning and good at avoiding capture, Tramp is, in fact, a right old slut. Must make that night on the hill feel a bit icky…

Once Lady is collected and brought home, she is tied up outside. She, as well as Jock and Trusty, give Tramp the cold shoulder when he turns up and essentially slut-shames him. A bit later a rat sneaks into the baby’s room and because Lady’s tied up, she can’t catch it. Fortunately Tramp is obsessively hanging around and goes after it. This doesn’t go very well. They trash the bedroom, get the blame, Lady gets locked up and Tramp gets taken off to the pound. It doesn’t go very well at all…

Remember the whole equilibrium → disruption → resolution → new equilibrium thing I was talking about earlier? We’ve had quite enough disruption and now that shit needs to be sorted out. So Darling and Jim Dear return and with Lady’s help, discover the rat. They realise that she and Tramp were trying to help. Now Aunt Sarah looks like a right dick. I was hoping she gets some sort of gentle comeuppance like her cats clawing her eyes out, but alas that never happens. So now the dogs chase down the Dog Warden’s van, with the help of Trusty’s sense of smell which turns out to be fine after all. Trusty and Jock scare the horses causing the van to tip and Tramp is saved. But oh no! Trusty is under the cart and motionless. Is he dead?! Fortunately, it turns out he’s not. A big thank you so much to Disney for resisting the temptation to murder something.

ChristmasSo we get a happy ending of Tramp living at the house with Lady and clearly enjoying a life surrounded by fences and, judging by their 4 puppies, much humpage. Oh, and a gift from Aunt Sarah at Christmas which now makes me thankful that the cats actually didn’t scratch her eyes out… But this leads me nicely into my one small criticism (not including the destroyed dog at the pound) that I found. It’s not so much a criticism so much as something that doesn’t quite sit right with me. I’m a big believer in freedom, and I’m slightly uncomfortable about the notion of ownership. I get that dogs and cats are domesticated and therefore seemingly prefer things that way, but as demonstrated, (rather bluntly) in this film, a dog that is no longer owned by a human will ultimately be, quite literally, destroyed by a human. So although being owned is a far happier ending to being put to sleep, the fact the ‘happy ending’ involves Tramp embracing the confines of fences and collars, it suggests that the writers are portraying it as worse for him to be the freedom-loving-dog-who-don’t-need-no-man beforehand. But to be honest, as this is the first Disney film I genuinely enjoyed, I’m inclined to say fuck it, and just appreciate the fact I’ve finally enjoyed Disney…

Because I did genuinely enjoy it. And I really liked it. I’ve quite liked a few of the previous ones, but this is the first time I actually felt like I was watching one of these films because I actually wanted to, and given the choice, wouldn’t just go upstairs. Or to the pub. The two ‘lead’ characters (pun unintended) were both warm, likeable and full of personality which meant I was really rooting for them. The supporting characters were good, the plot was good and the Disney-isms of the early films that have made me roll my eyes film after film, were scaled back or absent altogether. For Disney and me, it’s fourteenth time lucky, which is actually quicker than I expected… Although nothing’s permanent. Sleeping Beauty is next…

Additional: Ok so this is a few days later and last night, Kerry put on the Lady and the Tramp live-action remake. This caused me a problem, but a good problem. I was going to score the original LATT 9/10. But then I watched the remake and realised that I liked that a lot more (apparently a lot of other people didn’t, but I’ll get to that in the future). And then it dawned on me that I’ve maybe spaced the scores on the films I watched so far, a little bit too widely, especially on the upper end, and I’m forgetting that modern films tend to be a lot more well-rounded and better presented…. So I need to be slightly more reserved and a bit less ‘Amazon product reviewer where everything is 1 or 5 stars’.  So maybe ‘Cinderella’ should be a 7 instead of 7.5 for example, and ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ 6 instead of 7 etc. That being said, I’d still give Bambi 1/10…. With that in mind though, I still say for this film:



Misguided Reviews

Alice in Wonderland

In a general life update, we have just had our planned trip to Disneyland Paris cancelled, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. On the upside, we get to rebook up until 15th October for the same price, so we will be going in the Summer Holidays instead! Silver-lining – better weather.disneyland paris I appreciate that having a trip to Disneyland Paris postponed is a real first-world-problem, but obviously I would much rather that than risk spreading a virus that can kill those with underlying health conditions. Additionally, though, seriously stop panic buying! It’s fucking ridiculous. Rant over.

I am absolutely delighted at how much Ben enjoyed Cinderella. I expected him to like some of the films that we have coming up, but I didn’t expect him to be so enamored with a Disney Princess! Result!

Now, onto Alice in Wonderland. I am so excited to see what he makes of this one, as it is bat-shit crazy and I think he’ll be amused by the randomness of it.

Based on the ‘Alice’ books by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland follows the title character’s trip down the rabbit hole into an entirely different dimension, where animals can talk, flowers can sing and every character appears to be completely crazy and without any sense of logic to their actions. It has characters that you will never forget, such as The Mad Hatter, The March Hare, The Cheshire Cat and The Queen of Hearts. So let’s see what Ben thinks of it.

In my opinion, it is amazing. It is truly one of the classic Disney greats. The creative team must’ve really enjoyed themselves with the script, as some of the lines are utterly astounding and the animation is truly beautiful. If you are planning on showing a Disney classic to someone that is a Disney virgin, I would highly recommend showing them this one.


Kerry 😁

Cinderella succeeded in making this Disney cynic at least a bit less apprehensive about continuing this journey through the Animation Studios films. Much like the post-war era that houses the Animation Studios films that we’re currently trawling through, there is now some optimism and hope going forward, with dreams of peace / good films, as opposed to the previous decade which was overshadowed by war / The Three Caballeros.

So 1951 brings us Alice in Wonderland. Oh boy. It’s hard to know where to start. I’m once again going to have to deviate from the normal ‘say the ridiculous things I see’ approach that I usually take to reviewing these films. I mean, I attempted to write notes during this film whenever something inexplicable happened, but within fourteen minutes my arm cramped up and my pen literally exploded (not literally). It was at this point I realised that I needed a change of tactics here, as this is no normal movie. My god is that an understatement. What’s the point of trying to find WTF moments in a film that is designed to be WTF, in some fantastical WTF world?

Furthermore, trying to note-take in a film like this, is contrary to how a film like this is supposed to be digested.  By that, I mean the viewer is supposed to either be a child with an imagination that is yet to be restricted by the confinements of the conditioned grown-up mind, or a student that is so off their face on narcotics that if they’re not totally transfixed by the pretty colours, or transcending to a place where the random sequence of events is processed in some life-altering way, they would probably be convinced they are a werewolf or trying to eat the fridge. As I cannot revert to a childlike state, and also think that the kids telling stories of that time dad went strange, watched ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and kept them awake all night howling at the moon, may be viewed by some as somewhat inappropriate. I had to find a different approach.

Cheshire CatI found this approach at around the twenty-five-minute mark. With my pad and pen set aside, I sat back and stared at the screen, with my body relaxed and my eyes slightly glazed, and let the experience vigorously penetrate my mind. Almost literally a ‘mind-fuck’ if you will. But by attempting to stop the forces that are compelling me to question and resist, as well as allowing the film to create its very own psychedelic haze around my brain, I’m in some way mimicking both the demographics I mentioned above and everything starts to make sense. Sort of.

After I watched ‘Bambi’, I entered what would become known as the ‘post-Bambi’ phase of my existence, where all joyous things were slightly darker around the edges and happy events were / are interrupted by the faces of scarred fawns (and now also cute little oysters, but I’ll come back to that later). If this review seems even more skittish and unfocused than usual, this is because I’m now in a phase known as ‘post-Alice-In-Wonderland’, where clocks are fixed with tea and jam (this bit is amazing, which I’ll come back to later as well) and animals have inanimate objects for faces. I apologize for my meanderings, but a surreal film deserves a slightly surreal review, so grab half a cup of tea and firework cake containing a mouse attached to an umbrella and go with it…

When I studied art at school, I was fascinated (well, reasonably interested. I know I paid attention rather than doing my usual staring out of the window until the bell rings at least…) by the surrealists, particularly Salvador Dali. I found it curious that, to me at least, despite all the pieces being things that were either not where they were supposed to be, with what they were supposed to be or they were supposed to be, some ideas seemed to make sense and others seemed forced. Some works felt tenuous and others, surprisingly, didn’t. For me, the same rings true with the scenes of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. mad hatter march hareDespite the absurdity of ‘The Madhatter’s Tea party’, there feels like cohesion and direction in amongst the chaos. I fricking loved this part of the film and it’s definitely my favourite Disney segment so far. I especially love the Mad Hatter proclaiming that the rabbit’s clock is exactly two days slow. The problem is apparently caused by the wheels inside it. His attempts to fix it involve pouring tea on it and spreading jam, butter and mustard (sorry, not mustard, that would be silly; lemon) inside it. I know it’s a famous scene and I can see why. But for every Madhatter’s tea-party however, there’s a story about ‘curious oysters’ or playing cards singing about ‘painting the roses red’ that didn’t hit the same spot. And that’s just my opinion. I’m sure every scene will float different people’s boats.

There are a few things that occur in this film that require extra attention, so let’s return to the start. It’s notable, just like in the adventures of Mr Toad from a few films back, that Alice and her mother are SO English, that the film must have been produced in America. That stereotypical ‘tea and cucumber sandwich’ English that Americans go crazy for. Sorry, apparently this is her sister, not her mother. Ok… I find that hard to believe. Let’s be honest here, this is her ‘sister’, which is basically just how people in Victorian times would cover up a pregnancy outside of marriage. talking to the daisiesAlice is bored of normality and wants her own world full of nonsense. Within 4 minutes she’s singing and taking to birds. Why is there always so much singing and talking to birds? She spots a white rabbit that is late for something and decides to follow him, without really giving a satisfactory reason of why she feels she has to. One can assume that the ‘what the fuckness’ of this occurrence would cause most of us to do the same though, so I’ll let her off. She runs after him with her cat in tow, and then we reach a moment that I feel needs to be discussed here. After chasing the rabbit into an unpleasantly tight warren, she falls down a seemingly bottomless hole. The normal reaction of falling down a seemingly bottomless hole would usually involve much screaming, cursing with perhaps a small amount of soiling oneself. The reaction to falling down a seemingly bottomless hole, will never be, and I repeat, never be TO LOOK AT YOUR CAT AND HAPPILY WAVE AT HIM WHILST EXCLAIMING “GOODBYE!”

Another thing that pissed me off: Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. I’ve heard the names many times, mostly when two people are being particularly stupid, but never knew really who they were or from where they were referenced. At least now, when someone mentions them, I can now say “Ah yes, I know them! They’re from Alice in Wonderland! Fuck me, they suck!” There are two reasons for this suckiness (goddamn spellcheck, leave me alone!) in my opinion. Firstly, the way they won’t leave Alice alone is too reminiscent of “the nutter on public transport”. By that, I mean the dude who comes and sits next to you on the bus or train and repeatedly talks at you, pays no attention to your lack of engagement, and invariably ends up telling you exactly why the police were in the wrong to have an arrest warrant for him. The second reason is the story they told about “The Walrus, The Carpenter and The Curious Oysters”. I don’t like this story. Here are the oysters:

ThOystersey’re cute little oysters. Innocent and… well, curious. Just like babies with their shell bonnets in their shell cots. They have happy smiles and big wide eyes; these creatures have been almost humanized and possess all the traits that people biologically find adorable and feel compelled to protect. The walrus eats them. The fucking walrus eats them all alive. We’re not at Bambi levels of “hey, let’s fuck you all up for shits and giggles”, but we still have another example of Disney joyously using animation as a vehicle for sadistic dickery. You can tell when something pisses me off as the cursing increases dramatically. I’ve cursed quite a lot in twelve Disney reviews…

At one point not long after, Alice walks into a Rabbits house, goes up to his bedroom and steals one of his biscuits. Not only throughout this film, does Alice react to the absurdity with almost soulless ease, she, at times, also really oversteps the mark in what would be considered socially acceptable. giant in houseThe biscuit makes her grow to the size of a house, which is problematic as she’s in a house, which results in her wearing the house like some sort of weird armour. She has no one to blame but herself. That being said, when a big bird comes along and starts singing about “smoking the blighter out” and generally showing zero compassion or interest in her safety, I can’t help but feel that they should be a bit nicer. But that is a recurring theme of this movie; It seems that most of the people she encounters are complete and utter arseholes. I think that this is supposed to interpreted that the moral here is ‘even if it is more exciting, nonsense isn’t necessarily better or for that matter, nicer’. Or ‘anything outside the norm is bad’. Hmmm, not sure how I feel about that.

After Alice eats a carrot to shrink herself, but manages to shrink herself too much (I’ve almost completely stopped overthinking occurrences like this even in this relatively early stage of the film), we get our next example of arsehole-ness. The flowers ridicule Alice for being weedy, and one flower lifts up her skirt. Not cool.

angry queen of heartsSpeaking of not cool, the Queen of Hearts. I really hate the Queen of Hearts. I know you’re supposed to hate her because she’s a dick, but I find I hate her in a way that makes me want her gone from my screen rather than being compelled to see her comeuppance. The other problem with this segment is that including a stronger and slightly more defined plotline here (at least compared to the previous segments) exposes the lack of depth throughout the film as both its strong point, and its weak point. Let me explain. The lack of substance really worked to the films advantage for most part, as not being given motives or understanding, the ‘wheres’, ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of people/animal’s actions made them that much more random and for, most part, funny. When you start including at least slightly more lucid plot points, such as a sham trial from a bad-tempered queen, that lack of depth makes it a damn sight harder to stay invested in how it plays out. I would have been happier if Alice had just met more good-natured lunatics that were involved in harmless meaningless shenanigans, such as the Mad-Hatter for example…

A CaterpillarElsewhere, Alice part-sings and part-cries her way through a song that I will skip through whenever I watch the film again, a caterpillar makes letters and shapes out of smoke from a shisha pipe and we have a mischievous cat that can turn invisible and stand on his own head. Events that are no more and no less absurd that happenings throughout the rest of the film.

In all, watching this film can certainly be classed as ‘an experience’. It’s not quite the sort of princess fairy-tale, cute animal in peril, nor Donald Duck squawk fest, that I have mostly been exposed to so far, but it was certainly unique, most definitely unforgettable, and in several parts enjoyable. Especially when Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle Dum and the Queen of Hearts were not on my screen anyway…




Misguided Reviews

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Figured that Ben would think that Fun and Fancy Free was ‘meh’. It was. So, on we go to the last film to come out of the Walt Disney Animation Studios in the 1940’s, ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’.

The film is made up of the animated adaptations of two classic stories, ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ by Washington Irving. It has the added wow-factor of the first story being narrated by British actor, Basil Rathbone and the second story by American actor and singer, Bing Crosby. Ah yes. I’m familiar with Bing. He was in Holiday Inn (and lots of other films, but I’ve actually seen Holiday Inn) and sang that Christmas song with David Bowie. As for Basil Rathbone, I’m not so familiar with him. I’m not familiar with him at all actually. Off I go to trusty Wikipedia then. Ok he’s seriously posh. His full name is Philip St. John Basil Rathbone MC. Who has St. John as a middle name? A proper toff, that’s who. And MC? So not only can he narrate, he can also rap! This would’ve been more entertaining if he’d rapped the story.

I have nothing else I can give you in my ‘pre-review’ (it’s almost like I’ve been trying to pad it out with nonsense), so I’ll just let you read Ben’s review below.

All in all, the film was fine. Nothing special. Probably wouldn’t watch it again (however, I do really want to watch Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp now). Next film’s Cinderella!!!!


Kerry 😁

P.S. Just quickly wanted to add something here. I call it, “Screwing over my husband”. I’ve just signed up to Disney+ (which will be available in the UK from 24th March) and it appears that Melody Time is on it. So, not quite done with the 40’s crap just yet, honey.

Film 10! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far! I feel like I’ve completed a triathlon but with a stronger feeling of exhaustion and pain. Speaking of exhaustion and pain, here is my experience of watching 1949’s ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad’.

The intro is just like all the previous ones. I really hate that Forties style vocal that has laced every film so far with its outdated wailing. I’ve just noticed one of the names in the opening credits is ‘Ub Tweeks’! Sir, you have a phenomenal name. You should be proud.

The film is introduced by the narrator. If some dude at Disney was set the task to find the poshest human on Planet Earth to narrate the film’s opening scene, they deserve a bonus for their roaring success. I wonder if it was Ub Tweeks job? Either way, poshest sounding dude? Check. Job done. So, the ‘haut monde’ of the narrating world introduces us to “the delightful book, ‘Wind in the Willows’”. We’re clearly still very much all in with adaptations, as opposed to original content then.

At this point it’s worth mentioning that this film is unusual compared to what I’ve encountered with Disney thus far. At least in terms of the effect it will have on my review. All my reviews have been something of a ‘scene by scene reaction’. And because most scenes have been filled with surrealist nightmares, bizarre storytelling, outdated world views that make the eyes widen, propaganda, scenes more disturbing than necessary in a kids film or just outright crap, one way or another there have been vast amounts from start to finish (or where I start to lose interest) that I want to reflect on, and to be honest, I’ve rarely been stumped with what to type next. Where I found this film unusual, especially during the WITW adaptation, was that the stories aren’t especially bizarre, the surrealism is lessened, the days of Latin American propaganda are long gone and there is isn’t a Donkey-Slave-Child in sight. And as you would expect with adaptations of two ‘literary classics’, the stories aren’t that bad either. The thing is that I was just BORED through most of this. I had to pause the movie on more than one occasion and ask what the hell was going on, because I had totally zoned out. As I result, I will probably review this with a less ‘play by play’ approach and write more of a general overview this time to save us all some tedium.

I do wonder why I didn’t really enjoy this film. After all, the critics think it’s good, a lot of people who have watched it (and granted there aren’t many) seem to enjoy it, and as mentioned before, these are literary classics. It’s just REALLY not my thing, but then, which films so far have been? So this may be a slightly shorter review compared to the previous ones, but I will be posting an article discussing the first ten Disney films and how I perceive them now the dust has settled, later in the week.

Mr ToadThe Mr Toad story focuses on his obsession to own a motor car, which in turn causes him to be tricked by some weasels into looking like he stole a motor vehicle, which results into his imprisonment, allowing the weasels to take control of his mansion, Toad Hall. With the help of the LUDICROUSLY Scottish McBadger, Mole and Rat, Mr Toad escapes prison and they start the journey for his vindication. The main thing I have taken from this story, and the thing I confidently think everyone will consider the most important talking point, is wondering if calling Badger ‘McBadger’ is common among Scottish Badgers, as well as fauna in general. Are there McSheep, McFoxes, McGoats and McWasps? In Ireland are there O’Cows, O’Butterflies and O’Llamas? Ok maybe not O’Llamas. The Llamas will be immigrants, so more likely Señor Pedro the Llama. In the Netherlands is there a Van Der Salamander or a Van Der Panda?

Disney have also gone out of their way to make sure there is no doubt that this is a British novel. But it’s very British in that way all Americans think that all British people are. Thatched cottages, monocles, tweed and high-tea-with-cucumber-sandwiches stereotyping, basically. Granted there are a few people over here that are actually like that, we normally call them ‘wankers’. I hope Americans will appreciate that little lesson in English culture and colloquialism.

One other thing to note is the scene where the four animals need to steal papers from the bad guys in Toad Hall is rather familiar to me. Probably because feels like they had almost exactly the same scenario in the previous film, Fun and Fancy Free, where other annoying animals try to retrieve a harp-woman from a giant. It feels like a copy and paste job to me. I’m onto you Disney.

Yet another thing to note is that I always need a protagonist I can strongly get behind, even if I cannot empathise with or relate to. My investment in any story is greatly increased by a hero you can fully invest in, like George Bailey or Zack Morris. I don’t want someone or something to be wrongfully imprisoned, but Mr Toad is such a materialistic, annoying bellend, so his fictional plight is of little importance to me.

Now normally, my reviews have to be spoiler ridden as I say what I see, and I go by the logic that anyone that reads this would most likely be a Disney fan that will have watched whatever it is I’m bitching about discussing. In this case, I think there’s a lot of even Disney fans that haven’t watched this film and haven’t seen or read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow but want to check it out, so to be on the safe side, I’m keeping this spoiler free.

Now back to protagonists I can’t invest in. This dude.Ichabod Crane

How can I get behind that? How am I supposed to believe that the local ho-bag (more on her shortly) would be interested in him? He has a bow in his hair FFS! I think we aren’t supposed to like him very much, in fairness, as they don’t exactly hide his douchiness (again, I’m reinventing the English language).

So this story is blessed with the narration of Bing Crosby, which means we get Bing Crosby singing in that unmistakeably forties style too, which as you well know, is not really my bag. Mainly because I hate it.

The peculiar creature pictured above is Ichabod Crane, a teacher who arrives at Sleepy Hollow, somewhere in New York State. He can be an object of ridicule. No shit! Anyway the local girls seem to like him for some reason, however “one fateful day”, he meets this girl:Katrina and men

This is Katrina. She has no bladder, intestines or liver, as she has a four-inch waist. So that green thing she’s holding may well be a colostomy bag. Yet this hasn’t stopped her being the biggest prick tease in Sleepy Hollow. Look at those creepy bastards, the chap in the blue shirt has resorted to blatantly staring down her dress. The dude in green showing that men with bows in their hair may have been a fashion statement, so perhaps Ichabod is trendier than I gave him credit for. Bing Crosby describes her as “plump as a partridge. And ripe!” I wouldn’t call her plump. I would say she’s got a gigantic rack. And I think that’s what Bing is implying too, in a subtle, roundabout way. There is nothing subtle, or roundabout, about saying she was ‘ripe’, however. He may as well have said “she was ready for a good ploughing whilst she was wrinkle free…” Ichabod agrees with that sentiment and decides that he must marry her. Mostly it seems because she has a rich father though. See what I mean. Dick! But there is a rival for her affections. Someone who is a far superior specimen that Ichabod. So the story becomes a battle for her affections.

Headless HorsemanAs I said, I’m keeping this spoiler free, but this does turn into a horror tale. I know Disney are willing to take things in a very dark direction compared to most cartoons, and to their credit, they do a pretty good job here, maybe some younger kids may be a bit freaked out by it. Personally, I found this story is a bit restricted by being placed in a family film. The second half of the Ichabod tale is still the best part of the film by far though.

To summarise, if any of the ten Disney films I’ve watched so far were to convert me, this certainly would not be it. It did, however, leave me curious about the book and subsequent film adaptations of ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. This version, with Bing Crosby’s singing and annoying music though, much like food as it reaches Katrina’s non-existent stomach, is hard to digest. Still, it was far superior to the adventures of Mr Toad, which I legitimately have almost lost from memory altogether. Good or bad, or to be more accurate, average or bad, I still remember the other films I’ve watched reasonably well. This however is a blur, and I have no problem leaving it that way.


Ben 🙄