Friday, January 16, 2009

The Ugly Truth About Disney


It's true. Even though Disney purports to be the most beloved film studio of all time, they simply aren't. They don't produce absolute masterpieces, and when they do, they are infrequent. I'd like to expand on my usual Ugly Truth joke, and show you, by virtue of numbers, that Disney movies in general, are average at best. I will be doing this by listing every single canon Disney film and giving it a score. I will then total up the scores and figure an average to show you that - yes - Disney movies aren't that great.

Before I do this, I want to provide two disclaimers. Firstly, the Disney movies that I do love are the ones I cherish a lot. I don't have a "hate" on for Disney in particular. This leads to the second disclaimer. I'm only doing this because Disney keeps telling people they're the best, and anybody who puts themselves up that high deserves to get knocked down a peg.

So, in chronological order, followed by numerical review and then quick comment, here are the canon Disney films.

1937 –Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs [Five out of Five] amazingly innovative
1940 –Pinocchio [Four Out of Five] very good
1940 –Fantasia [Five out of Five] one of the best, so innovative
1941 –Dumbo [Three out of Five] unimaginative and uninspired
1942 –Bambi [Four out of Five] terrific beginning, poor ending
1945 –The Three Caballeros [Two out of Five] not funny
1950 –Cinderella [Four out of Five] Amazing
1951 –Alice in Wonderland [Three out of Five] Poor execution
1953 –Peter Pan [Four out of Five] excellent animation quality
1955 –Lady and the Tramp [Three out of Five] starts the sketchy uninspired era
1959 –Sleeping Beauty [Four out of Five] amazing impressionist style
1961 –101 Dalmatians [Two out of Five] the terrible era begins
1963 –The Sword and the Stone [One out of Five] would've been zero if it wasn't for the magic cleaning scene
1967 –The Jungle Book [One out of Five] reused cells, horrible handling of Khan, no ending to speak of, good music, though.
1970 –The Aristocats [One out of Five] jazz is the only thing that saves this
1973 –Robin Hood [One out of Five] Prince John is the saving grace
1977 –The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh [Three out of Five] It's okay
1977 –The Rescuers [One out of Five] Uninteresting.
1981 –The Fox and the Hound [One out of Five] Terrible
1985 –The Black Cauldron [One out of Five] Terrible
1986 –The Great Mouse Detective [Two out of Five] Great set pieces
1988 –Oliver & Company [One out of Five] Good lord, I had forgotten how bad this was
1989 –The Little Mermaid [Five out of Five] Fantastic
1990 –The Rescuers Down Under [Three out of Five] Better than the original
1991 –Beauty and the Beast [Five out of Five] Outstanding
1992 –Aladdin [Five out of Five] Outstanding
1994 –The Lion King [Five out of Five] The best.
1995 –Pocahontas [Three out of Five] Not very good.
1996 –The Hunchback of Notre Dame [Two out of Five] Terrible
1997 –Hercules [Three out of Five] Okay
1998 –Mulan [One out of Five] Boring and insipid
1999 –Tarzan [One out of Five] Terrible and unoriginal
2000 –Fantasia 2000 [Three out of Five] Okay
2000 –Dinosaur [One out of Five] Terrible story, great animation
2001 –The Emperor’s New Groove [Three out of Five] Funny enough.
2001 –Atlantis: The Lost Empire [One out Five] Awful
2002 –Lilo and Stitch [Three out of Five] Funny
2002 –Treasure Planet [One out Five] Awful
2003 –Brother Bear [One out Five] Awful
2004 –Home on the Range [One out Five] Awful
2005 –Chicken Little [One out Five] Awful
2007 –Meet the Robinsons [One out Five] Awful
2008 –BOLT [Four out of Five] Great.

So the average? 2.44 out of Five. Close to three, at least! So there you have it, Disney. You're just not that good. It's that 70's era that really did you in, when Walt Disney himself was gone, and the animation itself suffered greatly. Just not that good. The late Nineties and early 00's also did you in. Those movies were garbage.

It doesn't help that you continue to sully the memory of your classics with terrible, unloved direct-to-video sequels that nobody asked for. It's a law of diminishing returns, Disney.

Well, I hope I proved in a satisfactory manner that Disney movies aren't nearly as good as the studio would have you believe. They aren't the paramount of classic children's entertainment. But, when Disney movies are good, they are
good. Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, Little Mermaid and The Lion King stand out as some of the best movies ever.

It's just too bad, Disney, that you continue to draw from the "crappy" well.

3 comments:

Ian Ironwood said...

While I might disagree on some points, your over-all assumption is correct: on average, Disney produces as many turkeys as gems.

Until you add in Pixar.

Except for "A Bugs Life", virtually every Pixar flick is a superior product. Nor are you looking at "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" and the other live-action/animated flicks in their vault.

But you're missing the bigger picture: even crappy movies move a ton of merchandise. You didn't like Mulan, but it made big money, and continues to. You can't look at Disney movies as independent cultural artefacts, but as part of a larger entertainment empire. Sure, a flick might tank, but before it does the Mouse will make plenty on it. And when they see something of quality (i.e. Henson's muppets) they acquire it.

Ian Ironwood said...

While I might disagree on some points, your over-all assumption is correct: on average, Disney produces as many turkeys as gems.

Until you add in Pixar.

Except for "A Bugs Life", virtually every Pixar flick is a superior product. Nor are you looking at "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" and the other live-action/animated flicks in their vault.

But you're missing the bigger picture: even crappy movies move a ton of merchandise. You didn't like Mulan, but it made big money, and continues to. You can't look at Disney movies as independent cultural artefacts, but as part of a larger entertainment empire. Sure, a flick might tank, but before it does the Mouse will make plenty on it. And when they see something of quality (i.e. Henson's muppets) they acquire it.

matthew. said...

Critically speaking, a movie should stand on its own. I shouldn't have to take into account any potential marketing. If a movie isn't very good, regardless of how lucrative it is, I'm going to say the movie isn't good.

My major issue with Disney is the studio's tendency to toot its own horn, proclaiming every movie to be a classic, magical and timeless. That's irritating and offensive. They take themselves far too seriously, considering their output consists of children's films.