Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mary Poppins (1964)

Rating: 100%
Alright, thanks to Saving Mr. Banks, I have borrowed Meg's copy of Mary Poppins, so here's my own review for this film.

Plot: Jane and Michael Banks are two children who keep running away and cause their parents to keep losing a nanny to take care of them. Eventually, while looking for a new maid, their father, Mr. Banks finds himself hiring Mary Poppins who turns out to be a magical nanny that is everything the children wanted in a nanny and then some. This leads the children to many magical experiences with Mary Poppins along with her friend Bert and many other people.

Okay everyone get ready to hate me. No seriously, get ready to hate every inch of my existence for what unholy thing I'm about to confess. *The audience does nothing* Okay very well, here it is: when I was growing up... I did not give a flying feather about Mary Poppins. *The audience starts taking out guns and firing at H.A.K. who barely manages to not get hit* THAT DOESN'T MEAN I DON'T LIKE IT NOW!!!! *The audience continues to fire* I DIDN'T KNOW BETTER!!! *The audience keep trying to gun him down* WILL YOU JUST STOP SHOOTING AT ME AND LET ME EXPLAIN ALREADY!?!?!?!?! * The audience begins to stop shooting and begins to wait patiently* THANK YOU!!!!! Okay so here's the thing about that statement; it's not that I thought it was horrible or in any way bad. Far from it. It's just that growing up, I didn't really care for anything that wasn't animation. Once in a while I would start to like something that was live-action, but it was often something that had more fantasy, action and adventure to it like Hook or the Star Wars films. So whenever my mother popped in Mary Poppins, I would enjoy at least the animated they had a third into the movie, but everything else left me dying for it to end and for mom to get on with putting in Winnie the Pooh or A Goofy Movie. However, that doesn't mean I felt that way my whole life growing up. As I got older, I began to steadily feel more comfortable watching it whether there was animation or not. And as I said on my review for Saving Mr. Banks, the things that they were talking about when Disney was trying to create the film helped me understand it more. But first, let's get on with what's talking about what makes this movie so good that even I have come to give it a good score. Well one obvious reason that instantly comes to mind is that it's creative. The world of Mary Poppins is very colorful but also very mysterious with how magical it can be. From jumping into the world of a chalk drawing to floating around from laughter, we are gives all these magical things that you don't even question how it works in any way. You don't question why it matters what you have to do to jump into the world of a chalk drawing or why laughing so hard will make you begin to float, it's just there and you having fun with what you have. And of coarse, Mary Poppins herself is very creative but mysterious. She can sometimes be having a lot of fun, but most of the time she will also be strict and even act like some of the magical stuff never happened. Julie Andrews obviously played Mary Poppins and she brings her to life without fail, resulting in her well deserved Oscar for her work.  You also have Dick Van Dyke as Bert and while I can see how some people would have a problem with his accent, he still is a very likable character.  He just had so much fun being so happy about everything and you just have to enjoy all the energy and all of the kind of dances and other physical movements he keeps making throughout the entire film. He even played Mr. Dawes of the bank, and he did a great job playing the character very differently. Granted, some movements or ways he talked may have made it a little too clear that it's the same guy, but the whole he still did an excellent job being a completely different character. The rest of the cast did very well like the children, and the maids, and of coarse the parents. And do I even need to bother talking about the songs? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, A Spoon Full of Sugar, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Step in Time, so many of these songs are just fun, catchy, and will likely always be remembered even in the deepest parts of your brain. But watching it again now that I'm older, I also really like what it was doing around the second half of the film. Without spoiling anything for the very few who have never seen the film, it's very smart with how deep and serious they get when reflecting about things like life and how Mr. Banks has done with his life. Doug Walker has already reviewed this movie a couple weeks back, and he's already talked about how powerful one of the last scenes was, and I've begun to see it too. It did get very emotional with what was happening and the cinematography and especially the musical score really captured it.

And that's my review for Mary Poppins. I realize now how it really is a great film and why people will find it nothing short of timeless. It's fun, creative, mysterious, filled with so many songs you'll never forget, but will also have it's deep and serious side to it that's done very well. I may have never experienced it the way so many people have during their childhood, but I think we can all be happy that I now understand and agree with what makes it loved by many people now and probably will still be loved so much in the future. Wouldn't you agree? Audience Member #1: His childhood is still ruined! Audience Member #2: Kill him! Kill him! Put him out of his misery! *The audience start firing at H.A.K. all over again* H.A.K.: OH FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas (2004)

Rating: 15%
Well after seeing Saving Mr. Banks, Meg too me to her house for some hot chocolate, exchanging Christmas gifts, and watching this movie. Since I reviewed Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, Meg thought I really should watch and review this movie too. So...yeah, here's Mickey's twice upon a Christmas.

Plot: Just like the last movie, this movie contains short stories of Mickey and his friends during the Christmas season. The first story has to do with Minnie and Daisy rivaling in an ice skating competition, then we have Huey, Dewy and Louie trying to breaking to Santa's workshop in attempts to be in his good list, Max trying to avoid being embarrassed by his dad, Goofy in front of his girlfriend Mona, Donald failing to get into the Christmas spirit, and Pluto deciding to run away after Mickey gets mad at him for destroying his Christmas decorations.

I realize after looking at the review to the previous film that I wasn't very specific as to what possibly made it good or bad in any way, so let me briefly try again here while comparing it to this film. While Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas is by no means a classic like A Christmas Story or It's a Wonderful Life (oh yeah. I planned to finally review that this year didn't I?), it was telling us these nice stories of Mickey and the gang that did have a decent heart to it for the family to enjoy whenever it was Christmas time. Mickey's Twice upon a Christmas on the other hand - while gave us more stories, was practically lower then lazy with its writing. The result is a film that is not only cheesy, but was also unbelievably rushed and even disturbingly forced when it came to what some of our most loved characters are doing in this film. I think my biggest example of the actions of the characters being forced for me personally was with Huey, Dewy and Louie's story. It's not a surprise that they can be very rowdy boys, as some of you can be aware from the previous film and especially some episodes from Ducktales. But how they were being naughty and where trying to help themselves get presents just seemed kind of carried away and out of character. As for being rushed, Minnie and Daisy's story was gives too bluntly, but even that wasn't as bad as Max and Goofy's story with how almost the entire thing was told through a less then four minute song. Plus - and this is just a personal problem from growing up with A Goofy Movie, what in the heck was with Max now dating this totally different girl? HE'S SUPPOSE TO BE WITH ROXANNE!!!!!!! GGGAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! BAD FORM MAKERS OF THE FILM!!! THAT'S VERY BAD FORM!!!! The rest of the stories where just cheesy and had no real effort to them.

And that's my review for Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas. While the first film did manage to have some heart to it, it sequel clearly was not really trying to anything in particular apart from being effortless, rushed and sometimes forced, making it a boring movie that is not recommended for even the youngest of children.   

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Rating: 85%
Well one of my best friends Meg always loved to bring this movie up non-stop when it was just coming out, what with her being a bigger Disney nerd then I will ever be. So it seemed logical that we saw it together when it came out, so here's Saving Mr. Banks

Plot: For the past 20 years, Walt Disney has been trying to gain the rights to make the movie Mary Poppins from the author of the books P. L. Travers. Eventually Travers agrees to take a trip to meet with Disney (or just Walt) and hear out his plans for an adaption of the film. Meanwhile the film gives a series of flashbacks showing Travers' childhood.

While I didn't love it as much as Meg predictably did, I would stand by with saying that it is a good movie. It was very enlightening to watch them try to tell this story of what was happening during the making of Mary Poppins. How Walt Disney and his team we're trying to come up with all these ideas and how they slowly collaborated with Travers despite their very separate visions on the project. But at the same time they're trying to show us part of how the Mary Poppins books had to do with Travers' childhood with her relationship with her father. And that's what makes the film enlightening more and more as the film goes on. Even if it takes a while before they begin to give us what Disney and Travers where trying to ultimately do while working on the film, it pays off very, very well when you begin to grasp the meaning of the title of this film. In fact, it's inspiring me to watch Mary Poppins again and use what I learned from this film to help me see it in a completely new light. The cast is entertaining to watch; Tom Hanks - while doesn't quite look the part of Walt Disney (or at least not for me personally) but he held his own pretty well in trying to bring the character to life. But the real focus is really on Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. True, there were a lot of references to Disney and his films from his studio, to some of the music playing some familiar Disney tunes, to even Disneyland itself. But at the end of the day this was Travers' story more then it was both her and Disney's story, and Thompson did a great job giving us the character. Even though I can't see her winning, I don't think if would be much of a surprise if she at least was nominated for her role. My only really big problem with the film is that it is a little predictable. Not to the point that it was completely cheesy, but it was giving us some very familiar beats in telling a story. But again, none of it was done in a way where it ruined the film. In fact, on top of having some decent funny moments, it was also kind of heartstrings-pulling at times. There were a couple times where my eyes where getting watery from some of the scenes during the very end of the film.

And that's my review for Saving Mr. Banks. It has it's predictability, but it's nevertheless a good film that was very well acted and smartly constructed with who to really focus on, and gives us a very enlightening point of view of the making of Mary Poppins and what Disney and Travers tried to do with it. It certainly has encouraged me to watch Mary Poppins again and look at it in a completely new light then how I've ever looked at it before. How does this turn out? Join me in the review after the next one.    

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Song of the South (1946)

Rating: 50%
So Doug Walker is bringing back Disneycember at thatguywiththeglasses.com and this time is going over the live-action movies from Disney this time. His first one is on Song of the South, and this is a movie that I've been wanting to see for a while. On one hand I've had a book-on-tape when I was a kid about one of Br'er Rabbit's adventures, and have gone on Slash Mountain at both Disney Land and Disney World so I've been interested to see it. But on the other hand, it seems like whenever people get the chance, they ramble about this film declaring it one of the most racist films ever and that makes it such a huge embarrassment for the Walt Disney Company. So before watching Doug's review for it, I found it online and took a look for myself.

Plot: Johnny is a young white boy who is sent to live in the country with his mother and grandmother while his father is working at his controversial newspaper. Johnny is upset about his father's absence but he then befriends an old African American man named Uncle Remus who tells him these stories about Br'er Rabbit and his encounters with Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear whenever Johnny is going through some problems.

So is this move worth being considered the most racist thing Disney has ever produced? Well...not really. In fact I had to look up what exactly was considered racist about it, and a lot of it seems to come from Disney failing to make certain things clear about certain things. The best example is how the stories that this is based on were during the end of the Civil War where the African Americans where no longer slaves and so the white and black people weren't really divided in that way. But for whatever reason, Disney didn't say any of that for the audience, so despite how the majority of the film did have most of the white people being good friends with the black people, people didn't know that they were no longer slaves and so took offense to it as how it was making the whole slavery thing look so happy and light. Now this isn't the only reason this move is considered racist. There's a lot of other reasons such as how the black people in the film were being very stereotypical throughout the film and things like that. But honestly - coming from a 23 year old white man mind you - none of it was done in a way where it was being especially insulting. I mean focusing on stereotypes is bad, but none of it was done in a way where it was done worse then what we've seen in other things like Gone with the Wind or Family Guy. So maybe it was more racist then it looks now back in it's time, but by today's standards, it's not really anything special (so to speak) with whatever racism it had. But even with that said, not even the movie as a whole was something special. Where it really falls flat is where it was live-action and it focused on Johnny and Jenny and their families and things like that. None of them were interesting, and apparently their all around story was really bland and cliched even by the standard of when the movie came out. But at the same time, it does have some very enjoyable moments. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" is of coarse one of the most infamous Disney songs that also won an Oscar for Best Original Score, the animated characters were very fun to watch - I would sometimes play back some of the really funny moments with Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, and then you have James Baskett as Uncle Remus was very delightful in his performance. I was especially impressed with his performances whenever he was in the animated world. Just how he moved, expressed and interacted with the cartoon characters, just even by today's standards of how actors interact with what isn't really there, it's really impressive. Maybe that's going a little too far, but at the same time, I feel that exaggeration is a little justified based on well he interacts with the animation world and characters.

And that's my review for Song of the South. It does have some little problems with racism, but I think most of it has to do with its time and from some misunderstandings of what was happening with the black people back during its time, and containing some stereotypes. So honestly, anyone who keeps pointing at it as a reason to hate Disney really calm down and consider how there are more terribly racial films out there then this one really is. But even if you take that away, Song of the South is best when it's giving us that Disney animation with funny animated characters and just Uncle Remus in general, but weakest when it uses most of the movie focusing on Johnny and Jenny and anyone else in the life action scenes that's not Remus. Altogether, it's really just a meh kind of film that is worth checking out to enjoy what little is good about it and how exaggerated everyone's take on the film is.