Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Pinocchio

Pinocchio, 1940

"A lie keeps growing and growing until it is as plain as the nose on your face."

Wow.  It's amazing that this movie came just three years after Snow White.  There are so many things that are BETTER - particularly the character development!  I think that it's in this movie that Disney really finds its voice which draws the viewer into becoming emotionally invested in the story.

The story opens with the same fairytale storybook theme, and we are immediately introduced to the characters.  Clearly, Disney realized that they are good at the animal thing, because they made Figaro (the cat) so stinkin' CUTE!!!  Figaro is probably my favorite character in the movie - he just has such a sassy personality!  Also, I just have to say...even the goldfish in this movie was more interesting than the character of Snow White.  Anyways....

Pinocchio is way darker than Snow White.  There's quite a few adult themes - some of which are quite terrifying.  First off, there is the whole kidnapping and child slavery aspect when Pinocchio is sold to Stromboli.  Poor Pinocchio gets locked in a cage and told that once he is too old for show business, he's going to be chopped into firewood.  Um...what?!  That is dark stuff, people.  But no - it gets even worse.  The whole concept of Pleasure Island is enough to keep any kid in line.  (Did Disney secretly just make this movie so that kids would behave and listen to their parents?)  There is a quote that the coach driver says: "Give a bad boy enough rope and he'll make a jackass of himself."  Quite literally.  The transformation of Pinocchio's friend, Lampwick, into a donkey is terrifying.  Imagine- these children have been turned into donkeys FOREVER.  They can no longer speak, they are being sold into hard labor, and they will never see their parents or family again.  Yikes.

Meanwhile, Pinocchio's father, Gepetto, is out looking for his boy.  The part that always makes me sad is when Gepetto has a big, fancy meal cooked and waiting for Pinocchio after his first day of school...and then Pinocchio never shows up.  The poor guy didn't even have his boy for one whole day before he goes missing.  Can you imagine how painful that would be?  And when they show the shot of Gepetto trudging through the streets in the pouring rain looking for his boy...oh man, that really pulls the heartstrings.

Of course, the movie ends happily.  Pinocchio saves his family from the stomach of a whale and finally proves that he is worthy to be a real boy.  They all live happily ever after.

Overall Grade:  A

 Yes, I do think that it's scary, and a little dark for a children's movie, but I just love how the character development draws us into the movie and really gets us emotionally invested.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Snow White

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, 1937

"One love that has possessed me, one love thrilling me through; 
One song, my heart keeps singing of one love, only for you."

I haven't seen this movie since I was a very young girl, and so re-watching this movie was very interesting for me.  One thing that I did not notice when I was younger was how important the music and the underscore is to the movie.  It's almost operatic in nature!  The music comments on the action all the time - in fact, I don't think that there was any part of the movie where the music wasn't present.  You can tell this is an old-school Disney movie because of the way that it opens with the credits while the music plays something that sounds almost like an overture.  Seriously, guys, this has so many opera influences!  That made me very happy :)

Another great thing about this movie is the pacing.  It's short and sweet and the drama is always moving forward.  Some of the characters are really great; however, some of them are severely undeveloped.  You would think that Snow White would be the most interesting character, but she is just so flat! Why is she always happy and singing?  We see no character conflict, and frankly, that makes her incredibly boring.  Also, is it her plan to just stay with the dwarves the rest of her life and cook and clean for them?  What are her ambitions?  She keeps singing about her prince coming someday, but she doesn't really do anything about it.  Seriously, lady, I'm pretty sure that the last place your prince is going to look is in the middle of the woods where a bunch of old, bachelor dwarves live!  Her innocence and naivete are also sort of annoying to me - but maybe I'm the only person that is bothered by that.  The most interesting characters to me are Doc, who hilariously mixes up his words all the time, and Grumpy, who really has the most character development.  I love how he starts out as an ostentatious sourpuss and by the end of the movie, he shows that he is able to actually care about somebody.  

Other random observations about the movie:  
  •  The chase scene at the end is super intense! The music is so complementary to this, and I found myself at the edge of my seat, even though there was hardly any dialogue.  I think it was a combination of the thunderstorm, the vultures just waiting to pounce, the animals and dwarves coming to Snow White's rescue, and the music itself that made it one of my favorite scenes.  Speaking of the animals..... 
  • I love the animals! They are so adorable, especially the deer and the turtle.  I loved how the turtle was always behind, too - every time he finally caught up with the other animals, they turned and ran the other way, leaving him in the dust again.  And then to top it all off, he was clumsy and fell down the stairs.  I totally identify with that turtle!
  • I really like how they book-ended the piece with the storybook.  It made it clear that this is most definitely a fairytale!
Overall grade I would give this movie:  B

While there were many great elements, I just can't get over the fact that I really didn't like the main character.

Next up: Pinocchio!