Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: The Reluctant Dragon

The Reluctant Dragon, 1941

 "I promise not to rant or roar, and scourge the countryside anymore!"

I've never seen this movie before.  I've never actually even heard of it before.  It's a weird little movie, consisting of four different parts.  First, there's the live-action part that takes you through Walt Disney Studios and shows you how the movies are made.  We see everything ranging from the film score, the animation studios, the camera room, and even how they mix the paint.  Some of this was pretty interesting - they had a funny segment on voice-overs where we met the voice of Donald Duck.  We also saw the animation of Bambi, which wasn't going to be released for another year.  So that was kind of cool.  However, I can see how this would be boring for people who aren't really interested in the movie-making process.  

There are four short animated segments in the movie.  The first is a black and white segment featuring Casey Junior, who we will later see in Dumbo.  They used this animation to show how Disney creates and implements sound effects.  It's really not very exciting at just shows Casey Junior in various states of motion and a bunch of guys banging on random household items to create the sound effects.  

"Baby Weems" is the next cartoon, which we see when we reach the storyboard section of the tour.  It's a short technicolor cartoon that tells the story of a baby who was born smarter than any other genius in the world.  The baby gives speeches and becomes a world-renowned figure until something happens and he gets sick.  What happens to the baby?! You'll have to watch the cartoon to find out!!!  (I wouldn't watch it, though.  It's basically set up like a storybook, told by a narrator along with a slide show of cartoon pictures.  Like a storyboard.  Which makes sense.  Because they are trying to explain how storyboards work.  Woo.  It's still boring.)

Goofy's "How to Ride a Horse" is the next cartoon, and in my opinion, it's the best.  I don't really remember what part of the studio it was associated with, because I was getting pretty bored with the live-action section by this point.  But this cartoon definitely caught my attention again.  Not only do we have a character that is funny and interesting (Goofy), but we also have another funny and interesting character (the horse) that provides conflict and interest when it comes to the story.  The Horse doesn't want to be ridden, and so he is always doing his best to outsmart Goofy, which creates for some pretty funny moments.  This is definitely a cute cartoon, and I'd watch it again.

And then we have the longer cartoon "The Reluctant Dragon."  For being the title cartoon in the movie, this was pretty disappointing.  The story itself is interesting enough - a town finds out that there is a dragon living outside of their town, and become fearful and wants him to be slain.  A boy goes to check out the situation and finds the dragon, who prefers poetry to fighting, and who is very sweet and happy and gay.  Yep, the dragon definitely is a bit of a flamer.  It's kind of adorable.  Disney should have gone further with this vibe, but of course they didn't (this was the 1940s after all).  This little story didn't seem very cohesive, though, because at the end the dragon has a mock battle with the knight, where he pretends to get stabbed and pretends to die.  But then later on, he becomes accepted into society, because he's friendly and doesn't want to hurt anybody.  Ummm....what? Didn't society just see him get stabbed and die?  Also, the crowd was totally cheering when the dragon 'died'.  So I'm wondering what happened between then and from when he was inaugurated as a town citizen?  Were they not freaked out that this zombie dragon came to life?  I don't was weird.  The story could have been fleshed out much more into an actual animated feature, and I think I probably would have liked it better if it had been more elaborate.  

Overall Grade: C (-)

Yeah, not going to lie...this isn't Disney's best work.  With the exception of the Goofy cartoon and the few interesting tidbits from the studio tour, this was a snoozefest.  Save your time and just YouTube Goofy's "How to Ride a Horse."  You can thank me later.

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