Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DAF #14 - Tarzan (1999)

“Even if you hadn't grown up savage, you'd be lost. There are no trails through a woman's heart."
- Clayton

Title: Tarzan
Year: 1999
Rated: G
Runtime: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Tony Goldwyn as Tarzan
Minnie Driver as Jane Porter
Glenn Close as Kala
Rosie O’Donnell as Terk

A shipwrecked baby is raised by a family of gorillas and then struggles with his humanity upon meeting a group of explorers with a woman among them.
Based on: "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Setting: African jungle, 1880's.

An immortal legend. As you’ve only imagined.

First Viewing: 2002ish on the Disney Channel.

Favorite Song:
“You’ll Be in My Heart” – Phil Collins (End Credits Version)

Yay!!! One whole story for one movie! This time, I will be discussing Tarzan, the 37th Disney Animated Feature and the movie that rounded out the Disney Renaissance of the 90’s. Yes, I am one of those that includes all the 90’s DAF’s in the Disney Renaissance, with the exception of The Rescuers Down Under, the reasons of which, I think, are pretty self explanatory. According to IMDb, this is the 9th film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1914 novel, Tarzan of the Apes. As you could all ready surmise, there are many differences between the book and the Disney version.
The story begins the same way with Tarzan’s parents escaping from a burning ship and being marooned on the coast of Africa. They build a Swiss Family Robinson-esque tree house and try to live out their normal lives, raising their infant son, John. However, the cheetah Sabor (who’s been on a killing spree lately) murders the baby’s parents and he is left orphaned. (Love this still!)

Kala, a female gorilla, discovers him in the treehouse and adopts him after she rescues him from Sabor. Kerchak, her mate and leader of the gorillas, resents the baby as he and Kala have just lost their son. He allows the boy the stay, but refuses to accept him as a part of the family. None the less, the boy is named Tarzan (which, according to Wikipedia, means “white skin” in the ape language) and accepted as Kala’s son.

Roughly the first twenty minutes of the film deal with Tarzan as child and as a subsequent misfit among the other gorilla children. He is forced to prove himself through difficult tasks and eventually befriends Tantor, a nervous, hypochondriac elephant, and Terk, a wise-girl gorilla. Still, Tarzan struggles with his differences even if his mother tries to make him realize that the physical is unimportant.

Honestly, I could take or leave these 20 minutes. I know it’s a necessary part of the story, but it doesn’t get good for me until Tarzan is an adult. By then he has exuded his power by killing Sabor, but Kerchak still doesn’t respect him. While contemplating this, Tarzan witnesses the arrival of the first humans he’s ever seen: Clayton, a gun wielding explorer, Dr. Archimedes Q. Porter, a biologist, and his daughter, Jane Porter.

Tarzan is immediately drawn to Jane and rescues her from a band of baboons. Being a proper English miss, Jane is startled by any man wearing so little clothing and one with such disregard for personal space.

The “Me Tarzan, You Jane” scene is probably my favorite of the whole movie. It’s classic, humorous, and romantic. Tarzan finally starts to feel like he belongs somewhere and that he’s not the only one of his kind. Besides, it doesn’t hurt that Jane is a young, attractive female.

I like Jane Porter as a Disney heroine. I feel like she’s quite underrated and I can’t imagine why. She’s smart, spunky, motivated, and adventurous. She doesn’t mind living in the African wilderness or swinging from vines with a “wild man in a loin cloth”

The only thing I could think of is her similarities to Belle. And I use the word “similarities” very lightly. They both have brown hair. They both at one time wear yellow dresses. And they are both intelligent and like to read. However, one can only assume that Belle reads for escape and Jane reads for education. See? The similarities are even a stretch. Besides, why can we only have one Disney heroine who likes to read?

Over the next few weeks, Jane and her father attempt to educate Tarzan. They teach him English and the ways of humans. Over time, Tarzan and Jane fall in love, but the date of the explorer’s departure is drawing near and Jane can’t bring herself to stay. Tarzan then opts to leave his gorilla family, feeling that where the humans are, and more specifically, where Jane is, is where he truly belongs.

The villain of the film is Clayton, who intends on capturing the gorillas and selling them in England. Tarzan unwittingly leads him to the gorillas, allowing them to be kidnapped. But in true Disney fashion, Tarzan frees them, defeats Clayton, and finally earns the respect of the dying Kerchak. Tarzan then takes his place as leader. And, of course, Jane decides to stay with Tarzan.

Overall, I think Tarzan is one of the great underrated Disney movies. Story aside, it is beautifully animated. The music is…eh, kind of like the villain and conflict. But the romantic plotline, as always, proves to be the strongest element in my case.


“Two Worlds” – Phil Collins
“You’ll Be in My Heart” – Phil Collins and Glenn Close (Kala)
“Son of Man” – Phil Collins
“Trashin’ the Camp” – Rosie O’Donnell (Terk)
“Strangers Like Me” – Phil Collins

Next Film: Chicken Little (2005)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

DAF #31 - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

“Good morning. If it is a good morning. Which I doubt.”

Title: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Year: 1977
Rated: G
Run Time: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Sterling Holloway as Winnie the Pooh
Paul Winchell as Tigger
Junius Matthews as Rabbit
Jon Fiedler as Piglet
Ralph Wright as Eeyore
Hal Smith as Owl
Howard Morris as Gopher
Barbara Luddy as Kanga
Clint Howard/Dori Whitaker as Roo
Bruce Reitherman/Jon Walsmley/Timothy Turner as Christopher Robin
Sebastian Cabot as The Narrator

Plot: A collection of three stories about A.A. Milne’s famous stuffed bear Winnie the Pooh, his owner Christopher Robin and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang.
Based on: "Winnie-the-Pooh" and "The House at Pooh Corner" by A.A. Milne.
Setting: The Hundred Acre Wood

First Viewing: 2005, borrowed from my Disney marathon buddy, Karen.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I resented Winnie the Pooh throughout my childhood. I think I can pin point it to my mother, who also, for some reason, unbeknownst to me, resented it. Thusly, no video featuring the stuffed bear was ever purchased, rented or viewed until my junior year of high school. I finally bit the bullet and watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh simply because it’s part of the canon. I thought I was going to hate it. But I was wrong.

I found it incredibly endearing, sweet, and cute as hell. Instead of being insipid and “preschool” as I had originally thought, Winnie the Pooh introduced me to a delightful cast of characters I had only seen in passing and on the t-shirts of fat women in stretch pants at Wal-Mart. I was ecstatic to actually enjoy this film.

Winnie the Pooh is made up of three animated featurettes previously released: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! (1974). Some see this as the last of the “package films” because it was sewn together for similar financial reasons. However, new material linking the three stories together and a conclusion showing Christopher Robin’s goodbye to Pooh before he starts school were added.

After an awesomely 70's live action-ish intro feature REAL stuffed animals, we go into the first segment, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. The perpetually hungry, "short, fat, and proud of that" bear has a craving for honey. So, he disguises himself as a little back rain cloud and attempts to steal that sweet gold stuff from the source. When that fails, Pooh visits his cantankerous pal, Rabbit and eats up all his honey. However, Pooh gets stuck in the doorway and has no choice but to stay until he slims down.

In Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Pooh visits his friend Owl, who's house is destroyed in the "mild spring zephyr". Eeyore sets out to find a new home for Owl while Pooh is introduced to the bouncy Tigger and wards off all the honey stealing "Heffalumps and Woozles". Later that night, a storm floods the Hundred Acre Woods, and Piglet becomes trapped in his home. Pooh rescues Piglet and Christopher Robin throws a hero party for Pooh. At the party, Eeyore announces he has found a house for Owl, which unfortunately happens to be Piglet's home. Still, Piglet decides to give his home to Owl anyway, and Pooh offers to let Piglet live with him.

The third and final segment, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, is mainly about Tigger, who, for some reason, had become a big character. Rabbit is irritated with Tigger's constant bouncing, so he hatches an evil plan to lose Tigger in the woods while on a walk. Of course, the plan backfires and Rabbit must be rescued by his foe. Later, Tigger takes Roo bouncing. When dared to bounce up a tree, Tigger jumps at the chance but then becomes stuck. He repents his thoughtless life of bouncing and Rabbit orders him to vow to never bounce again. Tigger promises and is rescued by the narrator. However, without hopping on his tail, he just isn't the same and Rabbit consents to Tigger's bouncing and even realizes that he, as a rabbit, can enjoy the activity too.

To wrap up this little trio of tales, we are given a short segment where Christopher Robin must say goodbye to Pooh and go off to school. The two talk about how they enjoy spending time together more than anybody else. AWWWWW.

I will say that Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree is my favorite of three. In fact, I would rank them from best to worst in the order that they appear in the film. And I know exactly why.

I don’t like Tigger. All right…sue me. I know he’s this classic, fun Disney character, but to me (and Rabbit) he is highly exhausting, competitive, and arrogant. With Tigger’s arrival in the second segment, I start to squirm uncomfortably because he is so irritating. By the third segment, I’m totally on board with Rabbit in trying to control Tigger’s incessant bouncing…and then I feel like a real jerkass. Tigger’s personality brings something out in me that I don’t like, a rarity in a Disney character.

That being said, I don’t feel like I was robbed for not having Winnie the Pooh in my childhood. I’m a movie romantic and there isn’t even a whiff of romance anywhere in the film. Of course, with one female character, how can there be? Part of the endearing quality of Winnie the Pooh is its innocence. (It’s about stuffed animals, for Christ’s sake) and forcing in a romantic subplot would only compromise that innocence.

So you might know that the 51st Disney Animated Feature is Winnie the Pooh, a collection of five previously unadapted Pooh stories. To be honest, I'm not that excited. Yes, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. But I won't love it. It won't make me cry. It probably won't make me feel anything other then, "Oh, that was pleasant." Pooh has his fans, you can be sure of that, but I am not one of them that needs to see another feature set in the Hundred Acre Wood. One is more than enough. But who knows, maybe I'll be surprised the way I was with its predecessor. 

“Winnie the Pooh” - Chorus
“Up, Down, Touch the Ground” – Sterling Holloway (Winnie the Pooh)
“Rumbly in My Tumbly” – Sterling Holloway
“Little Black Rain Cloud” – Sterling Holloway and Bruce Reitherman (Christopher Robin)
“Mind Over Matter” – Ensemble
“What a Rather Blustery Day” – Sterling Holloway
“The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” – Paul Winchell (Tigger)
“Heffalumps and Woozles” – Chorus
“The Rain, Rain, Rain Came Down, Down, Down” – Chorus
“Hip Hip Pooh-ray!” - Ensemble

Favorite Song: "Winnie the Pooh"
Favorite Scene: Rabbit decorates Pooh's rump.

Favorite Character: Rabbit

Next DAF: Peter Pan

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Grand and Epic Disney Animated Feature Ranking Attempt

Summer is here, and yet again, I have a desk job that allows me to sit on my ass and dissect movies. My goal this summer is to view all 48 Disney Animated Features, rank them, fully explore them in my special way and publish a blog about each one for all you fine people out there.

Obviously, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't love Disney. Specifically, I love the DAF's because they are what started the whole world wide Disney phenomenon. I have ranked these movies once before in the summer of 2006, a couple weeks before I came to college. My friend Karen and I marathoned about 5 movies a day and then compared lists. Yep, we were super cool teenagers. What makes me even cooler is that I'm doing it again...just for shits and giggles, at age 21.

That summer, we watched the films chronologically. It's quite the experience and I would suggest doing it some time. But for the sake of fun and suspense, I'm going to use the old draw-randomly-out-of-the-cup method. Here are the official rules of The Epic and Grand Disney Animated Feature Ranking Attempt:

1. Each DAF from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Bolt will be listed on small pieces of paper, put in my awesome Beauty and the Beast cup I got at Disneyland, and picked at random.
2. I am not allowed to watch any of the DAF's until I draw it from The Cup.

3. One film must be chosen and watched each night and then written about the next time I have work (usually the next morning).

4. All films will be ranked after viewing.

I know what you're thinking...didn't I already do this, with my favorite films, but I only got to ten movies? Well, yeah...thanks for mentioning it, jerk. I did actually continue watching the movies and ranking them, I just got overwhelmed with school so I stopped writing blogs. But since I have a lot of free time this summer, I will probably be simultaneously posting blogs for both Epic Ranking Attempts. I know how badly you want to read them.

So, since we have all that out of the way, I will now be choosing the first DAF, which will be watched some time tomorrow and blogged about on Sunday...unless it's Bolt. That's the only one I don't have, so I'll have to Netflix it or rent it or something...I digress. it goes...right hand in cup...left hand typing slowly...and the first film to be viewed in The Epic and Grand Disney Animated Feature Ranking Attempt is...


All right, dear readers, check in on Sunday for a rousing review! is the official canon:

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
2. Pinocchio
3. Fantasia
4. Dumbo
5. Bambi
6. Saludos Amigos
7. The Three Caballeros
8. Make Mine Music
9. Fun and Fancy Free
10. Melody Time
11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
12. Cinderella
13. Alice in Wonderland
14. Peter Pan
15. Lady and the Tramp
16. Sleeping Beauty
17. 101 Dalmatians
18. The Sword in the Stone
19. The Jungle Book
20. The Aristocats
21. Robin Hood
22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
23. The Rescuers
24. The Fox and the Hound
25. The Black Cauldron
26. The Great Mouse Detective
27. Oliver & Company
28. The Little Mermaid
29. The Rescuers Down Under
30. Beauty and the Beast
31. Aladdin
32. The Lion King
33. Pocahontas
34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
35. Hercules
36. Mulan
37. Tarzan
38. Fantasia 2000
39. Dinosaur
40. The Emperor's New Groove
41. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
42. Lilo & Stitch
43. Treasure Planet
44. Brother Bear
45. Home on the Range
46. Chicken Little
47. Meet the Robinsons
48. Bolt

And for shits and giggles...what's coming up...
49. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
50. Rapunzel (2010)
51. King of the Elves (2012)