Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Videography: Reba McEntire (Part V - The 2000's)

Reba released only 9 videos in the 2000's. This was mostly due to the fact that she released only 3 albums and 2 greatest hits compilations. Her sitcom also probably added to it. Still, videos of this era went back to her mini movie formula with stories when there was no specific story in the song.

Title: "Sweet Music Man"
Album: Greatest Hits Vol. III: I'm a Survivor (2001)
Song Premise: A woman sings to her ex, a famed musician who people have grown tired of.
Video Premise: Reba wanders through an abandoned mansion.

Comments: "Sweet Music Man" is kind of a country standard and an odd choice to release as a single with a video. So if it's been done, why not put a goddamn story to the video!? Reba wandering through a house is only slightly better than her singing on a stage.

Order: 33
Title: "I'm Gonna Take That Mountain"
Album: Room to Breathe (2003)
Song Premise: A stubborn woman vows to make the most of life and relish in it.
Video Premise: Reba sings and dances with others while a woman bronco rider impresses male viewers and talented ropers show us their stuff.

Comments: I don't really like this song. For someone who loves country, this one's just a little too country for me. However, the video is equally country with its rodeo riders and ropers so I'd say they evenly matched.

Order: 34
Title: "Somebody"
Album: Room to Breathe (2003)
Song Premise: A man realizes a waitress at his diner is the one for him.
Video Premise: A man flirts with a waitress at a diner but is unaware of her attraction to him. Later, he flirts with the idea of asking out a blonde in his elevator. And finally, the waitress runs into him at working, covering them with food when he realizes that he's got a thing for her. Reba witnesses all of this as she sings.

Comments: This video is cute. It's like a rom-com in under four minutes. Which is perfect because the song is also a rom-com in under four minutes. I loved this video when it came out. After all, I was knee deep in my "Hopeful Romantic" stage, how could I not? Even now, in my Age of Cynicism, I found myself smiling during the damn thing.

Order: 35
Title: "He Gets That From Me"
Album: Room to Breathe (2003)
Song Premise: A woman is thankful for the characteristics of her deceased husband in their son.
Video Premise: Reba and her son drive to the cemetery to bring flowers to his father's grave. On the way, they see a father and son happily cross the street.

Comments: Oh wow, more sad subject matter. I'm not a huge fan of "family love" songs, but again, this video made me tear up. The thing I love most about this video is that the kid is at least eleven years old. It would be way to much if the kid was six and tripping over his untied shoes (which, oh no, Daddy isn't there to teach him how to tie!) as he puts the flowers on his grave.

Order: 36
Title: "You're Gonna Be (Always Loved By Me)"
Album: Reba #1's (2005)
Song Premise: A mother vows to always love her daughter despite the mistakes she may make.
Video Premise: A young pregnant girl in labor wanders into a hospital. We flash back to the girl meeting a guy on a college campus, flirting with him at a party, and then taking a pregnancy test. When she breaks the news to him, he wants nothing to do with her and leaves. The girls writes a letter to Mama Reba who comes to the hospital after the baby is born.

Comments: Reba the Mom, Part III. So maybe they're cashing in on the Reba show, where Reba plays the mother to a pregnant teen. This video, however, is a little more depressing, since the baby daddy doesn't choose to marry the woman he knocked up and participate in wacky newlywed antics under the same roof as grandma. I must be PMSing, because this one made me tear up too. Son of a bitch.

Order: 37
Title: "Love Needs a Holiday"
Album: Reba #1's (2005)
Song Premise: A man and woman take a break from their family and stay at a hotel for a weekend.
Video Premise: The couple from the "Somebody" video go to a hotel and have a romantic weekend alone while their three kids are taken care of by their grandmother.

Comments: Ugh. Yes, I know this video is supposed to be cute and to any other woman, it probably is. But right now, there is nothing more terrifying to me than the family life portrayed in this video. Family life like this is most certainly what would follow for the happy "Somebody" couple, right? Because all people who meet and get together in a rom-com fashion would want to live out the suburban American dream, right? ARG!!!

Order: 38
Title: "Because of You" (with Kelly Clarkson)
Album: Reba: Duets (2007)
Song Premise: Not really a duet with two stories, but rather a normal song split into two vocal parts. Two women discuss how a person has effected their ability to love and trust.
Video Premise: At a 20's/30's/40's era night club, Reba and Kelly are a singing act. Kelly has a possessive, abusive boyfriend who flirts with other women while she is singing. Later, Reba helps Kelly cover up a black eye. In the end, Kelly stays with her jerkoff boyfriend, much to Reba's dismay.

Comments: Okay, this one looks cool, but it doesn't make much sense. If I were directing it, Reba and Kelly would be a mother/daughter act. And Reba would be the abused one, and Kelly would be unable to have successful relationships because of all the childhood trauma she's witnessed. Wouldn't that make much sense? Why would a forty-something woman let a twenty-something's relationship affect her that much?...unless they really are mother/daughter and it that case, HOW THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?

Order: 39
Title: "Every Other Weekend" (with Kenny Chesney)
Album: Reba: Duets (2007)
Song Premise: A divorced couple with joint custody only see each other every other weekend when they trade children and refuse to tell one another they’re still in love.
Video Premise: Reba sits on a park bench and sings. She watches a young mother give her kids to her ex husband. They accidentally touch and have flashes of the future with them trading their kids as they're preteens and teenagers. Their hands hold a little too long and they part ways.

Comments: First off, where is Kenny Chesney? If they couldn't get him, then I don't think Reba should be in the video either. It just looks weird. Other than that, I love the concepts. I also think its cool how they have the actors who play Reba's daughter and her husband on the Reba show play the couple. That's just cool, even if they do look a little young, especially when their kids are supposed to be teenagers. Sure, this video is a little depressing (no tears though!!!), but you're left wondering if this vision of their possible future will change the couple's future actions.

Order: 40
Title: "Strange"
Album: Keep On Loving You (2009)
Song Premise: A woman thinks it's strange how quickly she gets over her break up.
Video Premise: Reba alternates between lying in a bed of Kleenex, eating chocolates on the phone and singing in front of a band and/or psychedelic kaleidoscope backgrounds.

Comments: So, this is kind of a nothing video. Don't get me wrong, it's not boring like her stage videos. This one has enough interesting cuts and visuals to keep you watching for three minutes, but other than that it's not really memorable.

Order: 41
Title: "Consider Me Gone"
Album: Keep On Loving You (2009)
Song Premise: A woman gives her man an ultimatum on his feelings for her.
Video Premise: A young woman gets dressed up for a night on a town to find her man sitting on the couch watching TV. We have flashbacks to a happier time when the couple was moving into their apartment. The woman drives off angrily to her friend/mentor Reba's apartment (who's a fashion designer for some reason). Slowly, the boyfriend realizes his stuff is disappearing from the apartment. Reba talks her friend down as the boyfriend shows up in a suit to take out the girl.

Comments: So, it's kind of funny (but not surprising) how Reba no longer plays the main character in her own videos. She's either a unconnected narrator, matchmaker, or mother. Is this her choice? Or is it the video director that's pitching Reba as some kind of fairy godmother who holds all the answers...and yet sings about not knowing them. Although she is the main character in "Strange," I wonder if the music video industry is trying to tell us that once you reach a certain age, problems like despondent husbands only occur to young, pretty people. Hmmmm...something's not right here.

Well, there you go. The 41 music videos of Reba McEntire. I hope my opinions didn't wear on you too much. I can't help the way I feel. I rather enjoyed this. Next up will either be Britney or Taylor Swift. Any requests?

Videography: Reba McEntire (Part IV - The Late 90's)

By the late 90's, Reba started cranking out less videos. But when she did, she went back to the more literal lyric translations from her earlier videos mixed with the epicness of the ones she was famous for.

Order: 25
Title: "I'd Rather Ride Around With You"
Album: What If It's You (1996)
Song Premise: A woman is supposed to be a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding but would rather spend time with her boyfriend.
Video Premise: Reba is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. She is then "kidnapped" by her boyfriend. While her cousin gets married, Reba and her man drive around and play in an airplane. However, he cousin doesn't seem to mind and her wedding and reception goes by fine.

Comments: So, that's kind of a bitchy move to abandon someone on their wedding day. In these days of Bridezillas, I doubt this could by as smoothly. Still, the video is fun, upbeat, and back to the literal translation era.

Order: 26
Title: "What If It's You"
Album: What If It's You (1996)
Song Premise: A woman wonders if her ex is her soul mate.
Video Premise: Reba sings in a room and writes in a diary. She flashes back to happier times with her ex and envisions him with his new girlfriend riding horses on the beach. She then goes into the beach house where they spent time together. It flashes to the wedding of the man to his new woman. Before they depart on their honeymoon, he hands Reba a box with a picture of him inside.

Comments: This is actually a sequel to the "I'd Rather Ride Around With You" video. It uses the same actor and also begins with Reba writing in a diary. I don't think sequel videos are very common and I love this concept. It's actually kind of sad to watch. I thought to myself "Oh no, that's the guy from the other video. They were so happy and now look." When we hear a happy song or see a happy couple, we never think that they will be the subjects of a future sad song. I love that we're knocked off our happy horse.

Order: 27
Title: "What If"
Album: Single released in 1997
Song Premise: Reba's answer to "We Are the World".
Video Premise: Reba sings, surrounded by racially diverse people and a choir and is intercut with footage from third world countries and the like.

Comments: Sigh. Bad song. Corny video. Didn't we out grow this shit in the 80's? Please go back to heartache and cheating husbands, Reba.

Order: 28
Title: "If You See Him/If You See Her" (with Brooks & Dunn)
Album: If You Seem Him (1998)
Song Premise: A married couple tell a go between that they both still love one another but refuse to confront the other.
Video Premise: Reba is finishing lunch with her girlfriends when she runs into a friend (played by Kix Brooks) and they begin chatting. After that, she then sees her ex (played by Ronnie Dunn) enter the bar and play pool with his friend. Ronnie and Kix begin talking, and as Ronnie goes to get another beer he sees Reba leaving. At the end of the video, Reba and Ronnie both request that Kix not tell anyone about their discussions.

Comments: This video is not particularly creative, but it does just about everything you can do, given the lyrics. At least it's not the three of them singing on a stage the whole time.

Order: 29
Title: "Forever Love"
Album: If You Seem Him (1998)
Song Premise: A woman pledges her love to a man.
Video Premise: Reba leaves her husband in the middle of the night, reminisces about him on her travels and ultimately returns home.

Comments: All right, although this video is far from perfect, it takes a song about relatively nothing (I'll love you forever) and gives us one of many possible plots in the video. Why don't more videos do this? Choose a plot! This is better than Reba standing on a stage.

Order: 30
Title: "What Do You Say"
Album: So Good Together (1999)
Song Premise: A song that sends the message to listen to your heart.
Video Premise: A man and his son are stopped a red light, and the son asks why there are so many "X's" on the storefront. They drive quickly home, where the man's teenage daughter is dressed like a skank and wanting to leave with her friends. Her mother reprimands her, but still lets her go. Later that night, the daughter calls drunk from a party and her mom goes to pick her up. It's later revealed that the mother has cancer and later dies. The mourning family passes by Reba with her family in the waiting room.

Comments: This is the stuff Lifetime movies are made of and it plays out just like one would. It's a sappy song with a sappy video. What do you expect? P.S. I cried.

Order: 31
Title: "I'll Be"
Album: So Good Together (1999)
Song Premise: A mother promises to be there for her daughter.
Video Premise: A mother watches her daughter walk down the stairs in a wedding dress. It immediately flashes back to the mother nursing her daughter's hurt knee. We then flash forward to the girl growing into a teenager and being comforted about her braces. Then the girl is dumped by her boyfriend and runs into the house where her mother comforts her. Finally, the girl leaves for college. Through a montage we are shown several occurrences on the stairs until we see Reba as movers take boxes out of the house that's for sale. Reba and her own daughter then bring her sick mother dinner.

Comments: Okay, another Lifetime movie. This one didn't make me cry, thankfully. Um, yeah...it's good. Definitely schmaltzy, but good.

Videography: Reba McEntire (Part III - The Mid 90's)

In the mid 90's, Reba was exhausted with her grand, epic mini movie style music videos. Therefore, most of the videos from this era featured simple sets and concepts...okay, basically no concepts.

Title: "Why Haven't I Heard From You"
Album: Read My Mind (1994)
Song Premise: A woman is frustrated that a man won't call her on the phone.
Video Premise: Reba sings and dances around a beauty salon.

Comments: I think this one is supposed to be "fun" like "Take it Back" is supposed to be "fun". But, you know, it's just kind of lame and silly. Still, she and her dancers seem really into the idea.

Order: 19
Title: "She Thinks His Name Was John"
Album: Read My Mind (1994)
Song Premise: The story of a woman who contracts AIDS from a one night stand.
Video Premise: Reba on stage...with track lighting...with a slideshow of happy couples behind her.

Comments: Fail!!! This is an awesome story song, and yet all we have is Reba singing on a stage. Grrr. There is nothing more frustrating then a story song with a video like this. Why? WHY!?

Order: 20
Title: "Till You Love Me"
Album: Read My Mind (1994)
Song Premise: Your basic “hopelessly devoted” song.
Video Premise: Reba on stage...with track lighting.

Comments: Zzzzzzzzzzz....

Order: 21
Title: "And Still"
Album: Read My Mind (1994)
Song Premise: After running into a former flame and meeting his wife, a woman realizes that she is still in love with him.
Video Premise: It begins "somewhere in central America" with Reba riding on a bus with a bunch of children. She then has flashbacks of a man building a house. Reba plays piano for the children and sings when one of them announces "the doctor is coming!" And, ta dah, it's the guy from Reba's flashbacks. Reba and the doctor have a lovely dinner while the flashbacks continue. But low and behold, the doctor's wife and son show up. The doctor leaves with his family and Reba remains doing missionary work.

Comments:Okay, this is much better. This one is beautifully shot and catches the mood of the song. However, I can't help but wonder, why central America? To me it gives off this creepy Angelina Jolie vibe. But maybe the foreign setting adds to the melodrama.

Order: 22
Title: "On My Own" (With Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, and Linda Davis)
Album: Starting Over Again (1995)
Song Premise: A woman discusses her break up with her friends.
Video Premise: Reba, Trisha, Martina, and Linda play poker, then prepare for a concert, then sing on stage.

Comments: This song sucks. I especially hate the Kenny G intro. Still, the funnest thing about this video is seeing how the four singers interact with one another. If the song were better, I might like the video more.

Order: 23
Title: Starting Over Again
Album: Starting Over Again (1995)
Song Premise: A woman observes her parents' divorce and how
Video Premise: Reba on stage with an orchestra.

Comments: Wow, this is really is the era of sparse production isn't it?

Order: 24
Title: "The Fear of Being Alone"
Album: What If It's You (1996)
Song Premise: A woman assures a man he doesn't love her, that it's only a one night stand.
Video Premise: Reba sings in a recording studio.

Comments: Zzzzzzzzzz... 2.0.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Videography: Reba McEntire (Part II - The Early 90's)

Ahhh, the early 90's, when Reba's popularity reached a fever pitch. These years bring us her most popular and well known videos...11 of them. This is the golden era. If you watch Reba videos from any time period, this should probably be it.

Title: "You Lie"
Album: Rumor Has It (1990)
Song Premise: A woman knows her lover is continuing their relationship to not upset his girlfriend even though he is truly unhappy.
Video Premise: Reba sings in a barn...in black and white.

Comments: Okay, I couldn't actually find this video online, but I know I've seen it before and if I recall correctly, it's very much like the video for "The Last One to Know", so in other words, nothing special or memorable.

Order: 8
Title: "Rumor Has It"
Album: Rumor Has It (1990)
Song Premise: According to the rumors in a small town, a woman's husband is having an affair.
Video Premise: Reba sings in a warehouse with a random piano.

Comments: For one of the sparse videos, I actually liked this one. It did a lot of interesting things with shadows, angles, and dissolves. Still, it gets boring after awhile.

Order: 9
Title: "Fancy"
Album: Rumor Has It (1990)
Song Premise: A destitute mother pushes her young daughter into prostitution, a life in which she flourishes.
Video Premise: It begins with a cabbie driving Fancy Rae Baker (played by Reba, of course) and praising her film and music career. He drops her off a rundown shack where she begins flashing back to her eighteenth summer when her mother pushed her into prostitution. There is then a literal translation of the lyrics as Fancy is made over with make up and a satin dancing dress. Her mother hands her a locket, but Fancy resents her mother's plan and drops the locket on the ground before getting into the car of an unknown man. Present Fancy then finds the locket left in a drawer and places it on her mother's grave. As she drives away, the camera pans back onto a sign that states the house will be turned into a home for runaways.

Comments: Here we go. This is the video that really started it all. It's complex and clocks in at just over six minutes, so it's Reba's first official mini movie. It seems like one I would love, but eh, it's just not...something. Gritty enough, maybe? I mean, all you see is Fancy's mom putting make up on her and pushing her out the door. Then....nothing. I just think there could be more to it.

Order: 10
Title: "For My Broken Heart"
Album: For My Broken Heart (1991)
Song Premise: A woman mourns after her lover moves out of the house.
Video Premise: Reba and three other women sing the lyrics of the song while alone. The next day, the four women cross paths, unknowing of each other's pain.

Comments: I really like this video. It's for the same reasons I like Miley Cyrus's "7 Things" video. It shows multiple people sharing the meaning of the song. Not just Reba is feeling it. Everybody can.

Order: 11
Title: "Is There Life Out There"
Album: For My Broken Heart (1991)
Song Premise: A woman who married at 20 wants more out of life then being a wife and mother.
Video Premise: Reba is a waitress going through a quasi midlife crisis. She's attending college classes and working towards her degree while struggling to be good wife and mother. However, through determination she graduates.

Comments: I know this is one Reba is known for, but I hate it. It feels like a movie of the week. In fact, I'm not so sure it wasn't a movie of the week. Hmmm...I like Huey Lewis though.

Order: 12
Title: "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"
Album: For My Broken Heart (1991)
Song Premise: An epic tale of a young woman who’s brother is convicted of murdering his unfaithful wife even though it’s his sister who is the murderer.
Video Premise: An aged woman (played by Reba) tells details of the Brody murder trial to a reporter. Her brother, Raymond, was married to a tramp who began fooling around with Reba's fiancee, so she killed them both and her brother took the fall. Through flashbacks and headlines, she confesses to the murders.

Comments: Another one of Reba's epics. Again, I say meh. Though this is better than "Fancy".

Order: 13
Title: "If I Had Only Known"
Album: For My Broken Heart (1991)
Song Premise: A woman thinks about how she would change things if she had known she would lose the person she loved.
Video Premise: Reba sings on a farm while nearby children play and the footage is intercut with terminally ill children.

Comments: Okay, I get it. You can stop. I'm always disappointed when I associate a song with romantic love and the video shows me children. That's just my narrow minded preference.

Order: 14
Title: "Take it Back"
Album: It's Your Call (1992)
Song Premise: A woman is angry at a man's deceiving ways.
Video Premise: In a courtroom, a man is on trial (for being an asshole, I guess). Reba enters and begins berating him as the jurors and other folk join in. Then there's actual choreography...ugh.

Comments: So far, Reba hasn't done many videos to fast songs, but after the saccharine shit that was "If I Had Only Known", I need this fluff and I imagine others did as well. However, I feel my IQ has dropped after watching it.

Order: 15
Title: "The Heart Won't Lie" (with Vince Gill)
Album: It's Your Call (1992)
Song Premise: Two people realize they still love each other, despite their public denial.
Video Premise: So, if An Officer and a Gentleman was music video, this would be it. Reba joins the Navy, and immediately, Vince Gill, (who plays her commanding officer) is attracted to her. But to hide his attraction, he is particularly rough on her during the training montages. Despite all that, they begin dating but force themselves to part after graduation.

Comments: I've never really cared for this song, but the video is very entertaining. I'm pretty sure it's inaccurate in every way possible. And I love the inappropriateness. Sometimes you get the perfect dose of cheese in a video, and this is one that delivers.

Order: 16
Title: "It's Your Call
Album: It's Your Call (1992)
Song Premise: A wife answers a phone call from her husband's mistress and forces him to make a choice.
Video Premise: Reba sings on a stage...with those damn track lights.

Comments: Another nothing video. Although, coming off of all those epics, you can't really blame her.

Order: 17
Title: "Does He Love You" (with Linda Davis)
Album: Reba McEntire: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1993)
Song Premise: The wife and her husband’s mistress wonder who their man really loves.
Video Premise: Reba and Linda are at a Hollywood extravaganza. Linda is having and affair with Reba's husband, and she knows all about it. They exchange jealous looks on the red carpet. Tired of being cheated on, Reba buys a bomb and plants it on her husband's boats while he and Linda are on it. The boat explodes...but the whole thing turns out to be a movie directed by Rob Reiner.

Comments: Out of Reba's classic videos, this one is probably my favorite. The song probably has a lot to with it, I'm sure. I never watched Dynasty, but if it was anything like this, I might start. It's just fun and satirizes the seriousness and huge production values Reba puts into her videos. I think a more subtle and serious version could be made, but...this is awesome on its own.

Videography: Reba McEntire (Part I - The 80's)

In the early 90's, Reba McEntire pretty much reigned supreme as the queen of country music. She was successful in the 80's (well, by the mid 80's) and successful after, despite younger, blonder apple cheeked nymphettes fusing pop and country. Besides her powerful voice and amazing song choice, Reba was also known for her elaborate music videos. So here I go again, starting yet another series where I look into the music videos of my favorite artists. Perhaps I will eventually rank, but this list is more of an overview to see the development and themes present in Reba's videos. Since she has a shit ton of them, I will be splitting this blog into chapters and this one is all about the 80's.

Order: 1
Title: "Whoever's in New England"
Album: Whoever's in New England (1986)
Song Premise: A woman is aware of her husband’s affair and wants him to know that she will be waiting when he chooses to end it.
Video Premise: Basically, it's a power point version of the song. Reba's husband is an executive who goes on a lot of business trips. As Reba sits at home stroking her coffee cup and suspecting her husband of cheating, he's is, in fact, up in New England having sexy candlelit New England dinners and sexy New England snowball fights. At the end of the video, Reba drives her hubby to the airport. While she sings soulfully into the camera, he runs back (having forgotten something) and hugs her.

Comments: This video does not age well. I know I'm not the most educated on country music videos, but I do know they're at least ten years behind the ones pop music cranks out. The fact that this woman......is supposed to be sexy, is ridiculous. You would think in the (almost) age of Fatal Attraction, they could have found someone a little more Tawny Kitaen and a little less Murphy Brown. Except for the quality of the film, this video looks like it could have been shot by a group of Reba fangirls who were bored one winter weekend...you know, if they found adults to act in it. The most laughable part? It won Video of the Year at the ACM awards in '86.

Order: 2
Title: "What Am I Gonna Do About You"
Album: What Am I Gonna Do About You (1986)
Song Premise: A woman is haunted by the memory of a former lover despite everyone thinking she's over him.
Video Premise: Another song to video translation. This one is even more literal. There's a shot of a neighbor working on Reba's roof during the line "the neighbor next door fixed the roof where it leaked." Yeah. No lyric goes unrepresented. Also, we see Reba and former loverboy (who has a sweater draped across his douchey shoulders) having a picnic in the park and playing football. This is all fine until the end when we see Reba alone, flipping through slides of her and her ex.

Comments: This video and "Whoever's in New England" could have been shot at the same time. They are equal in tone and style...except the ending. Reba's love interest doesn't come running back at the end. And the slides wouldn't be as creepy if the guy were dead, and maybe he is, but that's not the impression I've gotten whenever I've listened to this song. So, this one is rather unsettling.

Order: 3
Title: "The Last One to Know"
Album: The Last One to Know (1987)
Song Premise: A woman mourns the end of a relationship and the fact that she was the last to know of its ending.
Video Premise: Reba sings in a sunny pasture in front of a farm house...then in a dark room full of track lights longing to be lasers. Finally, Reba is shown packing a suitcase and leaving the farmhouse.

Comments: A lot of Reba's videos have sparse production. It's either a huge mini movie, or Reba standing in front of a cheesy backdrop or in front of an audience. This is one of the latter. Let me just say now, I hate these kind. I actually prefer the lame literal translation of her first two videos to this nothingness. I mean, why even bother? I can picture her singing just fine on my own. Don't spend thousands of dollars on it.

Order: 4
Title: "Sunday Kind of Love"
Album: Reba (1988)
Song Premise: A woman longs for a love that lasts past Saturday night.
Video Premise: A young girl named Katy is called into dinner. She narrates that in the summer of 1945 she was 9 years old and that the radio helped America forget it was still at war. Katy says she imagines the broadcasts coming from the most glamorous place. We then shift to Reba singing in a night club, all dress in 40's garb, while people dance all around her. It flashes back to the house when Katy's father returns home from the war.

Comments: Back to the movie format. This one actually looks a hell of a lot better. The song lyrics aren't really relevant to what's going on. Being a standard from the 40's, it's more about the effect of radio, I guess. It's the first video to have Reba not play the victim.

Order: 5
Title: "I Know How He Feels"
Album: Reba (1988)
Song Premise: A woman sees her ex-boyfriend with his new woman and regrets ending their relationship.
Video Premise: Reba sings on a live stage with two back up singers in a royal blue sequined Krystle Carrington number.

Comments: Um, yeah...boring. Bummer because it's one of my favorite Reba songs too.

Order: 6
Title: "Cathy's Clown"
Album: Sweet Sixteen (1989)
Song Premise: A man is whipped by a woman named Cathy and is the laughing stock of the town and he doesn't seem to notice the narrator's interest in him.
Video Premise: Reba plays a saloon girl/madame who is in love with a man referred to as "Cathy's Clown". He comes into the saloon and is laughed at by the other patrons. After he finishes his drink, he and Reba share a moment, but he leaves, presumably to go home to Cathy.

Comments: Most people know this is originally an Everly Brothers song where the narrator is tired of being Cathy's Clown and means to leave his bitchy girlfriend. When a woman sings it, the meaning of the song changes. I'm not sure why the video is set in the old west, but I fucking love it. You would think there would be more country artist that would utilize this, but off the top of my head, this is the only video that does. And I love Reba's emerald saloon girl/80's prom dress hybrid. I want one.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thumbelina (1994)

“Once there was the sun, bright and warm and wonderful. Now there's no more sun. Winter has killed everything. And although it's dark December, forever, I remember sun.”
- Thumbelina

Title: Thumbelina
Genre: Animation
Year: 1994
Rated: G

Jodi Benson as Thumbelina
Gary Imhoff as Prince Cornelius
Gino Conforti as Jacquimo
John Hurt as Mr. Mole

Plot: A tiny girl is captured by a toad and fights to find her way home and to her true love.

Tagline: Follow your heart and nothing is impossible.

First Viewing: In the theater, spring, 1994.
Added to the list: After rewatching on Toon Disney in 2002 (9th grade).

The other night, I found a review of Don Bluth's 1994 animated feature, Thumbelina. In it, the movie was torn to shreds as a piece of Disney thieving, saccharine shit. All possible redeeming qualities were either ignored or rebutted with convincing arguments. Note: This review was not written by some self promoted web geek who's top five movies include Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Godfather, Lawrence of Arabia, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This review was written by a woman my age, who was in the demographic Thumbelina was marketed to in 1994. Not even fond childhood memories saved this flick for her.

Surely, my opinion of the quality of this movie has faltered with time and education, but my love for it has not. And why? Truly, it is a piece of Disney thieving saccharine shit. So why in my Age of Cynicism is it possible for me to enjoy it? Well, let's analyze, shall we?

You might assume that I could pass it off as nostalgia. Like I've said, growing up with a bad movie is like a get out of jail free card when someone demands your reasoning for liking it. I did see this movie in theaters and loved it. Being a six year old girl, I loved all things princess and fairy and with the love songs and the magic, glavin! But after that initial first viewing, the home video was not purchased or rented or even watched at a friend's house. No, I didn't seen Thumbelina again until it was on Toon Disney in the summer of 2002. Nostalgia and curiosity got the better of me so I watched it. And I fell in love.

Okay...here's the sick part. I was fourteen. Fourteen. An age when I should have been going on dates and getting felt up during the latest Josh Hartnett movie. But, oh no, not me. I spent my evenings doing my homework while this crap played in the background...every damn night. (I alternated between this and Some Kind of Wonderful). At fourteen, my pessimistic side had yet to materialize so an external conflict romance written and produced for dullard children satisfied the unsexualized side of my romantic whims.

Thumbelina is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale by the same name. It is fleshed out a bit...Disneyfied (ahem, I mean, Bluthanized), if you will. It begins with a French swallow named Jaciquimo telling us a story of impossible romance with an impossible beginning. A lonely single woman longs for a child. She is given a magical seed by a good witch, which she plants. It grows into a flower and once it blooms, a tiny girl emerges. She is given the moniker Thumbelina, as she is, you know, no bigger than a thumb. (One wonders if she was in a different scale if her name would be Toesita or Weinerella (tee-hee)).

However, Thumbelina is dissatisfied with her size. Like all animated heroines, she longs for true love. But how can she find it if she's the only little person in the world? Thumbelina's only outlet is fiction, where fairies (who happen to be the right size) exist. But if this is a world where young, fully clothed, post pubertal miniature girls can grow from flowers, there has to be fairies, right?

As Thumbelina is singing to herself, Cornelius, the fairy prince, manages to fly by on his pet bumblebee and become entranced by her beautiful singing voice. It's basically love at first sight for both of them. There must be a lack of fairy chicks. After some mild flirtation (and an almost kiss) Cornelius takes her on a magical "A Whole New World"-esque journey across the French countryside. He serenades her with the best song in the movie, "Let Me Be Your Wings", while flying her over a glistening, mirror like pond and a huge pumpkin and through the glittering midnight sky. I warn you, viewing this scene might cause you to fall into a diabetic coma.

So after the romancing, Cornelius hears his parents summoning him, but he promises to return to Thumbelina in the morning after he breaks the news about his new, non-fairy girlfriend. He promises to not forget her and leaves...but not before failing at two more almost kisses. (That's right, two! How can you fail three times in seven minutes?)

So since our heroine has found her one true love in the first act, there has to be some conflict to keep them separated for 60 more minutes. This comes in the form of Mama Toad, the amphibious version of Charo. After hearing Thumbelina's gorgeous singing voice, Mama Toad's son, Grendel, has fallen in love with her. Mama Toad tries to convince Thumbelina to join the family singing group and to marry her son. Although Thumbelina is tempted by fame, she wants to return to her mother and Cornelius. The toads abandon her on a lily pad, meaning to return and force her to marry Grendel.

Cornelius fulfills his promise and returns for his lady fair. He discovers her kidnapping and goes on a quest to find her. Back on the lily pad, Thumbelina meets Jacquimo, an unhelpful sidekick who ranks right up there with Gurgi from The Black Cauldron and Jar Jar fucking Binks (No, I'm not kidding). This is the biggest and most irritating flaw in the whole movie. Instead of getting on the bird's back and flying back to her house, Thumbelina continues on foot while Jacquimo looks for Cornelius's home, the Veil of the Fairies. Jacquimo is convinced that "following your heart" is the quickest way home. Not flying. No, it's definitely not flying.

Both Cornelius and Grendel are on the hunt for Thumbelina, but she continues to walk at a glacial pace...in the wrong direction. She is commandeered by Mr. Beetle who, through forest gossip, heard about her voice and convinces her to sing at the Beetle Ball. However, her Elizabethan butterfly costume is removed and she is revealed to be an ugmo because she lacks feelers and wings.

Our heroine's confidence is shattered. Not to mention that she is lost in the middle of the woods as autumn turns to winter. But Jacquimo arrives and teaches an important lesson: if the man you love thinks you're beautiful, then no one else's opinion matters. But if he doesn't, you're fucked. Again, Captain Useless doesn't fly Thumbelina to her home, or steer her in the right direction. He keeps searching for the Veil of the Fairies. Winter comes rather quickly. (Wasn't it only yesterday the fairies were golding the leaves?) Thumbelina finds shelter in an old shoe while Cornelius ends up frozen in a pond and presumed dead.

Thumbelina is discovered by Mrs. Fieldmouse who brings her into her underground home and informs her of Cornelius's death. Thumbelina is distraught but owes a debt to Mrs. Fieldmouse and accompanies her on visit to Mr. Mole. While visiting him, Thumbelina discovers Jacquimo in his tunnel, unconscious and with a thorn in his wing. Despite her opposing cheeriness, Mr. Mole also has the hots for her and bribes Mrs. Fieldmouse to convince Thumbelina to marry him...which she does. Through song!

Later that night, Thumbelina sneaks into the tunnel and visits Jacquimo's corpse. But unfortunately for us, he's not dead and lectures her on giving up hope and settling for Mr. Mole. Thumbelina wants no more of his optimism, even though he flies off to look for the Veil of Fairies without letting her escape. Meanwhile a group of bugs find Cornelius and thaw him out on Thumbelina's wedding day. On the way down the aisle, she has visions of Cornelius singing the second reprise of "Let Me Be Your Wings" and cannot go through with it.

At that moment, Grendel storms in to capture Thumbelina. As does Cornelius to rescue her. And the beetle is also there. But in the confusion, Thumbelina manages to escape without seeing Cornelius. She climbs out of the underground lair just as Jacquimo comes to inform her he's found the Veil of the Fairies. She gets on his back (FINALLY) and flies with him. Jacquimo convinces her to sing and she awakens the Veil of the Fairies to spring. Even though she refused to marry someone she didn't love, Thumbelina's optimism is gone and knows Cornelius will not rise from the dead. However, he returns just in time to finish their duet. They kiss and Thumbelina is transformed into a fairy (sure, why the fuck not?) and they live happily ever after.

Let the defense begin. First of all, I love the music. The songs and score were written by Barry Manilow...which sounds like the punchline to a joke. I know that this type of music isn't everyone's cup of tea, but my favorite band is the Carpenters so...That and it's blatantly ripping off the Disney style. Despite my opinions, Mrs. Fieldmouse's song "Marry the Mole" won the Razzie for worst original song. Personally, I think the worst song is "The Beetle Ball" but whatever. I truly think "Let Me Be Your Wings" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written and I don't mind it's four reprises. Not. One. Bit.

Although it's beaten into your head that "you're sure to do impossible things if you follow your heart" this is not the theme. The theme is true love is irreplaceable and trying to replace it is futile. Let me explain. So up until she meets her prince, Thumbelina thinks there is no one else her size...which translates to "I'm going to die old and single just like my mother." When Cornelius shows up she finds in him the only person she could ever love. After she learns of his "death", she states "he was the only one--" and then is cut off by Mrs. Fieldmouse. She probably would have finished with "my size". But "the only one my size" translates to "the only one who could make my life complete." The size issue is just a physical embodiment of this point. You're true love might as well be the only one "your size". Marrying someone the "wrong size" (or of a different species like in this movie) is wrong.

That's another theme in Thumbelina. Don't settle. It may be practical for Thumbelina to marry a rich old mole if it's impossible for her to ever go back to her home. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and she can't rely on the good graces of woodland creatures forever. But she knows that marrying for money will never make her happy, only love will. That's why it's better to stay miserable and alone rather than replace the irreplaceable.

I know these possible deep meanings are covered up by the tried and true "love at first sight" and external conflicts of fairy tales. I doubt Don Bluth realized that these points could be made while this film was in production. And it's a stretch for me to make them in the first place. But these are themes I enjoy, and therefore go into my argument of why I like this movie. It's by no means in my Top Ten...or even my Top Fifty. But it goes on my list because it makes me recall the wide eyed optimism I had a mere seven years ago. Movies like Thumbelina remind me of how much easier life would be if it was a little more "Love Story" and a little less "Teardrops on My Guitar."

Favorite Screencap

I love this sequence.