Friday, February 20, 2009

My Top 10 Disney Films - #10

So, as best I can tell, I should get Alice the Peacemaker in house in the next week or so, and that should be just about the time I finish this current series of articles – my top 10 Disney films.

I thought it would be a good idea to talk about what my favorite Disney movies are now, before I start to get to the features, and see what changes throughout the course of this project. I’ll talk about each one for the next 10 posts, and hopefully by then we’ll move on to the remaining Alice Comedies. So….

10. Cars

Yes, I’m counting PIXAR films, because they were distributed by Disney and all the filmmakers are now part of Disney, so to me, it counts. Anyway, I have always thought that John Lasseter’s genius was not in the fact that he saw the future of animation with computers, but in the fact that he recognized that story was the key to making good animated films at Disney. Cars is a prime example.

If you are reading this, I assume you have seen it, so I won’t summarize the film. What I love about this movie is that the story is so tight and so packed, that Lasseter as director did his job in placing each scene perfectly in place to create a greater whole. That sounds simple, but it’s not.

Think about movies like Snow White, Pinocchio or Cinderella that are all classics. Not every scene in those films is essential to the story. Think of the dwarves washing up for dinner, for example, as an example of a scene that is funny, but not essential to the story. In Cars, those scenes don’t exist. It’s a tight, focused story that is extremely compelling.

In addition, I am a big fan of WWII and forward American history, and Route 66, the never named but assumed road in this film, is a big part of that. My dream is to one day take a trip through the Midwest all the way to Disneyland using Route 66. The mystery and majesty of the Mother Road is a great addition to the film.

But ultimately, it’s the way the story relates to the well-drawn characters that makes this such a good film. You instantly know who Lightning McQueen is, same with Mater, and those two are the core of the film. But even the side characters are well done, like Doc Hudson and Sally. Sure, there are some stereotypes, like Luigi, but as a whole, the characters are very well done.

That’s even more remarkable when you consider that the animators had to get emotion out of cars, not traditional human faces or even animals. The fact that they could do so and make it look realistic is amazing. So, Cars makes my top ten list based on the story, the setting and the characters. Nine more to go!

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