Friday, April 29, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast Goes Interactive!

Greetings, listeners!  Okay, we have a few shows under our belts, we have our sea legs, and it's time to get you guys more involved in the show.  We love our listeners, so we want you guys to have more fun with the show and help us make it better for you.  So today, we're doing two things towards that goal.

1.  Follow Along With Us - starting today, we'll be announcing here on the site what the next show is, so you can watch the movie before you listen to the show.  Over on the right hand side, there's a graphic showing the movie poster for the next show.  This week, it's Cars.  We'll try to announce the next show midweek so you can go out and rent/watch the movie. 
2.  Listener's Choice - This is one we're really excited about.  In our upcoming schedule, there is a week that we have not chosen a film.  So what better option to pick our movie than to let you, the listeners, pick the film we review?  Leave a comment here, or on the Facebook page or Twitter feed as to what movie you want.  We'll aggregate the comments and put up a poll on the top four movies.  You pick what we discuss!

Thanks everyone so much for your support of the show, and we hope that these new ideas will help you become even more involved and make the show more fun for you!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cured Duck

When you see a short titled Cured Duck, you might thing you want to barbecue something. And by barbecue, I do not mean grilling. These are two different things. But regardless, you would not correct, because this short is about curing Donald Duck’s temper, which is an infinitely funnier premise.

Daisy lays down the law in this one – Donald must cure his temper or she will no longer tolerate him and will not go out with him. While it sounds extreme, it’s not based on the completely insane tirade that Donald goes on at her house. When he cannot open the window, he literally destroys everything in sight. I have a temper. I have been known to destroy things on occasion. But next to Donald’s destruction? I’m an amateur.

It really is a remarkable scene. Donald is tearing her home to shreds, but Daisy stands idly by and watches, with a cool detachment. Perhaps she sees her opportunity to reform Donald, but it still seems odd. Donald finds his center, however, when he runs into a newspaper ad that gives him the solution. He orders the crazy contraption and hilarity ensues.

This is a familiar formula for Donald, but with the added twist of having some stakes involved. After all, we’ve seen Donald interact with a narrator telling him to control himself through the radio, and we’ve seen him struggle with machines in shorts like Modern Inventions. The difference here is that there is a true reward at the end of the day, which raises the stakes.

Testing Donald’s temper is a dangerous game, but it works here both in the literal sense and the comedic one. He manages to get things under control, which is to be expected. The true test is when he returns to Daisy’s house and has trouble opening the window again. He still manages to keep it together.

I won’t reveal the fun ending to the short, except to say that the way the animators displayed anger in this one gets put to good use. It’s a short that trods familiar ground, but does so in a nice way. I didn’t feel cheated or that things were too repetitive. Cured Duck ended up being fun, but not outstanding.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hockey Homicide

Of all the Goofy sports cartoons, Hockey Homicide may be the most famous, or infamous depending on how you look at it. It combines all the great assets of a Goofy short – narration, madcap action, multiple Goofys and a frantic, crazed ending. It makes for a short that never lets up, delivering laughs from start to finish.

Goofy had already been through plenty of sports at this point, and ice hockey was a natural next step. I wonder after seeing this if the caricature that many people have of hockey as a fight with a little bit of play attached to it comes from this short. After all, the first part of the hockey game shows the star players from each team fighting and being sent to the penalty box, a spot they will occupy for the rest of the short.

Usually, I am a fan of storytelling and plot, and the role that those things have in pushing forward a short. In this case, though, it’s all about the manic energy of the back and forth on the ice, between the various Goofys all crashing into each other, the fans punching each other in the stands, and the ref trying to avoid getting hurt.

This short has the most energy of any short I’ve watched so far in 1945. It almost feels like a Looney Tunes style short because of the rapid fire gags and quick back and forth action. The brilliant animation staff brings things to a fever pitch, then blows a whistle for intermission, freezing everyone on the ice. It gives the audience a second to breathe before the frenzied climax.

That climactic sequence is hard to describe. It moves from the frantic nature of the hockey game as it was before the break to an all out chaos. The ref drops all the pucks, which means there are pucks flying everywhere. Fans storm the ice and start getting into the action, and we get quick cuts flying all over the place, bringing in scenes from the other Goofy sports cartoons!

The fast paced ending builds and builds and builds to the slow pan up to the stands, where we see the hockey team sitting and relaxing, rather than getting caught up in the craziness. It’s a slow reveal that hammers home the end of the short. Hockey Homicide leaves the viewer breathless up to that point, then slows it down for one last belly laugh. This is a short not to be missed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Sail

When I was watching No Sail, the latest short from 1945, I realized that it had been quite some time since I had seen one of the Fab Five team up with someone other than Pluto. Having Donald and Goofy together in this short reminds me how much fun those earlier shorts were, and how they really helped to define the characters.

After all, Donald and Goofy starred in lots of black and white shorts with Mickey before getting going full speed on their own. We even have had Donald and Goofy team ups before, so seeing them together in No Sail is not a surprise. The two play well together, because Goofy is so nonchalant and easy going, while Donald is crazed and a roller coaster of emotions. It makes for a great contrast.

The contrast is the source of the funny in this short. While Donald and Goofy go out to sea on the coin operated boat, Goofy takes it in stride when they get stranded. Donald, needless to say, does not. Instead, he quickly becomes irritated and starts scrambling for anything he can do to remedy the situation. This, of course, makes the situation worse.

I particularly like the emotional ride that Donald goes on throughout the short, as we see him so excited and happy to join the expedition, then disappointed when the sail retracts and all the way to angry when Goofy waves at a passing ship rather than attempting to get them rescued.

It’s the subtle touches that made this short funny. The stubble that grows on Goofy and Donald after only a few moments in the boat is one example, but not the only one. The recurring gag of the main sail clobbering Donald on the head is well done, too. I laughed every time I saw it. The frantic ending, with Donald overboard and being chased by the sharks, is also fabulous.

It’s a wonder that Donald and Goofy were not teamed up more, because the pairing is so natural. In this short, combined with an out of the way setting, it makes for a great short. This is definitely one that should be on your must-see list.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hercules Tweetwatch - Tonight at 8:30p ET!

Who put the "glad" in "Gladiator"?


Tonight, at 8:30p ET, we will Tweetwatch Hercules, the Disney animated film from 1997, starring Tate Donovan as the titular hero and James Woods as Hades. 

Get your DVD or VHS copy ready and join us tonight for all the fun.  If you've never participated in Tweetwatch before, here's what you do:

1.  Get your copy of Hercules from your favorite DVD rental or your film library.
2.  Cue it up to the menu, then be ready to push play.
3.  Join us in the Friendfeed room a few minutes before 8:30p ET.
4.  At 8:30, I'll give the cue to start the movie, and you'll push play.
5.  For the length of the movie, I'll give you background info, trivia and other tidbits about the movie in the chat room, while you talk about the movie with some great Disney friends.

I hope you can join us for the fun tonight.  It's going to be epic!

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 16 - The Parent Trap (Hayley Mills)

This week the DFPP team gets caught in the Parent Trap, with the help of special guest Sarah Connors. Come with us and play trivia time with Sarah as we quiz her about the various incarnations of this Disney classic.

Listen, Download, etc.

Grab the show from the links on the right hand side of the page.

Show Notes:

Enjoy the show, everyone!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 15 - Iron Man 1 and 2

This week the DFPP team gets their geek on as they check out the life of Tony Stark, a man who can prove that he does indeed have a heart in the Marvel Studios movies Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010).

Listen, Download, etc.

Grab the show from the links on the right hand side of the page.

Show Notes:

Enjoy the show, everyone!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 14 - Bambi

This week, the DFPP crew take a look at Bambi, the animated classic recently released on Blu Ray. Take a listen as we delve deep into the forest and look at one of Disney's most beautiful films.

Listen, Download, etc.

Grab the show from the links on the right hand side of the page.

Show Notes:

Enjoy the show, everyone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Legend of Coyote Rock

In Canine Casanova, I bemoaned the fact that it’s difficult for Pluto to work, because he doesn’t speak, so the animators have to really stretch and make him act in order for him to be compelling. For The Legend of Coyote Rock, the story team at Disney found another way to have Pluto be the star of the show. They fell back on a tried and true method of having an outside narrator.

The difference in this short and other narrator focused shorts is an important one. Rather than the authoritative voice we have heard in the Goofy or even some of the Donald shorts, we instead get a down home cowboy narrator for The Legend of Coyote Rock. It makes all the difference in the world and gives this short a different feel.

There’s also a foil for Pluto to play off of in the form of the coyote. The coyote is really the best character in the short, looking very much like a Chuck Jones Looney Tunes style character. He does some great comedic acting and interesting stunts throughout the short that make him compelling. I almost didn’t want him to lose, because he was quite funny.

Pluto plays the protector in this one, something we’ve not seen much before. He usually is the mischief maker, which is always the most interesting character in a short. The coyote gets that role, as he tries to steal and eat the lambs under Pluto’s protection. The coyote pulls some simple tricks like shadowing Pluto or hiding behind trees. Despite this, Pluto still comes off as a devoted and strong protector.

Making Pluto into a hero is quite a feat, considering all that we have seen him doing before this point. It’s done very well here, though, while still managing to keep the humor in the piece, mainly through the coyote. Here Pluto is protecting a little black lamb with a bell, whose character design is adorable. Seeing the lamb in danger makes Pluto the hero even more for protecting the little thing.

This short manages to toe the line between silliness and straight forward storytelling extremely well. It isn’t a problem to go one way or the other, such as the silliness of Duck Pimples, but combining the two can make for some really great cartoons. In this case it works beautifully, as we get the silliness of the coyote and Pluto trashing the landscape and the simple story of Pluto trying to protect the lambs. The Legend of Coyote Rock is a good example of Disney doing great work in mixing the two extremes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Duck Pimples

There is a mold to Disney shorts that usually follows the traits of the characters. The Mickey shorts feature a good natured Mickey having a good time with some occasional complications. The Goofy shorts have him attempting some sport or endeavor with a narrator. Donald’s short inevitably have him trying to do something too grand or too wrong and getting frustrated.

So when something breaks that mold, it’s noteworthy. Duck Pimples is one that shatters the mold, and does it very, very well. The short manages to take Donald and stick him in a very unfamiliar situation, as well as taking him out of reality and placing him in a sort of dream world. The comedy flies fast and furious, and if you blink, you’ll miss some small detail or bit of fun that the animators placed in this short.

Donald is sitting by the radio one night when he decides to turn off the light to relax. Unfortunately for him, the radio dramas that night are decidedly not relaxed. Instead of calm music or romance, all Donald hears is mystery and murder. He even envisions a giant ape from one of the stories right behind him. It gets even worse when a raincoat clad man shows up at the door and leaves a pile of mystery and crime books on Donald’s floor.

The silliness escalates with the characters from the books climbing out of the books and carrying on with Donald. They go back and forth with accusing Donald of committing crimes, stealing from them and even kidnapping a woman who is standing in the corner. If it sounds silly, that’s because it is. It feels so much more like a Looney Tunes short than a Disney one.

The stereotypes are in full effect here, but to great comedic value. You have the Irish cop who badgers Donald to death, eats “donuts” and turns out to be corrupt in the end. There’s the sleek, sophisticated woman who’s probably hiding something herself, and who ends up playing the cop for a fool. Of course, there’s also the bookish, nerdy author who shows up to resolve everything.

The short really plays as a tribute to film noir, one of my favorite genres. During the 1940s, film noir was in its heyday, with fabulous films being released by major studios with some of the biggest stars. This short puts a zany, Disney twist on it, and comes away with something special. It allows us to see Donald on a roller coaster ride that is truly enjoyable to watch.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 13 - The Happiest Millionaire

This week the DFPP team celebrates Cheryl's birthday as they find the fortuosity to enjoy every essential element of the antics of the Biddle family and their love of alligators, chocolate cake, and boxing in the 1967 movie The Happiest Millionaire.