Posts Tagged ‘Disney Animated Feature’


January 30, 2023 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

As a young man Walt Disney was fond of the two Lewis Carroll novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and “Through The Looking Glass”. As early as 1933 he conceived of making a film adaptation, but it did not take form until 1945 and then would require six years to bring his dream to fruition. Disney personally managed production with a budget of $3 million, a team of thirteen writers were hired to craft a screenplay based on both of Carroll’s books, and a trio consisting of Clyde Geronini, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske were tasked with directing. A fine voice cast was assembled, including Katherine Beaumont as Alice, Ed Wynn as Mad Hatter, Richard Haydn as Caterpillar, Sterling Holloway as Cheshire Cat, Jerry Colonna as March Hare, Verna Felton as Queen of Hearts, J. Pat O’Malley as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Bill Thompson as White Rabbit, Joseph Kearns as Doorknob, Sink Trout as King of Hearts, and James MacDonald as Dormouse. Read more…

ALADDIN – Alan Menken

November 17, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The enormous success of Beauty and the Beast in 1991 ushered in what is now commonly known as the Disney Renaissance, which brought to an end a period of comparative creative and commercial failure for mouse house, and initiated what was quicky became a decade of constant growth and acclaim. Lyricist Howard Ashman, who had been a major part of Beauty and the Beast’s success alongside his composing partner Alan Menken, had also been working on a draft treatment for a potential Aladdin movie, based on the Arabic folktale of the same name from the One Thousand and One Nights, and the screenplay went through three drafts before then-Disney Studios president Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to its production. The finished film is now one of the most beloved animated films of all time; it tells the story of street urchin Aladdin, who finds a magical lamp hidden in a cave and inadvertently releases from it a powerful genie who can grant him three wishes. Aladdin wishes to be a rich prince to that he can court the beautiful Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the sultan, but in doing so falls foul of Jafar, the sultan’s vizier advisor, who covets the power of the lamp for himself. Read more…

CINDERELLA – Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith

November 14, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney and his beloved studio had not achieved a commercial triumph since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs thirteen years earlier. He was $4 million in debt and tittering on bankruptcy. He threw caution to the wind with a gamble that would either save the company, or end it; he would adapt the story “Cinderella”, a universal transcultural tale told by many throughout time beginning with Strabo in 7 B.C.E. Disney selected the French version of the tale by author Charles Perrault, and personally took charge of production with a $2.2 million budget, which ultimately swelled to $3.0 million. A team of eight animators was assembled, ten writers overseen by Ben Sharpsteen would write the screenplay, and the trio of Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wilfred Jackson would direct. The voice cast would consist of Ilene Woods as Cinderella, Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine, Verna Felton as the Fairy Godmother, and William Edward Phipps as Prince Charming. Read more…

BAMBI – Frank Churchill and Edward H. Plumb

June 13, 2022 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney was in dire financial straits with his last two films, Pinocchio and Fantasia, both under-performing at the box office. He needed a hit to reverse the company’s sliding fortunes when he came across the 1923 novel “Bambi, A Life in The Woods” by Felix Salten. The novel offered violence, sexual conquest, betrayal, and blood-and-guts action by cutthroats and murderers, yet after sifting out all its unsavory elements, it spawned an idea of a family film that centered on a young fawn named Bambi. Disney purchased the film rights in 1937 and personally took charge of production with an $858,000 budget. He insisted that the voices of children be used to speak for the many forest animals instead of adults speaking as children. It would take a team of six writers led by Perce Pearce, three years, with countless revisions, to finally draft a screenplay that met Disney’s expectations. David Hand was tasked with direction, and the voice cast included Bobby Stewart as Baby Bambi, Donnie Dunagan as Young Bambi, Hardie Albright as Adolescent Bambi and John Sutherland as Young Adult Bambi. Joining them would be Peter Behn as Young Thumper, Tim Davis as Adolescent Thumper and Same Edwards as Young Adult Thumper, Paula Winslowe as Bambi’s Mother, Will Wright as Friend Owl, Cammie King as Young Faline and Ann Gillis as Young Adult Faline. Read more…

DUMBO – Oliver Wallace and Frank Churchill

May 16, 2022 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The children’s story of Dumbo, written by Helen Aberson-Mayer in 1939, was presented to studio executive Walt Disney, who was inspired and so tasked screenplay writers Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, to adapt it for the big screen. After suffering loses with Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940 Disney managed production, but was tight-fisted with company financial resources and so only budgeted $813,000, which as expected expanded ultimately to $950,000. The screenplay was written by Joe Grant, Dick Huemer and Otto Englander, while Supervising Director was assigned to Ben Sharpsteen. The voice cast would consist of Edward Brophy as Timothy Q. Mouse, Verna Felton as the Elephant Matriarch, Cliff Edwards as Dandy Crow, Herman Bing as the Ringmaster, and Sterling Holloway as Mr. Stork. Read more…

ENCANTO – Germaine Franco and Lin-Manuel Miranda

February 25, 2022 Leave a comment

Original Review by Christopher Garner

Disney’s 60th animated feature film, Encanto, had a unique path to popularity. Its one-month theatrical run was profitable by pandemic standards, but far less successful than these films usually are. After being released on Disney+, however, it has become a huge hit. It tells the story of the Familia Madrigal, a multi-generational Colombian family with magical powers that live in a sentient house they call Casita. The main character, Mirabel (voiced by Brooklyn 99’s Stephanie Beatriz) is the only descendent of the family matriarch, Abuela, who does not have a “gift.” She discovers something to be wrong with the family’s magic and takes it upon herself to discover the cause of the problem and find a solution. As of this writing, the film has already won the Golden Globe for best animated picture, and has also been nominated for an Academy Award. Read more…


November 4, 2021 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When looking back at the period now, considering their enormous success and influence, it’s easy to forget that Disney was a film studio in trouble in the 1980s. Their first four animated films during the decade – The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver & Company – had not been particularly well-received, while the success of the fifth, The Little Mermaid in 1989, was certainly not seen as a guarantor of future achievement. Everything changed with the 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast, which became the first animated film ever to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, and subsequently set in motion a decade of almost unparalleled cinematic dominance for the house that Walt built. Read more…

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON – James Newton Howard

March 9, 2021 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The first of Disney’s two animated films scheduled to be released in 2021, Raya and the Last Dragon is a fantasy adventure set in an alternate-reality version of Southeast Asia. In this universe, humans have been hunted by creatures called druuns for generations, but are now protected by a magical orb created by dragons – with the caveat being that the dragons all turned to stone once they created the orb. Raya is the daughter of Benja, the powerful tribal chief who guards the orb, but during a feast celebration Raya is tricked into revealing the location of the orb to the daughter of a different tribal leader, who is jealous of Benja’s power. The resulting fight leads to the orb being almost destroyed, and the threat of the druuns returning. Wanting to make amends and save her people, Raya sets off on a quest to locate Sisu, the mythical last dragon, and the only one which did not turn to stone, in the hope that it can help create a new orb. The film was directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, and features a voice cast of almost entirely East Asian and Southeast Asian actors, including Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, and Sandra Oh. Read more…

FROZEN II – Christophe Beck

December 10, 2019 4 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

I don’t think anyone – including the people at Walt Disney – could have predicted just how successful Frozen would be when it was released in the fall of 2013. With it’s winning combination of comedy and action, strong female leads, genuinely beautiful snow-capped animation, and of course *that* song, it quickly became the highest grossing-animated film of all time (although Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs still holds the true crown, adjusted for inflation). It made its two princess protagonists, Anna and Elsa, household names, and made snowmen cool again, but it was as much of a success critically as it was commercially, eventually going to pick up two Oscars, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and even two Grammys. Of course, no studio would ever sit on all this success without trying to capitalize on it with a sequel, and so here we are with Frozen II – the first traditional animated Disney sequel to hit theaters since The Rescuers Down Under in 1990. Read more…


October 24, 2019 Leave a comment


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Walt Disney Corporation is, for better or worse, probably the world’s biggest and most influential media and entertainment company. Not only does it own its own catalogue of classic live action and animated films, including those made by Pixar, it of course also owns Lucasfilm and the rights to the Star Wars universe, Marvel and the Avengers universe, and has recently bought Twentieth Century Fox and it’s entire cache of intellectual property. As I write this five of the six highest grossing films of 2019 are Disney features, and we haven’t even seen Frozen II or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker yet, which could lock out seven of 2019’s Top 10. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way, and even easier to forget that the film that turned it all around was an animated feature based on a classic story by a children’s author from Denmark. Read more…


July 14, 2016 2 comments

greatmousedetectiveTHROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Looking back from the vantage point we have now, thirty years into the future, it’s difficult to picture just how much trouble Walt Disney’s animated feature film department was in during the 1980s. A world away from their heyday of Snow White, Bambi, and Cinderella, Disney’s output in the late 1970s and early 1980s comprised some of their most forgettable works, ranging from The Rescuers in 1977 to The Fox and the Hound in 1981, The Black Cauldron in 1985, and Oliver & Company in 1988 – a year before everything changed with the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989. Released right in the middle of this lackluster phase, The Great Mouse Detective was Disney’s attempt to capture the essence of Sherlock Holmes in an animated film. Based on the popular children’s books by Eve Titus, the film is set in a version of Victorian England populated by anthropomorphic mice and rats, and follows the adventures of the famous detective Basil of Baker Street, who is hired by a young mouse named Olivia to investigate the disappearance of her toymaker father, who has been kidnapped by the evil Professor Ratigan as part of a fiendish plot involving robot clones and the Queen of England. The film was directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, David Michener, and John Musker, and features the voice talents of Barrie Ingham and Vincent Price, among others. Read more…

ZOOTOPIA – Michael Giacchino

March 22, 2016 Leave a comment

zootopiaOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Zootopia is the latest animated film from Walt Disney, directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore. A comedy-crime caper with undertones that explore themes of racism, xenophobia, and political corruption (yes, really!), the film follows the adventures of Judy Hopps, an ambitious rabbit who wants to become the first leporine police officer in Zootopia, a city populated entirely by anthropomorphic animals. Before long Judy is embroiled in a case in which several animals have been reported as going missing and “turning savage,” reverting back to the old ways of predators and their prey. To solve the case, Judy must team up with a wisecracking and streetwise fox named Nick Wilde, find the missing persons, and discover how and why the animals are devolving to their “natural state”. The film features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, and J.K. Simmons, and has an original score by Michael Giacchino. Read more…

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS – Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, and Paul J. Smith

November 2, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Walt Disney Productions had been very successful in producing animated short subject films such as Mickey Mouse and the Silly Symphonies. In 1934 CEO Walt Disney believed it was time to move his studio into the realm of producing feature films. To that end he resolved to inaugurate a new era by producing a feature animated film based on the fairytale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by the Brothers Grimm. Disney would produce the film and he tasked screenwriter Richard Creedon and a team of seven writers to come up with the screenplay. David Hand was hired as supervising Director for a team of five directors. For the cast Adriana Caselotti would voice for the titular role. Joining her would be Lucille La Verne as Queen Grimhilde (the witch), Henry Stockwell as the Prince, Stuart Buchanan as the Huntsman, and Moroni Olsen as The Magic Mirror. For the seven dwarfs we have Roy Atwell as Doc, Pinto Colvig as both Grumpy and Sleepy, Otis Harlan as Happy, Scotty Mattraw as Bashful, Billy Gilbert as Sneezy, and Eddie Collins as Dopey. Read more…

PINOCCHIO – Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith

June 22, 2015 Leave a comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

After reading the novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, Walt Disney felt it could be made into a fine Disney animated feature. When he picked up his honorary Oscar for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, he advised the Academy of his intent to bring Pinocchio to the big screen. The film became a passion project and its budget ballooned from $500,000 to $2.5 million, with several major rewrites. The voice cast included Dickie Jones as Pinocchio and (Alexander the Donkey, Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket, Evelyn Venable as the Blue Fairy), Christian Rub as Geppetto, Walter Catlett as John Worthington Foulfellow the Red Fox, Charles Judels as Stromboli, Frankie Darro as Lampwick and Thurl Ravenscroft as Monstro the Whale. This film offers the classic tale of Geppetto the woodworker, who makes a wooden marionette, whom he names Pinocchio. He has no son and when he goes to bed he makes a wish that Pinocchio become a real boy. His wish is heard, and the Blue Fairy comes during his sleep, and brings Pinocchio to life, but he is not yet fully human. She advises Pinocchio that if he is brave, truthful and unselfish, he will become a real boy. She assigns Jiminy Cricket to be his conscience. Well, after a long adventure, with many struggles along the way, Pinocchio succeeds, becomes a real boy, and he and Geppetto live happily ever after. The film resonated with the public and was a commercial success. It also received critical acclaim and secured two Academy Awards for best Original Score, and Best Song “When You Wish Upon A Star”. This was the first time a film secured these two wins together. Read more…

FROZEN – Christophe Beck

December 2, 2013 Leave a comment

frozenOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Frozen is the 53rd official animated feature in the Walt Disney canon. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Disney veterans who previously worked on The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas and Tarzan, the film is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale The Snow Queen, albeit significantly ‘Disneyfied” and turned into a full-fledged musical. The story involves two princess sisters from the kingdom of Arendelle, Elsa and Anna, voiced by Kristin Bell and Idina Menzel. As she grows up, Elsa begins to manifest powers that allow her to manipulate snow and ice, culminating in an incident at her coronation as Queen that leaves Arendelle under a blanket of eternal winter. Elsa flees from her home, distraught, but Anna resolves to reconcile with her sister. Teaming up with Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), a gruff mountain man, and Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), an anthropomorphic snowman, Anna sets off into the frozen wilderness to find the Snow Queen with the fate of the kingdom in her hands. Read more…