Forgive me for stepping out of what is my usual writing style. I have hit a brick wall with my writing for so long, that I just had to publish something. Every writer knows, if you hold things in and don’t write down what is on your mind, the brick wall will transform into concrete and you will stay stuck in the prison of writer’s block. Opinion pieces are not really my cup of tea. I usually view opinion pieces as an excuse for someone to just hear themselves talk. And, yes, for this blog about Disney re-makes, I admit I may come off as silly and/or mindless. My goal is not to enforce my opinion on anyone or start some kind of Disney Golden Age vs. Disney Millennial Rumble. So here we go, time for some babble from a stay-at-home mom, desperate to keep on writing.
Let me start by saying, I am smart enough to know that Disney is a corporation quickly running out of ideas and capitalizing on as much money-making strategies as they can. I can recognize that, but I am a Disney fanatic. Ask anyone that knows me. I will sing all the songs at the top of my lungs, in character, and with sincere emotion. Any Disney trivia game, oh, you want me on your team! If I could be at Disney World every year, I would do it. When I first heard that Disney was re-making all of their movies, I was excited. I didn’t view it as a money grab or a manipulation of our childhood nostalgia. I thought it was super cool. After all, when they cast Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil years ago, I enjoyed the remake concept. The 102 Dalmations sequel though, eh, not so much. Then came The Jungle Book. The computer animation was so realistic and it shot me in the heart way more than the animated version ever did. My snake phobia stepped into high gear with what they did with the villain, Kaa. I was terrified, but impressed. After seeing it, I thought, “Okay, the remake makes sense. It shows how far we have come with technology, and I certainly enjoyed it more than the live-action version from the year 1994, that made no sense to 13-year-old me. Even though Cary Elwes was in it. The Princess Bride is my all-time favorite movie and Cary Elwes was my first crush. I just recently learned that he has a part in Stranger Things. I really had no interest until now.
Anyways, after The Jungle Book, the announcement of Beauty and the Beast hit the internet. “This is going to be SO good,” I thought. Ever since that first cast photo made it’s debut on Twitter, I was elated. I never thought the animated prince from Beauty and the Beast was particularly handsome. I remember being a child in the theater and the hanging anticipation when the fireworks clear and the beast is finally transformed. I have a vivid memory of cringing and an exclamation from the woman behind me, “Ewugh!” I definitely approved of the casting before the movie ever came out. Matthew from Downton Abbey, a superb, swoon-worthy choice. (Side note to my husband: “I still love you, babe.”) I counted down the months. I counted down the days. Then…my soul was crushed. The movie did not meet my expectations. The movie was filled with obvious auto-tuning, Be Our Guest was anything but spectacular, and I didn’t beleve the love story at all. For example, my biggest problem was the library scene. In the original, it was a huge romantic gesture, and a change in the character arc for the beast that proved his true feelings for Belle. All the scene became was, “Oh…you like to read, I guess you can have my books.” Ugh, the 9-year old Emily “fell into despair and lost all hope”. She was angry. What was with the magic time-traveling book scene? It served no purpose and didn’t really move the story forward. They would have been better off taking the stage musical and turning into a movie. At least it would have fit in with the popular Broadway to movie trend that Hollywood is currently attempting. I will admit that Evermore is a hauntingly beautiful song. My feelings for the film did not keep it off my Disney playlist. It is lackluster though because of the boring, devoid-of-chemistry storytelling. If they had used the song If I Loved Her, and included some of the Belle and Beast interactions from the musical, their feelings for each other may have been more believable. I don’t even want to show it to my kids, because I feel it is a crime to taint the classic, iconic, animated, Best Picture Academy Award Nominee any further.
Then came, Aladdin. The animated Aladdin has always been my favorite Disney movie. Jasmine is my favorite princess. I have a mini-shrine of her in one of my bookcase shelves. *see picture below* Robin William’s will always always ALWAYS be the genie to me. I went into the theater ready to hate it. To my surprise, I ended up having the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time. The casting of Aladdin and Jasmine were perfect, the songs were great, I laughed so hard, so many times, and Will Smith really impressed me.
Since I am such a fan, I still couldn’t escape from being a little nit-picky. Jafar came off as more weaselly than the smoothly charming villain we know and love. They made Jasmine a stronger character, which I was all about, but she was scared to pole vault over the building, and that is one of the coolest scenes in the animated version. Today, on my third viewing of the remake, I was in tears more than the previous times. The first notes of Whole New World…tears. Jasmine’s emotional solo Speechless…tears. The genie hugging Aladdin after being set free…tears. I thought it was just a confirmation of how well the movie was done, then suddenly a memory hit me. I was watching the 1992 Academy Awards and Brad Kane and Lea Salonga were really flying in full costume, high above the stage on a magic carpet, singing, A Whole New World. It was so magical to 11-year-old me to see a beautiful, animated story come to life. I realized why I loved the remake so much. It was something that the little girl inside me always wanted. I found the Academy Awards broadcast on YouTube and watched it…tears. It was a strangely comforting and soothing realization.
So, with this blog not necessarily being an inspiring or motherly encouragement piece, I suppose all I can say is that Disney has always been in the “dreams come true” business, and who knew they would still succeed by re-hashing old ideas. Call them an evil corporation if you want, but the formula of whimsical characters and stories that spark joy and tug at the heart strings, will turn me into a sucker every time. They are good at what they do. They will keep cranking out the remakes, and I will most likely keep watching them. I am not really one to hold a grudge, and even though I can be critical, I still have faith that Disney will eventually have a staff of original storytellers to create some amazing stories.
Bonus Disney Fun:
Some friends and I created some nuggets of wisdom and silliness by fusing Disney songs together, just because it is amusing.
With a smile and a song, let it go
I can go the distance, that’s what friends are for.
Poor unfortunate souls never had a friend like me.
Noooooooooooo ooooooone fights like Gaston, he’s a tramp.
So this is the miracle, that I’ve been dreaming of, love goes on and on.
Let it go, let it go, it’s home from work we go.
I have often dreamed, mister I’ll make a man out of you.