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Femion » An Analysis of Disney Movies (by someone who is probably too old to still be watching them)

An Analysis of Disney Movies (by someone who is probably too old to still be watching them)

July 20th, 2008

Ever since around the age of 13, when I decided I was too old to still watch them, I came to the opinion that most Disney movies suck. Of course, I still saw they occasional latest release from Disney, as I had my neighbor’s kids and cousins to babysit.

Last week, after having the movie recommended by friends (Liam and Katherine) John decided to take me to see Wall-E.

Wall-E was amazing. It was cute, visually and sonically stunning. It was funny without being juvenile, smart without being pretentious. Even the ending credits (all 900 lines of them!) were interesting.

Encouraged by this, I decided to watch Enchanted, another Disney movie recommended to me by a friend (Laird). Enchanted also greatly exceeded my expectations of Disney movies. I also recently re-watched Mary Poppins with a couple of friends, and it seemed so much better than I remember it being.

I started to wonder - where Disney movies always this good? But then how to explain the crappiness of what about Robin Hood, The Haunted Mansion, The Pacifier or The Game Plan? Has Disney just been revitalized in the bast couple of years after a downward trend? In order to answer this question, I decided to graph the rottentomatoes.com ratings of major Disney releases (not the straight-to-DVD sequels like Pocahontas 2 or Mulan 2, I know those are going to suck) by year. This is what I found:

disneymovies.jpg

A few remarks:

Most of the first Disney movies ever made (Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia) are over 90%. The fraction of movies in what I’d call the ‘excellent’ category has been decreasing steadily with time. But this isn’t a good measure of the quality of Disney movies, as Disney now produces around twice as many feature movies per year as it did in its first decade of existence. Perhaps Disney put more effort into its movies when it only produced one or two per year, or maybe now that there are more we’re seeing a more normal distribution of ratings.

Pixar is Awesome Toy Story was the only Disney movie to get 100% in the 90s. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc. and Wall-E were the top rated Disney movies of the 00s. Disney also rides high off of the imported Miyazaki movies (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke). But…

Computer animation does not a good movie make. Disney’s non-Pixar attempts at computer animated movies, such as Meet the Robinsons, The Country Bears, and The Wild, have all been suck-tacular.

Sequels are not meant for theatres. In 2003, Disney broke their rule that animated sequels being kept out of theatres by releasing The Jungle Book 2. It sucked. Movies that also sucked: the live action versions of 101 Dalmatians, and 102 Dalmatians. Children do seem to love repetition (most nursery rhymes use it), but sequels should only be used for television babysitting.

The main problem with children’s movies are that they are made for children. Bad Disney movies pander a child’s sense of humor or attention span. That’s why we get movies like Dr. Dolittle. Good Disney movies are the ones that still capture childlike innocence and wonder without relying on slapstick comedy or constant action. My research supervisor took his 4 year old daughter to see Wall-E, and they left 20 minutes in to the movie because she was getting bored. There were no talking characters or people doing silly things, just a robot and a cricket on a deserted planet. I always got bored or fell asleep watching Mary Poppins as a child, these days it moves at just the right pace.

Disney hasn’t made a decent non-computer animated movie in years. DisneyToons, the branch of Disney now making classic-style animated movies, is a recipe for suck.

Making movies used to take a lot of painstaking effort. Now they’re relatively cheap, which means that Disney can produce a lot of them without too much quality control. They make movies that only stupid kids want to see. Because of this, we seem to have forgotten that movies can have a G rating and still be entertaining for adults.

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