Tag Archives: Toy Story

Tangled (2010)

Rapunzel

Rapunzel

Tangled marks an interesting point in Disney’s evolution. For a decade, Pixar had produced more creative and more artistic films. It had produced more memorable characters and more impactful stories. With that company’s acquisition in 2006, Disney also bought the brains behind Pixar’s magic in John Lasseter.

With Lasseter in charge of all creative for both companies, though, the vision behind each set of films began to meld and slowly become indistinguishable from one another.

Tangled marks a clear beginning of that process. It is the first film that Lasseter oversaw from start to finish. The film was announced a year after Lasseter took hold of the reins and Pixar became part of the Disney family of companies.

With a budget of $250-million, Disney bet big on Tangled being a huge success. Given the box office gold that had come with Lasseter’s previous projects, it was more than likely a safe bet. But it was still $100-million more than anything Disney had spent on a film in the past decade.

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Brother Bear (2003)

Kenai and Koda — unlikely brothers.

Brother Bear is an odd film. It attempts simultaneously to be a buddy movie, a deep drama about coming of age, a lesson on dealing with loss and responsibility, and a morality tale on respecting nature. But it never actually found its footing. It’s the next, but sadly not the last, example of Disney’s lack of direction in the early 2000s.

Brother Bear opens with brothers teasing each other as brothers do. Kenai, voiced by Joaquin Phoenix, is a young Inuit man who is awkward, absentminded and often out-muscled by his older brothers. In his desperate need to prove himself a brave warrior, he chases a bear that had raided his stockpile of fish and, in the ensuing hunt, his brother Sitka is killed. Kenai, in his resentment, hunts the bear and, in turn, kills it. Kenai is then promptly transformed into a bear himself to learn a lesson in empathy and love.

The remainder of the film centres around Kenai and his new friend Koda, a younger bear he meets as they migrate to the salmon spawning grounds. Along the way, they meet their fair share of amusing secondary characters, including a pair of Canadian moose voiced (in accent) by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. Meanwhile, Kenai’s remaining brother, Denahi, is hunting them in vengeance for the perceived death-by-bear of his two brothers.

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Quasimodo

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is among the darkest films Disney has ever produced, on par with The Black Cauldron for sheer terrifying evil and outpacing Scar for inciting chills.

But Quasimodo is a different kind of hero. Far from the bumbling unlikely hero of Cauldron, or a would-be king rising to challenge his usurper, Quasimodo’s quest is simply to learn to love himself and dare to let others love him. His is a far more universal story than the dark tales Disney had previously told.

The film is based on Victor Hugo’s 1831 classic, but as with all Disney adaptations, it differs significantly from the source material. As Walt famously told his team to ignore everything about The Jungle Book’s plot, the Disney studio in the 1990s was set firmly on making Hunchback as family-friendly a film as possible.

Frollo, rather than being the archdeacon of the church is now a judge. Esmerelda is threatened and hurt, but does not die in the end and the sexual tension of the story is toned down significantly.

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