The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - Disney Films Project

 We are finally back on board with our Disney Films Project and we were both very excited to get to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. 


I usually do my review first and then let Alex wrap things up, but his review is so fabulous that I think it deserves top billing!


Second Opinion (actually the first opinion) with Alex

So here we are. Walt’s best package of shorts, collected and integrated seamlessly into each other.

There’s an old song from The Moody Blues called “I Never Thought I’d Live to be a Hundred.” One of those ballads about longevity and experience.

This film is that idea, in three simple, moderately clever stories. But let me flip back to page 1, for the audience.

The whole thing began with Walt seeking after stories, as he so often did. The idea of some old wood and a group of stuffed animals interested him more than many would believe, and he cottoned to taking the whole thing home.

A series of short films ensued, one of Disney’s greatest successes, and the last project under his jurisdiction to hit theaters. Thus the film is placed canonically.

You can’t really tell that this was originally three short films. The bridging sequences are so well done.

And the film doesn’t disrespect the other patrons in the theatre, either. Clever moments with the character animation, as well as the sly winks to the book setting, with characters walking through one illustration to another, the text itself being acted upon in the story, and even a segment where the Narrator aids in the story proper.

As for Heffalumps and Woozles, my Co-reviewer finds it to be surreal to a confusing degree. But that’s kind of why I like it. This isn’t meant to be taken seriously! It’s weird, offbeat, and a nice change of pace. Childish, off kilter, and proud of it, this is the type of thing that can only come from the mind of a child, executed with an odd finish and plenty of reminders of what we are seeing on the screen. From the pop-guns and reminders of stitching, to the absolutely daft rhyme scheme, this is the type of nonsense I LIKE!

Sterling Holloway is a perfect match for his character, and everyone else slides into their role just as easily. The one, and only, complaint I have is with Gopher. The reason? He was actually devised to fill the role of Piglet. The director felt that having a more folksy character would work, a thing that basically says “We’re an American Film.”

After waves of fan protest, Piglet was put back into the book canon. But watching that first segment can be absolutely confusing if you don’t know what’s going on. Like, who hired the contractor, and why is he here?

Other than that, and a repetition of “The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers” that happens often enough to be somewhat irritating, the film is brilliant, and hearkens back to a simpler time.

And that leads me to the ending again. That same sense of “Doing nothing” and letting your own story unfold? That’s what I had, and what we all have inside of us. Deep down, this is a melody we’ve all heard, but it’s still beautiful, even if one lives to be a hundred.

As long as there is hope, fond memories, and good cheer, the story of Pooh and his friends will live on. And much like I can still find comfort in my hobbies, there will always be a way back into those woods for those who truly believe.

I have no choice. As an objective viewer, I can find fault with some of the story, but I can also understand everyone’s view point, and care too deeply to lobby anything less than 10 out of 10 Mickey ears, despite any cynicism I may have towards the film.

It’s perfect in its simplicity, and may it stay that way for as long as we humans live. Let us never be drowned in the flood of the world. Let us always keep that silly old bear in our hearts.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wander off to the wood again. See you for the next review, and sorry for the emotion poured into this one. Rest assured, the rose-colored glasses come off next review.

After all, I can’t slam something I actually own, now can I?


Katie here again and I honestly don't know how I can follow that great review! So I'm just going to add a few of my own comments. I also love this collection of shorts and my favorite one is the opening segment of Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. It's absolutely charming!


I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the Heffalumps and Woozles part of the middle short of the Blustery Day. It always freaked me out as a kid, and I don't love it as an adult either. It's the only reason I'm docking a Mickey and giving this a 9 out of 10 rating.

Winnie the Pooh has been a favorite in our family for a long time. In fact, I had my own Pooh plush when I was just a little girl in the 1970s.

Winnie the Pooh is the perfect childhood friend. Everyone should have a silly old bear around to make them feel happy. I'm so glad he has been part of my children's lives as well!

LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya

It's been very well established here that we are big time LEGO fanatics and I don't think you can really claim to be a true fan if you aren't familiar with Nathan Sawaya's incredible work. We own this book and have previously reviewed it here. We love to study his LEGO creations. They are truly works of art!

Here's more information from Nathan's official website:


Nathan Sawaya delights adults and children alike with his bright, blocky sculptures made entirely out of LEGO bricks. He rediscovered this quintessential childhood toy after experimenting with a range of mediums, and has been working with it exclusively since the early 2000s. His painstakingly constructed forms encompass such everyday objects as umbrellas and pencils; animals, insects, and natural phenomena; portraits of celebrities; and human figures that serve as ciphers for his emotions. Among the largest of his works is a 20-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, included in “The Art of the Brick,” a traveling exhibition of his work. Sawaya’s approach is uniquely democratic, as he explains: “I use the same LEGO bricks that you can buy in toy stores. […] If you get inspired to make your own creation, you too can go use the exact same bricks that I use.”

American, b. 1973, Colville, Washington, based in New York, New York

You can browse through his online gallery here and see some of his incredible masterpieces.

Be sure to head on over to his gallery to see a more complete listing of his art.

Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Sawaya!

Time Wounds All Heels: An Agony of Disney's Modern Moviemaking.

I'm pleased to share an editorial about Disney's focus on live action movies written by the one and only Alex!

In 2010, Tim Burton got it in his head to take his mental stylings to an old English tale, that of Alice in Wonderland. Disney had tried and failed first time round, as had many others, but that never stopped anyone before. The result was a live action/CGI hybrid that was insane in staging and should have died on the vine. The critics ravaged it, but it became, at time of release, the 5th highest grossing film of the year, and Burton's most profitable. 

Disney noticed, and followed up on their actions. Cinderella was press-ganged into a remake, which was adequate, but unneeded. 

Yet again, the film hit the box office with thunderous success, and alongside it came the official mandate: Make More Of These!

Jungle Book was also successful, mainly due to Jon Farveau, known for Elf and the Iron Man films, reinforcing the idea that Disney had hit the jackpot.

Looking ahead, we can see several films, ranging from obscure to successful in initial release, lined up for conversion. Judge Doom has returned, throwing darts into artists' eyes, and pocketing the money for himself. Disney feels that animation is something that can be reheated in a microwave of live-action, then slapped on the market to sell like hotcakes. We've been here before. This thinking led to the making of several films with the same basic formula and recycled animation. 

Both in the 70's, and during Eisner's reign, recycled ideas were the norm. In both instances, the studio suffered .We've already had to bear this lesson twice before, and no one has learned anything, save how to disguise their money-grubbing ways. I implore animation fans to protest these films, and to show up in droves for the actual animated films. No one should pressure one art form out because of what is shiny and new. 

If Disney likes their old library of films, then why are they changing them? What do they have to be ashamed of? And why does their studio seem committed to such action, if it already has Star Wars and Marvel? If films like The Finest Hours are still making money, why do you need to change classics that were well received to begin with? Is it all about money now? Or is there one vein of creativity that you haven't bled dry, waiting for the next changing of the guard? Time's catching up to you, mad that you've wasted his gifts, and recycling old ideas won't stop him forever.

There's only two roads open to you now:
Either prove that there's still some glimmer of Walt's innovation inside the studio, or sacrifice it all for the bottom line. The choice is yours. I hope you know what to do. Because if you don't, Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, and Warner Bros. will be happy to take over.


Postscript: The live-action Alice sequel has failed. That said, there's still far too much chance of something backfiring with another live-action film for me to recant this message. 

To sum up: Beware of the road that others walk, time and again, while learning nothing, or you'll be trampled by the rush of mistakes that follows. In simpler terms, don't blindly follow the crowd. Show imagination when you make art. Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!

Robin Hood - Disney Films Project

Moving along in our Disney Films Project list, we hit upon one of the bigger splits in our opinions. Most of the time, we are pretty close on our viewpoints, but this one definitely left us divided.

Robin Hood was one of my favorite Disney films while I was growing up. Granted, there weren't a lot of them back then to choose from, but I always loved the simple story and the way that animals were used to depict the tale of Robin Hood. I thought Prince John was somewhat funny and also laughed at Sir Hiss. I loved Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, and the buzzard guards were my favorite.

When I became a parent and showed Robin Hood to my children, I could never understand why they didn't really get into it. It wasn't one that they asked to watch over and over again. I never thought much about it until we came to do the review for this project. Alex was not pleased when it was time to watch this movie. I was surprised to hear his opinions and once he pointed out some of the flaws of the movie, it did change my viewpoint a bit. However, I still like this movie and I stand by that.

The animation isn't top notch and the story is simple, but I enjoy the characters. I also think the music is cute and does a good job of moving the story along. This one won't win any awards, but I give it 7 out of 10 Mickeys.

Second Opinion with Alex Nelson

Me and my maw. I said I liked all things England last review, and of course they serve up something problematic.

It’s not that the film lacks animation. In between the Xeroxed sequences, there’s innovation enough, I suppose. In fact, if there were better support, this could be a good film.

No, the problem lies in the story.

The title character, the ladies Marian and Kluck, Friar tuck, our Minstrel, and the Sherriff of Nottingham and his goons. That’s all the good characters out of the way, except for, well:

This marks Phil’s whopping THIRD time playing basically the same character. I guess the script formula requires our actor somewhere in the film.

The whole thing is formulaic, make no mistake. I wouldn’t be putting this so low if it weren’t for a real issue.

Children just being children actors is problematic, complete with a sequence written after the writers needed to put plot exposition somewhere in the film. (NOOO! We forgot the ROMANCE! Quick, write an explanation, anybody, we’ve got to hit our deadline!)

But the real issue lies with our opposition.

I already mentioned my distaste for comic villains in the napkin I wrote the Aristocats Review on. I’ll gladly expound on that. If a villain isn’t meant to be taken seriously, they at least need something threatening about them. Look at Kaa. Kaa isn’t much of a villain unless you’re on your own. Fortunately, his intentions are bad, and he knows where to avoid crossing the line.

Look at Captain Hook. He collapses in fear of the Croc? No worries, he’ll blow up your home, and go in for a sneak attack. Codfish, maybe, but when push comes to shove, he’s perfect form for evil.

Prince John and Sir Hiss couldn’t evil their way out of a paper bag. The snake is meh. Not enough cunning, and such a nag. He’s half prop most of the time, and considering the pedigree of his predecessor, Kaa, that’s not suprising, but he’s so- So foppish! He’s practically sniveling!

But our real culprit needs no intro. When you’ve got a villain with embarrassing habits, a villain the other characters routinely mock behind his back, and a villain who’s a wet fart in the bottle of noxious odors that is villainy? When you’ve got that, you SCREWED UP!


Am I dead? Is this my punishment for loving Britain so much in my earlier reviews? To observe this pretender to the throne? Whatever sin I’ve done, I take it back, just, please, make this idiot go back to his preschool or whatever he came from.

If it weren’t for the Sheriff, portrayed as a corrupt old west looter, I don’t think any of the villains would get passing grades. Props to the person who pulled that off. Not to mention he’s actually menacing, unlike our snake and lion.

All in all, the film Gets… 5/10 Mickey ears? Am I writing this right? The Film is Mediocre?

Yes, for no other reason than the perfect casting of our heroes, including the perfect charlatan for Robin Hood, and yes, even the overused Phil Harris.

So that leaves the royal rock pile. (Well, I feel like some punishment is due!) For imperfectly executed menace, a villain that ruins the name villain for all other villains in Disney including Pete, and a completely messed up sense of villain’s purpose, I condemn the writers for Prince John & Sir Hiss to a fate suitable for their treason: Acting as villains in Dora the Explorer. And so shall it be law.


Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Disney Films Project

 I love it when we hit one of my childhood favorites when we move through our Disney Films Project list. I've always enjoyed Bedknobs and Broomsticks and it was one of those films that touched my imagination as a child.

I secretly wanted a brass bed with removable knobs, and I certainly wanted to be able to control my own armor army! Although, in retrospect, I'm a little surprised that didn't scare me as a kid. It is sort of creepy, but the film makes it more funny than scary. I guess that's one of the things I like about this movie - it doesn't take itself too seriously. 

Angela Lansbury is a delight as the main character and I really like the children as well. I've always wondered why they cast the same man who played the father in Mary Poppins as Professor Brown in this one and I found that distracting in my youth and I still do. But it seems that was a time in the Disney period where actors were used and reused often. Oh well, it's a minor issue for me.

The animation during the traveling bed scenes is pretty strange and it seems like they could have done so much more with that. However, I have to give this film praise for the way they combined live action and animation together. It was quite groundbreaking at the time and it's still fun to watch. 

I enjoy the music and the overall story so I'm giving Bedknobs and Broomsticks 8 out of 10 Mickeys on our grading scale. 

Second Opinion with Alex Nelson

Many people write this film off as an inferior Poppins clone. But to be frank, the stories are like apples and oranges. It’s definitely the best inferior Poppins Clone I’ve ever watched!

The film’s beginning seems a bit confused, but this isn’t too bad later on. And while the practical effects seem rather problematic, the animation is excellent, and towards the end of the film, things clear up quite nicely.

I’ve actually got some writing in the offing regarding this film, which I will gladly share, provided credit is given. I’ll post it here sometime. Watch this space!

I love this film almost as much as Mary Poppins, but make no mistake, that’s not faint praise. In fact, this is one of the few films from this period that I can stand to watch, unlike my reviewer above. 

The 25th anniversary edition adds back some long lost content. While the extended cut of Portobello road is somewhat odd, I can support all of the other songs.

And as for the animation, I can find little fault with it, aside from the odd transitions. The story does have a slight plothole regarding the Star of Asteroth, but I’m going to invoke one of the old clichés regarding this stuff: A Wizard Did It.

Overall, this gets an 8/10 Mickeys. It’s somewhat lacking in effects, and a few segments are long, but it’s a great film, with stellar performances from the cast. Especially Mrs. Lansbury, who shows off her acting long before Murder, She Wrote. If you’re looking for a good film, this one won’t let you down.

The Aristocats - Disney Films Project

 We are now officially entering the time period in our Disney Films Project where we will be reviewing Disney movies that have been released in my (Katie's) lifetime. The Aristocats came out in 1970 when I was only 1 year old so this is a film that played in the theaters a few times during my growing up years. Disney doesn't do much to ever promote or showcase this movie in the parks or current culture. Perhaps it is a different story at Disneyland Paris? I do love our little Marie Tsum Tsum and I do wish they would release the other kittens to go with her.

Katie's thoughts

This is one of those movies that Alex and I disagree on. I grew up with the Aristocats and it was one of my very favorites. To be fair, we didn't have VHS or DVD and we could only see the films when they came out in the theater every 7 years. I saw it a few times during my childhood and I always loved it. It seemed like it took forever for Disney to actually release it on video once they started opening up the vault. 

Now, as an educated adult who has seen what the Disney studio is really capable of, I can see where this film is lacking. However, back in my day (boy, do I sound old!) it was a fun film for me. I loved the dogs that Edgar runs into and they still make me giggle. I also thought the English geese were hilarious. It's a simple story and there isn't much to it, but that's ok. When I was a kid, I would have given this 10 Mickeys. Now, I give it 6 out of 10 and that might be a little too generous, but I have to give nostalgia a nod here and pay homage to one of my early favorites.

Second opinion with Alex

You know how I had Lady and the Tramp pegged as “precious to the point of being forgettable”? The Aristocats makes it look like an action movie, and that is saying something.

The problem is inherent in the characters. Namely, Duchess’s kittens. You know how shows will throw young characters into a plot to appeal to new blood? This is basically the role of the kittens. They’re such a part of the focus of the film that it’s cloying. 

And of course, this neuters (get it?) any chance for Edgar to rise above “comic villain”. While the parts with him and the guard dogs are relatively funny, the whole is definitely not the sum of its parts. I don’t like comic villains unless they have some type of menace about them. I will talk about this more in the future. For now, just realize that we’ve taken several steps back in the quality of writing. What good is a villain who’s more of a running gag than a threat?

Phil Harris is the film’s saving grace, lending some of his gifted talent to Thomas O’Malley. This and his song with Scatman Crothers as Scat cat are excellent moments. But that’s all. Moments.

I found myself, in the opening of the film, uttering the eight words that can kill a film, “I don’t care what happens to these characters.” Don’t get me wrong, I still felt for their situation. But the presentation is so bland, it doesn’t give much to care for, not even when Duchess is giving info that should make us care for her plight. I just don’t feel anything regarding the film is up to Disney’s usual standards. In fact, without Phil Harris, the whole thing is pretty declawed. (It’s FUNNY! It’s okay to laugh!)

The Xerox process is beginning to show its age at this point. Characters appear pasted on backgrounds, gags are repeated to the point of tedium, and the whole thing seems lacking. 

Hurting matters is the lackluster songwriting. The title has Maurice Chevalier lapsing into French, which I mistook for a stroke, and the other songs, save “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” and “Thomas O’Malley” have issues. “Scales and Arpeggios” suffers from kid vocals, which I find annoying, and that’s… wait, there’s another song? True story, I thought that “She Never Felt Alone” was Eva Gabor speaking. You have to mess up pretty badly in delivery for that to happen.

And then there are the additional characters. Four band-playing cats, three English geese, two barnyard dogs, and an old human lawyer slapped in the film! The reason? Nothing more than an ill-advised  attempt to create humor. The dogs succeed, but everyone else just seems to drag the pacing down. There, but for the grace of Sterling Holloway, Phil Harris, and Scatman Crothers, goes the film.

There appears to be a formula here.

1: Talking animals
2: Kid hero
3: Diverse cast of side characters
4: Well-known actor in villain role
5: Phil Harris or someone who acts like him.
6: Reused animation
7: Something English
8: Jazz Number
9: Climactic battle with villain, resulting in villain being humiliated.
10: Leads pair up at end of film.

Overall I give this film 3 mickeys out of 10. A square in the act can send the whole thing back. Is it any wonder Miss Gabor wanted to add some comedy to her role? (THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.)

I'm the leader, I'll say when the review's out.

The review's out.

The Jungle Book - Disney Films Project

 Continuing on with our Disney Films Project, it's time for The Jungle Book!

Katie's thoughts

This is one of my childhood favorites and I still enjoy it as an adult. I never read Rudyard Kipling's books so I never worried about it being so unfaithful to the original works. I just have always loved the characters and the songs. King Louie and his crazy monkeys are scene stealers for sure and the song I wanna be like you -oooh -oooh, is so fun and catchy! Baloo's Bear Necessities is another classic. And that sweet little song the girl sings at the end gets me every time. Of course Mowgli has to go with her after that!

There's not anything too deep to examine here, just a cute story told with flair. The animation is pretty standard for Disney look of the time period it was released in, but that's a compliment. I'm giving it 9 out of 10 Mickeys but it's probably more like a 9.5 for me. 

Second opinion with Alex


Here we are, end of the classic age.

This is our 2nd finale, the last film Walt produced before his end. In that sense, the whole thing takes on one last resonance of familiar themes. 

Swinging jazz permeates the soundtrack, and a few noted celebrities are in roles, instead of just the rotating Disney ensemble. If this company were a band, it would be Chicago. The entire thing resonates with a varied song selection, memorable characters, and excellent art. What else to say?

This is a very good finale, and I give it 9/10. It's not faithful to the stories, by any means, but it adapts them well. The one caveat is some of the dialogue not flowing as well as usual. 

Poppins holdover: Trust in Me has been re-purposed from its original draft, "The Land of Sand." This was part of a compass sequence that was storyboarded, but not filmed.