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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tangled – An Unbraided Rapunzel?

Yesterday was a very, very exciting day for me.

For the first time in my lifetime, a Disney Princess film premiered with a blonde for a heroine.

And Alan Menken was doing the music.

And this was a film that had gone through so much reworking…I mean, 3 different titles! 2 totally different casts! (I'm a little bummed that Kristin Chenoweth did not end up in Tangled, but considering that she, as Rapunzel, was supposed to be trapped in squirrel form while some random teenager ends up in hers…I think we're lucky this project got an overhaul).

I'm not going to lie…after having some knowledge as to what this film has gone through, and to then see some really downright awful commercials…I was afraid that this film was going to be Disney attempting to do Shrek, which is definitely not something the company should ever do. Enchanted was okay because the majority of the film was live-action…but in general, it's not brilliant to make fun of yourself in front of everyone. It only makes you look even more like a fool. Of course, that's just my opinion.

In all honesty, the only advertising I really liked for this film was the teaser trailer.

It annoyed me that a lot of the advertising didn't involve the film's main villainess, Mother Gothel. Before I saw the film, it was because I was very familiar with the original version of Rapunzel – after seeing the film, it's because of that and the fact that the character is just really well done by Donna Murphy and the animators for this film.

The original tale of Rapunzel is really more of a heavy family drama than a light-hearted Disney musical (of course, Disney has tweaked every fairy tale that they've touched, as they have every right to, and that's fine by me). I mean, I don't think it would have gone over well for the audience to see Flynn's eyes bleeding and stumbling around blind while screaming in agony.

I am a little sad, however, that so much of the familial basis was altered. In the original fairy tale, Rapunzel is not born a princess, but is the daughter of a Baker and his Wife, who tragically must give up their child to a Witch because the Baker raided her garden after the pregnant Wife got hungry for some greens.

However, I can let this go because Flynn is allowed to have a "Cinderella" moment, if you will. Because he came from nothing, and as an underdog was able to rise up and accidentally fell in love with a princess.
Of course, this doesn't change the fact that Mother Gothel isn't even a witch…maybe Disney was trying to just change things up a little, I guess.

While I was thrilled to finally see a central mother-daughter relationship in a Disney film (because, let's face it…there just really hasn't been in any previous Disney films), I do wish the relationship between Rapunzel and Mother Gothel had felt a bit more significant. It was too easy for Rapunzel to turn her back on her mother towards the end, and it was too easy for Mother Gothel to be so easily detached. After all that time together, the two of them should still deeply love one another, even if it Gothel kidnapped her for selfish reasons…she still raised her as her own. She clearly loves her daughter enough that she's willing to travel very far to get her daughter some special shells for her paint…

I am not completely discounting what we did see between them by any means. Mothers are great at putting superficial ideas into their daughters heads, manipulating them and belittling them…and the classic teenager to parent dilemma of, "I need to do things on my own and experience the world" versus "I have protected you all of your life and I can't let you go because I love you" was done in a fairly moderate way to not overdramatize the film…but I will say, coming from a girl who's been there, it hurts a lot more than Disney showed. At least we've broken ground. I'm hoping the in the future Disney will "dig a little deeper" on this issue.

And speaking of music…while I don't feel the music for this film is on the same level as Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin, it was definitely enjoyable, and it was a treat to see Menken's work on an animated Disney film again...Glenn Slater provided some clever lyrics in there, too.

The only really awkward moment was during the song "I See the Light"…while the music is rather beautiful (and the imagery just as gorgeous to match), I was rather taken aback when, after hearing Rapunzel and Flynn singing in their heads, saw them suddenly singing to each other in harmony ¾'s of the way through the song. That was potentially the weirdest thing in the film…you get past it, but it was a poor choice in my honest opinion.

If anyone out there remains skeptical about this film because of the vocal talent, let me put their mind at ease. Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy (a Broadway veteran) and the rest of the cast do a fantastic job! I wish I had been able to see Zachary sing more (he originally had more, a solo and a reprise that was first a love song from Mother Gothel to Rapunzel and after with him a love song to Rapunzel)…hopefully Disney will include whatever files they have saved from these cut songs and include them on the Blu-Ray/DVD release!

Chock it up to a simple story, a good script, great animation and vocal talent…but the characters in this film are rather well-developed. A fellow colleague of mine remarked that he felt Rapunzel was the first really likeable Disney Princess…I don't know if I can fully agree with him on that, as every Disney Princess is simply a product of her time, but Rapunzel is definitely the sweet girl next door, with a little bit of fun and spunk. She's not afraid of being goofy, of being herself, and that's definitely an attractive quality to see in anyone. In the line of Disney Princesses, therefore, her characterization seems like a breath of fresh air. As for Flynn, I was not sure coming in to see the film that I would like him…I originally saw him mostly as a Disney marketing ploy that was going in the wrong direction. But through the course of the film, he stops being completely self-absorbed and detached from the cares and worries of life and has a quite nice and full character transformation.

Here is a quick little comment I need to make – while the King and Queen in this film do not speak, their animation is so perfect, so realistic and so powerful that in the span of a few seconds you will be holding back tears. Whoever animated them needs some serious recognition at Disney…that footage is absolutely powerful.

Speaking of the animation…just in general, it is quite beautiful. The background story of this film reminds me a lot of what happened to Sleeping Beauty, but perhaps ending on a more positive note. What bothered me, however, was that at times the consistency of Rapunzel and Flynn's faces seemed a little spotty. I won't pretend that Disney has always been perfect in this category, but it seemed only aggravated with this style of animation. Rapunzel looked like three different women to me! And there was one shot where Flynn's hairline was way too forward on his forehead (which made him suddenly a lot less attractive by my taste).

Still, overall the animation was rather gorgeous. Trying to mimic the look of oil paintings was a brilliant idea.
I will actually have to go back to the theaters to see this film again…besides the fact that I really enjoyed the film, my 3D glasses darkened the picture significantly, so I'm going to have to see it in 2D to be able to really appreciate the hard work the animators and designers did on this film. Please note that I'm not discouraging anyone from seeing this in 3D! There are no tacky, gimmicky stunts pulled because you're wearing special glasses. The vast landscaping, buildings and just overall texture really benefit from the 3D (and speaking of texture…the way Rapunzel's hair is animated is just fantastic!). But if you want to see the true coloring of the film, you're going to have to nitpick.

Overall, I give this film two thumbs-up. And it looks like everyone else is, too…it was recently announced that Tangled has had the biggest Thanksgiving Weekend Opening ever with $11.5 million garnered on its first day of release! That's more than Toy Story 2 did, who had the title before Tangled.

I leave you with a quote by Glen Keane regarding the whole Rapunzel project (after the concept for Rapunzel: Unbraided got the boot), who has worked for several long, hard years on this film:
"I think that's what Disney needs to do right now. No one else can do it. We should not be embarrassed or make excuses for doing a fairytale."

I am thankful for people at Disney being proud of their legacy and continuing on with it with attitudes like this. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Have a Glittery Halloween!

Seeing as Halloween is today, I felt I should mention MAC's Venomous Villains Collection for Disney.

From the Disney films Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmations and The Princess and the Frog, the collections are inspired by the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Cruella de Vil and Dr. Facilier!

I am just itching to get my hands on some of these items. I especially love what I've seen of the nail polish and eyeshadow…

I might be able to get a review up for some of these products later (hopefully). For now…

Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The “Deal” With Beauty and the Beast Right Now

Okay. So by now, you have probably heard that "for the first time ever, in high definition," Disney is taking Beauty and the Beast back out of the Disney Vault and releasing the film on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Perhaps even a few of you know that you can currently visit the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood to see this classic return to the big screen (now through October 7th).

But that's not in 3D, which we've all been waiting for many years now. Disney showed a clip of "Belle" in 3D 2 Comic Cons ago. The 3D version was supposed to debut February 2010 as per advertised on their website.

But February came and went, and Disney never openly addressed the situation.

So instead, we have speculation.

This is a typical Disney case of double-dipping. Beauty and the Beast is quite probably their strongest animated film property, and they want to milk it for all it's worth. So, they will re-release it as many times as they can get away with.

 Copyright Disney

I don't take any issue with having the option to see a much-beloved film on the big screen again. Nor do I take issue with seeing that film turned 3D. But it looks like Disney may want to re-release this property up to 4 times within a very short period of time, and that just doesn't seem right to me.

But here's the real kicker – the 3D version has apparently already been released in New Zealand and Australia. From what I've been reading, the typical 3D haters aren't happy because the film wasn't originally designed in 3D or thought of in 3D, so it didn't need to be done…and everyone else is just happy to see this new look of the film, which is all cleaned and pumped up in color, sound and definition.

There is one controversial change to the opening prologue. As we originally know it: "If he could learn to love another, and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell…" The change: "If he could learn to love a woman, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell…" Really, Disney? If we're talking about unnecessary choices here, let's take a look at this one! Obviously Beast ends up with Belle (a woman)…do we really need to walk on eggshells here to further "comfort" conservatives? I don't think so. The public was perfectly happy with the original prologue. You might as well be spitting on Howard Ashman's grave. Nice, really nice. Personally, I think the original wording sounds nicer, anyway…

This proves that Disney is really trying to get every penny out of America, folks.

And we still don't know when Disney plans on releasing the 3D version in America! There are merely rumors that the 3D version will come out in 2012 or later, so that when Disney releases the 3.0 version of the "home video," more people will have purchased 3D TV's for their homes by then.

Which now brings me to another troubling question – if Disney altered the prologue for the 3D release, then have they altered the prologue for this upcoming Blu-Ray/DVD release as well? It comes out October 5th, so we don't have to wait too long to find out.

Not all of the merchandise being released with this current set of offerings is bad, by the way. There are a few neat collector's items I found at Disney's official online store, along with an amazing new book called Tale As Old As Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast. And reportedly, this new Blu-Ray/DVD set will contain bonus materials that will go more in-depth and dirty with the behind-the-scenes drama (as this project was originally very different and in others' hands).

But here is my advice to my readers out there: prioritize how you will spend your money. Check things out. Decide what is realistically best for your budget and your home. If you hate 3D or you don't plan on having a 3D screen in your home anytime remotely soon, then perhaps you should get this upcoming release. If not, then perhaps you should wait.

Or you might be like me…totally on the fence.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Branding the Disney Princess Stereotype

I hate to be a plug here, but I regularly use MiceAge/MiceChat for my Disney information and partake in many Disney-centered discussions.

In one such discussion, the future of Gadget's Go Coaster in Toontown at Disneyland came up.
For those of you that don't know, the attraction's theme was inspired by the 90's Disney television show Rescue Rangers.

Well, the 90's are obviously long-gone. A lot of people are not familiar with the show anymore…
Which garnered this response from a user:

'None of the kids today know who Gadget Hackwrench is, one of the very few female Disney characters who isn't some stuck-up helpless Princess waiting for her Prince to rescue her.

I guess she doesn't "fit the brand" anymore.

Now wait just a minute! That's quite the over-generalized stereotype ya got, there. (And this was coming from a fairly well-seasoned user, too.)


Lumping all of the Disney Princesses into one category like that is unfair and just plain incorrect.
I know there are plenty of people out there that think this way, though. They equate these characters as a group of snooty sorority girls or something.

Save for Snow White, none of the Disney Princesses are waiting for a Prince to come and save them. And most certainly none of them are stuck-up.

But, this person did hit upon something interesting, something that is both helping and hurting Disney tremendously.

Disney has marketed their Princesses as a group, what we know as the official Disney Princess brand…in fact, the group aspect is so emphasized that one can be hard-pressed to find merchandise that reflects each individual woman in her own story.

Of course, it was significantly worse just a few years ago. It used to be that you could only find Snow White in a cluster with Cinderella and maybe Sleeping Beauty (and I, for one, have to say that I am thrilled with the tops that have come out of The Art of the Disney Princess). Truthfully, Disney has been diversifying the Princesses a little but more than its recent past. But if your little girl wants a t-shirt with Belle on it, you will probably have 1 option, and 4 other princesses will have the exact same t-shirt, just in a different color (and your daughter gets yellow, even though she's really not a fan of yellow and likes Belle's gold dress…). Do we really have to be mono-chromatic and cookie-cutter here? The costumes give one more room to be an individual…but that's if the parent can stomach the bill for one of those things.

Why can't we see Belle in the color scheme that makes us nostalgic for the classic film Beauty and the Beast? The film really played up gold and purple. Personally, I think that film had one of the most amazingly vibrant color palettes.

But instead, Belle's merchandise tends to end up with a caution-tape yellow. A color that, I think, gentlemen prefer to wear, regardless of how that shade looks on them.

And let's not forget poor Ariel. Sometimes it's hard to even find her in merchandise (which is strange, considering how popular she is)…and she's mostly merchandised in clothing that she never even wore in the film. Luckily, she at least ends up with a pretty shade of aqua. One day, you will hear my rant about the Disney Princess costume and merchandising ripple effect…

And let's not forget poor Pocahontas and Mulan. The former is a Princess by her tribe's standards, while the latter is at most a General's wife. But we'll try to ignore that, as Mulan is apparently a part of the Disney Princess line (…in fact, why don't we just throw Esmerelda in there! She's a gypsy but she's kind of a princess-like gypsy. And maybe Kida too – you know, that Princess from Atlantis, the original Black Disney Princess?). Past children's costumes for Pocahontas and Mulan, you probably won't find these women on any merchandise. That naturally makes some minorities angry (but the films already did that from the beginning). I've been told it's about what sells…and admittedly, when I walk around Disneyland, I see lots of little girls picking the outfits of Cinderella and the like. And they should get to wear what they want, regardless of how much they look like that character! As a Caucasian child, I proudly walked around in my Jasmine costume and am totally in love with Tiana's swamp wedding dress. When Beauty and the Beast came out, I threw everyone for a loop and chose to be Lumiere…one of the best decisions I ever made, and perhaps the only time you could say I "cross-dressed" for Halloween.

But I digress.

As a result of Disney's group branding of the Princesses, they are now perceived (by those that have not actually sat down and watched the films they came from, or maybe they did but it was a long time ago and they have forgotten) as these unrelatable, cookie-cutter snooty characters that all sound and act the same.
And if you go to a Disney Park, you will actually see this stereotype presented in person! The girls chosen to play these Princesses are generally not actresses, or they simply do not do their homework or try all that hard, because they all generally sound the same (save for Snow White). Most of these girls do not even try to sound like the Princess they are portraying, and believe me, there are significant differences in their vocal qualities! Speaking as an actress, it's really not that hard to recognize and imitate these different voices. If anyone should sound similar, it should be Ariel and Belle…in fact, when looking to cast Belle, it was decided that she should sound similar to Ariel, but with a slightly more European tone, as Ariel sounds a little more like an American tomboy.

Oh, yeah. And the OC tan and French manicures only reinforce the stereotype.

Look, I think it's great that Disney found a decent source of income through Disney Princesses. It's part of what has kept the company going. One thing Michael Eisner did right was that he found ways to get the Disney company money. But in terms of quality…well, you all know the story. I don't need to go there.

What does all of this mean for Rapunzel? I'm sorry, Tangled…ugh.

Disneyland is in the process of building a new meet and greet for Rapunzel outside of the Pinocchio attraction. Her face will be plastered on brand new merchandise.

Will the male market that Disney is desperately trying to lure come to see this film? All of these commercials heavily featuring the character Flynn (wait a minute…isn't Tron coming out soon? Hmm…) might not solve the problem of trying to get male audiences out to see this film. And I'm still not convinced that changing the title of the movie was the best idea, either.

There's plenty of drama going on with the film. Apparently the directors felt that Alan Menken (you know, that multi-award-winning composer that gave us the music to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin to name a few?) was not good enough to do the music for a very special sequence in the film (which is apparently a sore spot for the composer).

I don't know, Disney…I wouldn't snub Alan Menken if I were you. It could have devastating consequences.
I guess we'll see come November, won't we?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pirate, Mermaid and Wonderland Princesses

So, I'm guessing you've all seen the teaser for the next Pirates of the Caribbean film, right? The one from Comic Con? Where Captain Jack Sparrow preps you for what is to come (in one take, at that)?

I didn't attend Comic Con, but you can bet that I watched the clip on Youtube.

And I'm really excited, actually.

I'll admit that I got fed up with Pirates, and just pirates, for a while. Disney accidentally struck gold with Curse of the Black Pearl (nobody involved with that production thought it would become such a huge hit), and when Disney sees a money-making opportunity, as we have seen in recent years, they tend to kinda overdo it. I became so sick of seeing all the merchandise around that it actually hurt my love for the trilogy. Call me strange, but I tend to like more unique things…suddenly Pirates was more of a brand than a cool, unique experience. Something that heightened my nostalgia and appreciation for the original attraction at Disneyland.

And yes, I enjoyed parts 2 and 3. It had a different feel than the original, and the original is superior, but I did not feel that the other two were bad…just different. They went in a different direction and feel from the original.

I will admit that I did come out of the theater hating Jack after seeing Dead Man's Chest…I felt that Jack's characterization had changed from the first film (in that he no longer seemed to care about anyone other than himself). In the first film, it would seem as though Jack had double-crossed Will and Elizabeth…and then a little while later, you discovered that he has actually had their back the whole time, thinking 3-5 steps ahead of everyone else. We finally saw a return of the old Jack in At World's End towards the end of the film, but I wish he had been there a lot earlier.

I could analyze these films forever, but that's for another time.

In any case, watching that Youtube clip of Jack Sparrow addressing the audience has gotten me very excited for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Johnny's back, along with Geoffrey and Kevin. There are also some new characters we've yet to meet…you can bet that this blog will be interested in Cruz's new character, Angelica.

Speaking of pirates…

My Fair Wedding with David Tutera recently aired an episode that was all about fancy pirate style. David Tutera took on a sweet bride who, along with her fiancé, had planned a pirate theme for the wedding. Naturally, some of the things that Brooke (the bride) had picked out were a little too theme-y. Leave it to David to pull it out of any sort of tacky territory. I have to admit that my favorite part of this wedding was the pirate princess bride's jewels by Erica Courtney Inc. Now there was some ultimate pirate bling!

The only thing I would have done different, if it had been my way, was to have the wedding and reception on an actual ship. But since it was established that both David and the bride did not have sea legs, I can understand the route that was taken, which was still fabulous (and, truthfully, gave him more control over décor).

Speaking of princess brides and water…

Princesses are, I am happy to say, nicely featured in World of Color over at Disney California Adventure. The Little Mermaid actually opens (after the World of Color theme song, of course) and closes the show. There's a whole segment of classic Disney romantic kisses. We get to watch Aladdin and Jasmine take a magic carpet ride. Even Pocahontas gets a whole segment dedicated to her (yes, by her tribe's standards she is a princess).

Of course, not everything in World of Color is perfect. There were a lot of changes made at the last minute, like what tied all of the segments together (a little paintbrush character that echoed the nostalgia factor that the park so desperately needs). Alice seriously got the boot when it came to crunch time before the show opened, as the big boys felt that World of Color was appealing too heavily to baby boomers – and perhaps they did not like the flow that Alice created. Some fantastic paper stop-motion animation was cut that heavily involved Alice, and was featured heavily in the Blue Sky Cellar. Even the merchandise reflects her original strong presence. In fact, a lot of the World of Color merchandise seems to give a bit of false advertising…a fantastic image that is on display is only shown for a brief second. A lot of things seemed to change at the last minute. I can't help but be curious as to how the show was originally supposed to play out. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it (I've seen it 3 times since it opened this summer), but I can't help being the geek that I am…I like hearing what happened behind the scenes, what was planned but fell through. Maybe we'll get to see some deleted segments if rumors become fruition…word on the street is that Disney is looking to make holiday-specific World of Color shows.

In general, Alice seems to be going through a rough time at the Disneyland Resort. Besides the World of Color debacle, the classic attraction at Disneyland has recently been shut down by OSHA, the people that have the final say whether a ride is safe to be open or not (though Disney would like us to think that they chose to blatantly close a popular attraction in the middle of the summer season). For those that don't know, there is a section of track that is outside in the open air, traveling down from a second to a first story. Besides it being a kind of cool feature, it is artistically-appropriate with its leaf design. The trouble is that there is no type of railing along this section whatsoever. This is not so much an issue for guests riding the attraction as it is for the cast members that work it. They have to walk the track to inspect and clean things…and could possibly slip and fall. OSHA has reportedly been working on this issue with Disney for some time, and the Imagineers have looked at the issue in the past to try and come up with a solution – but could never agree on a change as they felt it would harm the integrity of the attraction's unique design. But OSHA finally had it, and shut the attraction down, which now forces Disney to come up with a solution. My suggestion? Tear out the current leaf track and create a new one that curves up to form an artsy railing, like the leaf itself is cupping you. I think then it could still easily be artistically-appropriate. I guess the only issue is getting the suits to shell out the money for it, as I imagine it would be cheaper to just stick some potentially ugly railing on what's already there. If that's the option they go for, it will be a real shame.

On top of all this, there's a heck of a lot of Alice in Wonderland merchandise at Disneyland, but for the recent animated film as opposed to the classic animated one. Oh sure, classic Alice has merchandise too, but alongside her is an over-merchandised franchise that reminds me of what Disney has done with The Nightmare Before Christmas, and, getting back to the first issue of this blog, Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, this over-indulgence of merchandise is what made me decide to not see the film. I wanted to originally, but I got so fed up with seeing all of the shirts and miscellaneous garbage that it killed the movie for me before I even saw it.

Here is an open statement to all corporations (not just Disney): don't kill a good product by over-merchandising it! Thank you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Swedish Crowned Princess Marries Her True Love

While we're on the subject of weddings, I felt that a recent wedding would be of some interest to all the princesses-in-their-hearts out there.

The public is often curious as to what a royal wedding looks like. The wedding of Princess Diana was a pretty big deal back in 1981 (something that people still talk about to this day).

The recent wedding between Sweden's crowned Princess Victoria and Mr. Daniel Westling is a modern day retelling of Aladdin...well, okay, not exactly like Aladdin. But it is the story about a Princess expected to marry a Prince, but falls in love with a commoner.

Victoria was not always intended to inherit the throne. In 1979, there as a change made to The Act of Succession of 1810, stating that the eldest child would inherit the throne without regard to sex. Victoria will, therefore, be the first female head of monarchy in Sweden.

Not everyone was happy with the change. And naturally, there were some that were unhappy with Victoria's choice in a partner. Not because of his politics, but because he was of common blood.

Luckily, love prevailed, and Victoria and Daniel were given marital blessing. After all, they had been together for a very long time, and they wanted to marry each other because they were in love.

But what are you really here for? You're probably wondering what a real-life contemporary Princess would wear.

Lovely, classic, and simple. Not really what I would have initially pictured, but the dress truly reflects the bride's style. And besides - who would want to detract from that amazing crown?

The crown is definitely "something old"...Queen Silvia wore it at her wedding, and reportedly the crown goes back to originally being a gift from Napoleon to his Josephine. I just love the cameo detailing on this. The lace veil truly completes the whole look.

So, ladies - if you want to feel like a Princess on your big day, take a cue from Crowned Princess Victoria. Not all of us can pull off (or feel comfortable) in a big, poofy Princess Diana or Cinderella getup, and that look does not always define "Princess"...what is important is that your dress reflects you, and that you feel beautiful on your big day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings - An Honest Review...

I realize that it's been a while. For that, I apologize. Life got really hectic for me all at once...but now that summer is here, I have more time to indulge!

I love Disney. Disney has “set the standard” for the princess mindset. Disney is magical.
I also love weddings. My guilty pleasure is watching wedding shows on t.v. – from Say Yes to the Dress to Bridezillas, I eat it all up.

Naturally, I eventually became familiar with who David Tutera (celebrity event planner) and Kirstie Kelly (bridal fashion designer independently and for Disney) were.
So when I found out that they would be combining forces to create a book entitled Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, I was naturally ecstatic, and ordered it right away on Amazon.

I am sorry to say that the book disappointed me. Not in that I felt the weddings themselves looked bad – because they didn’t (although I must admit I’m not a huge fan of final two sets of linens) – but because the book explains that every wedding is supposed to connect to a specific Disney film, and I felt that the majority of the weddings barely connected to the films at all.

I know some people out there expected the book to be all about specifically on-site Disney property weddings, but I never built up this idea in my head. The inside flap of the book explained that not every girl can afford a wedding on Disney property, but that every girl still deserves a Disney-style wedding if they want one.

That seemed fair to me. Disney weddings are, after all, rather expensive, and especially in this current economy where most of us have to penny-pinch, scaling back is just something naturally accepted.

But the “Disney” part?

Okay, design-wise, it is all magically on-level with Disney. David even explains at the beginning of the book how his job and Disney’s mission are so similar.

But did I see all that many film tie-ins? I’m sorry to say no.

You can make film tie-ins without making it all tacky. Maybe Disney should have had a wedding give-away with the forced themes…find brides that actually wanted their wedding to remind you of Aladdin or Pocahontas.

Instead, you are informed of a usually faint tie-in at the beginning of each chapter, with a subsequent list of bullet points later on suggesting ways of adding specific elements (specifically related to that film) to add in your wedding…about all of which you do not see in the actual weddings portrayed. Some of the suggestions are better than others.

A lot of the book is focused on giving you basic pointers in how to create your own wedding. While helpful, I did not pick up this book to reading Weddings 101 – I wanted Disney.

I also felt a little bad for Kirstie Kelly. I felt like she had more to say and was not given much of a chance to say it. Of course, it did not help that not all of the brides in the book wore gowns from her Disney Bridal line.

I just really expected something different. And I wouldn’t have had those expectations if it were not for the way the book worded things.

Oh well.

If you are looking for some great styling tips for your wedding, and need some basic wedding information to work all of the kinks out, and just love gorgeous wedding photography, then this book is for you. But if you are looking for Disney…I would suggest re-watching whatever Disney film inspires you, and to take note of the different styles and motifs used in the film, and use those as inspiration for the choices you make when designing your Disney-themed wedding.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Captain EO, Michael Jackson, Coppola and Lucas fans rejoice - Captain EO has returned for a limited engagement to Disneyland!

Copyright Disney

After Michael Jackson died, fans spoke up - they wanted to see the King of Pop again, one last time, however they could. Some scoffed, and Disney was wishy-washy, but the fans were finally rewarded - at least at Disneyland, anyway (the show wasn't just at Disneyland, and some were hoping that it would be revived in other locations as well).

I saw the show last weekend (a few days after opening) a few times, and I had a great time.

Look, the film isn't perfect. It wasn't shot with today's technology...the show opened 1986, after all. So the film is going to reflect that, in film quality and other elements (I know that every time I see the show, I will smirk at faux hawk man)...everything is a product of it's time. To help prep you for this time-warp back to the 80s, the pre-show really helps (the calming yet futuristic voice for the attraction that informs you what's what is superb, by the way); we are informed that we are about to see the pre-show video, exactly how it was shown back in 1986. The video is very 80s, and still enjoyable.

The film itself is entertaining. I had hoped that Disney would insert the deleted scenes as rumored, but that did not happen. It was understood that a lot of the original effects would not reappear (after all, another show has been in that theater since 1998), but, because of Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, the theater now shakes, bumps and rumbles (I loved it, but another one of my friends didn't enjoy that effect).

I know there are some people out there grumbling (silently or publicly online). Maybe you dislike Michael Jackson. Maybe you're afraid that the budget for reviving Captain EO will cut into the budget for a future attraction in that location. Maybe you're afraid Captain EO will overstay it's welcome. Or (doubtfully) you love Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

Nothing anyone can do or say would convince you to not hate Michael Jackson. You will probably never like his music if you don't now or never think him a good person if you feel he's a bad person now (nevermind all of the work he's done for humanity and the environment).

Here's a newsflash: Disney can be stingy, and that's not going to be the fault of one specific attraction (especially one that was able to be implemented so quickly and didn't get all of it's effects back). If Disney decides to cheapen out, it's not going to be because of EO. And let's not forget all of the money that's being spent over at California Adventure right now.

Disney has not officially stated how long Captain EO will be sticking around. Honey, I shrunk the Audience is listed on the official Disneyland website as down for refurbishment...which is rather laughable, if you ask me. Considering how many people have packed the houses to show EO as opposed to the empty seats Honey saw, bringing back the other show would not make a whole lot of sense. Some people want EO out after a few months, but come on - to be fair, you should give the public at least a year to make it out to Disneyland. And do you really want Honey to come right back? If Disney is smart, in my honest opinion, they should wait until the planned Tomorrowland redo gets underway, which is in the not-too-distant future, if Tony Baxter gets his way.

If you love Honey, I Shrunk the Audience...well, there's nothing wrong with that. And it's a cute show. But the crowds had dissipated for a long time before EO returned. In the entirety of the time that I've had a Disneyland Resort Annual Pass (about 5 years), I think I only saw Honey once, at the behest of a friend (probably to calm her little brother down). There seems to be a more general consensus that people would see EO repeatedly as compared to Honey.

The crowds certainly have not failed the revived attraction. While I never had to wait a horrendously long time for it, the show played to packed houses every time I went. People screamed and applauded before the show, at the first entrance of Michael, and at the end of the show. And once people exited the theater, guests pounced on the Captain EO merchandise in Star Trader. Trying to look at anything was entering into a madhouse...on Main Street it was a little more calm, but all of the posters were gone.

The good captain has returned - rejoice!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts on the 2010 Oscars, Disney Animation and What's at Stake...

I might get some heat for this, but I’m going to say it anyway.

I don’t think that Up deserves to be nominated for Best Picture for the Oscars.

Don’t get me wrong, now – it’s a good movie. But honestly, the only thing that I really, truly loved about it was its first ten minutes, where we learn what Carl experienced in his life, explaining why he is such a grumpy old man.

It is incredibly moving, a real tear-jerker…and then, there’s the rest of the movie.
And it’s, well, ok. Not as amazing as the beginning, in my honest opinion. You have this great build-up and you end up with not as big a pay-off.

Copyright Disney/Pixar

Then you look at Beauty and the Beast, the only other animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture, back when there wasn't even a category for feature-length animated films. The movie never drops its momentum…it continues to build, the action really swells, you feel emotionally connected to all of the characters – and the ending makes it feel whole. The music, animation, story and talent were superb and just created an amazing story. Beauty and the Beast truly deserved its nomination.

Copyright Disney

Don’t get me wrong. Up is not a bad movie – it’s cute. But I am just not convinced that it deserves to stand alongside Beauty and the Beast in this category.

If any Pixar film deserved a Best Picture nod, it was WALL-E.

Now there was a spectacular film. Visually astounding (sorry Up fans, but you have to agree that the animation in this film blows Up out of the water), emotionally moving, and social commentary (even though Stanton denies that he intended to do so). The film had Disney heart and intelligence.

Copyright Disney/Pixar

I remember when the Oscars were approaching after the film had been released…there were rumors of WALL-E being nominated for Best Picture. But that didn’t happen.

Maybe it didn’t because The Academy was afraid that it might have actually won.

Here’s my theory: the Academy is using Up as their way of undercutting the argument that there is a strong bias against animated films. “Hey, there’s no way anyone would expect Up to beat Avatar – and no one will remember our history with turning our noses up to animated films!”

It’s no secret that the Oscars can be bogus.

Up is – well - up against some really big films. I’m not fully convinced that Avatar should win, but I think it will.

At least Avatar didn’t end up as a Best Animated Feature Film nominee (as I heard some suggest that it might).

And what about The Princess and the Frog? Won’t it just be a real kick in the Disney jewels if the film doesn’t win for Best Animated Feature Film? Oh sure, the Disney company would not be upset to lose to itself if Up won…but let’s think about the long-term ramifications of all this. The Princess and the Frog was supposed to (hopefully) kick-start the new classic animated Disney Renaissance, much like The Little Mermaid did in its day. Unfortunately, with the economy being what it was/is, while the public still opened its arms to the film, it didn’t get the type of box office numbers the big wigs were hoping for (though I think they need to keep in mind that the film grossed plenty of money in its previews in California and New York, and has done amazingly well in terms of merchandise sales)…and now rumor has it that the Disney company is shying away from princess films (don't believe me? Tell me why marketing decided to change the upcoming Rapunzel film from Rapunzel to Tangled - apparently by eliminating the word "princess," they believe they will attract more men to see the film)...they might be even re-thinking the classic animation revival.

Copyright Disney

That’s the sad truth of all of this, folks. By withholding those ten dollars and instead watching an illegal copy of The Princess and the Frog online, you are potentially killing any hope for classic Disney animation to survive. And then we’ll be stuck in a CG animated world forever, because the Disney Company got the stupid idea that that was what made an animated film popular. They might still have those thoughts, or they might be coming back.

Remember those dark ages when Disney released CG films without the aid of Pixar? Disastrous. The company failed to acknowledge that while Pixar had a unique look, it also stuck to great story-telling. And while I have criticized Up here, it is also a great illustration of that.

I just really hope that John Lasseter can keep everything in perspective for Disney. And maybe he will re-think trying to “shake up” the Disney Princess formula when it comes to music…but that discussion is for another time. Maybe for a certain upcoming Blu-Ray critique, perhaps?

As for the Oscars, I guess we will see what happens in a couple of days.


Monday, February 1, 2010

A Lovely Dress for Cinderelly!

In case there are any children stumbling upon this blog, I must apologize and/or warn you now of my PG-13 word usage.

Sometimes, there really is not a better word to use. You just need to be honest. I fully believe in honesty (at least, when you choose to express yourself in an artistic medium).

Many of you can probably relate to this at one time or another in your life (especially if you happen to be a female). Women can be, well - bitches, to put it plainly. Backstabbing bitches. And their bad behavior usually is the result of an issue involving competition.

Cinderella wants to go to the ball. It is not a huge request (never mind that she’s a slave in her own house). Even the royal family wants every maiden in the kingdom to attend! But Lady Tremaine, Drizella, and Anastasia know that having Cinderella at the ball would be serious competition (though they would never actually admit it). She is beautiful and graceful, whereas they are just awkward. Luckily for her two brats, the evil Stepmother pretends to play fair and tells Cinderella that if she gets all her chores done and can find something suitable to wear, then she can also attend the ball. Of course, Lady Tremaine knows that she doesn’t have anything suitable to wear – as long as they can give her a lot of busy work to do, she will have no chance to make herself look presentable, and they can get their way.

Even with all the work she has to do, Cinderella is still very hopeful and excited towards the prospect of going to the ball. She quickly grabs her deceased mother’s old dress (most likely one of the few things she inherited at all) and a sewing/fashion book, hoping to make some alterations. It’s only a little old-fashioned, but with just a few tweaks – ah, but there is no time. The brats in the house are screaming for Cinderella to come down and wait on them hand and foot. Resigned, Cinderella determines that her dress “will just have to wait” while she takes care of the monsters downstairs.

Her furry and feathery friends know that those nasty women are not going to give Cinderella a moment’s peace…they have to do something. They owe it to her. She’s always taken care of them and has the biggest heart – why shouldn’t she go to the ball?

Now, let’s remember – this outfit was comprised of Cinderella’s dead mother’s old dress, some minor accents that Drizella and Anastasia deemed worthless, and some spare lace and thread.

The following sequence is, I find, one of the most painful and heart-wrenching things to watch.

Nasty, vicious, cold-hearted bitches.

Just imagine how much that dress meant to her. What if that was the only memory left of her mother? And her best friends, as small they are, went to all that trouble to give her the gift of a night out.

I’m not sure if Cinderella would have dared take the unwanted beads and sash if she had known, but they were unwanted nonetheless.

A lot of people put such an emphasis on Cinderella’s ballgown. Yes, it is beautiful, iconic…princessy. But that pink dress has real emotional value – and God, what a story element! When those nasty girls rip her dress to shreds, there is absolutely no way that you cannot sympathize for this girl.

That dress and her experiences with it represents why I identify with her the most, I think. As a child, I had a hard time fitting in with my classmates…my mother taught me to always be kind and to think of others. As a result, a lot of people have abused my kindness. But I almost always found solace in my mother and pets. Eventually, I went to high school and found more people that I could relate with, and got away from the people I’d been trapped in middle school with for too long…but I still experienced a fair share of Drizellas and Anastasias, especially when I started dating. It is good to remind yourself that eventually your prince will want you over them.

At the end of the day, Cinderella would have been just as happy in her mother’s old dress. And while I think it was important that she ended up getting her own dress to live out her own personal fairy tale, I wish that her Fairy Godmother had also waved her magic wand and put her pink dress back together.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hello Internet World!

So, after being obsessed with Disney (especially Disneyland) and Disney Princess things (or anything in this world that reminds me of such) for as long as I can remember, and after having many discussions with people on these subjects...I realized that I needed to share my thoughts with the world.

And what better way to do it than through a blog?

So, this is where I will write my Disney and Princess musings.

I have a feeling that there will not be a whole lot of men out there who will want to read this blog (except for perhaps the hardcore Disneyana and/or Disney theme park fans out there). Men, please prove me wrong. Just because "princess" is in a title doesn't mean that you won't enjoy what I have to say.

And yes, this is how I write. I like separating my thoughts like this, in mini-paragraphs...I tend to write a lot (and do and -es). I find my style to be a little more engaging this way. And easier to read. That's just how I roll.

And if you don't like it...well, no one is forcing you to stick around and read ;)

That said, please feel free to comment, ask me a question, share something...of course, I would prefer to not read spam-related and/or hate material. Nobody really likes that. And I would like for this blog to have a friendly atmosphere. I am (generally) a very nice person! :)

And now, a little teaser for my next post, and in many ways, the inspiration for this blog in the first place: