Waking Sleeping Beauty
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +3

Disney documentary.

FILM SYNOPSIS: By the mid-1980s, the fabled animation studios of Walt Disney had fallen on hard times. The artists were polarized between newcomers hungry to innovate and old-timers not yet ready to relinquish control. The conditions produced a series of box office flops and pessimistic forecasts. Maybe the best days of animation were over. Maybe the public didn't care. Only a miracle or a magic spell could produce a happy ending. Waking Sleeping Beauty is no fairy tale. It's the true story of how Disney regained its magic with hits like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King over a 10-year period.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Over the last few years Iíve been especially intrigued with animated and documentary films. While most live action or fictional films of late either insult our intelligence (crude comedies especially) or became repetitious (action films are about little more than CGI things blowing up), animation and documentary now lead the artistic community with ventures that are creatively made and/or about something of substance. That montage toward the beginning of UP about the man and wifeís lifelong relationship is some of the most moving filmmaking Iíve seen in years. And the filmed account of Michael Jacksonís final concert in This Is It gave even those of us who didnít follow the legendary performer a clearcut picture of his genius. After viewing that documentary, itís hard to deny Jacksonís status as one of three greatest stage performers of all time (Sinatra and Elvis being the other two).

In Waking Sleeping Beauty, the coupling of happy cartooning and an inside look at corporate ego makes for a fascinating combination of art forms. The production is satisfying not just for its revelatory depiction of the obsession with art and ambition. And for us as Christians the film is a parable in newsreel form. It testifies to the fact that egotism becomes silly and destructive. Itís the work, the reason for the work, and who weíre working for that becomes profound and lasting.

Revealing (to a certain degree), the 86-minute film is best when giving us background on classic cartoons (if I may affectionately refer to them as such). But if you want to feel good, really good, at the end of a depiction of moviemakers, rent the following DVD.

DVD Companion: Frank & Ollie. (1995) This Disney documentary focuses on Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, who, along with Walt Disney and a select handful of others, changed the face of cartoons, bringing character and pathos to their creations such as Snow White, Alice In Wonderland, The Jungle Book and over 30 other features. Enough clips are presented from these treasures to give viewers an even greater appreciation and a desire to see them all again. But there's another element that makes this a true enjoyment. Frank and Ollie have not only worked together for 40 years, but have maintained a close friendship many believe possible only in a Ď60s sitcom. They have maintained a respect, camaraderie and intimacy most never accomplish with other humans. It is more than just a retrospective of two old animation artists. It's an appreciative look at two nice people. PG (a few mild expletives and a glimpse of a nude drawing in an art class). For information about Phil Boatwright, go to moviereporter.com.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: None
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Cocktails are served at a party.
Other: One of the creators dies from HIV complications. Another Disney employee dies in a plane accident. Though we do not see these deaths, their loss to their fellow collaborators is sincerely felt.
Running Time: 86 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and above

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