Monday, December 31, 2012
It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump as told to Jeff Heimbuch is the sort of book that Disney fans love. Crump details his Disney career starting in animation, being assigned to WED in support of Disneyland, and beyond using his artistic expertise to help others build their dreams using his expertise. As Crump would say, it’s kind of a cute story!
Crump was a self –trained artist who left a job in a ceramics factory to become an inbetweener in 1952 at Disney. It was a leap of faith, with his salary half his ceramics pay. As an animator he worked on films such as 101 Dalmatians for which he animated the spots, lots and lots of spots. In 1959, Crump was tapped to join WED Enterprises as a designer. Amongst his early projects was the initial development of a haunted house attraction with Yale Gracey which would later become The Haunted Mansion years later. Another early contribution was design work on The Enchanted Tiki Room, including the preshow Tikis. Crump, like all Imagineers, was pulled off his assignments to contribute to the 1964 New York World Fair. His contributions included collaborating with Mary Blair in the design of it’s a small world for which Crump oversaw the construction of the “toys” used by the dolls. He would later oversee the installation of the attraction at Disneyland. In 1967, Crump would become the Supervising Art Director at Disneyland, helping to shape the park experience for guests. Crump would go on to help reconstruct the magic on the East Coast within the Magic Kingdom Park. He would leave Disney employment and lead his own design firm for projects such as Circus World, Knott’s Bear-y Tales at Knott’s Berry Farm, and an ocean center for famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. Crump would return to Imagineering to assist with the design of EPCOT overseeing the Land pavilion and unused concepts for The Wonders of Life pavilion. These are just a few of the projects in Crump’s distinguished design career documented in this memoir.
Crump’s design work shines throughout the book. There are numerous color photos throughout the book that highlight Crump’s style. The non-Disney work helps demonstrate how Crump’s personal style emerges in attractions such as it’s a small world and The Enchanted Tiki Room. By seeing something of Crump’s design outside of a Disney context actually makes Crump’s touches more transparent. Crump’s fingerprints become clearer and key pieces have an owner and are no longer crafted by anonymous artists. Additionally, the non-Disney pieces show Crump’s whimsical side. These include a poster series that sarcastically pitch narcotics, a series that Walt Disney saw. As Crump noted, Walt Disney saw Crump’s sense of humor as crazy around the edges. And the reader is able through Crump’s art to see how Disney came to this opinion.
The second star of the text is the Disney personalities. First and foremost is Walt Disney. Crump admired Disney and his leadership abilities. Crump largely worked for WED because of Walt’s vision and he originally left Disney employment due to the loss of that leadership. The next standout personality is Dick Irvine. Crump discusses his personality conflicts with the head of WED in-depth. Crump’s assessments are honestly one sided, a fact that Crump acknowledges. It becomes clear that while Disney celebrated the crazy around the edges Imagineer, others like Irvine did not know how to manage him. The third personality that rises to the top is John Hench, whom Crump depicts as a strong willed, opinionated and giving mentor. Crump clearly worries that his depiction of run-ins with Hench could negatively color the reader’s opinion of this Imagineering legend and he takes special care to fully discuss their complex relationship.
The book overall is easy to read, and Crump is a sympathetic figure. The reader truly comes to enjoy Crump and his personality. I was surprised to find that the text is oversized, almost appearing to be a thick tabloid style magazine instead of a typically sized book. With the book being oversized and colorful, suiting Crump’s personality, the hardcover version would be a handsome addition to any Between Books library. The softcover is a good value for the price, especially when compared to other similar memoirs. Honestly, the best value may be the Kindle version which like another Bamboo Forest offering From Dreamer to Dreamfinder, is priced as a steal.
It’s Kind of a Cute Story is a Between Books library essential! There may be a large number of Disney themed books, but not many that provide a firsthand account of working with Walt Disney, John Hench, Mary Blair, Marc Davis and others. And of course, Crump is a legend in his own right and I deeply enjoyed reading his accounts working for Disney and other clients. It’s Kind of a Cute Story by Rolly Crump as told to Jeff Heimbuch is an informative and personal story of an Imagineering giant that any Disney fan will enjoy.
Review Copy Provided by Bamboo Forest Publishing
Friday, December 28, 2012
Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic provides a history of the development of the Magic Kingdom Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort from an Imagineering eye. Host Diego Parras, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) Media & Broadcast Production Manager, takes viewers on a historical tour of the park using the voices and recollections of the Imagineers that helped build the park. Prominent Imagineers that contribute to the story of the park through interviews include John Hench, Marc Davis, Harriet Burns, Rolly Crump, and many more. The story is told through a mixture of period pictures with narration, videos from the parks and interviews. The story of the park is told through a land by land tour of the park.
I really did enjoy the windows this presentation provides on the history of the Magic Kingdom Park. Highlights for me of course included stories about the work of Marc Davis. There is a deep discussion about the Haunted Mansion and the roll taken by X Atencio to balance the multiple creative geniuses who contributed to the attraction. Atencio had to combine the work of Davis (funny), Claude Coates (creepy), Crump (strange) while using the visual creations of Yale Gracey. And I enjoyed hearing about Davis’ plans for the Western River Expedition, cancelled for the Florida version of Pirates of the Caribbean. They show how despite the project was cancelled that it still influenced other attractions like Big Thunder Mountain. Another enjoyable moment is Tony Baxter talking about working with painters at the Jungle Cruise, a story that I had never heard before. But it is not just the superstars like Davis and Baxter that are discussed, as another legend Bill Evans and his work with landscaping is also highlighting.
There is some oddity to the presentation. Some of the video is black and white segments that are clearly Disneyland. This is especially true with Tomorrowland video, and is typically included as quick flashes within montages. I am pretty sure that Imagineers like Tony Baxter realize that the jetpack demonstration was in Disneyland during the 1960s. And images of the Monsanto House of the Future are also clearly from the West Coast park. We should assume that the segments probably relied heavily on stock footage from the Disney library, but it would have improved my experience if they had the images all match the park being discussed.
The special features section is one that will catch the interest of most Disney history fans. There is an excerpt of the Cherry Plaza Hotel news conference from November 1965 announcing Disney’s entry to Florida. The excerpt shows Roy O. Disney’s enthusiasm for this new project. Also viewers can see Walt Disney speak of what he dreamt for this new projects especially a city of tomorrow concept. Somewhat disappointing is “Roy Disney’s Dedication Speech.” The disappointment is the lack of video as the feature is primarily Disney’s speech over stills. I would have really loved video, which perhaps does not exist. Other special features include a segment on the Cinderella Dream Suite, “Project Florida” which discusses the building of Walt Disney World, “Mickey’s Trivia Tour” and an art gallery. The Between Tween got 12 of the 14 trivia questions correct, though admittedly the Tween probably knows more Disney trivia then the typical Tween.
I have to admit a moment of pride while watching Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic. One Imagineer called the Walt Disney World Resort by the name Disneyworld. The Between Tween yelled out, “That’s Walt Disney World.” Yeah, I’m proud! Yet for someone, like me, who has heard many of these stories before I still could feel the hair standing on the back of my neck in excitement as Imagineers told their stories. For someone who is a WDI fan, Magic Kingdom: Imagineering the Magic is a must own. But for someone who just wants an overview of the park, the free vacation planning video may be a better investment.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Often the best stories, are real stories. And George Lucas has always been clear that human history has provided him inspiration for the events that have occurred in his Star Wars galaxy. Editors Nancy R. Reagin and Janice Liedl have worked with other historians to create a collection of essays that demonstrate the intentional and unintentional linkages between Lucas’s galaxy and real life events in Star Wars and History. The text is divided into three parts; War, Politics and Economics. The authors in the 11 articles weave in and out of the history of our world with the world of Star Wars, including comparative pictures throughout the narratives. Topics of individual essays include rebellion, warrior-monks, dictators, women in politics, and cities in history. Additionally, color summary pages can be found in the text that highlights key points of the essays.
I found this book highly interesting as a concept, being both a former history major and a Star Wars fans. For me the concept was chocolate and peanut butter combined, but I worried would the finished product be a delicious peanut butter cup! Many a history book I have read in my time has been dry and lifeless. This book however, being Star Wars focused, will clearly have a wider audience than academics and I worried that the text would be inaccessible to Star Wars fans who knew little about history. Instead I found that the contributors did a fine job writing a text that has life to it. In fact I found some essays hard to put down. I think that this is largely due to the contributors’ love of Star Wars which helps them illuminate their topics. The authors have serious Star Wars credibility along with their academic credentials. I was impressed that the authors not only discussed the theatrical releases but the Expanded Universe and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And the pictures from both factual events and fictional ones add to the text, helping to support the authors’ points visually.
Due to my own past research the war essays were of the most interest to me. Having taught Mao Tse Tung’s People War in the past, I found William J. Astore’s article “Why Rebels Triumph” highly enlightening. He does an excellent job of demonstrating the three phrases of revolutionary warfare and how they play out in the rebellion against The Empire. A lifetime ago the comparisons he presents would have been stolen by me in my own teaching and improved my presentation on this topic. Additionally, I found Terrance Macmullan’s essay “Elegant Weapons for Civilized Ages” presenting his comparisons between Jedi Knights and Shaolin Monks, Samurai and Knights Templar both enlightening and entertaining. One of my criticisms of the text would be that lack of discussion of spirituality and the force. But Macmullan’s essay does provide clear comparisons especially between the spiritual beliefs of the Buddhist Shaolin Monks in the binding energy of quiz and Jedi beliefs of the Force, which also binds all things. Tony Keen’s “I, Sidous” provides clear examples of how Star Wars and especially the Emperor Palpatine were inspired by modern dictators like Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Germany. And Paul Finkleman’s “From Slavery to Freedom in a Galaxy Far Far Away” traces the history of n topic that is a blight of our own history and the fictional history of Star Wars, slavery. It has disturbed me both in the prequel movies and the Expanded Universe to the general blindness the Jedi have to this dehumanizing institution. Finkleman shows how we have as the human race have largely ignored the issue just as the Jedi do.
Who will find this book useful? First, Star Wars and history fans will separately find the book interesting. Star Wars fans will enjoy reading about the history and inspirations of their franchise. History fans will enjoy seeing historical events and how they play out in popular culture. Another use for this book in my opinion is for readers who struggle with enjoying and understanding history. The use of Star Wars examples will likely help these readers connect to the content and remember the key concepts. Back in my teaching days I would likely have never assigned Star Wars and History in the undergraduate courses that I taught due to my need for a very general texts. But there is a strong chance that I would have recommended the text to some students looking to find out more in an interesting way. Though I would admit it would be very fun to use Star Wars and History as a key textbook in a topics course on Star Wars.
For me Star Wars and History succeeds both as a history book and a Star Wars book. The connections between human history and the galaxy far far away are clear and the contributors do an excellent job expanding on connections fans were already aware of and introducing new parallels. Star Wars, Disney, sci-fi and history fans will all likely enjoy this text, and learn a little history on the journey.
Review Copy Provided by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
In passing, I told my friend that I was watching Elf tonight and wondered if I could declare it Mousey. His immediate response was “How?” An excellent question spawning from his knowledge of my self-imposed rules for declaring movies Mousey.
Stay with me and allow me to pull back the magical creativity veil and reveal to you my process. As a general rule, I require at least 4 connections to Disney properties in order to affirm a Mousey movie. Additionally, at least two of these connections need to be strong and not previously discussed before in a Mousey Movie post. So in the case of Elf, I could have used director Jon Faverau as one of my connections, but 1) I have used him before and 2) I have plans to use him again. So that is a connection I do not wish to revisit.
Sometimes I use themes and backgrounds to tie a movie to the Mouse House. So, for Elf an easy connection would be the settings of New York City and Central Park which also are used heavily in Enchanted. But there are a lot of movies that use New York that are not Disney productions, like The Smurfs, making the connection rather weak. What Elf really has going for it is motivation. For me, it is the non-Disney movies that are the most fun to link back. For example, a movie like Secret of the Wings is not fun for me, as I simply would link the majority of the fairy voices back to their Disney Channel and direct to video productions. To be fun, I need new possibilities and the thrill of the hunt in the research. So, for a new Disney movie, my preference is to write a Mousey Movie Review rather than focus on the links to Mickey’s Empire. So yes, my friend’s question had thrown down the gauntlet and somewhat unknowingly issued a challenge to both of us. In accepting this challenge, I found in Elf more than I ever needed to declare it a Mousey Movie!
If the viewing of The Santa Clause has become the primary holiday tradition in my house, the multiple replaying of Elf by the Between Kids is the second video tradition. They love the story of Buddy the Elf played by Will Ferrell who upon discovering that he is in fact human journeys to New York City to connect with his biological father. In New York, Buddy has to help his father get off the naughty list and find acceptance of his very odd, lost son. Along the way, things get Mousey:
- Jolly Old Men: I had to adjust the first time I saw Elf because Santa Claus was not played by Tim Allen. Instead Ed Asner plays the legendary figure. Asner stars in my favorite Disney/Pixar movie Up as Carl Fredricksen. In Up, Anser is a grumpy old man who becomes jolly and learns to share the love in his heart, a problem that this version of Chris Kringle does not seem to share.
- Mousey Elf: If you want to treat yourself, go listen to Bob Newhart’s The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. It was not until I gave this comedy album a spin that I truly realized how funny Newhart is. I grew up watching Newhart and still believe that it has the best series finale of all time. But for me, Newhart was often the straight man on the show as a crazy cast of characters revolved around him. In many ways Newhart remains the straight man in Elf, if you can call pointy shoes straight, as Papa Elf the adoptive father of Buddy. Newhart starred in not one but two Disney animated features voicing Bernard, the mouse janitor of the Rescue Aid Society who becomes hero in The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under.
- I Just Meet You: I see another similarity between Up and Elf in the characters of Dug and Buddy. Both offer love quickly. When Dug meets Carl he announces, “My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.” Buddy has a similar moment meeting Walter the first time singing, “I love you. I love you! I LOVE YOU!” The fact that both are so willing to love is in many ways enduring, or for some a little creepy!
A Loving Dog and a Grumpy Old Man!
- Angry: Actor Peter Dinklage plays children’s author Miles Finch. Finch is successful, entitled and angry. He does not take kindly to Buddy who becomes upset with Buddy’s belief that Finch is one of Santa’s elves. Dinklage appeared in Disney’s Underdog as Dr. Simon Bar Sinister, which is clearly a bad guy name! I enjoyed him more in his second Disney production The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian as the dwarf Trumpkin, a character that I wanted to see on screen when I originally read the book as a kid. Trumpkin like Finch has a shade of angry in his personality. Sadly for me he did not reprise his role in the non-Disney sequel, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. With his success in the HBO Game of Thrones, Dinklage’s fine work is being critically applauded.
- The Iron Diaries: John Debney provides the score for Elf. Debney is no stranger to Mousey Movies scoring Iron Man 2 (where he worked with Favreau), Hannah Montana: The Movie, Chicken Little, The Princess Diaries, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Snow Dogs, and The Emperor’s New Groove. Debney’s music is very familiar in the halls of the House of Mouse.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Since its 2006 release I have typically described The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause as a cash grab. It just seemed like everyone was making one more grab at the good Santa money. And it was a financial success, though a critical bomb. The film lacked the charm one finds in the original, charm based on the happy accident of something truly wonderful being discovered. But this year’s required viewing had made me soften. There are still funny lines that make me belly laugh like a bowl full of jelly. And the story has some edge to it in the villain of Jack Frost played by Martin Short. And loving the franchise, there is some storytelling that I just noticed for the first time this year that pays off for the fan. For example, it is only this year that I realized that the clothing choice of Neil played by Judge Reinhold in one scene tells us he has lost all his joy. His choice of a professional and drab sports coat and sweater instead of his trademark colorful sweaters that Tim Allen’s Scott Calvin constantly mocks lets you know that his character has been broken by the problems of life.
Scott Calvin in the third film of the series has problems. He has to balance the yearly rush of Christmas at the same time that Mrs. Claus nears the due date of their first child. The demands of the new head elf Curtis pulls him between family and work. To help provide relief to Mrs. Claus he brings the in-laws to the North Pole played by Alan Arkin and Ann Margret. Of course they do not approve of the toy man who has taken their daughter away to “Canada.” The pressure of keeping the Secret of Santa only adds to the pressure that Calvin feels. Finally, Jack Frost sabotages Santa’s efforts to succeed at home and work. Eventually Frost’s efforts lead to an It’s a Wonderful Life type sequence where Scott learns what would have happened to the ones he loved and himself if he had never pulled on the red coat.
There are no hidden Mickey’s in The Santa Clause 3 like we find in The Santa Clause 2. But there are scenes lifted directly from the original The Santa Clause, which really tickles me as we see them from a new perspective. Overall, this may be the most Mousey of all the movies in this franchise as it attempts to satirize the House of Mouse:
· The Meanest One of All: Jack Frost is the face of evil. No really, he is a really horrible legendary figure. He makes choices that have mortal consequences to beloved characters and he shows little to no remorse about it! The Between Kid actually screamed and yelled, “I don’t like him,” as Frost was being almost murderous. Additionally Frost is all about himself and ruins Christmas in a manner that only glorifies him and makes elves incredibly sad! Yeah kids, beware Jack Frost.
Martin Short plays this villain and is highly familiar to Epcot fans. Short originally starred in the 1989 film The Making of Me at the Wonders of Life pavilion. The film discussed how Short’s parents met, got married, and made a baby! I am kind of glad that I never had to watch this film with the Between Kids, and field the questions that it might inspire, with the closing of the pavilion in 2007. In 2008 Short moved to the Canada pavilion to narrate the O’ Canada film where Short shares about his native country. Short has also been part of a number of Disney releases including Jungle 2 Jungle with Tim Allen, Treasure Planet, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, Frankenweenie, and Touchstone Pictures releases Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II; placing Short in live-action, animated, theatrical and direct to video projects.
· Carpet Bagger: In a scene that has to be a tribute to Mary Poppins, Scott when visiting the Miller family digs around in a carpet bag. It’s clear as he reaches in with much more arm than he should that the bag’s inside is bigger than the outside. This effect is helped by the sound of crashing objects and farm animals in the bag! The object he pulls out as a gift for his son Charlie, much like Mary Poppin’s hat rack, is much bigger than the bag itself.
· Theme Parks: The most Mousey moment in the movie is the North Pole’s transformation from a workshop into a Disneyland style resort. The North Pole Resort may remind many of visits to Disney parks with crowds, overpriced merchandise to buy everywhere, staff hiding behind forced smiles and crying children wanting more more more. Yes, it is all the bad things one might expect from a theme park gone bad. Instead of looking at the North Pole Resort as a satire on the reality of a Disney parks experience, I look at it as all of our bad experiences at once! It makes sense. Disneyland and other Disney parks create magic. The North Pole Resort perverts magic instead, much like the days that heat and tiredness may make families grumpy!
· O’ Canada: Speaking of Canada, the North Pole with the arrival of the in-laws is transformed into Santa’s very own Canada pavilion. The signage and set design honestly makes me laugh, with signs that make sure you understand you are in Canada, not the North Pole or Epcot.
· Buddy: Liliana Mumy returns to her second Santa Clause film as Lucy Miller, or the cute human kid replacement for Charlie. Lucy has a big warm heart, somewhat different than her character Mertle Edmonds in the animated Lilo & Stitch, Stitch! The Movie, and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch. Mertle is spoiled and has a cold heart! I chose team Lilo! Mumy also voices the puppy Rosebud in the live action Snow Buddies, Space Buddies, and SantaBuddies where she again addresses snow and Santa! Ironically, the name Buddy is found not just in the non-Disney movie Elf but the ending of this jolly franchise.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is my least favorite in the Santa trilogy. But Tim Allen still continues to satisfy me as a regular guy struggling with being a family man and the spirit of Christmas. This installment is also darker than the others as Calvin fights not himself or a plastic doppelganger but an external villain who has no problem terrorizing others. The film’s story with The North Pole Resort was directly inspired by Mickey’s home, where like Santa you can visit the Mouse in his home! So even if they were trying to subtly attack their Mousey Masters, they made the film very Mousey.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Jafar was based on another Disney animated villain.
Huey, Dewey and Louie are related to a prominent duck who is not Donald or Scrooge.
Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella had a real life model linked to a Disney legend.
These facts and more can all be found in Jeff Kurtti’s Disney Dossiers: Files of Character From the Walt Disney Studios. Each page is designed to look like an open file folder containing personal records, pictures and random notes that would be useful to a Walt Disney animator or story man. The characters covered are not exhaustive but detail the background on all major characters from Mickey Mouse to the animated features of 2006. Some files include two page narratives discussing the character while others may only have two sentences. Other pieces of information found in the descriptions include filmography, relationships, works well with lists, does not work well lists and summaries of key supporting characters or foils. Some characters share pages, while other major characters like Mickey Mouse receive a multipage spread.
This is a fun book but not an exhaustive one. The details provided on characters vary and some credit lists are selected only. But the character selection is well done, with even The Reluctant Dragon being covered. The facts that Kurtti provides do provide some ah ha moments for even the more knowledgeable reader. The real fun of the volume is the pictures which include concept art showing us versions of the familiar characters that did not make the screen. And it is fun to pretend that one is flipping through the confidential files of Walt Disney Animation.
Jeff Kurtti’s Disney Dossiers: Files of Character From the Walt Disney Studios provides a fun reading experience, and one that can be revisited to provide light entertainment. It may not be deep enough for hardcore Disney researchers, but it would provide enjoyment to children wanting to know more about characters or casual readers. And for both children and adults the images will likely be pleasing. It is a nice addition to a Between Books library, but not as essential as some of Kurtti’s other works.
Friday, December 14, 2012
I really am a sucker for The Santa Clause franchise! You may not agree with me about how funny they are, but they crack me up. So in 2002, when The Santa Clause2 was released I was excited. Tim Allen would be back as the beloved character and there appeared to be room for more hilarious lines. In most ways the sequel delivered for me. I thought it was funny. They clearly had a bigger budget for the sequel, so we saw more of Santa’s workshop and “outside” shots in the North Pole. The sequel was a more mature version of the original, not as silly but with better furnishings.
The plot of The Santa Clause 2 is an older more experienced Santa Claus has held down the position for several years and been highly successful, becoming a better person. As Christmas and its busyness approaches, Santa’s elves inform him of a second clause. The Mrs. Clause charges Santa to get married before Christmas morning or he will revert to regular guy Scott Calvin. As Christmas approaches the de-Santafication process begins, as Santa loses his beard, weight and magic. If this is not enough, Scott’s son Charlie begins acting out at school leading to confrontations with Principal Carol Newman. While Scott handles the search for Mrs. Claus and fatherly duties, his duties at the North Pole are managed by a toy plastic Santa who under the instruction of number two elf Curtis begins to misunderstand his Santa duties. Will there be Christmas as Scott/Santa both fights his plastic doppelganger and looks for love.
With a Box Office of $172 million, this sequel was both a blockbuster and Mousey:
· The Kid: Spencer Breslin plays a new elf, Bernard’s number two Curtis. We have to be honest; if the franchise was to continue they had to introduce a new future head elf. With David Krumholtz aging, height is a clear problem for Bernard as he has become the starting center of the North Pole basketball team. So a kid actor had to be introduced as a key elf. Disney was good to Breslin. Before The Santa Clause sequel he had starred with Bruce Willis in 2000’s Disney’s The Kid. Honestly, this movie was somewhat forgettable to me though I can remember being excited about Willis in a kid’s comedy. Breslin’s other Disney projects included voicing Cubby in Return to Neverland, another sequel in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause as Curtis now the head elf, and with Tim Allen again in The Shaggy Dog.
· Tink’s Big Brother: It may seem campy, but the inclusion of the Council of Legendary Figures makes me smile. It amuses me to think that Santa Claus has to survive business meetings just like many of us. Art LaFleur plays the Tooth Fairy, a very un-Pixie Hollow fairy. But like his little sister Tinker Bell, Tooth Fairy has very dainty fairy wings. Being someone who watched The Secret of the Wings the day before the annual viewing of The Santa Clause 2 I enjoyed this very different and very manly fairy! LaFleur is a very active character actor who for me is a perfect fit to a number of non-Disney baseball movies including Field of Dreams and The Sandlot as classic baseball players not dainty winged pixies.
· Tucker’s Tooth: I had trouble with the 2009 version of the V television show on ABC. I just could not believe that Mrs. Claus was Erica Evans gun totting FBI agent. Maybe if I had seen Elizabeth’s Mitchell’s other ABC offering as Dr. Juliet Burke on Lost I could have made the jump. But for me Mitchell is Mrs. Claus! Mitchell’s work on ABC is not the only link to Disney history in the character in Carol Newman. Walt Disney’s first films in Kansas City in 1922 were produced under the name NewmanLaugh-O-Grams. I doubt this was an intentional homage, but it does provide a nice Disney fanboy moment.
· Hidden Mickeys: The Santa Clause 2 is full of hidden Mickey’s. Viewers should watch carefully especially on the workshop floor where stuffed classic Mickey Mouses and a few Minnies are photo bombing scenes. You can also find Mickey displayed in Santa’s bedroom. Along with the mice, you can also find Winnie the Pooh and friends on the sides of jack-in-the-boxes in the workshop. For a non-Mouse Hidden Mickey look in Lucy’s room for the Kim Possible poster.
· Little Man: In the final confrontation between Scott Calvin and plastic Santa, Allen gets an opportunity to relive a classic line from Toy Story. The original line was spoken by Buzz Lightyear to Woody. In this version plastic Santa directs the quote at Scott as he attempts to stop him from escaping from the North Pole with a bag full of coal.
As you can probably tell from past posts, I do not always need movies to have stories at a Shakespearian level. But what I do often ask is that movie provide me some fun. I admit it, the story is not the tightest, the acting is not award winning, and the look of the North Pole never fully pulls me into Santa Claus’ world. But The Santa Clause 2 has consistently provided me fun, enough so that I force the Between Family to watch it along with the original every year.
Remember, hot cocoa is superior refreshment!