Greetings. This week, let's try something different: one of the handful of "package films" from the 40's. Time for some...

Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

Soundtrack/Score/Music: 3.5

Story/Screenplay/Narrative: 2.5

Characters/Characterization + Voice Acting: 4.5

Art Direction/Design: 5

Themes, Archetypes and Artistic Interpretation: .5

From Wiry:

You know things are bad when you have to bring in four ready-made characters to bolster what is a horrifyingly flatlined package film notion. Further, the forcible ret-con(science) of Jiminy Cricket from a conscience to an amoral, "worry free" entity who disregards newspapers proclaiming doom is downright irresponsible. Okay, I'll go ahead and say it. I think the attitude that went into this movie can be blamed for the boring and repressive decade we all know affectionaly as the 50's. The best thing that can be said of the music in this flick is that it's soporific... okay okay. I'll back up. Some background: Fun and Fancy Free is a package flick composed of two stories: "Bongo" (narrated by Dinah Shore, her voice and personality smooth as formica) and "Mickey and the Beanstalk." They're joined oh-so-haphazardly by Jiminy Cricket, who jaunts around an eerily empty house and thinks these tales will bring us joy.

"Bongo" is the story of a circus bear who escapes into the wild, finds love, loses love due to a cultural misunderstanding regarding domestic abuse, then finds love again. I actually stopped watching during parts of this, I was so bored, and looked up information about The Jungle Book on Wikipedia. There's little bits of silly physical comedy, but there's really no cleverness or danger. The animation seems at the service of Dinah's voice: let's give masturbatory little sequences that fail to move the plot forward just to give her a chance to sing. In what world is two bears floating through pink heart-shaped clouds for four minutes even remotely of interest?

With "Bongo" done, and a once-unhappy doll and bear pair reunited in bestiality-laced bliss (I'm also reminded of the forced smiles on the Joker's victims from the first Batman movie...), Jiminy crashes a party that seems composed strictly of a little girl and an older man who is definitely not a relative. Oh, and he has unsettling puppets he tries to pass off as cute. So, puppet time becomes story time, and we're cursed with FOUR obnoxious characters babbling through another story.

At least someone piped in with "Mickey and the Beanstalk" and insisted they bring in bankable characters, with an adequate-enough addition in the form of the dopey giant. Yet, in an effort to keep things "fun and fancy free," they've drained the story of Jack of all its darkness. They're not thieves, they're just reclaiming the magic (singing... ugh...) harp from the thieving giant. And the giant doesn't die, since he returns to "menace" the pedophile puppet party. Whee ha. There's some fun bits with the giant food, and Donald's always a pleasure to watch (especially when he's quite justifiably trying to slaughter cows), but overall it's pretty much what you'd expect. Rather than expanding on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, they sap it of its interesting bits and force it down our gullets.

And, at the end of all this, we're treated to more obnoxious singing. Really. This film should never have been made. I'm not against package films per se, nor am I against package films that have no unifying theme. But when the unifying theme is that the next hour is going to be as exciting as celery post-Bunnicula, I'm ready to tap out.

From RM:

I had relatively pleasant memories of this film walking in, but they were sorely dashed. I had remembered songs from both "Bongo" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk" with great fondness, but upon revisiting them, found them flat, drab, uninteresting, and dated.

There were times during the first short in the film, "Bongo", the story of a circus bear who runs away to the wild, that I genuinely could not pay attention. I began staring out the window. "Mickey and the Beanstalk" is slightly better, in that someone had the good sense to send in their cash cows (Mickey, Donald, and Goofy) to try to save this awful piece of tripe, and the trio do their best, which is commendable. But the fact that their story is told by Edgar Bergen, then popular ventriloquist, and two of his puppets, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, makes the film even harder to embrace. At one point, when Bergen tells one of his wise-cracking (I assume) puppets to be quiet so they could all listen, I was ecstatic, and prayed that this lasted for the entire story.

It also bears noting that in the opening credits, which look to have been put together by Mrs. Niefbaum's Second Grade art class, Dinah, Edgar, Charlie and Mortimer get higher billing than Mickey, Donald and Goofy. That's right, Disney gave top billing to the HIRED HELP! It becomes clear in that moment that they decided this would be a Disney vehicle for those 4 (or 2 plus dolls), and however it turned out would be fine. But it was not fine. Not at all. I'd also like to take a moment to say that I enjoyed R.L. Stine's opus Night of The Living Dummy as much as the next man, but HOW STARVED WERE WE to consider a ventriloquist an A-Level talent in the late 30s/40s? And if Charlie McCarthy was as "edgy" as Hollywood got back then, then maybe clearing the reds out of that town was a good thing.

Final Grade: F

Final Rank:
1.) Snow White
2.) Fun and Fancy Free

Attention must be paid to the past.

We are not the first to undertake this project, merely the most correct.

To the left, you will notice two new links, cleverly titled problem children 1 and 2. The first is a blog my esteemed colleague and I stumbl'd upon in our quest to understand our goal in this quest. Our quest quest, if you will. This gentleman should be commended for his thoroughness, and he does engage in some salient points in his almost identical attempt to rank numerically the Disney features. He is wrong. Very very wrong. On almost all points. But he is methodical and endeavors to defend his decisions, which is admirable, and reviewing his thoughts can only bring further clarity in your attempts to congratulate us for our propriety.

The second is from the good people at Moviefone. You remember them; the business that became archaic the day after the internet came out? Yeah, those guys. Well, their staff created a list of the 25 best animated features of all time. This list burns us, as does their specious logic. Beauty and the Beast, a technically proficient film, and the only animated film EVER to be nominated for the best picture from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is 13. ONE-THREE! These people should be scorned, and, if you happen to have a sock full of change and meet one of them in the street........Don't give them any change. They should not be rewarded for their ignorance.

We continue to endeavor to not only profile these films for our amusement, but to expand the debate on the American animated feature and it's flagship, the Disney family of films. We look forward to your continued thoughts, and welcome your scorn.

We don't think, we judge. That's what heroes do.

Let us begin at the beginning, for that is the way of things:

Snow White & The Seven Dwarves (1937) [Special Guest Viewer Steve]

So, to explain briefly how we do things: we're going to have five categories that we rank, and then weight those scores in our secret Gravi-room (Patent Pending) to come up with the final score. Each film will also include a paragraph from the respective auteurs, and thoughts from any guest viewers. Allons y!

Soundtrack/Score/Music: 6.5 (out of 10)

Story/Screenplay/Narrative: 5.5

Characters/Characterization + Voice Acting: 9

Art Direction/Design: 10

Themes, Archetypes and Artistic Interpretation: 8.5

From RM:

I've always been under the impression that this movie has always been given unfair love because it was the Progenitor, the Creator/God, the All-Father of Disney film. All I really remembered of the film was that, the dwarves as a concept, and the grating, shrill soprano of S-Dubs herself.
I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. Yes, Snow White's voice is grating, but not unbearable. And the animation deserves credit as not only impressive for the times, but there are water effects that are breath-taking by contemporary, CG standards. The Art Design and detail is impressive, and the Dwarves are a master's course in Commedia Dell'Arte.
That being said, despite a catchy tune or two, the score is not particularly memorable, and the plot (or what there is of it) is bunched together in ten minute clumps at the beginning and the end, with an hour and change of fluff (very enjoyable fluff, but fluff nonetheless) in the middle.
The Witch "as Lady Macbeth" is an interesting comparison, as well as the morality of the film being obvious but not oppressive. Overall, the film is well worth the hype, and a fine entry into the elite echelon of Disney canon.

From Wiry:

Hey, remember Enchanted? Apparently, the whole thing is basically the plot of Snow White parodied at great length. What's even more funner is to see the actual original thingimawhoosit itself, the Grand Poobah of the Disney canon. Ryan covered much of the general points above, and I don't really have much beef. Snow White's voice is indeed a terrifying force of nature, trumping even the lightning bolt that thoughtfully carbonates the Queen's potion before second-guessing itself and offing her on the rocky cliff.
I appreciate the darkness all over this film, from the cute little heart box the Queen just so happens to have ("You know, I found this thing at a garage sale but never quite knew what to put in it!") to the rapeforest (which turns out to all be in Snow White's head! They're cute animal friends, not doers of ill!) to the buzzards who swoop down to chow on the Queen carpaccio, the film definitely brings to the table the necessary Grimm elements that I think make a good fairy tale. Add on to that the fact that it opens and ends with a live-action book, which invites us to journey from the world of text to moving pictures, and you've got a great example of fairy-tale as full-length film. Really, we can't overstate enough the brains that went into creating this work of art. I mean, there's a reason certain images (the apple, the witch's eyes, and so forth) have stuck around so long.

Final Grade: B+

Final Rank:
1.) Snow White & The Seven Dwarves (duh.)

Next Week:
The Lion King (1994) &
Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

We here at Tweedle Industries cordially invite you to our latest project, this very blog upon which you glare. The deliciously indubitable RM and Wiry decided to embark upon a simple yet masochistic project, which is well in keeping with their general, rustic aesthetic. Often have we two debated and preened our various thoughts and beliefs, but we have never been able to hammer the proverbial nail into the metaphorical coffin, if only because we acknowledged our own subjectivity, and our inability to remove ourselves from the emotional ties we forge.

No More!

Well, that's not entirely true. More! We realize that removing our subjectivity would require some sort of fusion with technology and extrication of our hearts, and neither of us has the capital nor the particular desire to become a Davy Jones mecha, so we struck a compromise. We shall man-hug our bias, but develop a grading system that removes our subjectivity from the system, enabling us to do what we desire more than anything...

Categorize, Tabulate, Score, and Rrrrrank.

So welcome, reader, to this Dewey Decimalization of our first great project, the Complete Theatrical Animated Features of Walt Disney. Over the course of this blog, we will watch, debate, rank, judge, and publish for your viewing pleasure our thoughts and rankings of every film from Snow White to Meet the Robinsons - The Good (Beauty and The Beast), The Bad (Treasure Planet), and The Ugly (Home on The Range) of all things in between.

We do this for ourselves and our own glory, but welcome your thoughts, criticisms, your rambling and rabid rants defending your precious favorite. If you want to get involved, please let us know, and we'll try to include you in our cine-meandering. This, like all things, is a communal exercise in bullshit. Come. Let's spread the poop around together, friends.

RM and Wiry, purveyors of mischief

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