Melody Time is the second to last of the package films. This one follows the same format of Make Mine Music, which is having a bunch of different segments, Fantasia-style, but set to mostly popular music.
The one thing I say about all these package films is — it’s not their fault that I’m ranking them where I’m ranking them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, and they’re mostly good films. It’s just — they’re just not as entertaining as most other Disney movies. That’s really their only fault.
I consider this one to be one of the weaker package films (of the six, this one is fifth for me. Also keep in mind that I don’t count Fantasia as a package film). The sections here just aren’t as interesting as those in the other ones. There really isn’t any section in this that’s memorable in any way. Yet, the fact that it has a bunch of sections makes it more interesting than Fun and Fancy Free to me, even if that one had the “Mickey and the Beanstalk” segment. Still, though, this is one of the more forgettable Disney films.
Another package film. I can’t really fault these films at all for being where I’ve ranked them. Disney just happened to get going as a studio right before a world war hit, so it was just a bad stroke of luck that they couldn’t get enough finances going to keep making films like they do now. They really couldn’t get going until Cinderella. So you really have to be lenient with them on anything between Bambi and that.
This is actually their fourth package film (of six. I don’t count Fantasia here, since that was meant as a unique piece of art. These are really just compilations of stuff. Anyway, of the package films — this is middle of the road. It’s not bad and it’s not good. The package films sort of take on one of three plots: The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos are structured around locations (more so Amigos. Caballeros has the framing of Donald getting gifts, but it’s still based on location), and then Make Mine Music and Melody Time have a bunch of musical segments that run one after another (like Fantasia, only more like a playlist). This film, along with The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, only has two parts to it. It’s just two stories thrown together. They’re not connected by anything, really. This is the weaker of the two, simply because no one remembers the first half of it and the second half, while memorable, isn’t as amazing as I thought it was in my mind all these years. But still — it’s not a bad film. (It’s just drawn that way. Zing! No, I’m kidding. It just doesn’t have much to it. That’s why it’s here.)
Meet the Robinsons is — I want to call it an honorable misfire, but it isn’t. The film is a mess, and, like almost all of Disney’s CG features, doesn’t seem to have a point. If you look at Disney’s films, post-1999, specifically the ones told via CG, you’ll see that very few of them seem to have a point. They don’t tell a story worth telling. I’d say, of the 13 animated Disney films released from 2000 to the present, I’d say four have a story worth telling. And then I can be convinced about two more, with another half thrown in. Maybe they’re batting .500, which would be fine if the other half didn’t contain such gigantic messes.
This film is just a misfire from top to bottom. And the reason this isn’t lower is because it does have some heart to it (brought in after-the-fact by John Lasseter, apparently. But even he wasn’t enough to save this movie). But what is this film? What are we getting out of it? Why does this story need to be told? Anyone? Does anyone remember anything about this movie except for one or two jokes (which were in the trailer, so you don’t even need to have seen the movie for that)?
Honestly, I probably should have ranked this lower than Brother Bear, but for some reason, I felt this was the right place for it. I’m probably wrong, since hand-drawn should be ranked above CG any day. I guess it’s those small moments of humanity that are built into this unholy mess that do it for me. Either way, #47 or #48, I think we can all agree that this belongs among the worst five movies Disney has ever made.
Brother Bear is probably the nadir of Disney in the 2000s. Maybe more so than Chicken Little, but it’s close. It depends on how you see it. I see Chicken Little as Disney attempting to adapt to technological change. They’re not necessarily in their element. But with this — this is Disney doing what they know. And it still turned out like this. So it’s hard to really qualify. But still, it’s definitely one of their worst.
The film — I don’t know — it’s just flat. There’s nothing of interest in it (except for one thing, which I’ll mention later), and it just feels like Disney going through the motions.
Pic of the Day: ♫ “I wanna be / Where the people are / I wanna see / Wanna see ’em dancin’ / Walking around on those / What do you call ’em? / Oh… feet! / Flippin’ your fins / You don’t get too far / Legs are required / For jumping, dancing / Strolling along down a / What’s that word again? / Street. / Up where they walk / Up where they run / Up where they stay all day in the sun / Wanderin’ free / Wish I could be / Part of that world.” ♫
I always consider this film a pair with Saludos Amigos, which was the #50 film on my countdown. To me, they’re just throwaway films. It’s clear the company’s attention is elsewhere (making propaganda pieces for the war as well as cutting back on budgets because of it), and I’m just not a fan of anything South American. Never was. So to me, the two are not only linked, but pretty forgettable on the whole. This one at least has a plot (of sorts), and a pretty memorable song, so I can’t fault it that much. It’s just — not that interesting to me.
Again, this is one of those — it’s not the film’s fault, it’s just one of those by-default things that happens. The film just isn’t as good as other Disney films. It has all the reasons in the world not to be, but I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it past #49.
Saludos Amigos isn’t really a film. It’s more of a travelogue. See, in 1941, right before the war started, the State Department sent Disney animators down to South America on a goodwill tour. Sort of a, “Hey, we’re Good Neighbors” sort of deal. A lot of South America had ties to the Nazis (Boys from Brazil, anyone?), so they said, “Hey, what’s pure? Disney is pure. They love the mouse down there,” so they sent Walt as an ambassador. They went down, about twenty people in all — artists, composers, etc. — and visited Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. Apparently the film did more to promote common interest between the U.S. and South America in the few months the trip lasted than the State Department had done in 50 years. Good old Walt.
But as I said, it’s not really a film. It’s mostly just a piece designed for ambassadorial purposes. There’s no plot, it’s just an actual tour of South America, with some Disney characters we know thrown in. That’s why this film is where it is. It does nothing wrong, it’s just that there’s not much of substance here either.
We begin with #51, and Chicken Little. Picking the film I considered to be the weakest Disney film of all time was actually more difficult than picking the film I considered to be the best Disney film. The reason is because — what are your qualifications?
I struggled on this question for a while, and I flip-flopped between this film and the film that is going to be #50 on my list for the longest time. Ultimately, I decided that it’s worse to have a film that isn’t trying more than a film that just isn’t. So that’s why this is #51.
The 2000s were not a kind decade for Disney. They had some hits, but mostly, they had misses. A lot of this can be blamed on the rise of Pixar, which really messed with Disney’s style. They started to think, “Well maybe we should get into that computer animation game…”, and that really screwed them up, because… well, when you see which of their films are fully CG, you’ll understand.
Chicken Little is a mess. I’m not really sure what the idea with it was. It certainly wasn’t to tell the original story, since they dispense with that within the first sixty seconds. This film is just a jumbled mess of references to other films, gags pandering to children under the age of 5, and the biggest cardinal sin for Disney — using preexisting music. Everything about this film is just wrong. This is definitely the weakest thing Disney has put out.