I have an unashamed love and admiration for Disney films and theme parks, so this documentary started with an advantage. The film covers Disney’s “comeback” in the animation department throughout the 90’s and really dives into the business aspect of the films. I was looking forward to learning more about the animation and movie making process that Disney has perfected throughout the years, and there is some of that in this film. What it comes down to is opinion: There are things I love and things I hate about this documentary.
I love the idea of Disney studio culture. The home movies that show the group dynamic present in the artist’s studios are brilliant and entertaining. It is very reminiscent of the studio culture present throughout my undergrad experience studying architecture. I love hearing the story behind some of my favorite films. It is interesting to hear the artists talk about their own work and refer to certain things as successes or failures in their eyes (There is a part in the film where the artists express that the Lion King was sort of written off as destined to be mediocre, which ends up being my most favorite Disney film of all time and a grand success).
I hate hearing about the office politics associated with the company. Hearing what a pressure cooker the studio becomes and watching everyone’s struggle for power, credit, and money is rather disheartening. I suppose children from my generation have been conditioned to associate Disney with wholesome, family fun and love and imagination and other magical feelings. I have often times been accused of being oblivious to the nature of the Disney company, and to see the business end of such a corporation is very depressing for me.
Verdict: If you are a Disney fan, give it a shot.
It is a success story that leaves you with a bitter taste. The film seems to desperately try to end on a high note after burning down Toontown. It does give a bit of insight into the work that goes into the films and some of the animation techniques that have developed over the years, but be warned:
If you blindly love Disney, I suggest you take the blue pill and remain in bliss.
If you are after a fun film that is informative and will make you happy, may I suggest The Pixar Story?