Thoughts On the Disenchanted and The Little Mermaid Trailers

It’s easy to be cynical in an adult and complicated world. Then you put on a Disney movie and you become the child believing that anything is possible.

Last week, the trailers for Disenchanted (the sequel to Enchanted) and the live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid were released.

The premise of Disenchanted is as follows: It’s been ten years since Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey) had their happily ever after. But when Giselle starts to question that happiness, things go horribly wrong.

When it was announced some time ago that Halle Bailey was taking over the role of Ariel, I was not sure about that casting. To be perfectly honest, it was simply about the hair color, nothing more. If it came off as racist, I apologize. That was not my intention. Ariel is such an integral part of my childhood that she is a part of my essence. I just feel very protective of her.

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Though it is only a teaser trailer, I have seen enough to be excited. Bailey has a beautiful voice and I look forward to seeing the film when it comes out next year.

Disenchanted will be released on DisneyPlus on November 24th. The Little Mermaid will be in theaters next May.

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Flashback Friday: Toy Story 3 (2010)

When we are very young, we play with a certain group of toys. When we grow up, our toys change dramatically.

Toy Story 3 is the third film within the Toy Story franchise. Andy (voiced by John Norris) is just about to leave for college. The toys he once considered to be beloved friends are supposed to be taken to the attic. But instead, they are donated to a daycare center.

The treatment they receive from the children at the daycare is a complete 180 from how Andy loved and treasured them. Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), and co are now being handled by sticky-fingered toddlers who lack the respect of Woody and Buzz’s former owner.

If they are to get home, they must convince the disillusioned Lotso (voiced by Ned Beatty) that they were all once loved. Helping the boys in their quest is Barbie (Jodie Benson), who is working with her counterpart Ken (Michael Keaton) to free them all.

This movie is adorable, funny, and fits well into the overall story within the franchise. It also speaks of the fact that we all grow up eventually. What we once loved will eventually be consigned to the past and will be replaced by something entirely different.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Perception is not always everything. How we see ourselves is not how others see us. This can apply, in writing terms, to how we see antagonists. We, as the audience, know that they are up to no good. But this character believes that they are doing the right thing.

The 2012 Disney movie, Wreck-It Ralph, is the story of an old-school video game villain who wants to be seen as a hero. Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) wishes that he was seen in a good light by the residents of the game he inhabits. The problem is there can only be one protagonist, Felix (Jack McBrayer).

He sees his opportunity to change his reputation via Seargent Calhoun (Jane Lynch) in a first-person shooter game. In doing so, he lets loose a virus that may shut down the entire arcade. The only way he can save himself and his world is through an unexpected ally: Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman).

Can Ralph change his self-image and his entire world before it is too late?

I love this movie. It is funny, it is supremely entertaining, and it has heart. It also has a message about self-esteem and trying to prove that you are more than what others think you are.

I also love that the female characters are equal in terms of narrative and image to the male characters. They are not confined to “traditional” female roles.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

By the Book (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

The haters to lovers trope is one that had been used many times, by many authors, in many different ways. The figurative beauty of this well-known narrative arc is its ability to be dynamic and uniquely moldable to a new perspective.

By the Book is the second book in the Meant to Be Series. Written by Jasmine Guillory and published in May, it is essentially a modern-day rom-com version of Beauty and The Beast. For the last three years, Isabelle has been working at her NYC-based publishing company, hoping to be noticed by her manager. In her mid-twenties, she is one of the few African American employees and starting to become disillusioned.

While on a work trip to California, she finally seizes upon an opportunity to get the appreciation she deserves. Beau is a well-known author who has been radio silent on the status of his manuscript. She decides to try to talk to him in person. When Isabelle finally meets Beau, she discovers that his reputation of being impersonal and hard-headed is not too far off from reality.

Getting Beau to open up is a bigger task than Isabelle initially expected it to be. But as they spend time together, both Beau and Isabelle learn that each of them is lost in their own way and may find what they are looking for in one another.

This book had me at hello. It was delicious, romantic, funny, and held me by the lapels from beginning to end. Guillory holds tight to the Disney narrative while remaking it in her own image. I loved Isabelle’s spunkiness, Intelligence, and drive. Beau, as the leading man, has his own troubles, making him relatable and enough of an asshole to challenge both the reader and his future other half.

Do I recommend it? Of course.

By the Book (Meant to Be Series) is available wherever books are sold.

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Throwback Thursday: Moana (2016)

Ancient myths make for great stories. They are human stories about human characters going on extraordinary adventures that challenge both the protagonist and the audience.

The 2016 animated Disney movie Moana tells the story of a young lady named Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho). She is the daughter of a Polynesian chief who must save her island and her people. For time immemorial, her people have traveled the seas. But now the crops are dying and the sea is not yielding fish to the fisherman.

Believing the myth that the g-d Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is responsible for this curse, she goes on a journey to find him and force him to return the heart he carries to its rightful owner.

This movie is really good. It is charming, entertaining, and completely adorable. The Rock is at the top of his game and Cravalho is a lovely addition to the Disney princess line. Moana is determined, independent, fearless, and perhaps a little naive about the expedition she is about to go on.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Moana is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

Lightyear Movie Review

Every narrative and IP has its limits. Though a movie studio may want to test its limit, the audience may feel differently.

The new Disney/Pixar movie, Lightyear, is an origin story/prequel within the Toy Story franchise. After being stranded for years on a mysterious planet, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans, taking over from Tim Allen) is looking for a way to return home. His friend and co-pilot, Alicia Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), tries to be supportive while also being realistic.

As Buzz continues in his efforts to get his crew home, time moves on. When he finally achieves his goal, he discovers that it has been sixty years since his first attempt. An army of robots led by Zurg (James Brolin) is doing everything they can to steal his power source. Leading a small band of misfits that includes Alicia’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), Darby Steel (Dale Soules), and the animatronic cat Sox (Peter Sohn), they must save the day and stop Zurg.

I have mixed feelings about this film. As a standalone narrative, it’s not bad. I appreciate the diversity and representation of the characters. But I also feel like Disney and Pixar are perhaps becoming a little too reliant on a known quantity instead of trying out something new. The lessons within the story are universal and ageless, but that does not take away from the fact that this is the fifth time that we have seen Buzz on the big screen.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Lightyear is presently in theaters.

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If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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I Stand With Moses Ingram

The world of Star Wars stands for everything that racism and hate are against. Diversity, inclusion, respect, democracy, etc are ingrained into this world. That does not mean, however, that everyone in the fandom is immune from the hate and racism in the outside world.

Earlier this week, Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram spoke out about the racist messages she has been receiving via social media from a small group of fans who are unhappy with her character’s place in the universe.

Ingram is unfortunately not the first SW actor of color to have this experience. Both John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran were also verbally attacked by online trolls. They could not fathom that there are more non-Caucasian characters than Lando Calrissian.

Thankfully, both the upper echelons at Disney and her colleagues have spoken up. Ewan McGregor, as both the lead actor and executive producer of the series, released a video in support of his co-star.

As a performer, Ingram is completely new to me. But in the three episodes that have been released so far, I have become a fan. Her performance is brilliant and I cannot wait to see where she will go in future episodes.

The haters can suck it for all I care. I stand with Moses Ingram.

Florida Republican Fuckery: Banning Math Books and Cutting Tax Ties With Disney

As I see it, the only way for the government to function is for those in power to at least, be able to listen to someone else, whether it is another politician who has different beliefs or a business owner.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appears to feel otherwise. In addition to his Don’t Say Gay law, his state is upping the ante on book banning within schools. Following on the heels of the so-called “CRT (aka Critical Race Theory)” bullshit, 54 math books have been rejected because some claim that CRT is included in the material.

First of all, CRT has nothing to do with math. It has everything to do with the denial of the truth of American history and the fact that racism, in all forms (especially against people of color) is still alive and well in this country. Second, this concept is not even taught in the K-12 classroom. It is only taught at the university level or higher. That means that the student is not exposed to it until they are at least 17.

Third of all, math, in all of its forms, is one of the core concepts of learning. It starts when we are very young and being taught to count by our parents. Even if we choose a career that has nothing to do with numbers, it has everything to do with our daily lives. Whether it’s maintaining a budget or calculating miles, it is absolutely essential. In going down this path, DeSantis and his ilk are limiting the education of his state’s children and their future opportunities.

While this has been happening, he has been tangling with Disney in regards to their response to the Don’t Say Gay legislation. As of yesterday, the company has been stripped of its tax status and independence that has been in existence since the late 1960s. For decades, Disney has had tax breaks and has paid its own way in regard to municipal services such as law enforcement, the fire department, etc. This means that the funds will come from the taxpayer. Nothing gets politicians out of office and voters to the voting booth faster than a tax hike. If he wants another 4 years in office, I would re-think his decision.

I don’t agree with everything that the company puts out, nor am I an economist. While we have to recognize that Disney did not do anything until its employees walked off the job, I admire that they are standing their ground. Given its popularity and the number of IPs that it owns, I don’t think that this is a wise decision. If I were to make a guess, I would say that the tax dollars that come in from the park’s visitors add a pretty penny to state coffers.

When one takes political office, they are serving all of their constituents, not just the ones who agree with them. It would behoove Governor DeSantis and other Republicans to remember this. I guess the only way they will learn this lesson is when we boot them all out of office come November (hopefully).

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The Fans Strike Back Exhibition Review

Though the Star Wars saga is only forty-plus years old, it feels as if it has been part of our collective culture for eternity.

The Fans Strike Back recently opened in New York City. This nearly 25,000 feet exhibition is by and for the fans. Containing numerous figurines, lightsabers, life-size figures, vehicles, etc, it is a trip through the world of Star Wars and the fandom that has given rise to a universe that we all love. Starting with Episode One: The Phantom Menance, we walk through the narrative, hitting all of the major plot points and feeling this delicious energy that is nothing short of infectious.

One thing I do have to point out is that the pieces with the exhibit strictly come from the fans. Nothing has come from either Lucasfilm or Disney. That being said, it is wonderful. I walked in with a smile on my face and walked out with a smile on my face. Perfect for both children and adults, it is an absolutely wonderful experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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The Fans Strike Back is located at 526 6th Ave in New York City. It is open until July 26th. Check the website for ticket times and prices.

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