How is Alice in Wonderland a movie for kids?

I’m not what you would call a prudish parent. I definitely wouldn’t fall too much on the liberal side either. But when I was watching Alice in Wonderland yesterday, I kept thinking to myself ‘how is this a kids movie?!?’ First of all, the heroine is a young girl who is more focused on dreaming of a world of absurdity than paying attention to her studies. Ok. That’s pretty normal. She then chooses to venture deep, deep into a hole underground by herself. I am all for adventure, but she even states out loud that she is choosing to do something she knows she shouldn’t. When she gets to Wonderland…all bets are off. She eats things that say ‘eat me’ and drinks things that say ‘drink me’ having no idea who or what put them there or wrote those signs. There are an untold number of strangers she encounters and seems to have no problem both talking to or following their advice. One is a hooka-smoking caterpillar who blows smoke letters into her face as they converse. Then she goes to a party with a pair of crazy dudes completely unchaperoned and allows them to make her drinks. Definitely not safe. All in all, she pretty much goes against everything that I have and probably will eventually ever teach my daughter. And in the end, there are no consequences for Alice. Not even a cheesy, ‘love is the answer’ to wrap it in a nice package.

Then there is the Queen of Hearts. This woman is different than the majority of other Disney villains as she has numerous people murdered over the course of the film. She just doesn’t only try to kill Alice, she flippantly sends many people to get their heads cut off. There is one scene before she even appears on screen where characters are discussing her predilection for decapitation and graphically use red paint to drive the point home. Huh? Queue the nightmares for my little dreamers…

Ok, so I get that all of this is in the book the movie is based on. But that doesn’t make it any better, does it? If we used that logic then we shouldn’t be upset or surprised if we don’t soon see Disney’s 101 Shades of Grey coming to a theatre near you!

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Why didn’t Flynn wait?

I’ve never been stabbed before so I can’t say for certain how I would handle myself in the same situation. However, Flynn is a man who has been in these types of scrapes before…maybe not this dire…but close. So one would think that he would be able to quickly assess the situation and understand how to best exploit the opportunity to better his circumstances. Yet in the time when he needs it most, his mental powers seem to fail him.

As Flynn lies dying on the ground, he makes what many view as a heroic sacrifice when he slices through Rapunzel’s hair to free her. But, why not just wait? Now, I know what you are thinking: Flynn has been selfish his whole life and the one selfless act that he does I am trying to take it away, right? Well….kinda. Why couldn’t he have let Rapunzel heal him and once he was all better, then cut her hair? That just makes sense. That way he wouldn’t have had to roll the dice with and rely on the out-of-nowhere magical tear.

Maybe when Rapunzel dropped him on his face, it broke more than just his smolder…

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Almost 7 Questions about the 7 Dwarfs.

I love these guys. Don’t you? Together they are gruff, sarcastic and silly. Three traits I find awesome. And one of them delivers my favorite Disney line of all time. Snow White asks them ‘How do you do?’ and Grumpy answers: ‘How do you do what?’ But what is really the story with these guys? Are they friends? Are they related? I think when I first watched this movie I assumed the latter was true. Yet, Dopey is like 30 years younger than the other guys. If they were brothers, that is a pretty big age discrepancy. Not unheard of but definitely difficult in a time before modern medicine. And while it is not clear why these guys have chosen to live together, it is clear why none of them is named ‘Accounty’ since they have to work tirelessly, day after day, mining expensive jewels yet can only afford a small shack in the woods.

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Did Ariel Ever Take a Bath? (pre-human)

This question takes me back to my childhood. Like most boys, I was never really fond of taking baths. I remember actually going a full week without one and I didn’t even bat an eye. I also used to think the act of water coming into contact with my skin was good enough to take care of any visible or invisible dirt that I had interacted with. A bath was equal to a swim, even if that swim was in a pond or lake. Water equaled clean. I have since reformed, but with that as a backdrop, I ask the question that many people have probably asked over the years: do those that live in the sea need to take a shower or bath? And to stay on topic for this blog, did Ariel or any of her merfolk feel the need to bathe? Don’t answer to quickly as there are a few angles in which we should review this query.

In the human world, we take showers for many reasons. Obviously cleanliness helps us remove filth from the world we live in. It removes things that we willingly put on our body like make-up, hair product or sunscreen. It helps us eliminate bacteria and other sickness causing agents that attach themselves to our skin. Outside of sanitary concerns, it also helps us from a social perspective keeping our own personal musk from going to far beyond our skin borders. And of course it feels good to take a shower, right?
So I ask again, do you think that Ariel, while in the ocean, ever took a ‘bath?’  I would assume while flipping her fins, she would surely come into contact with something grimey or slimey. Maybe some small sea bacteria would attach themselves to her while she swam around the reef. But we know that a shower would not be possible due to their complete immersion in the liquid. So, did she have specific brushes to scrape off the barnacles? And soap? How would that work? I guess she could use bar soap but you would think it would be hard to get it to apply itself underwater.
And if she had no concept of this human practice, why was she not completely confused by the bath she receives when she becomes a human. Sure the bubble are interesting, but were bubbles really something new to her? Every time a mermaid moved underwater, thousands of bubbles would appear around them.  Maybe she was just remembering her till-recent former life and hearing Sebastian’s words echo, ‘we got no troubles, life is the bubbles, under the sea.’
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Scar: The Desegregationalist?

Maybe we have Scar all wrong. If you watch The Lion King, you can easily come away with the view that Simba’s uncle is a devious usurping murderer. And this would not necessarily be incorrect. Yet, I do question if we are not presented with a somewhat lopsided view of the Royal family that predisposes us against the dark-haired lion. Mufasa, King of the Pridelands, is seen presenting his heir to resounding cheers and hoof-stamping from his subjects leading one to believe that every animal supports his rule. But we obviously know this isn’t true. I’m not talking about Scar…I’m talking about the hyenas. This group, characterized for their low intellect and ravenous appetites, have been banished from the lands and forced to live in an elephant graveyard. We know nothing about why or when this happened, only that Mufasa and team do everything to make sure this segregation continues to occur. But does he really have that right?

Hyenas are carnivores and therefore a competitor to the Circle of Life story that Mufasa bases his whole worldview around. The hyenas also eat the antelope and when they die become grass that is eaten by the antelope. Yet for some reason, they are not allowed to live in the lush, gated community that is the Pridelands. Why? They are doing what comes naturally to them, yet Mufasa does not allow them to mingle with the other local residents. We see cheetah’s in the opening sequence, so this wasn’t a sentence based on their diet. So what was it? When we look for an answer here, the obvious thing one could point to would be what the pridelands look like after Mufasa dies and Scar & The Hyenas take over. But that could be more a case of poor leadership vs. the fault of the hyenas.

So with that question swirling in the clouds of your mind, let’s revisit Scar. Say what you want about him, but one positive thing that he does is reach out to a disenfranchised group of underdogs that results in them having the same access as every other animal. Sure his motives may have been purely self-serving, but what politician doesn’t have ulterior motives for good works? And does the ends justify the means? When Scar’s obituary came out after he was digested by those he helped to free, I hope that it would mention that for a brief moment, Scar brought a little equality and pride to these lands.

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A Coat Tailor?

I can get past the ridiculousness of wanting a coat made out of dalmatian fur, but the question that has me seeing spots is: who was Cruella going to have produce the actual coat? Now, I understand and can rationalize someone who is privileged wanting something that no one else can have. Cruella De Vil grew up in luxury so she needs something exclusive and extravagant. We would assume that someone in her position would ‘know people’ to get it taken care of. But I don’t know if that is the case. Take Horace & Jasper. These two boneheads are the ones hired to steal dogs instead the more obvious choice of hiring professional thieves. (or buying from elsewhere)  From what we can tell these two were going to be the ones to also kill and skin the canines. I will bet that they did not have any previous experience in this vocation let alone possess any sort of expertise in fur preparation. So, it comes back to my original question. Once she gets the most certainly mangled dog pelts, who would be willing to make such a coat? And how would this amoral person be able to cobble together such a coat from the mess received? I guess that’s why she needed to steal 101 Dogs for one coat…

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What’s the Deal with Ursula?

Am I the only one who has an endless amount of questions about Ursula? When you first meet this octo-witch, you kind of take everything about her at face value. But when you start to dig a little deeper, the water gets more and more murky. First of all, she used to live in the palace. Did you catch her mentioning that when she was spying on Ariel? She didn’t just visit the palace, she lived there. Was she part of Triton’s council? Was she in politics? She obviously has to know something about the Oceanic legal system as she was able to best Triton with a legal document. For some reason, she ends up getting banished. I think we can all assume that her exile had something to do with her spells and general evilness. But none of that bothers me as much as the fact that she is part octopus. All the other half human creatures in Triton’s kingdom, that we see anyway, are half-fish. You don’t see any other shark-boys or seal-ladies floating around. Are we to assume that Ursula was changed into her current self by some sort of irreversible spell? Or could it be that she was an anomaly in the kingdom. A mutant of sorts. Could it be that she was looked upon differently her whole life because she had something different going on down below? Maybe she also ate her feelings which lead to her less than healthy physical state. Her appearance is definitely an issue she struggles with regardless of  if it was enchantment or genetic. She didn’t seem too keen on merpeeps who want to change something about their physical appearance.  Could it be jealousy? Remember the ugly merpeople she makes pretty only to have them become part of her living garden? I know every movie needs a villain but maybe she is not the one who is truly at fault here. What about the merparents out there that are obviously not educating their children about the direct link between the rash of local disappearances and a visit with Ursula? Maybe she is doing the ocean a favor by weeding out the stupider merfolk. I we could chalk this up to survival of the…unfittest?

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Who hired these guys?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the lack of accountability for the castle guards in the movie Aladdin. While they were severely lacking in morals & loyalty, they are not the only protectors of the realm that need some serious additional training. If you’ve watched Tangled, you will know what I mean. I don’t think I have ever seen more consistent incompetence among a group of men then I do from this squad. It seems that the only thing they are good at is not protecting the kingdom or the royal family. Let’s review their track record. First, they allow an elderly woman to scale the castle walls and kidnap the baby Princess. While I am not sure how Mother Gothel would have made it up to the balcony in the first place due to her advanced state, someone should have seen her performing this feat from one of their guard-posts. But no one did. Then after the crime is committed, these geniuses are somehow unable to find a tower housing the child in the middle of the woods within walking distance of the castle. Surely they would have scoured every inch of the countryside, right? I guess not. Later on, this same band of merry men allow Flynn and the Dynamic Duo to steal the most treasured royal possession, the lost princess’s crown, right from under their noses…literally. But they end up redeeming themselves right? Nope. They are comically thwarted by a band of thugs who not only break Flynn out of prison but elude capture themselves in the process. It almost makes me wish that Rapunzel wouldn’t have been returned to the King & Queen. If the King is willing to allow such shabby work from those sworn to protect him and his family, I’m not sure what type of strong parental figure he really is. Maybe she is better off without them. I’m serious…I mean, he ends up putting a horse in charge of his entire royal force at the end of the movie and arms them all with frying pans….

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Why?

I always try to add a touch of sarcasm & wit on this blog, but the news I just read has made me place that on hold for this post. I just read that Robin Williams has died. I am not trying to capitalize on this tragedy or ‘break this news,’ I am merely trying to give a little salute to this Disney icon. When I first saw Aladdin, I wanted to be Robin Williams. His voices, comedic timing and pure insanity amazed me and inspired me to embrace my inner goof and pursue theater. The Genie will remain one of my favorite Disney characters of all time. He will be missed.

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Does Hakuna Matata also mean ‘No Acuity?’

Ok. Let’s go over the plan again. There is a large number predators that are big and strong and will stop at nothing to devour you both if you’re discovered. They are holding another group captive and we are going to save them. These prisoners are a group of ladies that I knew a long time ago and based on the actions of my recent one night stand, they’re probably starving as well and will also want to consume you if they catch your scent. But don’t worry about that, they’ll be too focused on gaining freedom to be thinking about food. Once we oust the evil dictator I will reclaim my throne and reestablish the Circle of Life in the Pride Lands. What’s the Circle of Life? Oh, it’s just a little thing that my dad taught me. Basically it means that my kind can kill and eat whatever we want because when we die we become grass and others like you and your kind can ‘eat’ us. It’s not exactly the same thing, I agree, but is sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? You’re right…it isn’t really a circle either…more like a pyramid. Guess I never really thought about it too much. No, I haven’t considered establishing a strict vegetarian lifestyle when I am King, why? Oh, right. Because you and Pumbaa would be a the perfect victory feast for a band of hungry, battle-weary lionesses….hadn’t thought of that either. Oh well, too late now. Hakuna Matata!

I can appreciate that they are doing it to help their friend. It is a very valiant thing after all. The only problem that that this is a lose-lose proposition for these two. Sure they get rid of one group of meat-eaters, only to have another group of carnivores take their place? Wasn’t Nala trying to kill & eat Pumbaa before Simba stopped her? Her shock of seeing him abated her hunger for a bit but I am sure there wasn’t time for Simba to share and get Nala on board with the whole ‘I only eat bugs’ thing. Disney has a way of having couples not discuss those important types of things before they make life altering decisions. (see my Little Mermaid post). I don’t think Timon really saw what was happening. He was the one who didn’t have a clue. When Simba fell in love, the real bottom line is that it would have been better for Timon & Pumbaa if their trio had gone down to two.

(Special Thanks to Abigail for drawing this scene from a Lion King Screenshot! She does a great job and shows her step by step process on her blog. Take a look: http://www.drawingdisney.wordpress.com)

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