People have kind of a weird perception of Disney. Specifically, everyone hates them, but no one knows why. News that Disney has bought entertainment properties like Marvel or Lucasfilm is always met with groans and hand-wringing, but Disney’s done alright by Pixar, The Muppets, and their other acquisitions. People derisively refer to “Disney kids stuff” but wax poetic about the animated films of the 90s. Even their TV offerings like DuckTales or Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, which don’t quite hold up under a modern eye, are the subject of countless Facebook pages and tumblr blogs about how “the golden age of cartoons” is over. (False. Just check the Animation Wednesday category. Cartoons are only getting better.) I think a lot of it has to do with conflating the Disney Channel teen sitcom brand (Hannah Montana and the like) with the rest of the global media corporation that is Disney. If we’re going to claim that anything owned by the corporation is “Disney,” then that makes No Country for Old Men a “Disney movie.” I guess what I’m saying is that a movie or TV show being associated with Disney doesn’t make it something saccharine or lowbrow. Case in point: Gravity Falls!!
Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph has reportedly been in some stage of development since the late 1980s, which is something I can’t help but marvel at. Video games and their effect on popular culture have changed so much in the past few decades that it’s clear Wreck-It Ralph has been a number of films, and it’s interesting to imagine how different it would’ve been had it come out ten or even five years ago. But that’s neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that Wreck-It Ralph is a clever, stylish love letter to video games that both longtime fans and casual audiences can enjoy.
Mickey Mouse is the most well-known cartoon character in the world. I don’t have a statistic for that, but I feel pretty confident in that claim. He’s the face (often the silhouette) of one of the biggest entertainment corporations on the planet, and is sold aggressively to kids around the world. However, a funny thing happened to Mickey Mouse along the way: he stopped growing. The character was developed from his roots as a prankster to a bland corporate symbol. He’s struggled to maintain relevance because Disney’s effort to make sure he’s inoffensive and relatable have left him devoid of conflict. It’s hard to make an audience care about him. That’s why Donald Duck, Goofy, and Scrooge McDuck have all seen success in television series, but Mickey has struggled to reach audiences. It’s the same problem Warner Brothers has had with Bugs Bunny for a while too, although the new series seems to be helping.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been bright spots. The recent Epic Mickey video game captured a lot of the simple aesthetics that made early Mickey cartoons engaging. And of course, there’s the topic of this post, 1995’s Runaway Brain. Through the magic of YouTube, I’ve embedded it here in its entirety, so you can watch it after the jump.