Friday, January 23, 2009

"Pinocchio" spoiler movie review and El Capitan panel discussion

The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood oftentimes does re-releases of classic Disney animated films, especially films that have been restored and will be released or re-released on DVD. Or sometimes, they just do it for the heck of it. We went to see "Oliver and Company" there a couple of weeks ago. When we heard about "Pinocchio" being shown, we definitely knew we wanted to go, especially with a panel discussion accompanying the film the day before the actual release date.

I parked at Hollywood and Highland last night, and one of the friends coming to the screening with us actually ended up parking right next to me. We then ran into the husband as we were walking across the street to the theatre. Pinocchio was in the lobby, and people were having their picture taken with him. We usually get VIP tickets, which include a reserved seat, a bucket of popcorn and a drink, so we picked up our snacks and then headed to our regular seats in the balcony. Our other friend who was attending that night was already in her seat.

Shortly after 7pm, the evening started. The moderator was Don Hahn, and whereas there's normally a row of chairs on stage for whomever is going to be on the panel, there were actually work stations and two lone chairs. Don announced that we'd be getting a virtual tour of the Disney Studios and that he'd brought along some of the artists who create the magic.

And the special panel guest for the evening was Dick Jones, the voice of Pinocchio himself. Even being in his early 80s, he still showed the spunk that Walt Disney himself must have seen when he hired Dick to voice Pinocchio. Don asked Dick about how he came to be the voice of Pinocchio, and Dick talked about the audition process and how he just thought Walt Disney was a very tall, nice man. At one point, Don made a comment about Dick being 10 at the time, and Dick said he was older than that. When Don asked how old he was, Dick said he was 11, which drew laughter from the audience. Dick talked about what it was like recording his lines and how Walt would interact with him when the reels had to be replaced. It was a lot of fun to listen to Dick reminisce about working on that film.

Don then talked to the artists on stage, including a sculptor who creates the maquettes that the animators use for reference with the characters (even though Don referred to the man as a sculpture - no, that's the object; the creator is the sculptor). Don then talked to an animator, who showed how animation is done page by page and what goes into animating a full length movie. Don also talked to a woman who did ink and paint, painting each of the cels of the film.

Don then said that one of the songs from the movie, "When You Wish Upon a Star", became the signature theme song of the Walt Disney Company, and that night, we'd hear a special rendition of the song. And then - the Dapper Dans walked on stage. No, I mean the REAL Dapper Dans, not the group at Disneyland that is now called the Dapper Dans. Yeah, they're ok, but they're a lot younger and not nearly as seasoned and personable (in my opinion) as the former incarnation. The Dapper Dans did a really nice version of the song, and it was really wonderful to be able to see and hear them. I haven't really felt the feeling of missing them until last night - I just knew they weren't at Disneyland, so I just never even think about looking for them anymore. But hearing them last night, I really know what I'm missing with most of them no longer a part of the group.

This is a picture of them from December 31, 2005.
The husband is pretty sure all four of them were there last night. The only one he's not 100% sure about is the gentleman in blue.

This is my favorite picture of them, taken shortly after the picture above. You'll have to read my trip report to find out the story behind the picture.

And with that, it was time for the movie. I'd never actually seen the movie before. Yeah, I'd seen scenes here and there but never the entire film. And there were scenes and story ideas that I never knew about. For instance, during the panel discussion, Don talked about the animation for the "Give a Little Whistle" song - a song and sequence I'd never heard of before. Given the Disney fan I am now, some people might be surprised that I've never seen this classic before. My Disney affection didn't develop until I was well into adulthood, and I didn't grow up in a household that included Disney movies. I have seen most of the films as they've been re-released at the El Capitan, and it's actually been nice to see them under such beautiful surroundings, especially when there's a panel discussion with some of the original people involved in the making of the film. To date, I believe the only classic Disney animated films (depending, however, on how you define "classic Disney animated film") that I have not seen are "Dumbo", "Robin Hood" and "The Aristocrats". One particular friend is especially perturbed that I've never seen "Dumbo", though she has graciously agreed to continue speaking to me and being my friend in spite of that particular shortcoming on my part. Of course, the really funny part is that the film was indeed re-released at the El Capitan in the last couple years - during the time when the husband and I were in Orlando and so were therefore completely unable to attend any of the screenings at the El Cap!

As for "Pinocchio" itself, I absolutely loved it. I can certainly see why it's a classic and the appeal it has to moviegoers of all ages. Figaro has been a favorite character of mine for quite some time anyway, but he is now even moreso since I've seen the film. He is a cutie - even if he is a brat.

Figaro with Cleo, Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio.

I didn't know that Stromboli had such a small part in the movie. I thought he was also the one responsible for the boys going to Pleasure Island. Of course, now I wonder why Disneyland previously decided to name a fairly nice Italian restaurant after him.

I didn't know that Jiminy Cricket started out as a vagabond. I'd only ever seen him in his new clothes. I also didn't know that he was that much of a lech, no matter if it was the Blue Fairy, a marionette or a figurine from a musical clock. I also didn't know crickets had round toes.

In these modern times, it made me uncomfortable that Geppetto was wishing so much for a little boy, and it made me even more uncomfortable when puppet Pinocchio was given life and Geppetto had him sleeping in bed cuddled up right next to him.

I asked the husband what kind of whale Monstro was. His response was "a fake one". I'm told there is no such whale large enough to be able to swallow whole a ship and where a man could live inside.

I had no idea that Monstro doesn't actually blow his tale off with his sneeze. During parts of that entire segment, I kept picturing different sequences from the Disneyland show Fantasmic. And I want to go on the Pinocchio ride again as well as on Storybook.

I didn't know that Pinocchio's nose grew only in one scene because of his lying.

When the boys are on Pleasure Island, and the boys were destroying the beautiful new modern home, I kept thinking about how they could recreate that sequence at Disneyland in Innoventions right now.

I loved the little sea horses that Jiminy encountered.

When Geppetto and Figaro were inside Monstro and fishing, and Geppetto was saying how there weren't any fish left, I kept thinking that yeah, there was one fish left, and she's right behind you. I would have been worried if I was Cleo - she might have made a tasty snack for Figaro. I thought it was odd that Figaro kissed and even licked Cleo but never felt the inclination to eat her. But then Figaro seemed to like his fish cooked and with pats of butter on top. And Cleo liked cake that didn't seem to get soggy in her bowl.

After Monstro attacked their raft, smashing it to bits with his tale, my thought was that the fish and the cat were dead. And then they washed up on shore right next to Geppetto, perfectly ok. This was totally unrealistic. Cleo even had water in her bowl. But was it regular fresh water or sea water, because that would seem to make a difference.

And we all laughed at the hippopotamus reference! I made a comment to everyone afterward that if a certain other friend of ours had been at the screening last night, at least one of us would have been hit really hard right after that line.

I had a terrific time seeing this movie.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

Very cool that the REAL Dapper Dans were there. I don't remember the hippopotamus from the movie, precisely, but who would have been hit? Me, or all of YOU? Glad you had such a good time, and that you can finally take that classic off your list of have-not-seens.