Sunday, April 24, 2016
For the last eighty years, Walt Disney Studios has been the dominant force in animated musicals. Since 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney has churned out cartoons about singing flowers, singing rats, singing fish, singing frogs, and all sorts of other lovable vermin who can’t stop themselves from bursting into song.
Sure, there have been other studios who’ve tried to break into Disney’s cartoon musical monopoly, but they typically came off as slightly off-brand variations on the Disney standard—1997’s Anastasia, for example, or 1998’s Quest for Camelot. Both exemplify the uncanny valley of movie musicals that are almost-but-not-quite Disney. These films typically fade from memory in a few years, like the last few notes of a Russian music box from an amnesiac princess.
These copycat cartoons aren't particularly interesting, though. The interesting movies are the ones that actively reject the Disney model, the musicals that decide to get a little weirder, a little creepier. These are the movies about plant-magic trolls and mute swans and the distant relatives of Marco Polo. If you want to read my TOP TEN list of weird cartoons, go to Taste of Cinema. This is my first listicle with them, but there will be many more to come!