31 January 2010

Disney: A reflection

There was a time, not that long ago, when I would jump at the chance to see a Disney animated film. I could not wait to see Beauty and the Beast. Lilo and Stitch is among my favorites.

But there have been a lot more misses: Hunchback (which I have forbidden any of my children to see because of some scenes). Hercules. Pocahontas.

And now The Princess and the Frog.

Disclaimer: My youngest is princess-mad. Specifically Disney-Princess-mad. I've seen 'em all. Multiple times. I love most of the Princess movies, myself. I have issues with Ariel and her weak-willed self, but I can deal. (And of course the daughter LOVES Ariel the most. I'm trying to sway her to Belle, a better role model, IMHO.)

So we had to go to Princess and the Frog. I had high hopes for this one. I really did. The animation is beautiful. The storyline, not so much. The songs, not memorable.

When we came back from the movie, the older two asked me to say a few funny lines.

I couldn't come up with one. Not one line, not one moment that stuck with me. In Any Way.

That tells you where Disney is getting it wrong.

The story sells. The hook into our emotional core brings us back.

We re-watch Cinderella because the story is good and we want Cinderella to defeat the evil Stepmother. She's the underdog. Who among us hasn't been the underdog?

Coraline sticks with us because the story is good and we have ALL hated our parents and wanted something different. Up was funny, but it was true, heartfelt AND IT HAD A GOOD STORY about regrets. Who among us hasn't had regrets on things not done?

The Princess and the Frog had good storytelling potential, and Disney wasted it. The underlying theme of Up and Coraline is about family. They tugged at our heartstrings because they used emotion and made the story tweak our hearts.

Princess and the Frog is supposed to be about family. The importance of family over work or play. But you barely see the lead character's families. Heck, you see and know more about the dang Cajun fireflies and their family dynamic than you do the main characters' families.

You don't feel for the main characters at all. I'm not even sold that the main characters learned anything at the end.

That's where Disney falls down. Flat. Until they figure it out, Pixar and every other animation studio is going to crush them at the box office, and Disney's going to have to try and live by marketing the hell out of Princess crud to parents like me.

How long will we be buying if the story isn't any good? Will my daughters have fond memories of the movies out now?

I doubt it.

22 January 2010

Advice from strange places

If you know me, you know I'm a book collector. We have hundreds of them. Some of them more than 100 years old. Among them, I kept a freshman year college text. Humanties 101 at Mizzou, shout out!

Seriously, I pulled out The Handbook of Epictetus just to see how my perspective may have changed. It has been 15 years since I've cracked this book. Whatever pompous thoughts I had at 18 surely have been altered.

I was pleasantly surprised to recall that much of what this old Greek Stoic rang true then and it rings true now. I sweat the small stuff of life, the petty stuff that gets us down. As a stoic, Epictetus tells you to let it roll. Duck, water and all that. At the end, what we fret about ultimately isn't important.

As the mom of a 13-year-old girl, this passage hit true. More true than it did when I was 18. (Edited to swap "slave boy" for "teenager"):

"When you call the [teenager], keep in mind that he is capable of not doing any of the things that you want him to. But he is not in such a good position that your being upset or not depends on him."


Good advice to all of us with teenagers. Or those of us who will have teenagers. You can't make them do anything. It isn't you. Accept, move on.

Thanks, Honors Humanties Core profs. Sue Crowley and Bill Bondeson, I'm shouting your way. It meant a little something back then. It means a helluva lot more now.

BTW: The RateMyProfessors comment: if only they knew. That was true 15 years ago, right Paula?

06 January 2010

Wii have an addiction

My name is MommyTracked. I have become a Wii Fit junkie.

Santa brought us one for Christmas. The kids have played with it more; heck, they play with everything more. However, the Wii Fit was for all of us, and in particular, to get my lazy rump off the couch on days I don't run. Ditto for my husband, only without the run part.

The exercises are fun, and the yoga section is amazing. I feel more balanced. My back is less tight. This is after 12 days, folks.

Even better, those smart computer programmers have found ways to get you to exercise and get your heart rate up without you realizing it. I have become an obstacle course/ski jump/island cycling junkie. I just "cycled" for 45 minutes trying to track down 22 flags on a fake San Francisco park. Oh, and the kids got to laugh their heads off as I fell off cliffs, into water, into the Pacific, and get hopelessly lost. But I beat that darn thing. I also burned 135 calories in the process.

Go game designers.

Go me.

Okay, so this working thing

has totally kicked my tail this time. I just don't have the energy to write or even think many days when I come home. The cooking/cleaning/chasing kids thing doesn't help.

New year, new leaf. I'm trying to get back into the swing o' things.