First, I must make a confession. I broke the cardinal rule.
I saw The Hunchback of Notre Dame without bringing a girl, small child, furry animal or note from my mother.
In some states, seeing Disney without a chick is grounds for castration. The idea is, if you ain't gonna use 'em, you don't need 'em.
Luckily, I don't live in one of those states, and I get to keep my balls.
Now to the movie.
Ya ever notice that you get some pretty rotten previews before a Disney flick? What, they're too good to give us aliens taking over the earth or one man blowing up the island of Los Angeles? They gotta tantalize us with Shaq the Genie?
I'm afraid I won't be doing any sort of review on Kazaam, whenever it rears it's ugly head.
Oh yeah, Hunchback.
I went in with mild expectations. Actually, I just wanted it to be better than Pocahooker.
It was a lot better.
I laughed, I cried, I tapped my toes and I admired the pretty pictures. Ok, I didn't cry.
But I liked it a lot. Disney has rebounded with a grand tale of good and evil, the pure of heart and the retched. It follows the story of Quasimodo, who is different. He's ugly, he has a huge lump on his back, (hence the title, or did ya figure that one out?) he's awkward around others - he reminded me of a girl I dated in high school.
In fact, it's a good thing he has the sweet, light-hearted voice of Tom Hulce, or he'd never get laid. Not that he gets laid in the movie. I mean, come on, it's Disney! They make their Parade Cinderalla's sign statements of virginity, you think they're gonna show a deformed freak get it on?
The movie is well crafted. The story weaves along, and we follow three main characters. Three because they need two to be love interests, and one to be a mutant Forrest Gump.
What made this movie for me, was, among other things, the villain. The Parisian High muck-a-muck who cares for Quasi by stuffing him in a tower. He's the local law, and of course he's evil. But he thinks he's the epitome of purity, and he just wants to stamp out those rotten gypsies and their pagan ways! And if he has to burn down the city or squash some innocent insects, well excuuuuuse me!
Actually, squashing insects is OK, because all insects are inherently evil.
Fact is, he's a tortured soul because he has sinful thoughts, and he expresses them in what is easily the darkest, most gripping, and most daring musical number in Disney history set alone in his chambers in front of the fire place.
The comic relief, besides being splattered here and there throughout, is provided mostly by a trio of Gargoyles who have the catchiest number and the most out-of-context sight gags. They're a scream.
Kevin Klein is our romantic hero. A valiant captain of the guard with a horse named Achilles. (Basically for one swift joke. "Achilles! Heel!") Klein fills the voice with so much life, I thought I was watching him, not just hearing him.
Same can be said of Demi Moore's Esmeralda, the hottest cartoon babe since Jessica Rabbit. My dreams will be full for weeks.
The direction was ... direction? How do you direct a cartoon?
"Cut! Quasi, babe, more lurch in your step when you traipse about the tower, OK? Great, alright people, this one's gonna be a take! And action!"
The music was very Disney, which isn't surprising since it's done by the same guy who's done the last four or five Disney musicals. I'm not quite sure which song will get the Oscar this year, but I'm sure I'll know more when Janet Jackson, or Whitney Houston, or maybe Courtney Love starts blaring it over every radio station in LA.
The drop-dead greatest moment is a wonderful reference to The Wizard of Oz, you'll know it when you see it, but in general, it's a marvelous return to form for the Disney Animators.
This is a treat for the kids, but it's also a treat for the grownups. Disney with a bite. It will reap huge lumps of money and will create furor for next year's animated classic, Hercules.
I'm going to give this baby 4 Babylons, straight up. Part of that may be that I was so relieved that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as Poccococo, but hey, them's the breaks.
I heartily recommend treating yourself to a night in Paris.
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We are a cruel lot.
Thank you for your time.