TLOTA: Well the good news is at least the Disney Channel doesn’t air that annoying Shia LaBeouf anymore. The bad news is, they air nothing but their god awful current tween garbage and my twin nieces are watching this and soon enough their little sister! You’d think they could put in some time to air some of their old stuff! You know, back when Walt was alive and everything they produced was good! I’d bet if they showed a classic now and then they’d really see the ratings take a huge jump up.(The Rowdy Reviewer pops in out of nowhere via Jeannie blink)
ROWDY: I’ll take that bet!
TLOTA: GHAA! (Jumps out his chair to smash through stuff eventually landing in an all-white background) What the…? (Turns around and comes to a realization) It’s my intro but why isn’t it starting? Oh now I know, I haven’t hit the play button to start it. (James walks off camera and hits the play button.)
(Music from the last seasons of the Original Run of American Gladiators play Speedy shot of James Faraci breaking through the American Flag, working out, fighting bad cinema, bad pop culture anything bad in the world with a picture of the White House appears in the background as Jack Swagger, Zeb Coulter and President Obama appear in the foreground as all three fall as James Faraci stands alone and tall and in Army text the words of The Last Of The Americans stand by his side)
TLOTA: Don’t you ever warn people before you do that?
ROWDY: I’m sorry for barging in like this but I need to set you straight.
TLOTA: On What?
ROWDY: Don’t tell me someone like you has just bought into the belief that EVERYTHING Disney made in the past was great! How much stuff did they do with that whole “true love conquers all” crap? Isn’t that what you dislike the most?
TLOTA: Sometimes I can be a bit of a hopeless romantic and the rest of the times well…You have to ask?
ROWDY: Then wouldn’t it be great to tear one of those a new one?
TLOTA: I guess?
ROWDY: Then cue the opener!
(Cut to opening title sequence for Sleeping Beauty)
TLOTA: Well, wait a second, NO! That is one of Disney’s most beloved movies ever!
ROWDY: Yes, but when has popular opinion ever stopped an online critic? Do the words Film Brain and Equilibrium mean anything? I get that a lot of people love this movie, and it featured a lot of things that would become iconic in the Disney franchise. I just feel there are a lot of flaws in the picture that need to be addressed, and if I had to go along with Film Geek in his ripping of Alice in Wonderland, I’m taking someone down with me in riffing this!
TLOTA: I’m so honored. But if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this the right way. Sit down over there and introduce yourself.
ROWDY: Hello everyone, I’m The Rowdy Reviewer of Rowdyc.com.
TLOTA: And I’m James Faraci, The Last of the Americans and the views we’re about to express are that of our own and some of yours. (James places his left hand to cup over his mouth and whisper not within Earshot of Rowdy “Hopefully none of yours”.) Alright Rowdy you dragged me into this so why don’t you kick this off.
ROWDY: So I’m sure we’ve all heard the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty: Beautiful Princess gets cursed to an eternal slumber until handsome prince awakens her with a kiss; standard fairy tale fare that makes cynical crackpots like us puke. There have been numerous versions of the story, and while the movie claims to be adapted from Charles Parrault’s tale, it still has elements included from the Grimm Brothers version along with the Ilyich Tchaikovsky musical. What a lot of people might not know is that this movie was not a hit when it was first released in 1959. It took nine years to make, was their most expensive film ever at the time and only grossed 1.7 million in its initial release, leading to the company’s first annual loss in a decade. As a result, the Disney Company would not adapt another fairy tale until nearly 30 years later with The Little Mermaid.
TLOTA: So if it’s so beloved now, why did it fail then?
ROWDY: You’re gonna regret asking that, Let's find out.
TLOTA: So the movie opens with the king and queen of Insert Name Here Kingdom happy because the king finally knocked up his queen and now the whole land is celebrating their daughter’s birth.
ROWDY:Okay, I do try to be fair, so I will praise that even back then, Disney went the extra step to give names to the main characters of these fairy tales that didn’t have them before, hence naming the princess Aurora, which was taken from the musical, and her father King Stephan. Though sadly his queen gets the shaft there but she does get a line or two of dialogue and we also get a name for our prince here in Philip, who is completely unaware that these two old guys are already declaring that he will marry this girl one day.
TLOTA: So where are we on the Creepy meter? (Pics of people and things James finds creepy) Okay we’ve passed real rapists and criminals, the rapists and criminals on Law & Order: SVU, Nearly seeing Spoony’s Junk in “To Boldly Flee”, anything from “Son of the Mask” and we’re near (Ding) Ah! The Pedoprinciple from “Even Stevens”.
ROWDY: You gotta love the look on his face here, like he’s already worried about getting cooties. But no time for that now because, Ladies and gentlemen, it’s now time to get off your seat and on your feet for the REAL stars of this movie, FLORA, FAUNA AAAAAAAAAANNNNND MERRIWEATHER!!!!!! I’m not kidding; these three are hands down the best thing of the entire film, as we’ll see.
(Show scene of Flora and Fauna bestowing their gifts of beauty and song)
ROWDY: So the first two basically make her to be as hot as Barbara Eden with the voice of Desiree Goyette. But before Merriweather can step in…
(Cut to Maleficent’s entrance)
TLOTA: Holy crap, now there’s an entrance! Meet Maleficent voiced LITERALLY by the actress who did the voice of the wicked Step-Mother in Disney’s Cinderella, and come on Rowdy, even you have to admit this is one of the most awesome villains EVER.
ROWDY: I’ll get to that in a moment.
MALEFICENT: I too shall bestow a gift on the child… Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel – AND DIE!!!!!!
ROWDY: Hell hath no fury indeed. This is the first big issue I have, although I admit it’s not really with the film itself but how it connects to the criticism of Disney’s more modern work. Back when I was in college there was this essay someone wrote in one of my textbooks titled “What’s Wrong With Disney Films?” in which the author looked to criticize pretty much all the animated films the company had made from my generation; the masterpieces we grew up with like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King. And one of those so-called criticisms was that “Disney villains used to be just mean and nasty, where now they’re downright pure evil.” Excuse me? THIS is just “mean and nasty?” This woman looks like the demon child of Mephisto and Lady Gaga, and not only that, she curses the princess to die when she turns sixteen – JUST BECAUSE SHE WASN’T INVITED TO HER BIRTHDAY PARTY!
TLOTA: Wait that’s why Maleficent did that to her? Because she got snubbed for a party? Kind of petty and kind of a stupid reason to do that to the kid, don’t ya think?
(Rowdy nods in agreement)
ROWDY: And yes, while I will say that Maleficent is one of Disney’s most iconic villains and well deserved of that title, but you can’t tell me Disney would get away with a character like this today with people like One Million Moms around!
TLOTA: At any rate, it’s up to Merriweather to fix this whole thing, and she does by using Fairy Tale Plot Element Number One in that True Love’s Kiss will revive the princess should she fall to the curse. You know, I have always wondered just what her gift would have been had Maleficent not stepped in.
ROWDY: I like to think she would have given her the gift of strength and courage, and she would have become Disney’s first kick-ass Princess long before Mulan or Merida ever appeared. In other words, she’d have turned out to be like this…
(Show image of Beth Phoenix in Aurora’s ballgown)
TLOTA: Your fantasies are STRANGE. But this isn’t enough for the king, who orders every spinning wheel in the land to be burned. I hope the kingdom has good trade relations to get clothing and you have to feel sorry for all those tailors, Seamstresses and clothing manufacturers that are now unemployed, also is it me or is this kind of overkill sort of like using all of a government’s nuclear arsenal to kill a mosquito.
ROWDY: Meanwhile, the fairies are concerned that even that might not be enough to stop Maleficent.
MERRIWEATHER: I’d like to turn her into a fat old hoptoad.
FLORA: You know our magic doesn’t work that way.
FAUNA: It can only do good, dear, to bring joy and happiness.
MERRIWEATHER: Well, that would make ME happy.
TLOTA: I’m gonna take a flying leap here. Merriweather is your favorite character?
ROWDY: That’s as much of a lock down guess as saying the Chicago Cubs aren’t making the post season. Eventually our three heroes, and yes these ARE the heroes of this movie, just you wait, decide the best idea is to shanghai the baby – okay, they actually tell the king and queen about it – and raise her in hiding pretending to be mortal peasants. And then, bam, we fast forward 16 years to see it apparently has worked so far, though mainly because Maleficent’s goons are dumber than Rita Repulsa’s putties.
MALEFICENT: Did you hear that, my pet? All these years, they’ve been searching for a baby! (Followed by her laughing and then zapping all goons in a rage. Scene cuts to James & Rowdy ducking as a stray zap nearly incinerates the two.)
TLOTA: Sweet Buttery Jesus. Okay, I get why she’d be upset that her goons don’t have the intelligence god gave a common jackass for them to adapt for time passage. But why in hell did it take her sixteen years to ask them? And now I’m starting to see some of the flaws you’re seeing in this thing. Apparently being the mistress of all evil doesn’t mean you’re THAT smart.
(Rowdy nods in agreement)
ROWDY: At any rate we learn that indeed the fairies have raised Aurora under the name Briar Rose and are now planning her 16th birthday party, and because they still refuse to do magic, wackiness is certain to ensue!
TLOTA: Well wait a minute then how did they survive for 16 years without magic?
MERRIWEATHER: After today she’ll be a princess, and we won’t have any Briar Rose.
FLORA: Now we knew this day had to come…
FAUNA But why did it have to come so soon.
FLORA: After all, we have had her for sixteen years…
MERRIWEATHER: Sixteen wonderful years…
ROWDY: Sixteen years that were apparently not good enough for us as an audience to see. It makes you wonder why no one at Disney has yet to try a direct to video mid-quel movie detailing those years. Or even a TV series on it.
TLOTA: Well, that still might be better than Dog With a Blog.
ROWDY: Unfortunately we have to cut away from the fairies to get back to, sigh, the main characters in perhaps the most iconic scene from the movie. Short version here, Rose tells her woodland friends of her dream prince and they try to pose as him and Rose falls for this because it’s gonna be 30 years before Disney starts making Princesses with intelligence and perception, before the real prince shows up and it’s the whole love at first sight garbage.
(Scene of Aurora and Philip dancing to Once Upon a Dream)
TLOTA: Now even you have to admit, this music is quite beautiful.
ROWDY: Yeah, the music was adapted directly from Tchaikovsky, and this is one of Disney’s most memorable songs, even if it’s only four lines, so we’re not exactly talking A Whole New World here?
TLOTA: Why are you bringing up an Aladdin song?
Rowdy: No special reason. But enough of the saccharine, let’s get back to the real stars! After doing their best to make Martha Stewart cry, the fairies finally concede to fixing everything with their magic, but it turns out it turns out it wasn’t a good idea giving magic weapons to two fairies who bicker as much as Leonardo and Raphael.
(Scenes of Flora and Merriweather constantly changing the gown between pink and blue before they break down on a magic fight changing each other’s colors scene cuts away briefly to see James is pink and Rowdy is blue before returning to the scenes with audio of Joey Styles shouting CATFIGHT!! CATFIGHT!!)
TLOTA: And this is what draws the attention of Maleficent’s pet raven who then overhears the three tell Rose that she’s actually Princess Aurora, which is devastating to her because she doesn’t want to marry the Prince. Meanwhile Philip’s desire to marry Rose doesn’t go over well with his father.
(Scenes of Rose crying and Philip riding off against his father’s wishes)
TLOTA: Wow, What a sad story of two lovers who can’t be together – wait a minute, the people they’re betrothed to are each other and yet the two don’t know that. So what’s really the point of this?
ROWDY: You’ve just brought up the second and perhaps most frustrating main problem I have with this movie. This entire subplot about our two main characters thinking they love someone they can’t be with is pointless because it amounts to NOTHING!!! And we as an audience know it’s going to amount to nothing because we know that these characters are in love with the one they’re betrothed to and just don’t know it, so this whole angst plot is going to get neatly tied up in the end. What’s more, the film brings up the subject of arranged marriages, hinting at the possibility that maybe it’s an outdated custom, and ultimately uses that aforementioned plot convenience to not tackle the subject fully! This issue bothered me even as a kid when I first watched the movie, and I saw this years before Aladdin came out and tackled this subject much better, creating a scenario where love triumphed over outdated laws and customs.
TLOTA: Okay Rowdy, let’s get off the soapbox for a while and take a break. Trust me it would do us a world of good.
(Commercial Sting going out with of the American Gladiators first run's final season's ten seconds theme with James Standing next to Army Text saying The Last of the Americans. Then same commercial sting takes us back to the review.)
TLOTA: Okay, We're back! Feel Better.
(Rowdy nods contentedly)
ROWDY: So the fairies bring Aurora to the castle, where she gets distracted by something shiny that lures her to the secret chamber that every fairy tale castle is required to have…
(Scene of the spinning wheel appearing out of nowhere and Aurora pricking her finger)
TLOTA: So in this version she just magics a wheel out of thin air? Isn’t that cheating?
ROWDY: She’s the epitome of all evil. Did you think she was going to play fair?
TLOTA: Point taken, so the fairies decide to hide their failure to protect Aurora by putting them all to sleep until the princess is awakened. Which I’m sure will happen quickly once Prince Philip comes to her rescue… unless he gets up and captured by Maleficent and her goons himself. (Scene of Prince Philip getting captured by Maleficent and her goons himself. Scene cuts to the two of them face palming themselves, then The Angry Video Game Nerd, Mike Matei, Kyle Justin, everyone at Channel Awesome themselves and then God face palms himself) Kind of a lame prince there, now that I think about it.
ROWDY: And now we get to the final big problem with this movie. Prince Philip is the absolute most worthless hero in the entire history of Disney! He does absolutely nothing himself! Let’s count the ways here in the third act, shall we? Does he find a way to free himself from Maleficent’s imprisonment? No, the fairies break him out. (FAIRY RESCUE COUNT: 1) Then the fairies give him his sword and shield out of nowhere. (2) Then they help him get past the stooges and out of the castle not once, not twice, not THRICE but FOUR times!! (6) Oh, and guess which one of them eliminates Maleficent’s squawky pet? (7) Are you starting to get why I say these three are the real heroes of the movie?
(James Nods in agreement)
(Scene of Philip cutting through the briars, aided by the fairies (8))
MALEFICENT: Now shall you deal with ME, O Prince! And ALL THE POWERS OF HELL!!!!
TLOTA: Did she just say All the Powers of Hell?
ROWDY: If you’re soiling your underwear at that, so am I.
(Scene of Maleficent turning into a dragon and Prince Philip’s face is showing he is scared with James doing a voiceover shouting ABBOTT!)
ROWDY: But now our valiant prince has the chance to really prove his mettle against the mistress of all evil – oh wait, the fairies do it by enchanting his sword so he can’t miss! (9) Oh and by the way, tell me a Disney film today that would get away with flat out stabbing the villain in the heart!! So after the fairies do all the real work, the prince gets the reward by kissing Aurora awake, and its revealed that whole conflict with their engagement was nothing after all. Don’t worry, everyone, Aladdin and Jasmine will eventually tear down the walls of those antiquated customs.
(Scene of Aurora and Philip dancing in the ballroom)
TLOTA: I think you’re gonna need that barf bucket.
ROWDY: I always have it on standby. But fortunately our movie ends with the real stars and one last bit of levity.
(Ending scene of Flora and Merriweather again changing Aurora’s gown back and forth as she and Philip dance)
ROWDY: And so that’s Sleeping Beauty, for my money one of Disney’s most overrated films ever! I’ll admit the animation is beautiful, the music is outstanding and the supporting cast still includes some of Disney’s most memorable characters. But beyond that, the storyline is just really thin, the main characters have the personality of balsa wood and the chance to tackle certain issues of ancient society are just wasted. Along with its box office failure, a number of critics at the time also called it out for slow pacing and little character development. It seems nostalgia over Walt Disney’s legacy is what gives it its following since, and I just don’t see it being as beloved if it was released in 1999 instead of 1959.
TLOTA: Well let’s be frank Rowdy. This is NOT a kid’s movie and for that matter nothing Walt Disney made ever was. Walt made Family ENTERTAINMENT, and even he seemed to admit this wasn’t his best work. Regardless, it still has its place in Disney lore, right up to Sleeping Beauty’s castle being the centerpiece of Disneyland – or is that Cinderella’s? Oh well, Most castles look alike anyhow and now that this is over, maybe some good old guy time at the ballpark is well deserved, eh, Rowdy?
ROWDY: Yeah, actually I’d love to discuss that, but Jeannie should be calling me any moment to play “Save the Harem Girl from the Evil Vizier…” (Pops out)
TLOTA: There are times when I hate my existence. I’m James Faraci, The Last of the Americans and this has been mostly Rowdy’s opinion.
(Rowdy pops back into his apartment)
JEANNIE: Welcome back master, did you enjoy yourself?
ROWDY: Yes I did, now let’s have some fun.
JEANNIE: Master what’s that in your shirt? (Rowdy looks in his shirt to find a note written by James which Rowdy reads aloud)
ROWDY: “Rowdy, for dragging me into that, you owe me one episode of TV Trash on Superman. Your bud, James Faraci, The Last of the Americans P.S. Thanks for letting me do a crossover with you, I’ve always wanted to do so.”
JEANNIE: Looks like you have some more work to do before we play “Save the Harem Girl from the Evil Vizier”. I’ll be waiting in my bottle. (Jeannie pops out)
ROWDY: GRRR! There are times when I really want to hate that guy.