Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Nov. 01, 2003 6:42 am/pm
Here's a copy of the transcript of my phone call this afternoon to Movie 911:
Ring-ring, ring-ring, ring-ring
"Hello, Movie 911, the police and rescue service for movies in trouble, Sargent Jones here, may I help you?"
"Yes, Sargent Jones. My name is Carol Koster and I want to report attempted homicide on a Disney animated movie opening this weekend nationwide."
"Did you say attempted homicide, ma'am?"
"Yes, sir, I did. And I think I know who did it."
"Ma'am, I've noted your name. What's the name of the alleged victim of this attempted homicide, please."
"And what is the condition of the victim, ma'am?"
"Newly premiering across the United States this weekend. It's been in limited release in New York and Los Angeles, at only two theatres, up until today, November 1. And up until today, at those two theatres, the movie was doing amazingly well at the box office. Not many people know that but hard-core Disney fans and people who browse Box Office Mojo."
"Yes, ma'am, go on."
"But then, Sargent Jones, the movie critics started publishing and uploading their reviews to the Internet and their publications and broadcast channels. It's just terrible! These movie critics, a few of them are posting positive reviews. Some with negative reviews do offer some fair critiques. But the majority of the reviews, Sargent, are just searing, flame-torch, scorched earth negative. These are the vast majority of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes' WWW site, sir, and it's just shocking to read them. Well, sir, I watched the movie today with my husband and almost 8 year old son. And I didn't recognize the movie described in all those negative reviews! I liked this movie. A LOT! The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. I cared about the characters. The spirituality made sense to me. Everything about the movie made sense to me. The Phil Collins music isn't maybe his best work but it wasn't totally unpleasant either. The two moose characters were OK and were even very funny. We laughed all through the movie, and we shed some tears because it touched us so. Even our son would roll in his seat and be doubled over laughing sometimes. We had a great time. Sure it's a little derivative, there are references from Bambi, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and even Forrest Gump in there. But it wasn't obnoxious. We liked Brother Bear and we'd see it at least one more time. But that's no reason for critics to do this movie in!"
"Negative reviews, some of which you feel were unfair and unwarranted in their harshness, do I have that part of your testimony right, ma'am?"
"Yes, Sargent Jones you do. And I think there's another culprit to report."
"Yes, ma'am, I'm taking all this down."
"Well, I think the Disney Feature Animation Marketing Department is at least partly to blame here. The promotional WWW site for this movie isn't all that stellar. And the earlier promos for the movie highlighted all the derivative stuff in it. They subtly pointed out how like parts of Lion King this was, or other Disney movies. Wrong! Brother Bear makes some allusions to scenes or lines or situations, even scenery, from past Disney films. But it does overcome that, in my opinion. Just pointing out how familiar the movie is isn't a plus here. We can watch all those movies on home video, why should we be motivated to leave the house and buy movie tickets for the family? Disney's marketing people failed to address that point, so they may have had a hand in their own movie's attempted homicide. Isn't that sad?"
"Ma'am, should parents take their young kids to see Brother Bear if it was the subject of an alleged attempted movie homicide by critics and the marketing department?"
"Sargent, I think parents would be pleased to take young children to see Brother Bear. Any deceasing that is done happens off-camera and is only alluded to, like in Bambi or Old Yeller or Lion King. Parents might want to explain concepts like philosophies and theologies of afterlife among cultures and within their own religious faith or world view. Parents might want to explain the concept and reason behind hunting by ancient or tribal peoples for food, clothing, various essential products for survival. And that creatures in the wild do hunt each other and that is indeed part of the food chain and circle of life. It is not easy to survive. And the emotion of 'revenge' can drive people to do regrettable things, but people can and do change, and that is also part of life that you can't hide from or explain away. It builds character to face these concepts head on and explain their overall context within life. Parents have little to worry about from Brother Bear. If they are concerned, simply view the movie without the children present and make their own judgement about it. But there is nothing about this movie worth doing it in, except letting Disney fans and the general public decide for themselves. That's fair, and that's the free market system in action."
"Well, Ms. Koster, thanks for filing that report. We'll put an all points bulletin out that the movie Brother Bear, for at least one family and reporting citizen, is better than the reviews and better than Disney's own promotional attempts about it. Thanks, for calling Movie 911."
"Sargent, if I can get the word out to the public to go ahead and see this movie and simply ignore the hand-wringing negative press, nasty Internet spin and rumor mill, and forgive Disney for it's lack of marketing prowess about this movie, then I'll have done my duty as a non-drooling fan girl, responsible but still a Disney fan adult to do what Disney can't seem to do itself, and put out positive buzz about this movie."
"Thanks, for calling Movie 911, ma'am."
"Thank you, Sargent. Bye-bye."