WATCH: Pink’s new video ‘Just Like Fire’ from new Disney film

Screen shot 2016-05-10 at 12.00.26 PMThis week I give a rundown of the big movies set to come out this summer, including Disney’s Alice through the Looking Glass with Johnny Depp. The movie comes out May 27, but the video for a song from the film, Pink’s “Just Like Fire,” is out now. Check it out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 03.11.16

Friday 03.11—Sunday 03.27

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Go under the sea without getting wet at ‘Little Mermaid’

The 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid really kicked off the Disney revolution of animation that is still going on today. And what better film to do it with — a glorious, tune-filled fantasy about a mermaid who becomes human temporarily, but makes a Faustian deal with the evil sea-witch Ursula. Dallas’ Doug Wright — a Tony and Pulitzer winner for I Am My Own Wife — tackled adapting the story for the stage, along with the lovely songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Steven Stater. It’s back in Fair Park for a few weeks of colorful, family-friendly (but also campy) humor and classic characters, dressed in dazzling costumes and lighting effects.

DEETS:
Fair Park Music Hall, 901 First Ave.
7:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. weekend matinees.
DallasSummerMusicals.org

Friday 03.11 — Sunday 03.13

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Texas Ballet Theater heads north for ‘Cinderella’

While Dallas Summer Musicals is telling one fairy tale in Dallas, up in Richardson, Texas Ballet Theater is telling another, with Ben Stevenson’s production of Cinderella. It’s a rare venture away from the Dallas Arts District and Fort Worth’s Bass Hall for the storied company, with beautiful dancers in lush costumes performing to the music of Prokofiev. (The production moves to Bass Hall later this month.)

DEETS:
Eisemann Center for Performing Arts
2531 Performance Drive Richardson
Friday–Saturday at 8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
TexasBalletTheater.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Crazy Mormon woman thinks way too much about gay marriage

FROZEN

The first time I saw a friend link to a page on Facebook, I figured he had been Punk’d. The blog post, written by a Mormon grandmother, railed on against the movie Frozen as clearly a pro-gay-marriage message hidden within a fairy tale. This could not be real, after all — she’s obviously bat-shit crazy, and that’s the essence of being Punk’d: It gets you to believe something that’s a total goof. It’s satire.

But much as I tried to find the “gotcha” in the blog, I couldn’t. There was only one conclusion: This lady is serious.

What makes that so unusual is that she analyzes Frozen as if she’s an academic dissecting a film for a thesis. She reads into every moment of the film, looking for the secret pro-gay messages embedded to destroy the fabric of society. And she’s absolutely, insanely wrong.

Don’t misunderstand: I spend a great deal of my waking hours analyzing films and parsing the imagery. And certainly a lot of animated films have messages of tolerance and acceptance: The Hunchback of Notre Dame teaches not to judge based on appearances; The Little Mermaid speaks to female empowerment; Wall-E embraces connecting to our humanity, even if we are machines; in The Croods, Darwinian evolution is treated as a fact, and progress deemed necessary for survival. She’s not wrong looking for them. She’s just gone way overboard trying to prove it.

The blog itself is tedious and poorly written; she doesn’t even get to her points until well into it. But if you scroll down past the image of the Frozen billboard, she eventually gets into particulars. Among her more elaborate hidden messages include Elsa becoming a “queen,” and that the death of her parents represents killing off her oppressors so she can “come out of the closet.” Now, if you’ve seen the film, you know that the parents’ death is portrayed as tragic, not victorious.

The fact is, she does make a point. Elsa is forced into a role, and she struggles to follow her own path. That is true of gays as well. And girls in male-dominated societies. And poor people. And creative (non-gay) people. And anyone who wants to march to his own drummer. It’s also the story of The Jazz Singer.)

What’s fascinating to me is how the blogger is so angered and disturbed by this movie as an obvious metaphor against heteronormative ideals and patently trying to indoctrinate kids to be gay-friendly. And worst of all, she misstates almost everything about gay people — that we feel “shame” being attracted to the same sex (not me!), that we consider ourselves victims (I’m only a victim when you deny me rights), that we are “immoral” (what’s immoral his how bad her prose is).

You can’t read it all in one sitting — or rather, you shouldn’t (click here). But it’s a remarkable insight, in my mind, to the guilt-ridden mind of a bigot-in-denial, a person so concerned that her moral compass may be off that she lashes out at everything that makes her question her stance, much the way Macbeth continued to see the ghosts of those he killed. The fault, dear lady, lies not in our movies, but in yourself.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Disney ends funding to Boy Scouts over gay policy

Unknown-1LOS ANGELES  — The Walt Disney Company will cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America beginning in 2015 because of a policy that bans gay adult leaders in the organization, The Associated Press reported.

The Boy Scouts organization is “disappointed” by the decision, which will affect the organization’s ability to serve children, Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said in a statement Sunday. Disney does not provide direct funding to the Boy Scouts, but it donates money to some troops in exchange for volunteer hours completed by Disney employees, he said.

“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids,” he said.

David Jefferson, chief spokesman for The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to calls or emails.

Disney’s decision came to light after the president of a local Boy Scout council based in Orlando, Fla., where Disney World is based, sent a memo alerting local troops to the decision.

The memo was posted on the website of Scouts for Equality, an organization that is critical of the Boy Scouts’ policy to ban adult gay troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth last year.

—  Steve Ramos

STAGE REVIEW: ‘Mary Poppins’

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There’s a spoof video on YouTube where the original trailer of Disney’s 1964 film Mary Poppins has been re-edited as Scary Mary, a slasher movie. The thing is, it’s not far from the truth: Looked at soberly through adult eyes, Mary Poppins is less benevolent nanny who twitches her nose like a guest star on Bewitched, and more a mysterious immortal with telekenesis — Carrie White after menopause. She’s like Glinda the Good Witch: magical, but not to be trifled with. There are elements to P.L. Travers’ book series that recall Harry Potter, though it’s all basically a harmless fantasy-adventure series, with loosely related vignettes that don’t tell a cohesive story like Rowling does; the structure most of us are familiar with came with the Disney movie.

The stage version of Mary Poppins, now at the Music Hall for a two-week run courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, is less an adaptation of the movie musical than a hodgepodge of elements from the first three books, plus songs from film, plus eight new songs. As a result, it’s not quite loyal to any one source, picking through the scraps in the fossil record like a magpie. Gone are some songs and plot-points from the film (“I Love to Laugh” and the tea party on the ceiling; “Sister Suffragettes” and the entire political subplot about women’s independence, etc.), and added are more numbers, some of which slide surreptitiously under the radar, evocative of the original score (“Being Mrs. Banks,” “Practically Perfect”) and some of which do not (“Brimstone and Treacle,” “Temper, Temper”). The result is that the stage version is neither fish nor fowl — not a musical for purists of the books or the film. If you go in expecting one or the other, you’ll leave unsatisfied.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: “John Carter” in wide release

Get Carter

The plot is Disney’s action-adventure fantasy John Carter is a marvel of convolution: A Confederate soldier (Taylor Kitsch, who has moved up from troubled high schooler in Friday Night Lights to masculine but unthreatening action himbo) is magically transported to Mars, where his greater bone density, musculature and differences in gravity allow him to leap tall buildings in a single bound (yeah, that hero, too). He becomes embroiled in a war between red-skinned humanoids but lives among green, four-armed barbarians until a princess (Lynn Collins) and a superbeing (Mark Strong) … blah blah blah. It becomes occasionally tiresome, admittedly.

But John Carter is more about its impressionistic mythology and old-school storytelling energy than actual story. This is fantasy the way our grandfathers would have experienced it — crazy, sometimes campy, full of meaningless action and fighting. If you can see yourself as a kid, wrapping a towel around your neck like a cape and jumping around the backyard swatting at enemies, well then John Carter has done its job.

For the full review, click here.

DEETS: Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: ‘Secretariat’ in wide release

Son of ‘Seabiscuit:’ ‘Secretariat’ is old-fashioned, formulaic

Contrary to rumors, one of America’s great race horses did not get his name when an ungrammatical executive looked around the office and said, “Where’s my secretary at?” That is, however, how the title was chosen for the Disney movie about that horse. It was only coincidental that the horse, and hence the movie, were named Secretariat.

Secretariat takes place between 1969 and 1973. Had it been made at that time, it would still have seemed old-fashioned. But formulas are repeated because they work. Take a good story, apply the formula, and with the right skills in every department you can make a good movie. Director Randall Wallace brings most of those skills but is too obvious in his reliance on the formula. Secretariat is the son of Seabiscuit — not the horse, but the film: Well-bred, but not in the same league. Again it’s less about the horse than the people around him.

Diane Lane stars as Penny Chenery Tweedy, who inherits guardianship of the horse she calls Big Red, but will race as Secretariat. Penny games Ogden Phipps (James Cromwell), “the richest man in America,” into letting her keep Big Red: She’s done her homework and predicts his genealogy will lead to a winning mix of speed and stamina.

—  Rich Lopez

The Gaga Countdown: This mashup trailer of ‘Gaga in Wonderland’ would’ve been hella fun

Who would have thought Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland would resonate so far beyond its Disney movie-going audience? Miss Texas FFI winner Asia O’Hara became the Mad Hatter complete with detailed costume, a tea party and animals (people in costumes) during her talent. But before that, Black20 Studios saw the connection between Lady Gaga and the psychedelic movie — which couldn’t have been too hard. Her costumes and outfits practically make her into a new character each time.

—  Rich Lopez

'Alice' in blunderland

For months, the Disney marketing machine behind the live action, CGI-heavy Alice in Wonderland has seemed presumptuous: Johnny Depp’s face; the familiar title; Tim Burton as the director; audiences will appear.

And maybe they will. But to me, it has all seemed just so lazy. I haven’t been excited to see it; I know few people who are. And it turns out I was right. Why after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones