Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Walt Disney Presents: This Review of Walt Disney's The Secret World of Arrietty Inside Walt Disney's El Capitan Theater
I've driven to Hollywood, through Hollywood at least a hundred times since getting my license ten years ago but it wasn't until this past Monday that I finally saw a movie inside of the famous El Capitan Theatre. The building has loads of history as a California landmark and draws you in with it's vintage facade. Aside from open-mouthed gasping at all the antiques and chocolate malts from the Disney Soda Fountain next door my favorite part about the whole nostalgic experience was the music played by the on-site organist. It reminded me of getting to Dodger Stadium early to listen to Nancy Bea play ragtime as I watched Nomar Garciaparra stretch near third base. You should know though that I enjoy organ music so much that: a.) I bought Nancy Bea's CD (now out of print?) from the Dodger Stadium top deck store, b.) listened to my dad's Organ Music Vinyl LP about thirty times as a kid, c.) downloaded the song The Happy Organ by Dave Baby Cortez because I heard a clip of it from an infomercial, and d.) love this song way too much.
The El Capitan is owned and operated by Disney so obviously everything is Disney related. The previews are all for Disney movies, the snacks are Disney themed, and the guy working the concessions was none other than Shaun Weiss, the fat kid from 1992's Mighty Ducks. Just before the movie begins the curtains raise and you get to watch as five different LiteBrite sprinkled backdrops reveal the projection screen.
We went on a Monday afternoon to watch The Secret World of Arrietty, an animated film from Japan based on the book The Borrowers. There were maybe ten people in the theater making that one of the few perks of working retail and having weekdays off. The plot is simple: Arrietty and her family are little people that live inside the walls of a house and borrow things to stay alive. Arrietty is spotted borrowing by a normal sized human boy named Shawn and since "beings" pose a threat to all little people, Arrietty and her family have to move.
Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, and Carol Burnett highlight the voice-over dubs on the American version. I am not a fan of English dubbing over Japanese animation. It annoys me when the speech is out of sync with how the mouths on the character are moving. This alone keeps me away from staying open-minded about most Anime shown in the United States. I'll read a million subtitles before I accept this tradition.
Arrietty's story is familiar but the animation is not. Again, I'm not an authority on Anime or Studio Ghibli films but the way they illustrate wide landscapes and action scenes made me feel like I had 3D glasses on. I've seen so much Pixar that I forgot how good something non-CGI can look. There's a short scene where Arrietty's father drops a rock to propel her upward that left me wondering how many weeks that took to animate. The following piece where Arrietty gets her first glimpse of the kitchen is simply amazing. Every landscape is met with great detail and color.
Ultimately, the film is for children. The writing is simple and it won't keep you as invested as most feature Disney animated films, but any adult who remembers watching The Littles on mid-Sunday afternoons will love looking at this and following Arrietty on her journey towards becoming a real borrower.
- Mike O.