Five More Disney Documentaries We Want to See (And Probably Never Will)

Five More Disney Documentaries We Want to See (And Probably Never Will) (photo)

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It looks like we’re entering a whole new world of documentaries about the Walt Disney Company. There have been two feature-length documentaries about Disney released in theaters during the last seven months alone. Last fall’s “Walt & El Grupo” examined Walt Disney’s goodwill tour of South America in the 1940s. This week’s “Waking Sleeping Beauty” is an insider’s account of the company’s return to artistic form during the 1980s and early 1990s. Disney, both the man and the company, remain one of the most interesting subjects in Hollywood history, and there are plenty more possible topics for future documentaries. But many of them wouldn’t paint the Mouse House in such a favorable light. So the question then becomes — would Disney ever let anyone make them?

Though “Waking Sleeping Beauty” has earned plaudits from some critics for its candor, these films are still to varying degrees Disney movies about Disney, made by filmmakers with strong ties to the company and personal connections to their material. (“Grupo” director Theodore Thomas is the son of the famous Disney animator Frank Thomas who accompanied Walt on the trip; “Sleeping Beauty” director Don Hahn produced many of the features from the period chronicled in his film.) In short, it’s next to impossible to make a film about the Mouse House without its support, and that support is contingent on the material. Any of the following topics have the potential to become great documentaries. But it’d take more than wishing upon a star to get them made.

03262010_SongoftheSouth1.jpgThe Story of “Song of the South”

While many other Disney classics go in and out of print every few years, 1946’s “Song of the South” has never been released on any home video format in the United States. Disney has kept the film, based on the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris, hidden since its last theatrical re-release in 1986 out of concern over its portrayals of African-Americans that are, if not outright racist, certainly ignorant and insensitive. Despite persistent calls for its release from Disney cultists (a petition on SongoftheSouth.net boasts over 130,000 signatures), the company has repeatedly refused to make “Song of the South” available.

If Disney ever did put the film out on DVD or Blu-ray, the only way to get away with it would be to package it with a documentary that contextualizes the film’s depiction of blacks, traces the film’s production and initial reception, and provides reactions and analysis from modern scholars. Just don’t expect that DVD any time soon; according to the Hollywood Reporter, CEO Bob Iger insisted he had no plans to return “Song of the South” to public view at Disney’s annual stockholders’ meeting earlier this month, calling it “antiquated” and “fairly offensive.” Which means you’ve got a better chance of spotting Br’er Fox mauling Br’er Rabbit on Splash Mountain than you do seeing either film.

03262010_OvitzEisner.jpgThe Eisner/Ovitz Debacle

In 1995, Disney chairman Michael Eisner hired CAA head Michael Ovitz to work underneath him as the company’s president and his second-in-command. A little over a year later, Eisner paid Ovitz $130 million in severance pay to leave. The story’s tailor-made for a dishy documentary: two parallel ascents to the pinnacle of Hollywood power followed by a disastrous partnership that exploded out of two former best friends and powerful personalities (not to mention their giant egos) who were incapable of working together. It’s even got a media circus of a trial for a climax, an ugly lawsuit brought by Disney shareholders against Eisner and the Board of Directors for the costly Ovitz hiring and firing that aired all the company’s dirty laundry in public. Literally no one involved in this story would want this movie made. We’re more likely to see Ovitz back at Disney than we are this film.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.