Arianna Rees


Here are my honest (spoiler free) reviews

Downloading Disney+ on Tuesday wasn’t part of my life plan. I was bored and depressed and also working on a freelance piece about a Disney movie I don’t own that was filmed in my home state. Every star aligned and I was predisposed to make bad decisions, so I gave The Mouse my card information and here I am four days later with a massive migraine having binged several High School Musical films, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the brand new Disney originals. Don’t speak to me this weekend. I can barely stand the hum of my refrigerator right now.

Disney’s lineup of originals includes the following:

  • The Mandalorian
  • The Lady & The Tramp reboot
  • High School Musical the Musical: The Series
  • Encore!
  • The World According to Jeff Goldblum
  • Noelle
  • Marvel’s Hero Project
  • The Imagineering Story
  • What is a Friend?
  • Float
  • Pixar in Real Life
  • Disney Family Sundays

If that sounds like far more films and TV shows than a person should watch in (checks notes) four days, it’s because it is, but I did it. Not because I wanted to, not because I’m being paid to do it, but because I have time and most of you don’t.

So how are Disney’s new films and TV shows? Here are my short reviews.

I am a Star Wars fan. That said, it took me several days to start watching this one, because (if I’m being perfectly honest) it felt like a quick money grab for Disney to steal back the wallets of Star Wars fanboys who were pissed about The Last Jedi, and I ain’t about that.

All that said, I don’t know why it took me so long to watch this one, because The Mandalorian is good. It’s real good. It dives into unfamiliar corners of the Star Wars universe, it’s got a bounty hunter protagonist who’s both a mysterious bad-a and an apparent softy — which I absolute LOVE — the soundtrack is composed of eerie, synthy tribal music that really sets the mood, and the ending of the first episode is surprising. Very surprising. I just about squeeeeed myself into hyperspace. In short, watch this one.

Dogs should not date like humans. They should sniff each others’ butts and flirt in barks like they’re supposed to. I feel strongly about this. I do not feel strongly about the Lady & the Tramp reboot, however. It was, in a word, fine. It does about as much work as Disney’s other reboots, which is to say nothing more than it has to — but yes, the racist Siamese cats are gone. I’m a HUGE dog person, so for me the most enjoyable part was how adorable the real life dogs are. The CGI kept dipping its toes into the uncanny valley, so I have few glowing things to say about it. I did find myself begrudgingly sobbing halfway through this movie, however, because the plight of abandoned dogs keeps me up at night and the fact that the dog that plays the tramp was a shelter dog in real life wrecked my entire life. It’s fine.

If you’re going to watch this one, watch it for your children, for rescue dogs, and for the schnauzer wearing clothes. It’s not an incredible film, but it’s cute.

I have forgotten about 80% of what happened in this show since I watched it two days ago, to be honest. In case you got lost in the title, this show follows fictional students putting on a performance of High School Musical at West High, where the High School Musical movie was filmed. Things get mildly spicy when the main girl tries out for Gabriella’s part and her boyfriend and ex-boyfriend try out for the role of Troy. That’s actually the whole schtick. There are a lot of docu-style interviews reminiscent of The Office with far less punchy lines and far too many people who aren’t Rainn Wilson. I vaguely remember a quote about the patriarchy…? Gotta watch this again when I’m not sleeping with my eyes open.

This show follows a group of adults who reunite after 25 years to finally defeat a nightmarish monster from their childhood: the musical they performed in during high school.

Contrary to what the thumbnail implies, Kristen Bell is barely in this show. It’s like watching a 20 year high school reunion, which feels about as awkward as high school reunions sound — I wouldn’t know, since our class presidency stopped caring circa the year after graduation. The whole time I was watching this show, I had slight anxiety, because there are some parts where it looks like these grown adults are about to perform the hottest mess that’s ever graced a stage. There’s some trauma, some out-of-office therapy by unlicensed professionals, and some really bad singing, but this one’s kind of fun to watch. It’s mostly fun to wonder if they can pull off the same musical they performed in the heights of puberty.

This show is what I’d imagine Jeff Goldblum’s brain looks like, which is a bunch of meandering, partially-stoned randomness pulled together by sentences normal human beings have never uttered and one too many purrs. The first episode talks about the history of sneakers, the popularity of sneakers, the science behind sneaker-making, YouTubers who unbox sneakers, and basketball sneakers. It’s certainly not a Mr. Rogers “how it’s made” video — I was imagining something like that, but on drugs — but it’s interesting, and part of the entertainment is not knowing whatever’s going to crawl out of Jeff’s lips next.

Noelle gives me similar vibes to The Santa Clause, and that makes me really like it. It’s a goofy, heartwarming, and cute story about the daughter of Santa and her brother, who has inherited the Santa mantle after their father’s death, even though he wants nothing to do with it. Billy Eichner plays a tech geek turned tyrant who develops a white man bun by the end of the film (you heard me right — a man bun), there’s a baby reindeer too cute to handle, and there are a lot of great and also terrible Christmas puns in this one. Altogether, it’s a fun, lighthearted holiday watch.

If there’s one thing that gets to me as much as abandoned dogs, it’s good people gifted with amazing things that they deserve. You didn’t ask, but in case you wondered, the Golden Buzzer performances on America’s Got Talent and Ellen giving people checks make me nearly cry my mascara off every time.

Marvel’s Hero Project has the added tear-inducing advantage of rewarding kids doing amazing things. The first episode spotlights Jordan, a girl born without a hand who loves design and helps other kids with disabilities by hosting workshops where they can design products catered to fit their needs. In this show, the Marvel artists made her into a superhero, and freak. I cried through this whole thing. It’s about 25 minutes long and super tender and inspiring.

Of all of Disney’s new stuff, I was surprised by how much I loved this one, especially as someone who has not stepped a foot in a Disneyland/World resort (shocking, I know). As you can probably guess, The Imagineering Story tells the story of how Disneyland came to be. It’s a documentary that explores the behind-the-scenes of early park attractions and the imaginations of the people who made it possible. It’s a bit sappy at first, but it’s an interesting and pretty inspiring documentary, honestly. For a hot second, I forgot how aggressively insufferable the Disney corporation has become.

In case The World According to Jeff Goldblum wasn’t quite your style, we’ve also got the world according to Forky. This is an eyelash length video where Forky talks about what it means to be a friend. Honestly, the last ten seconds of this video were a frickin’ emotional roller coaster.

One of the reasons why I was mildly interested in Disney+ to begin with is that Pixar will be releasing Sparkshorts there. Sparkshorts are animated short film projects they’ve opened to different writers and artists to allow them to tell any story inspired by their life experiences. Guys, the Sparkshorts project is AMAZING. The newest one, Float, is no exception.

Float is about a Filipino-American father trying to protect his son, who is different. This short is precious and pure and good and wholesome and must be loved and protected at all costs. And if I see anybody trashing it, I will short your sparks.

When I first heard about Pixar in Real Life, I almost had an aneurysm thinking they were doing live action reboots of Pixar movies. That is fortunately not the case — these are basically little videos of You’re on Candid Camera type jokes/pranks themed around Pixar movies. The first one’s about unsuspecting New Yorkers stumbling upon an Inside Out controller and having good, clean fun.

Finally, we get what we all came here for: CRAFTS. In this short video, a random family makes a Disney-themed craft that viewers like you can make at home while they talk about their love for — you guessed it — Disney.

If y’all wanna make a child sized Dumbo circus tent for you and the squad, let me know. I’ve got the scissors.



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