Girl on Fire: Disney adds interesting twists to modern movies

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, January 29, 2015]

On Saturday, I was invited to Des Moines with my friend Shawna Creveling because she needed to get some shopping done and didn’t want to go alone.

I rode along, and we bounced from Jordan Creek Mall, where we stopped at Scheel’s and Lush, to Sports Page Grill in Ankeny to grab lunch where my sister Brianna works.

Toward the end of our escapade, we stopped back at Jordan Creek and hit up the movie theater for “Into the Woods,” a musical-comedy starring Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick and Meryl Streep.

I have always been interested in fairy tales, their origins and evolutions, so any film or book based on a fairy tale or legend is one I’m bound to enjoy.

Both Shawna and I found one of the best parts of “Into the Woods” was a song called “Agony,” featuring actors Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen, who play princes and brothers.

The song, which was more like each prince trying to one-up his brother by showing off or preening just a little bit more, was somewhere in the middle of the movie, and I thought it showed the princes’ characters the best. However, I’m sure the people around us didn’t notice those things, as Shawna and I couldn’t stop giggling, even after the song was over.

Maybe it was just me, but I found a lot of interesting things in this movie beyond the entertainment aspect. For example, one couple would steal things because they wanted a baby more than anything, or Cinderella has lived doing chores for her awful family most of her life, so she doesn’t trust a prince.

Historically, fairy tales are stories to teach children caution, and looking at the most common tales it makes sense, but sometimes you find the ones that have changed dramatically since publication. I loved that the stories in the movie were closer to the actual fairy tales, written hundreds of years ago, rather than the animated “Disney-fied” versions.

I love Disney movies, don’t get me wrong, but I also think it took them too long to realize people don’t actually act like those characters.

“Mulan” was released in 1998, when I was 9 years old, and while it ended in a romance, the entire basis was of a girl who joined the army illegally and saved her family and country. “The Princess and the Frog,” featuring the first African-American princess, was on the silver screen in 2009. “Brave,” another of my favorites, was a game-changer in that the princess doesn’t get married, and it was released in 2012.

These are the kinds of movies I love. I will always be a fan of the old-school Disney princess films like “Beauty and the Beast,” but the newer, more modern films are becoming more interesting.

Leave a Reply