Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Good Idea/Bad Idea - Disney-Style

Back when Disney's Beauty and the Beast was being made, a song was written for, but ultimately not included in, the film. When the film was adapted into a Broadway show, the song was included on that program. That song, "Human Again," is a sweeping musical number sung by the castle's enchanted objects. They lament about their current state (as... objects) and sing about how they hope Belle breaks the spell so they can get back to business. The song proved so popular on Broadway that, when the film was re-released for Imax ten years after its initial debut, it now included an all-new scene featuring "Human Again," new animation, and some additional dialogue between Belle and the Beast. When the DVD was released, viewers were given a choice between watching the original version of the film, or the "Special Edition" with "Human Again" seamlessly put in.

I've been a fan of Beauty and the Beast since age 11, and had watched my VHS of it many, many times. I bought that DVD the second it was available. I watched the version with "Human Again" and liked it so much that, now, I nearly always watch the film with that scene included. It's a great song, and it adds an extra -- but not intrusive -- dimension to the film.

Since that seemed to work out for audiences, Disney decided to do something similar when they released Pocahontas on DVD. There was this song, "If I Never Knew You." And it's a really great song. They got pop artists to do a rendition of it to play over the end credits, but the song wasn't in the actual film. While the lyrics fit with the theme of the movie, the scene it was intended for just... didn't work. Test audiences, it seems, didn't go for it. It dragged things down. And so it was cut.

But hey... why not reinstate it, animate a scene for it, and get John Smith and Pocahontas to sing it to each other?

Lord have mercy, that's terrible. Is that really Mel Gibson singing? If so, the man needs vocal training, stat. Even The Poc sounds off. And I'm sorry, guys, but those tent walls aren't soundproof... there are probably two very bewildered guards standing outside of it, covering their ears. STOP. JUST STOP.

So, to summarize:

Human Again, sung in and around the castle by the enchanted objects? Good Idea.

If I Never Knew You, sung inside a tent while a weak-voiced John Smith is tied to a pole? Bad idea.

Very bad idea.

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