This week sees the release of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which has absolutely nothing to do with Mickey Mouse tooling around with his wizard master’s magic spells to create a flood inside their home office caused by anthropomorphic brooms. Actually, it has partially something to do with that (for a few minutes) and the phrase “wizard master” sounds like Mickey is in the KKK. For that, I apologize.
However, when I made fun of the idea of taking something like a short from Fantasia and changing it so egregiously in order to make a live-action, feature length film, Rob Hunter scoffed at my lack of vision and asked me if I could do better. I explained to him that I didn’t want to, because it was the bastardization that seemed lacking in creativity, but he was drunk on vegan rum, didn’t understand what I was saying, and wouldn’t stop hitting me with his Mac and Me DVD until I agreed to take on the challenge.
What challenge? To take other Fantasia shorts and turn them into feature length films. If it sounds like a bad idea, that’s because it is.
That didn’t stop me, and it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying or possibly financing any of these offerings.
The Rite of Spring
The Short: A chronicle of the beginnings of Earth through the creation of the first animals and the (spoiler alert) ultimate demise of dinosaurs (or “dina-sawrs” if you’re a strand of talking DNA).
The Pitch: This summer, experience a comedic journey like you’ve never seen before! When youth pastor Todd and best friend scientist Larry (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson) accidentally get sent back in time to the beginning of the world, they set off a chain of events that threatens the extinction of the dinosaurs. Can they save the entire race of the very animals that hunt them down to eat them? What will happen when they meet a roving band of cavemen and both fall in love with the most beautiful cave girl (Juno Temple)? Will they join the tribe by performing a dangerous ritual deemed necessary by the chief (Nic Cage)? In Spring? Will life find a way? Find out as visionary director Steven Spielberg and the same team that brought you Jurassic Park get contractually roped into making… The Rite of Spring.
The Pastoral Symphony
The Short: Bare-breasted centaur women get all dolled up for some handsome horse-ended suitors, and they all stomp on some grapes in celebration of Bacchus. Zeus gets irritated, but Bacchus is somehow not ripped to pieces by his own followers.
The Pitch: All is well for the students of Bacchus College (whose mascot is the mighty Centaur) until goofy Freshman band nerd Todd Larryson (Michael Cera) spills the entire vat of wine meant for the annual toga party. Socially outcast, he’s befriended only by his Classics professor (Nic Cage) who uses a rune stone and plagiarism from Percy Jackson to find out that Todd is actually the last living heir of Zeus. Empowered by reluctant training in his electrical-tossing powers, he soon takes out his revenge on the schoolmates that shunned him in the school’s pastorally large field. This summer, you won’t want to miss the slapstick, glory and murderous revenge that director Pascal Laugier delivers in… The Pastoral Symphony.
Rhapsody in Blue (Fantasia 2000)
The Short: Done in gorgeous Hirschfeld style artwork, this short is the story of several people in Depression Era New York City as they carry out the bustling or jobless existence of everyday life.
The Pitch: Filmed on location in the 1930s, you won’t believe your eyes when you witness the intricate story of several interwoven lives that tell of the economic hardship and class warfare of New York City and America itself. Todd Jackson (Anthony Mackie) ekes out a living as a construction worker; Larry Jacobsen (Paul Giamatti) struggles with his own morals and mortality after being out of work for months; young Eloise (Abigail Breslin) has trouble finding her talents; and whipped husband Albert (Nic Cage) contemplates the failure of his marriage. A definite contender for the Oscar in 2011, director Paul Haggis is sure to leave audiences enraptured with the social commentary and emotional devastation of… Rhapsody in Blue.
Dance of the Hours
The Short: Some ostriches dance. Then some hippos dance. Then some elephants dance. Then some alligators dance.
The Pitch: Down on his luck zookeeper Griff Keene (Kevin James) is going to go bankrupt if his zoo doesn’t start turning a profit. One night, after a drunken bender where he falls off a lot of things and runs into poles and street signs, he returns to the zoo to find a pair of river otters named Todd and Larry that are speaking to him (voiced by Adam Sandler and David Spade). Instead of realizing he’s schizophrenic, he takes the animals’ advise to train the African mammals exhibit to dance ballet. He invests his last savings in setting up a giant showcase that he hopes will revive people’s interest in the zoo. Can he pull it off even with arch-nemesis Botanical Gardens owner Clint Spitel (Nic Cage) sabotaging the program? You’ll have to pay actual money to find out when director Frank Coraci’s madcap comedy comes to life in…Dance of the Hours.
Night on Bald Mountain
The Short: A demon at the top of a mountain awakes to summon the dead and other dark forces to descend on a small town in the valley.
The Pitch: Life is simple and serene for Jonathan Baker (Jay Baruchel). He lives a quiet existence, strikes out with the local womenfolk and expects to take his father’s shepherding business when he turns 19. One day when he decides to leave the sleepy hamlet of Larrystown with his bumbling best friend Todd (Jack Black) to practice herding on the mountain side, he accidentally awakens a fierce demon (Dave Grohl) who unleashes Hell upon the town. Now it’s up to Jonathan, Todd, and the creepy town elder Jacob (Nic Cage) to save the village and make sure that the young hero ends up with a girl not mentioned in the synopsis earlier. From legendary director Gore Verbinski comes this unnecessarily swash-buckling adventure that challenges you to spend…A Night on Bald Mountain.
Pomp and Circumstance (Fantasia 2000)
The Short: A retelling of the Noah’s Ark story that sees Donald Duck as Noah’s little helper and unicorns as totally going to drown.
The Pitch: See synopsis for Evan Almighty.
Avatar 2: Firebird Suite (Fantasia 2000)
The Short: A forest nymph and her elk come across a giant, non-automobile firebird that threatens to burn down the entire forest.
The Pitch: Justice McGee (Nic Cage) is a blind soldier who earned an honorable discharge from the war only to get a phone call from his commander a year later promising him his eyesight back. The price? He’ll have to use the latest technology to enter a manufactured body of a Ferngali from the planet Pandora in order to convince their tribe to go to war with the Nav’i. Jaded, he’s willing to take on the task and quickly finds himself integrated into the Ferngalian culture and rising to power as a trusted visionary (for dramatic irony’s sake). He convinces them of the need to exterminate the Nav’i, and after a great military success – the US government unleashes a green mist that causes a volcano to explode and cover the land in fire and destruction, and loosely tying the film to the short that inspired it.
Can Justice and lead scientist Dr. Lawrence Todd (Tim Curry) find out what the government really wants in order to give the Ferngali and the Nav’i their land back? Will Justice get a nickname based on the buffalo-like aliens that the Ferngali depend on for sustenance?
Using the latest in 3D technology, this stunning sequel to the highest grossing movie of all time sees The Wibberleys carry on the legacy of James Cameron and step into the directors’ chairs for the first time ever to deliver a 5 hour thrill ride that you won’t be able to skip because Fox is going to force everyone at gun point to go see it.