The Great Disney Movie Challenge: Movies 51-60

The Disney Movie Challeng

We are one YEAR into a world wide pandemic and I can’t believe it. We had big plans for a Walt Disney World trip AND a Disneyland trip in 2020, and yet we are stuck at home and still will be for the foreseeable future. It’s surprising to me that my family decided to start this “watch every Disney Movie ever made” challenge well before COVID-19 hit. Looking back now, we never would’ve been able to watch as many movies if it wasn’t for being asked to “stay in” for a year… and for that, honestly, we are thankful.

To catch you up, here’s the original blog post for Every Disney Movie Ever Made where you will find the full chronological version of the list (which is the one we are doing), but there is also an Animated features only list, and a list broken down by Category… so you can be free to create your own hybrid list.

For a breakdown of each movie, including Disney Park connections, our personal impressions, and a family activity, check out all of the previous posts: Movies 1-10, Movies 11-20, Movies 21-30, Movies 31-40, and Movies 41-50.

In this post you’ll find the next set of movies (#’s 51-60), which are:
51. Kidnapped (Feb 24, 1960)
52. Pollyanna (May 19, 1960)
53. The Sign of Zorro (Jun 11, 1960)
54. Ten Who Dared (Nov 1, 1960)
55. Moochie of Pop Warner Football (Nov 27, 1960)
56. Swiss Family Robinson (Dec 10, 1960)
57. The Horse with the Flying Tail (Dec 21, 1960)

58. 101 Dalmatians (Jan 25, 1961)
59. The Absent Minded Professor (Mar 26, 1961)
60. The Parent Trap (Jun 12, 1961)

It’s another mixed bag of movies to be sure. You’ve got forgettable ones, some that are not as well known, like Kidnapped, Ten Who Dared and The Horse with the Flying Tail, and you’ve got a classic animated favourite in 101 Dalmatians. You’ve got movies that we’ve seen before as a family like Swiss Family Robinson and The Parent Trap, and one that I was looking forward to showing the girls, but they likely wouldn’t have sat down and watched if not for this challenge, in “Pollyanna”.

Let’s take a deep dive into the next 10 movies, shall we?

51. Kidnapped
watched April 14th, 2020

Release Date: Feb 24, 1960
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 97 min
Where to Watch: YouTube (rental)

Awards: None
Jones Family Rating:
1 out of 10
Tagline: “An epic saga of bravery under fire”

Disney Parks Connection: None

About: Set in Scotland during the 18th Century, a young man named David visits his cranky uncle after the passing of his dad. After his uncle purposely tries to KILL HIM, David is lured onto a ship led by Captain Hoseason. Officially “kidnapped” and set to be sold into servitude, the ship collides with another boat. Some unpleasant events unfold, and David and Alan (from the other ship) manage to escape. Alan and David face a few more dangers but David is able to get his inheritance back in the end.

Surprisingly, this is the third rendition of this story (the first two being 1938 and 1942). The screenplay writer, Robert Stevenson, worked closely with Walt Disney to get it right. It is said that Stevenson wanted to introduce a female character to the story, but Walt was resistant because it “wasn’t true to the original story.” This was one of the things my girls actually noticed was lacking in the film. The outdoor scenes were filmed in Scotland, and the studio work was shot in London. MacArthur is the only American actor in the cast. Unsurprisingly, it was not well received or reviewed.

Our Impressions: This is officially our most hated movie so far, beating out even Treasure Island (our previous low point)! Interesting fact, which we found out after watching, both movies are based on novels written by Robert Louis Stevenson… so I guess we don’t like his stuff? This one was dull, traumatic at times, and just plain BAD! We went in open minded, as we always do. We’ve liked James MacArthur in other films, but he wasn’t enough to redeem this film for us at all. The accents were bad. The story line was bad. The scene that was traumatic was unnecessary and difficult. It will be interesting to see if any other movie “takes the cake” as the worst movie for us or if this will be it.

Suggested Special Activities: Due to the setting, anything Scottish would be perfect. You could do a traditional meal or a snack like Cullen Skink or Haggis (if you can find it). We kept it really simple and just made traditional Scottish Tablet. It sort of resembles fudge but isn’t. The recipe said it’s between a fudge and a toffee. I didn’t watch it at the most critical part (the very end) so ours ended up being a little crystallized. We used this recipe, but any would do!

Scottish Tablet

52. Pollyanna
watched April 16th, 2020

Release Date: May 19, 1960
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 134 min
Where to Watch: Disney+

Awards: Hayley Mills won the 1960 “Academy Juvenile Award” for her portrayal of Pollyanna
Jones Family Rating:
10 out of 10
Tagline: “Oh what a wonderful picture”

Disney Park Connections: None

About: The story is a simple one; an endlessly cheerful orphan girl (played by Hayley Mills) is able to influence (for the better) the entire town. This is the first in a long line of films featuring Mills in a lead role (The Parent Trap, In Search of the Castaways, Summer Magic, That Darn Cat, etc).

“Pollyanna” is literally in the dictionary and means “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.” Don’t you want to be the type of person that makes it into the dictionary? She is the daughter of two missionaries that passed away, and ends up in the town of Harrington with her Aunt Polly, who is very rich and starts out quite strict. Pollyanna befriends a variety of characters in the town, including two different cranky seniors. She has a gift of finding the good in the bad, and sees things through a different lens. 

Our Impressions: There are a few movies I remember watching quite a bit as a kid and this is one of them. The girls had never seen it, so I was REALLY looking forward to watching it with them. I’m happy to say that everyone loved it, and they still talk about it 9 months later! Truly I believe every Disney fan should watch this one. The term “Pollyanna” is still used in conversation, and it’s just a good wholesome film.

I had only seen the TV edit as a kid, so I was very surprised to see that at the VERY beginning of the film the kids are swinging off a bridge into water and you see a bare butt! That was rather surprising, especially because nowadays we watch things in HD.

The girls especially loved Pollyanna and her “gladness,” and mentioned that she’s similar to Cinderella in that she keeps a good attitude no matter what. It was a wonderful contrast to “Kidnapped” in that it was largely a female cast. The different adults are all lovely, and who doesn’t love Haley Mills?

A memorable line for us was “nobody owns a church.” As pastors we thought that was great! There were so many lessons and morals you can pull out of this movie that have come back around in conversation. Lexie at one point said, “that’s why you never put a kid in an attic,” lol! The girls especially loved when she made the prisms, and the rainbows “dancing” across the room. I vividly remember her falling out of a tree, and that scene definitely made the girls “gasp.” Considering the moral of the film, and the overall feel of the whole movie, this is definitely one of our favourite films to date.

Suggested Special Activities: I wish I had remembered that steak and ice cream play a part in the film, because that would’ve been the perfect pairing! Instead, we just went with a simple muffin recipe. Since the movie takes place in Vermont, we did a Vermont Maple Syrup Muffin that was delicious! We also played the “glad” game! We do something similar to this every day already (high, low, buffalo… go around the dinner table and say your “high” of the day,  your “low” of the day, and your “buffalo,” which is something random).

53. The Sign of Zorro 
watched April 18th, 2020

Release Date: Jun 11, 1960
Original Release: Released in parts on TV, then compiled into a theatrical release
Run Time: 90 min
Where to Watch: Disney+

Awards: None
Jones Family Rating:
5 out of 10
Tagline: “Flashing swords… high adventure”

Disney Parks Connection: No current connections, however from 1958-1960 Disneyland took advantage of the popularity of Zorro and had the actor that portrayed him in the films, Guy Williams, onsite to entertain guests. You could see him riding his horse in Frontierland, battling his nemesis Captain Monastario, even climbing onto the top of the Golden Horseshoe!

The Golden Horseshoe

About: Filmed in black and white, this film is a compilation of episodes from the popular TV series about the masked hero known as Zorro. It’s confusing though that this movie was released AFTER movie #45 on the list, “Zorro, the Avenger,” because chronologically this is the origin story. The setting for the film is “Spanish California” which was super fun! We’ve spent quite a few summers in the Baja of Mexico and it definitely reminded us of the area.

We learn that Zorro (Don Diego) is an aristocrat during the day, but at night he transforms into a “masked avenger.” He returns home from Spain only to learn that his town is being run by evil dictator Captain Monastario. The film shows us how Zorro came to be; how he acquires his horse, and all of the classic scenes you’d expect. His assistant is played by Gene Sheldon, who we later see in Babes in Toyland. His shtick (at least in these two movies) is silent miming. If you just want to dabble in Zorro, this is the way to do it. If you love him, watch the TV show in it’s entirety. However, if you just want a taste, this is your movie.

Our Impressions: Since the girls (and Dan) weren’t interested in watching the earlier Zorro movie in Spanish, this was their first introduction to the character. We loved the quote from Don Diego de la Vega: “If you cannot clothe yourself in the skin of a lion, put on that of a fox!” It really sums up the whole idea behind Zorro. We got serious Batman vibes, to the point that it seemed not so coincidental. Zorro and Batman both fight injustice, wear black, cover their face with a mask, and have a secret cave. As was common in these older films, there is no strong female presence, which always irks the girls. The black and white presentation makes it a bit harder to get into, plus it definitely had a “hodge-podge” feel. It was definitely a “one and done” type movie… glad we watched it, because it has a place in the Disney canon, but don’t need to ever see it again. 

Suggested Special Activities:  For the first movie we did Churro Muffins (cinnamon muffins, baked then dipped in cinnamon sugar), and they were delicious! You can do Churro Cupcakes as well. We put them in a Z shape, and then iced a Z on them (Tip: make the icing thicker than we did). Since we did baked treats for the first Zorro movie (that only I watched), we made “masked fox” snack holders (’cause “Zorro” means “fox” in Spanish). I would really love nothing more than to spend hours and hours making each snack/food/craft look exactly how I want. But the reality is, with a full time job, several side hustles, and 3 kids, plus 4-5 Disney movies a week, most of these activities are pretty rushed. They turned out pretty cute and the kids enjoyed them anyway! I just used a paper cutter and then a pencil to sketch out the shapes I wanted, cut and glued them together. A cheese stick or small wrapped chocolate would work for the snack… or a Mini Churro could be fun! Endless ideas.

54. Ten Who Dared 
watched April 18th, 2020

Release Date: Nov 1, 1960
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 92 min
Where to Watch: YouTube (rental)

Awards: None
Jones Family Rating:
6 out of 10
Tagline: “One terrifying mile straight down into a canyon of destruction”

Disney Parks Connection: The film depicts the Grand Canyon, and there’s actually a few places in Disney Parks where you can find the Grand Canyon represented. In both Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, you can see it on the Railroad attractions. Also, in the Contemporary Resort (WDW), the Atrium is called the “Grand Canyon Concourse.” We would also say that since the characters faced “rapids” in the movie, both the Grizzly River Rapids in DCA and Kali River Rapids at AK are a “nod”… whether intentional or not.

Grizzly Rapids

About: Ten Who Dared takes place in 1869 and tells the story of John Wesley Powell, a US Army Officer, who successfully traveled down the Colorado River with a team of nine other men. Their task was not only to navigate the river, but also to map the uncharted territory. Walt always takes the realism of his films seriously, so he had the technical advisor for the film visit the river in the Grand Canyon and experience it for themselves.

In 1869, much of the US was mapped out, but the Colorado River area of the Grand Canyon was deemed “too dangerous” to map. It’s worth noting that Powell not only succeeded in his mission, but he did it with one arm (he lost it in the Battle of Shiloh). Obviously Walt had a thing for American History, the live action movies up to this point really prove that. We don’t want to give too many plot points away, but as expected, Powell and the crew face many obstacles in their quest.

Our Impressions: We read before we watched the film that Leonard Maltin called it one of the worst movies ever; in his words it is “rock bottom Disney.” We vehemently disagree. Kidnapped and Treasure Island are much worse movies. This was at least interesting, suspenseful (not in a cheesy way), and entertaining (funnier than we expected, and the songs were great). Our favourite quote: – “Are you a geologist?” – “No.” – “Then why are you going?” – “So I can get away from people.” We loved when they broke into song (why can’t we do that in real life?), and the acoustics in the Grand Canyon were fantastic! (I’m a singer and think about that a lot!) Another quote we loved was when one of the crew said they would “knock them into the middle of next week.” Our girls giggled real hard at that one, probably because you just don’t hear that kind of rough talk in our modern society.

To watch them explore and conquer uncharted territory from the comfort of our own home was quite enjoyable, really! I don’t know if it’s because of our epic road trip when we visited this area (you can read about our adventures here), but the premise was and is quite interesting to us. Honestly, when we went on that road trip we had no idea how many of these early films would have so many tie-ins. It makes me want to go all over again and experience it with the benefit of having watched all of them now. 

Suggested Special Activity: I had the girls make Popsicle stick rafts. It doesn’t get any simpler, you just need Popsicle sticks (any size) and glue. Stickers and paper are fun extras if you want to make a flag. They also enjoyed testing whether or not the rafts would float!

 55. Moochie of Pop Warner Football
haven’t watched yet

Release Date: Nov 27, 1960
Original Release: Television Release (in two parts)
Run Time: 94 min
Where to Watch: n/a
Awards: None
Jones Family Rating:
Tagline: “Peewee verses city hall”

Disney Parks Connection: Well, it is partially set IN Disneyland… but since we haven’t actually viewed it yet I can’t speak to any specific connections.

About: Another film starring Kevin Corcoran as “Moochie.” He tries his hand at a different sport this time around; football. We assume that it’s also in black and white like the previous Moochie movie, “Moochie of the Little League.” He has a run in with the Mayor’s son, but it’s short lived and the two become friends (I mean, who doesn’t love Moochie?) The boys play in the “Disneyland Bowl” and get to visit Disneyland. 

Our Impressions: I am SO SAD to say we are yet to find and view this film. We watched the first Moochie movie for free on YouTube. I think because this one has Disneyland featured prominently in it, Disney has tight reins on it. We are very hopeful (albeit maybe naive) that before the end of the Movie Challenge we will be able to get our hands on a copy. We love Kevin Corcoran, and anything with our native park in it brings us tremendous joy. Fingers crossed!

Suggested Special Activity: Because we haven’t seen it yet, we kept it really simple and did chocolate pudding cups turned into a “football,” plus some strawberries to dip in. I used sticky strip for the white tape. Let me say, this snack will be a permanent one for me and the girls. It’s much easier than chocolate fondue, and a fun way to dip your fruit!

56. Swiss Family Robinson
watched April 19th, 2020

Release Date: Dec 10, 1960
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 126 min
Where to Watch: Disney+, Disney DVD

Awards: None
Jones Family Rating: 10 out of 10
Tagline: “They turned a lost island into an exotic paradise”

Disney Parks Connection: The walk-through attraction “Swiss Family Treehouse” is found in Walt Disney World (Magic Kingdom), Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. It used to also be in Disneyland, but was re-imagined into Tarzan’s Treehouse. Frankly we are shocked that the OG is still around, and even though we are delighted by it for nostalgia’s sake (and for the movie connection), truly it must be on borrowed time.

Disneyland’s version opened on November 18 1962, two years after the film opened. Imagineer Bill Martin worked on both the film and park version of the treehouse. It is an opening day original attraction in Magic Kingdom and Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris); Tokyo Disney added their version 10 years after opening.

About: This is the second feature length movie based on this story, the first being released in 1940. The original wasn’t produced by Disney, but was later bought out by them (and you can read our full review in this post). The 1960 Disney version included the Donald Duck cartoon short “Sea Salts” before the feature in theatres (and it’s also included on the Disney DVD release), so we made sure to watch it as well, which we recommend doing! (You can find the short on Disney+.)

The story is a familiar one; a family with three boys (different from the 1940 movie) leaves the comfort of their home, because of the Napoleonic War, for the unknown of Papua New Guinea. Instead of making it there safely, they are nearly killed in a storm and shipwrecked on the shore of an unknown island. Here they face the elements and many dangers, but decide to make the best of it and built a beautiful treehouse with all the bells and whistles you could imagine. The cast is an enjoyable one, from the familiar faces of John Mills (Hayley Mills father!) and Dorothy McGuire as dad and mom, to James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran (all of whom are very familiar faces to us by now). In fact, three of them (McGuire, Kirk and Corcoran) worked together on “Old Yeller” as well!

The movie finds the perfect balance between work and play, and makes the experience of the family truly look like they’ve discovered paradise. Walt’s version includes several differences from the book and OG film such as the character of Roberta and the antagonistic pirates… both which make this version wildly more appealing! The climax of the film is a giant battle against pirates, and it’s perfectly suspenseful and delightful. I love that after seeing the original version Walt set out to make his version of the film. There’s something about these movies that just “click” and show the love and care that Walt had for movies in a magical way.

Apparently it took the filmmakers a long time to find exactly what they were looking for as far as the location for filming was concerned. Not happy with several places (including Jamaica and Trinidad), they settled on the island of Tobago. While the location was perfect, it didn’t have the animals needed, so they brought them in (along with 14 animal trainers!). There were a few near catastrophes on set; Mills narrowly missed a jagged rock at the bottom of the water hole, and Corcoran nearly had his face trampled by the baby elephant in the ocean. Also, Walt wanted to remove the treehouse after filming completed, but the locals convinced him to let it remain and it was a tourist attraction until Hurricane Flora destroyed it in 1963.

It is said that George Lucas was such a fan of this movie that it inspired his work on the Star Wars movies. The scene where Ernst and Fritz wrestle the anaconda influenced the monster in the water trash compactor scene in A New Hope, and the final battle with the pirates is paralleled in the Ewok’s defense of their home in Return of the Jedi.

Our Impressions: This is one of the films that I remember fondly from watching as a kid, so I had previously “made” my husband and girls watch it at least once before (for sure before our trip to Walt Disney World in 2016). Outside of the Disney Movie Challenge, they found it long and somewhat boring, not keeping their attention. Watching in order though, we all had a renewed sense of wonder and marveled at how great this film really is. It’s interesting and clever, features a fantastic cast, and manages to find a wonderful blend of heart, humour, suspense and intrigue. My husband specifically said, “what a great movie that was.” All in all this is a great family film for all ages, and has aged better than any of the adventure films up to this point (in our opinion). It was well received at release and is beloved still to this day.

Suggested Special ActivitiesThere are a LOT of fun ways you could go with this one. You could build a treehouse if you are really extra, or you could race wind-up toys like the animal race in the film. Another idea is to go swimming at a local water hole. Since the family made coconut bombs at the end of the film, we decided to buy a coconut, split it in half, and put coconut “bombs” inside. They are really easy to make (only three ingredients!), and were delicious! The girls have been asking to make them again, so that for me is a win! Here’s the recipe we used for your reference.

Swiss Family Coconut Bombs

57. The Horse With the Flying Tail
watched May 6th, 2020

Release Date: Dec 21, 1960
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 48 min
Where to Watch: YouTube (rental), Disney DVD (hard to find)
Awards: Won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature
Jones Family Rating: 4 out of 10
Tagline: “The fabulous true story of a jump-happy cowpony that sailed to a glory with a wave of his golden tail!”

Disney Park Connections: None

About: One of many forgettable horse focused movies, this documentary wouldn’t even be on our list if not for winning an Academy Award. “Movies” shorter than one hour didn’t make the  list (for the most part), but because of its Oscar win this one stayed on, as  it has a place in film history.

Very simply, it follows a Palomino horse named “Nautical” who won the team gold medal at the  Pan American Games in 1959. He is an “open jumper,” competing on a course where points are deducted if the horse has any “faults” like hitting the posts while jumping. Every film needs it’s “obstacles” (see what I did there) and Nautical’s was that he was rather unpredictable, earning the nickname “Sneaky Pete.” The film is called “The Horse with the Flying Tail” because he would notoriously lift his tail up after jumping,

Our Impressions: Some of us liked it more than others, but in the end it sits middle of the road with a 5 out of 10. Even though it was based on a true story and won an Academy Award, this film is best described as forgettable, predictable, and generic. We didn’t find it until a month after we were supposed to watch it, so it’s one of the few films on our list that we went back and watched after the fact in order to say that we did. A definite “one and done” film.

Suggested Special Activities: With SO MANY horse movies on the list, I really wasn’t sure what to do. I finally landed on making horse treats (you can get the recipe here). Everything in the treat is edible, and I thought they sounded delicious, but heads up… they are NOT delicious! We had a good laugh about eating horse treats, but ultimately decided they’re best saved for actual horses. I reached out to someone we know who has horses in the area and they were DELIGHTED to take the treats for their horses! Sadly, because of COVID we couldn’t feed them ourselves, but we did get some fun photos!

58. 101 Dalmatians
watched April 20th, 2020

Release Date: Jan 25, 1961
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 79 min
Where to Watch: Disney+ or Disney DVD/Blu-Ray
Awards: None
Jones Family Rating: 9 out of 10
Tagline: “One great big ONEderful motion picture”

Disney Park Connections: There is no main attraction for 101 Dalmatians in any of the Disney Parks, but at Walt Disney World you can find a 101 Dalmatians themed area at the All-Star Movies Resort. You can also meet Cruella De Vil occasionally at Disneyland, and more commonly at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. For a VERY brief amount of time, you could find Cruella’s “dressing room” in the Hollywood Land section of DCA.

All Star movies: 101 Dalmations
All Star Movies Resort photo taken by the talented @kodakkingdoms

About: 101 Dalmatians is the 17th full length animated feature from Disney. From the catchy tunes (see “Cruella De Vil”) to the focus on adorable animals, this film is a refreshing take on the traditional “love always wins” theme.

It was a success for Walt Disney Studios, which was a relief because Sleeping Beauty was a disappointment two years earlier, and has only gotten more popular with time. Disney has continued to capitalize on the popularity of the film through the release of 101 Dalmatians merch, animated sequels, and live-action versions of the tale (including the upcoming film “Cruella” starring Emma Stone, which we are excited to see!).

The animation style is noticeably different in this one, which seems to be a financial decision more than an artistic one. The animators used Xerography (Remember Xerox? No? Just me?) and took inspiration from British cartoonist Ronald Searle. However, Walt is said to have not liked the “scratchy” appearance of the final product. Fun Fact: With so many dalmatians on screen, there are more than 6 million dots in this movie! Also, if you’re wondering where you’ve heard Cruella’s voice before, she’s the narrator for Cinderella (and is also loosely inspired by the voice of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor)!

The story follows two bachelors… a dalmatian named Pongo and his “pet” (so clever) named Roger. Pongo wants to introduce Roger to someone and drags him (literally) across the street to a park where they meet Perdita and her “pet” Anita. Roger and Anita marry, and all is well. In comes Cruella De Vil (one of the best Disney villains ever); she is obsessed with making fur coats and is interested to hear that Pongo and Perdita are expecting puppies. Fast forward again, and while Roger and Anita are out, Cruella sends two goons to steal the puppies and takes them to the “Old De Vil Place.” The police are called, but are totally useless, and it’s up to the “Twilight Bark” (a group of dogs) to locate their puppies.

Pongo and Perdita are joined by their new friends for a rescue mission, only to find out there are actually 99 puppies! (Can we just say that while Cruella is amazing, it’s pretty dark to have someone trying to make a COAT out of PUPPIES?)

Fun Fact: There are several places in the film where dogs from other movies make a cameo (even though it doesn’t make sense because they aren’t from the same area). We noticed Jock Peg (from Lady and the Tramp) in the store window, and you can see both Tramp and Lady in the shadows at the end of the Twilight Bark scene.

Our Impressions: This was not the first time for any of us with this film, but it was fun to watch it again all together. While not tremendously scary, it’s shocking how the language seeps into the heads (and sometimes tongues!) of little minds. Even sweet Anita calls Roger “you idiot.” It’s not one I would necessarily have on over and over again for that reason. Name calling hasn’t aged well, and there is a significant amount of that in this film.

We noticed that the animation of the housekeeper was very similar to one of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty. I’ve done some research on this lately and it seems to be that the most time consuming part of hand drawn animation is the movement of characters, so it makes sense that they would recycle as much as possible. Stylistically this film is similar to Sleeping Beauty, with even more “rough” edges in the animation. The kids seemed to enjoy the story (particularly any part with the puppies), but not the animation as much. Their favourite song was “Kanine Krunchies,” so much so that they asked to download it on Apple Music. Also, in the scene with the puppies watching TV we noticed that they are watching a “Silly Symphonies” short called “Springtime”!

It’s truly interesting to me how many of the animated movies feature female villains. Madame Medusa. Maleficent. The Evil Queen. Cruella. Whether intentional or not, Disney seems to hold the monopoly on iconic female villains, and Cruella has to be top 10 for sure. Well done on that, Disney. Well done.

Cruella's dressing room
Elisia living her best life in 2002 at Cruella’s “Dressing Room” in DCA

Suggested Special Activities: Anything black and white, or with spots, is going to do… so we made Oreo Cupcakes! They were, of course, a hit. Easy and delicious. I used a chocolate cake mix (use your favourite or the cheapest… we used what was in the pantry already), and then crushed the Oreo cookies in a vanilla buttercream recipe. A definite win for both theme AND taste with this one!

Oreo Cupcakes

59. The Absent Minded Professor 
watched April 21st, 2020

Release Date: Mar 26, 1961
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 96 min
Where to Watch: Disney+

Awards: Nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Effects, Special Effects)
Jones Family Rating: 7 out of 10
Tagline: “The funniest discovery since laughter!”

Disney Park Connections: None

About: The tagline for this movie gives you a good idea of what to expect in this film, “the funniest discovery since laughter.” It’s a refreshing family comedy that ties in a little science, a little heart, and a bunch of ridiculous circumstances for a delightful time. Professor Ned Brainard (played by the fabulous Fred MacMurray) is literally an “absent minded” professor of chemistry. He’s well intentioned, but frustratingly forgetful.

While making a “huge” discover (that is, Flubber) he manages to miss his own wedding… and not just for the first time, but in fact the third. We get tangled up in some other story lines as the movie unfolds. Betsy (Brainard’s fiance) is courted by another man. Tommy Kirk’s character is failing at basketball. And the government wants to get their hands on the invention.

The most enjoyable and memorable part of the movie, albeit the one that requires the most “suspension of disbelief” (don’t overthink whether it would be allowed or not!), is the basketball game scene. Professor Brainard “helps” the boys with the use of his invention. He also uses Flubber to make his Model T car fly, which is obviously something everyone thinks would be super fun! The professor gets into some trouble but manages to find a happy ending all the same.

Our Impressions: I had seen this a few times as a kid and really enjoyed it. However, we were all very surprised to see that the version uploaded to Disney+ is in black and white, even though it has been re-released in colour! I guess this is the most authentic way to watch the film, but a little colour never hurt anybody. We’ve enjoyed when Disney uses repeat cast members… Fred MacMurray is now a household name and we’ve loved everything he’s done. We also recognized one of the actresses from Polyanna, as well as the fabulous Tommy Kirk.

The girls tracked surprisingly well for this movie. They thought that Flubber (Flying Rubber = Flubber) was clever, plus the gimmicky scenes and slap-stick comedy was right up their alley. Lexie said she liked it because there are cheerleaders, and she’s taken some cheer-leading lessons. Also, we think the Medford “M” sweaters, must be a wink and a nod (or even a giant push) to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse uniforms of the time. Overall, especially because there is a remake of this film (with Robin Williams in 1997) and a sequel (Son of Flubber, coming up in 1963), we recommend this as a staple for any and all Disney fans!

Suggested Special Activities: The choice was obvious for us… we made Flubber! I made my favourite “can’t fail” slime recipe… we used a LITTLE extra “activator” (the Borax and hot water) and it turned out great. It even bounced slightly! The trick is to use clear glue with the green food colouring to get it to look like it is in the movie (although it’s in black and white so we based the look more off of the remake). I did one and a half recipes for it because I have 3 kids and sharing isn’t anyone’s favorite when it comes to slime!

– Start with a container that you are okay throwing away after (like a large yogurt container).
– Mix 1/2 cup of clear Elmers Glue with 1/2 cup of just boiling water. Mix with a Popsicle stick, add green food colouring and mix well.
– Using a separate bowl (another upcycled container), add 1/4 tsp Borax into 1/2 cup of hot water and stir, making sure the Borax completely dissolves. This is your activator, so you can add a little more if you want it more bouncy than stretchy, but literally the smallest amount makes the biggest difference.
– Mix in the Borax water a little at a time, stirring while you pour and it will come together quickly. Knead with your hands and voila! Flubber!

60. The Parent Trap
watched April 22nd, 2020

Release Date: Jun 12, 1960
Original Release: Theatrical Release
Run Time: 129 min
Where to Watch: Disney+ and Disney DVD

Awards: Nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Sound and Best Film Editing)
Jones Family Rating:
10 out of 10
Tagline: “This is Sharon. Or is it Susan? This is Susan. Or is it Sharon?”

Disney Parks Connection: None 

About: I can’t think of a more iconic live action Disney film than this one. Opening at a summer camp, two girls (Susan and Sharon) end up loathing each other and playing pranks on one another until they are forced into isolation together where they realize it’s no coincidence that they have the same face (imagine that!). Discovering that they are twin sisters who were split up shortly after birth due to their parents divorce, they create a plan to swap places at pick up, and ultimately bring the broken family back together. Only problem is, dad has picked up a young (gold-digging) fiance, which puts a wrench in their plans.

The movie is based off of a German book called “Lottie and Lisa” (this was particularly interesting for me to find out because our moms name is Lottie!). It was originally pitched to be called “His and Hers,” but eventually changed to “The Parent Trap.” There’s a nod to the OG title in the credits where you see the animation with “His” and “Hers” in the bathroom, and in the movie itself Susan says the girls were split up, “His and hers, it makes me feel like a bathroom towel.” The songs are by the infamous (and our favourite!) Sherman Brothers. For most of the movie a body double is used for shots when the “twins” are together, but when Walt saw one of the special “split screen” shots he asked for more of them since it was so successful. I wondered if this was the first time this effect was used in film, but that was actually in 1898, so I wasn’t even close!

Our Impressions: This is another movie that we’ve watched a couple of times together as a family, and I’ve personally watched more times than I can count. It’s on the long side (anything over 2 hours with kids can be a struggle I think), but it’s worth it. Watching in chronological order made us really appreciate what a gem it is, especially compared to other films of the time! It was also the first time I realized that Annette is on stage signing “Let’s Get Together” at the camp dance. It’s just so clever, has aged well, and can be appreciated by both kids and adults alike. We loved the opening credits with Annette singing, and Hayley Mills just does such a wonderful job playing both sisters. Our favourite quote is: “The nerve of her! Coming in here with YOUR face!” 

Suggested Special Activities: Even after watching this as many times as I have, I couldn’t for my life think of an activity to do. They cook trout while camping, so you could do that. Definitely any summer camp type activities would be a great idea. If you really want to go all extra, set up an outdoor theatre and watch the film that way. Set up some “cabins” or tents, make s’mores on a fire. If it’s not the best weather, set up camp inside! We did this for Addie’s birthday last year and it was a HUGE hit. (All of the fun with none of the outdoor elements like bugs and rain!)

What we ended up doing for the actual movie was grape popsicles because the sisters share some in isolation at the beginning of the movie. You can do something simple like us or go all out… the choice is up to you!

For movies 61-70, head to the next blog post here!

How many of these movies have you seen? Which is your favourite? We’d love to hear from you!

Have a magical day!

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2 thoughts on “The Great Disney Movie Challenge: Movies 51-60

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  1. There were some really fun ones in this batch, weren’t there? And making flubber is definitely a must if you watch the movie.

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