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Monthly Archives: November 2012

November 30

November 30, 2010 – The Platform Video Game Epic Mickey is Released

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“The world I had created was ravaged – a wasteland.”

On November 30, 2010, the platform video game Epic Mickey was released in North America, after previous releases in Australia on November 25and in Europe on November 26. Designed by Warren Spector and developed by Junction Point Studios, the game was published by Disney Interactive Studios and released on Nintendo’s Wii console. Epic Mickey was notable for being the first major project with Disney’s first successful animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, after the reacquisition of the character. The game was also designed to bring back the personality traits of Mickey Mouse from his earlier films, focusing less on the suburban “everyman” character Mickey became, and more on his mischievous and adventurous side. The game received mixed to positive reviews, and sold out its first day from the online Disney Store. Due to its immense popularity, a sequel was released on November 18, 2012.

The plot of the game deals with a land called the Cartoon Wasteland, created by the sorcerer Yen Sid as a home for obscure or discarded Disney characters, such as Oswald and Gremlin Gus. One day, a still-unknown Mickey Mouse enters the workshop where the model of the Cartoon Wasteland stands, and accidentally creates a creature known as the Shadow Blot. Mickey tries to erase it using paint thinner, but ends up spilling the thinner on the model. As Mickey tries to clean up before Yen Side returns, he creates more chaos and gives the Shadow Blot more strength. The Cartoon Wasteland becomes a land of ruin. Years later, the Shadow Blot abducts Mickey and takes him to the Wasteland, where he meets an angry and jealous Oswald. Mickey must use the magic paintbrush to win back Oswald’s trust and return the Cartoon Wasteland to its former glory.

November 29

November 29, 1934 – The First Set of Disney Balloon Joins the Macy’s Christmas Parade

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“See gigantic balloons designed by none other than Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse himself!”

On November 29, 1934, Disney characters made their debut in Macy’s Santa Claus Parade (later renamed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade). Although Mickey had been a big star since 1928, it wasn’t until 1934 when Disney characters were featured, including Mickey Mouse. The effort of bringing the Disney characters to the parade was due to the efforts of Walt Disney and Tony Sarg of Macy’s.

The Mickey balloon was over 40 feet tall and was held by 25 handlers in Mickey and Minnie Mouse costumes. Balloon Mickey had a giant Macy’s star on his chest in a bit of cross-promotion. Other Disney characters featured were Pluto, the Big Bad Wolf (measuring at 34 feet), one of the Three Little Pigs (measuring at 31 feet), and Horace Horsecollar (measuring at 12 feet).

November 28

November 28, 1943 – Composer and Disney Legend Randy Newman is Born

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“I’ve always admired Carl Stalling and the other composers who specialized in music for cartoons, and I wanted to do one myself.”

On November 28, 1943, composer Randall Stuart Newman was born in Los Angeles, California. As a child, he and his family lived in New Orleans until they moved back to Los Angeles when he was 11. Newman came from a noted musical family; three uncles were Hollywood film-score composers: Alfred Newman, Lionel Newman, and Emil Newman. Randy became a professional songwriter at the age of 17, and in 1962, he released his first single, “Golden Gridiron Boy.” The single did poorly, and Newman decided to concentrate on songwriting and arranging instead of performing. His big break came as the B-side to The Fleetwoods’ hit single “Lovers By Night, Strangers By Day,” with a song titled “They Tell Me It’s Summer.” In 1970, Newman had a critical success with his sophomore album 12 Songs; in 1977, he scored a hit with the unlikely song, “Short People.”

Newman began his work with Disney and Pixar when Disney tapped him to compose the film Toy Story. He wrote the hit song, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” for the film. His success with the film led to other animation composing jobs for Disney/Pixar, including James and the Giant Peach, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Cars, and The Princess and the Frog. He was nominated for, and won, an Academy Award for the song “If I Didn’t Have You” for the film Monsters, Inc.; and won the Academy Award for the song “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3.He has earned at least one Oscar nomination for each animated film he has worked on. Newman was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2007.

November 27

November 27, 2008 – The Buzz Lightyear Balloon Makes Its Debut at the 82nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Image credit: AP

“To infinity…and beyond!”

On November 27, 2008, a giant balloon of Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear made its debut at the 82nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was reported that John Lasseter, wearing a Buzz Lightyear outfit, was holding one of the strings of the balloon at the debut. The balloon is highly detailed, including Andy’s signature on Buzz’s foot. The balloon has since appeared in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

November 26

November 26, 1997 – The Walt Disney Pictures Feature Film Flubber is Released to Theaters

“The truth is Weebo, I’m not absent-minded because I’m selfish, crazy, or inconsiderate. I’m absent-minded because I’m in love with Sara.”

On November 26, 1997, the Walt Disney Pictures film Flubber was released to theaters. The film is a remake of the 1961 Disney film, The Absent-Minded Professor, starring Fred MacMurray; the 1961 film was based on the short story “A Situation of Gravity” by Samuel W. Taylor. Flubber was directed by Les Mayfield, with screenplay by Bill Walsh (the 1961 film) and John Hughes. It stars Robin Williams and Professor Phillip Brainard, Marcia Gay Harden as Sara Reynolds, Jodi Benson as the voice of Weebo, Christopher McDonald as Wilson Croft, Raymond Barry as Chester Hoenicker, and Wil Wheaton as Bennett Hoenicker.

Filming and special effects for Flubber took place at the Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco, California. Filmmakers had 90,000 square feet of space to create Professor Brainard’s laboratory, the locker room, and the basketball arena, all in one place. A major difference between Flubber and Professor is the substance Flubber itself: in the 1997 film, Flubber has a mischievous personality of its own.

Professor Phillip Brainard sits for breakfast, explaining his hope to save the college after his robot assistant Weebo shows him the news article about the shutdown threat

As the film opens, Professor Phillip Brainard is getting ready for his day, when his robot assistant, Weebo, tells him that Medfield College is facing a shutdown. Distracted by the news, Brainard feels that he’s forgetting something scheduled for that afternoon. What he’s forgetting is his marriage to the Medfield College president, Sara Reynolds, which he has already forgotten twice. He meets Sara for lunch, and she reminds him about the wedding and makes him promise he’ll be there; if he doesn’t show, she tells him that they’ll call it quits – permanently.

Later, while Brainard is working in his lab, his rival, Wilson Croft, stops by. Croft had been Brainard’s partner until he stole and profited from Brainard’s ideas. He announces his plans to steal Sara away from Brainard. As Brainard prepares for the wedding, he asks Weebo why the wedding wasn’t on his schedule. Weebo is secretly in love with Brainard, and pretends that she may have a virus. While he is looking at Weebo, he sees that one of his projects may have had a breakthrough, and sets to work on it, the wedding pushed out of his mind, especially as he sets off an explosion in his lab.

Brainard is so excited about his new discovery, “Flubber,” that he hasn’t realized that his missed his own wedding for a third time

Everyone waits at the church, and Sara finally realizes that he isn’t coming. Later that night, as Brainard cleans up the mess, he comes across the new substance he created: a green goo with a mind of its own. It begins to wreak havoc in the lab and the neighborhood after being startled by a camera flash. Weebo dubs it “flying rubber,” and Brainard names it “Flubber.” As he continues to experiment with Flubber, thinking that this is the breakthrough that will save the college, he finally realizes that he’s missed his wedding. Again.

The next day, Brainard arrives at Sara’s office to explain, but she is too heartbroken to hear it. She cares nothing for his Flubber invention, and declares that they are finished. Meanwhile, Bennett Hoenicker, star of the Medfield basketball team, goes to his father, furious that he’s been placed on academic probation after flunking chemistry. His father, Chester Hoenicker, one of the biggest lenders to the school, asks his flunkies to “persuade” Brainard to change his son’s grade to an A. The henchmen go to Brainard’s lab late at night and accidentally become a part of Brainard’s Flubber experiments (getting knocked out by a Flubber-coated golf ball and bowling ball). Brainard then applies Flubber to his car, which enables it to fly. He flies to Sara’s to show off the car, only to find her on a date with Croft. Although he is upset about this, he resolves not to give up, and to find a way to use Flubber to help the Medfield team win the basketball game and hold off the shutdown.

Brainard applies liquid Flubber to the basketball and his shoes, testing how it could be used to help Medfield win the basketball game

Brainard explains to Weebo that using Flubber to help them the rather inept Medfield team win is the only way to prove to Sara that Flubber will be a success. Brainard intends to sneak into the rival school’s basketball arena, and apply Flubber to the basketball and his own sneakers, testing how well it will work. As he leaves, he warns Weebo not to let Flubber out from its container. She promises, but the moment he’s gone, she decides to have fun with the creation, and the released Flubber begins to have a dance party around the house.

After a disastrous first quarter at the basketball game, the Flubber begins to take effect, and the Medfield team wins the game, 69 to 68. Brainard tries to convince Sara that Flubber helped Medfield win the game, but she doesn’t believe him, and continues her date with Croft. A dejected Brainard flies home in his car, but Hoenicker sees him in the aerial auto. As Brainard sadly explains his love for Sara to Weebo, he is unaware that Weebo records him. Later that night, Weebo goes to Sara’s house and shows her the recording, effectively winning Sara back for Brainard. Sara arrives at Brainard’s and the two make up, with Brainard taking Sara for a ride in the flying car; the two decide to sell the car to a car company to save the school.

Hoenicker waits for Brainard and Sara to return, offering them a chance to sell him the Flubber, in exchange for him forgetting the debt owed him by the school

When Brainard and Sara arrive back at Brainard’s, they are greeted by Hoenicker, his son, and his flunkies. Hoenicker offers to buy Brainard’s invention, but Brainard and Sara refuse his offer. The next morning, when Brainard and Sara take the car to Ford to sell, Hoenicker’s henchmen break in to steal Flubber, and destroy Weebo as she tries to stop them. Brainard and Sara return to see the damage and find the Flubber stolen, and Brainard holds Weebo as she dies in his arms. He believes that he could never recreate her, but finds that she secretly placed her plans on his computer so he could create another copy, with a final message from her hologram.

With a new resolve, Brainard and Sara head over to Hoenicker’s to retrieve the Flubber and avenge Weebo. They find Croft working for Hoenicker to interpret the Flubber, once again trying to steal Brainard’s creation. Brainard and Sara quickly put their plan in motion, using the Flubber in the hand cream, a water gun, and the car to recapture the Flubber. Brainard and Sara save the college, and finally have their wedding, although through a video link, with Brainard working in his lab while Sara is at the church. The two then fly off to their honeymoon in their Flubber-powered car, accompanied by Flubber and the newly constructed Weebette.

November 25

November 25, 1938 – The Special Short Film Ferdinand the Bull is Released to Theaters

“All the other little bulls he lived with would run, and jump, and butt their heads together, but not Ferdinand.”

On November 25, 1938, the special short film Ferdinand the Bull was released to theaters. The short was based on the book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, with illustrations by Robert Lawson. Ferdinand the Bull won the Academy Award for Best Cartoon of 1938. It was directed by Dick Rickard, and narrated by Don Wilson; Milt Kahl provided the voice of Ferdinand’s mother, while Walt Disney provided the voice for Ferdinand. Several members of Disney staff were caricatured as characters at the bullfight; Walt himself was caricatured as the matador.

The short opens in Spain, introducing the little bull Ferdinand, who much preferred to sit in the pasture and smell the flowers rather than butt heads with the other little bulls. His mother worried about him, but Ferdinand was quite content under his cork tree. As the years went by, Ferdinand grew to be big and strong, but never dreamed of fighting in the bullfights like the others.

After displaying a fierce reaction to the bee sting, Ferdinand is carted to Madrid to fight the matador

One day, a group of men came to pick the biggest, strongest, and toughest bull to fight in Madrid. Ferdinand ignored them and went to sit under his tree, but accidentally sat on a bee. His surprised, fierce reaction to the bee’s sting convinces the men that Ferdinand is the strong, tough bull they are looking for, and they cart him off to Madrid.

Ferdinand’s bullfight opens with much fanfare. The matador appears in the ring to great applause, ready to do battle with the bull. Unfortunately for the matador, Ferdinand is not in a fighting mood. As the matador flees from Ferdinand’s approach, everyone is surprised to see the bull sniff a bouquet of flowers that has been tossed into the ring. The matador is furious that Ferdinand won’t be fierce, and tries any approach he can to get a reaction from the flower-loving bull. After revealing a daisy flower tattooed on his chest, Ferdinand gives the matador a kiss. Frustrated, the men in charge cart Ferdinand back to his little area under the cork tree, letting him remain and smell the flowers.

November 24

November 24, 1950 – The Special Short Film Morris the Midget Moose Premieres in Theaters

“Now, Morris was four years old and should have been full-grown. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t grow an inch.”

On November 24, 1950, the special short film Morris the Midget Moose premiered in theaters. The short was based on an original story by Frank Owen. It also brings back the character of the “boodle beetle,” who was known more often than not for being an antagonist of Donald Duck. It was directed by Charles Nichols, with story by Eric Gurney and Bill de la Torre.

The short begins with two young bootle beetles fighting over a berry. Their grandfather decides to teach them a lesson through telling them a story: the story of Morris the Midget Moose. Morris was unable to grow any bigger than a puppy. He wished to play with the bigger moose, but he couldn’t keep up with them due to his size, and became the laughingstock of his tribe.

The Mighty Thunderclap, the leader of the tribe, stands ready for the day when the other moose challenge him for leadership

The day came where each moose would challenge the mighty Thunderclap, the largest moose of them all, for leadership of the tribe. All the moose lined up for the challenge, except Morris, until he realized that his antlers were as big as the others. But when it came time to battle Thunderclap, he only reduced the mighty moose to laughter. Poor Morris was devastated, and unaware that he was being watched nearby by a moose named Balsam. Balsam gets Morris’ attention and explains that he is just as sad, if not more so, than Morris, for although he was a full grown moose, his antlers never grew in. The two become the best of friends, with the two helping each other out.

One day, they realized by working together, the two appeared to be the biggest moose in the tribe. This gets Thunderclap’s attention, and there is soon a battle between Morris and Balsam versus Thunderclap. The pair is able to scare Thunderclap away, never to be heard from again, and the grandfather explains that the moral is “two heads are better than one.”