WEEK IN WOMEN: Idina Menzel Documentary Lands at Disney+ – Brandy McDonnell reports

The documentary Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage? will make its world premiere Dec. 9, exclusively on Disney+. Through unprecedented interviews and footage, the beloved actor and singer, whose famed roles include Broadway productions of Rent and Wicked as well as the celebrated voice of Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, pulls back the curtain on her remarkable career, the incredible — and often laborious — moments that prepared her for her big breaks and the people who have supported her since the beginning.

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CARS ON THE ROAD – Review by Martha K Baker

Moving on from their star turns in Cars, that most delightful film, the animated vehicular actors, ‘Mater and Lightning McQueen, head to a wedding. It takes nine episodes for the cars to arrive finally at ‘Mater’s home for his sister’s nuptials because they have to drive from Radiator Springs to the East Coast, down south. The series runs eight minutes an episode. Although the series isn’t nearly so charming as the original film and nowhere near as much fun as the ride at Disneyland, it moves pretty darn slap-happily on the highway of ha-ha’s.

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SNEAKERELLA – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

A hip-hop, gender-swapped twist on the classic fairy tale, the musical Sneakerella likely will appeal to young viewers and tweens, even if older viewers find parts of it a tough fit. Making her feature directing debut, Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum embraces the fairy dust, with artistic sketches that come to animated life, framing that rotates so the protagonist dances up walls, and both subtle and fantastical spurts of magic. The songs and dance numbers are lively, and the well-worn message that you’re rewarded for being yourself is as comforting as a favorite slipper.

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SPOTLIGHT May, 2022: Domee Shi, Animator, Director, Pixar VP of Creative

It has been an incredible decade for animator and director Domee Shi. Beginning as a story intern at Pixar in 2011, she was promoted in April of this year to Vice President of Creative for the company where she has spent her entire professional career. She also won an Academy Award and directed a feature film along the way.

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JUNGLE CRUISE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Whoever pitched Disney’s new feature Jungle Cruise must have been a master of hyperbole. “It’s The Mummy meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets African Queen, but imagine Katherine Hepburn as a younger, smokin’ yet independent English hottie, and add the highest paid actor in the world.” If there were ever a final argument for ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, Jungle Cruise would be it.

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JUNGLE CRUISE – Review by Susan Granger

Encouraged by the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Disney launches this fantasy/adventure, based on the theme park attraction. It begins in 1916 London, where intrepid botanist/explorer Lily Houghton sneaks into a snobbish science society to steal an arrowhead thought to be the key to finding the Tears of the Moon, a sacred tree hidden in the Amazon jungle whose petals have miraculous healing powers.

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LUCA – Review by Susan Granger

Once upon a time near a beautiful seaside town in the Cinque Terra region of the Italian Riviera, two young mermen – or, as the locals called them, ‘sea monsters’ – spend an unforgettable summer together. Despite cautionary warnings from his parents, teenage Luca is curious about the world that’s above the surface of the sea where he and his family live.

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LUCA – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Luca, the latest under-the-sea Disney-produced animated adventure, might be a few leagues below such House of Mouse ‘toon classics as The Little Mermaid with its show tunes and Finding Nemo with its tale of fatherly love. But this buoyantly engaging Pixar tale directed by Enrico Casarosa, the maker of the Oscar-nominated 2011 short La Luna, provides enough catchy hooks to please most family viewers.

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RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON – Review by Leslie Combemale

Raya and the Last Dragon is definitely a fun, exciting animated feature, with most entertainment found in the vocal interpretations and endlessly gorgeous visuals, that bring the film to a compelling level, and raise the plot, which, though it offers exciting action, a fresh perspective, and Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess, ultimately fits the ‘Disney Magic’ formula‘ and business as usual.

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