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Bambi
1942 - G - 69 Mins.
Director: David Hand
Written By: Felix Salten (novel), Larry Morey (story)
Starring: Hardie Albright, Stan Alexander, Bobette Audrey, Peter Behn, Thelma Boardman
Review by: James O'Ehley
Official Site: disney.go.com/home/today/index.html
   

I believe that people are inherently good, Bambi . . .
Even more disconcerting than the NRA types who kill Bambi’s mother and inadvertently set fire to the forest in which they, and all the other cute animals like Thumper, live is the fact that Bambi is . . . MALE!

Now that just seems plain wrong: that cute doe-eyed little thing being male and being named Bambi, f’r crying out loud! Just what kind of a sick joke is this!?

Seriously now though folks, the sad truth is that BAMBI is hardly the classic it is often made out to be. Sure, the movie represented a technical breakthrough for animated features upon its original release back in 1942 (!). After all, the animation is better than a lot of those straight-to-video Disney sequels you see cluttering the sell-thru shelves nowadays.

Of course, the movie has also been deeply ingrained into our popular culture subconscious because it was the Baby Boomers as small children’s first encounter with Death. (This may come as a surprise here, but Bambi’s mother actually gets killed by hunters. What? You didn’t know that?) Anyway, thanks to video re-issues and re-releases in cinemas, the movie worked its magic by traumatising several generations afterwards too – that is, until THE LION KING did for younger kids what BAMBI did for their parents. Gee thanks, Disney . . .

While not having seen BAMBI as a kid, I immediately snatched a copy of the recently released two-disc DVD from the shelves for my little two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. After all this is an “enduring family classic”, right? (And the little ‘uns have to learn about the big D sooner or later, right?)

Anyway, so imagine the disappointment I felt when watching the movie with my little one that, well, BAMBI is pretty dull and not much actually happens.

If you think the current crop of Disney straight-to-video sequels (such as MULAN 2 and JUNGLE BOOK 2) are thin on plot, then wait till you’ve seen BAMBI where the plot is pretty much nonexistent: Bambi is born, grows up, his mother gets killed, when Spring comes he falls in love and has his own little ‘uns – and not much else really happens. They have to dodge some hunters and their dogs in some surprisingly cruel and intense scenes, but that’s about it as far as excitement goes. It is all rather aimless . . . like real life, I suppose. But who want to pay good money to see that now?

The sad truth is there just is no plot, and my daughter grew REALLY fidgety (which she rarely does with most animated flicks) as soon as Bambi was all grown up. Thankfully there weren’t any musical numbers to stretch the movie’s running time out some more, but even at its modest 69 minutes running time I found myself bored silly by the film’s glacially slow pace and meandering plot. And suddenly I felt kinda stupid for listening to Leonard Maltin’s movie guide (which gave it a full four out of four stars!) instead of buying HOME ON THE RANGE (ironically the last movie to be made by Disney’s now sadly defunct American animation department) which, despite rotten reviews, at least seems to have a plot if the trailer is to be believed.

And speaking of trailers, the most interesting thing about the new DVD was the trailers and it’s sorta pathetic when you’re more excited by the trailer for a movie you’ve already seen (THE INCREDIBLES) than by the main feature.

Buy the kids something else instead: BAMBI is a “classic” in the sense that it is old, and not in the sense that it is any good. Rather let your kids be traumatised by THE LION KING which has two comic sidekicks to relieve the unremittingly grim mood, something which BAMBI lacks.

(And before you write this review off as the work of a cynical hack – which it probably is, the reality is that my wife who is a far less cynical soul than myself also thinks BAMBI is a dull movie.)
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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