Sunday, June 21, 2009

Film Review: kids /childrens' Movies: Disney's Princess Protection Program

(Media Study South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

Disney's controversial stances on issues such as abortion, or the many alarms raised by different watchdogs, which have often warned about Disney's business practice and how they have allegedly acted as regards what much of our Western World calls Human Rights (especially Children's' Rights), and past controversies involving treatment of animals, need not be mentioned, except in passing.

As for their latest "Disney Channel Original Movie", released here and in the U.K. Earlier than in the United States (U.S.A.), staring Selena Gomez, playing Carter (Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place's: "Alex"), and Demi Lovato (Disney's: Camp Rock, As the Bell Rings), Playing Princess Rosalinda, no immediate moral problems are apparent as yet, possibly the positive light in which lying, and bad Russian accents are portrayed may be a negative, as with unrealistic plans working out well. Not to mention the taking of dresses for a ball, from the charity shop. Perhaps they are going for a Cinderella moment there?

The plot, as is usual in Disney movies, is unrealistic, hopefully stylized, even laughable, as with a certain secondary character's very fake Russian accent, and the Laughable proposition of a "Princess Protection Program", funded by global royalty (what, princes aren't catered for?), not to mention Rosalinda's "name change" to Rosie, and that a hair cut is thought a disguise. There was, however surprisingly good acting by Demi Lovato, who seems almost like a porcelain doll at times, and whose portrayal of a very dignified, if naive, and demanding princess, is certainly well acted. Selena Gomez, also plays her almost lesser, more classic Disney role in the movie (of the troubled, independent girl) well. The childhood connection, and public friendship between the two female leads, certainly creates a believable friendship on set.

Besides the poor beginning, factory made plot, recycled themes, and other such Disney tricks, there are some positives of the film. Much of the acting was somewhat, if not very "believable", at least in a way. It is not sure whether or not the made for television movie is designed to be a comedy, but it certainly has laughs embedded throughout. It also seems to take a stance against high school popularity cliques, and portrays the high school social hierarchy negatively.

While it is said, that fantasy land plots, and "Happily Ever Afters", create conditions in which women fall for abusive partners, or fall into marrying these, Disney for once resisted the urge to create such an ending: granted, it was still very stylized, and manufactured. Rather, the film almost seems to try to show off the talents of the female leads, in complex movie scenarios: certainly borrowed from Disney's other movies, and television series, woven together by a thin plot, which: maybe only children(their target audience) could believe. There is a very positive portrayal of monarchy, and the worst consequences of failure revealed: seem to generally be a "Work Farm", or "prison". It is further unrealistic, that the escape of a princess, would actually save a country from a "dictator". Granted, an exiled leader has more power than an imprisoned leader.

Having noted the absolute pathos of this relatively cute movie, I must admit, that in classic Disney fashion, it creates a fun viewing experience, has attractive female leads, and draws on emotions in an exaggerated, cute manner. It also seems to promote respect for women, and to view value over material things. Personally, I enjoyed watching it, but I am not sure if it was meant to be a comedy.

While Demi Lovato did seem like a Miss Wherever sometimes, and while "Prom Queen", is a big thing, the latter seems another recycled Disney concept.

While I don't guarantee there will not be negative effects from this movie: I give the movie a neutral, possibly positive rating, as regards perceived effect on children: if not simply because of average societal factors portrayed: such as the values encompassed in the character played by Demi Lovato, and in the value placed by Selena's character: on "real", everyday things.

As compared to some Disney releases: this movie seems almost a bit better, even if it plays on little children's fantasies. As I noted before, the acting was on par, even if the plot was manufactured, and re-recycled.

South African Catholic

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