“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Quest For Camelot

May 15, 1998

In the mystical past of summer of ’98, “animation” meant drawings. TOY STORY was the only computer animated feature that existed, so that was still just a novelty, not the entire industry. It wouldn’t be until the Fall that dueling bug movies kicked off the war for computer animation supremacy, so nobody wanted to be Pixar yet. They still wanted to be Disney.

The previous November, Fox Animation Studios had made their Don Bluth directed version of a Disney movie, ANASTASIA. In December Dreamworks would release their Biblical version, PRINCE OF EGYPT. And this was Warner Bros. Feature Animation debuting with their sword and sorcerer version. They took a little bit of the dark fantasy of THE BLACK CAULDRON and early Don Bluth, but mostly tried to make a musical in the vein of the ’90s classics like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN.

The operative word being “tried.” This is a terrible fucking movie. Nothing can compare to FOODFIGHT!, but as far as professionally completed animated features given a wide release in theaters, QUEST FOR CAMELOT (a.k.a. THE MAGIC SWORD: QUEST FOR CAMELOT in some countries) is one of the worst I’ve watched all the way through. The shamelessness with which they try to copy Disney, combined with the clear lack of understanding of why people like the stuff they’re trying to rip off, and the substandard execution of it, is honestly depressing to watch. Like any animated feature there are surely many talented people who worked on it, but it’s very obvious that the direction at the top came from a bunch of clueless executives who just had no respect for the audience or the art form, and no idea what the fuck they were doing.

Supposedly based on a book called The King’s Damosel by Vera Chapman, it’s the story of Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig [PROM NIGHT, THE STEPFATHER], singing voice: Andrea Corr of the band The Corrs), a young maiden or whatever whose father (Gabriel Byrne, END OF DAYS) was Sir Lionel of the knights of the Round Table, but he was killed when she was little (the opening scene). Her mother (Jane Seymour [WEDDING CRASHERS], singing voice: Celine Dion [for real]) wants her to be a girl who wears dresses and does girl stuff for girls, but she dreams of ADVENTURE! And EXPERIENCE! And possibly KNIGHT STUFF!

When she learns of her father’s death (I have included the above screengrab because I thought it was funny that the horse is drawn to look sad) she looks at her reflection and we watch it grow into an adult to sing about how she will “do great things on my fathers wings” as she goes around doing parkour over animals and making dramatic gestures that are sometimes suspiciously similar to famous Disney moments (but not drawn as well).

Shortly after the song, King Arthur (Pierce Brosnan [STEPHEN KING’S THE LAWNMOWER MAN], singing voice Steve Perry of the band and video game Journey) is making a speech about how great Camelot is doing when a griffin (Bronson Pinchot, TRUE ROMANCE) crashes through the ceiling and steals Excalibur from the back of his chair. To be honest I would just call it a monster, but somebody says “It’s a griffin!” So that was helpful. Anyway, Merlin (John Gielgud, FIRST KNIGHT) sends his bird pal Silverwing to “protect the sword,” but all he does is make the griffin drop it into an enormous briar patch full of monster hands. Dumb bird.

Well, you know how real Disney characters always have some dream that goes against what their parents expect of them? Kaylee says she wants to “fight evil, rescue damsels in distress” but her mom wants to make her a new dress and let the knights take care of this whole magic sword fiasco.

But this goes against Kaylee’s long-held dream of Doing Great Things. “How am I going to do great things if I’m stuck here with these silly chickens?” she asks herself (rhetorical question).

That’s actually foreshadowing, because soon a big muscle-headed disgruntled ex-Round-tabler named Ruber (Gary Oldman – I told you LOST IN SPACE wouldn’t be his worst movie this summer) shows up with a bunch of barbarian henchmen, sings a rock musical type song while doing a magic spell during which he dunks a random rooster in a cauldron and says “Now this chicken – can KILL! – Behold – Blaaaaaaade-beak-uh!” and then the chicken is a comic relief chicken with an ax for a beak. So, you know, get ready for your whole world to change with the discovery of this marvelous character Bladebeak voiced by Urkel himself, Jaleel White in his first movie role.

Anyway he turns all his guys into half human/half metal tool warriors and kidnaps Kaylee’s mom – if I understand correctly he’s assuming he can find the sword and then he will get her to enter Camelot with him hiding inside the carriage and he’ll become the king or some shit. Anyway it’s cool because now Kaylee is free to pursue her Doing Great Things dream. She journeys into The Forbidden Forest and meets a blind wanderer named Garrett (Cary Elwes [THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN], singing voice: country singer Bryan White) and the falcon from before, who turns out to be named Ayden, so I guess Merlin calling him “Silverwing” was degrading. According to a wiki I found he is “the terartagonist of QUEST FROM CAMELOT.” Sadly that turns out to mean the fourth protagonist, not the lead bird character.

As this group travels together they pick up another straggler, a kids meal toy… er, I mean a two-headed dragon called Devon (Eric Idle, TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE) and Cornwall (Don Rickles, KELLY’S HEROES). Somebody obviously had alot of faith in him/them being funny/charming because even though they’re a dragon they’re (hold on to your socks man this is gonna be a real killer when you hear this concept) total wimps and cowards who bicker with each other and do a musical number where they’re separated and one watches TV and has a lava lamp and they dress up as Elvis and as Sonny & Cher. And that’s funny because this takes place a long time ago but more of a long time ago than those references. Hard to explain and I definitely didn’t laugh but trust me it is the kind of thing that I have noticed is supposed to be funny in the cartoons.

So they go through “Dragon Country” and at one point they see a monster and one of the dragon heads says “It’s another dragon!” which made me laugh. And then someone says “That’s not a dragon. That’s a griffin!” which, again, was informative.

There is a contrived emotional moment where Gareth refuses to continue with them because he feels rejected by society or some shit. And they try real hard to have one of those powerful animation moments when the music gets all quiet and Kaylee tries to say that she cares about him but he doesn’t hear her and her voice fades almost to a whisper and she bows her head in sadness and the animators decide you know what, you know what would make this extra powerful would be if the more cartoony looking character(s) with the two heads who want to be the genie from ALADDIN when they grow up and have specifically stated that they are the product of incest also bow their heads in the background. That is just gonna break hearts from here to the Mississippi, trust me, this is a beloved and multi-dimensional character or characters here.

It’s a road story but it feels especially patchy and episodic. As far as I could tell the bad guys didn’t really have anything they were doing, they would just appear occasionally when a scene required it. One confrontation that seems like it’s supposed to be a big showstopper involves a giant “rock ogre” done with three-dimensional computer animation. Since we know TOY STORY already existed at this time we know that this is not the state of the art. But the main thing that I want to mention about the scene is that they have to run away because the ogre farts.

And then there’s evil or kidnapping or showdowns or whatever with the bad guys so Gareth has to convince the dragons that they know how to fly and breathe fire and they carry him to Camelot (which by the way is at Stonehenge?) and Gareth, who has been a totally serious character up to this point, says “I hate flying coach.”

You see, what this is here, this is absurdist humor, because the thing is that at the time the story takes place there are no airplanes, so there are no airlines, so there are no different classes of flying, so there is no such thing as flying coach or hating to fly coach. And there’s no explanation within the world of the movie what else that phrase could mean. And also he’s a monk-like hermit who lives on his own in the woods, so even if there were airplanes and airlines and different classes of flying he would not be able to afford first class and it would be completely out of character for him to prefer the comfort or the status of first class. And also the parents of the very small and undiscerning children who the movie otherwise must be aimed at are unlikely to relate to this joke, since mathematically the majority of people do fly coach most or all of the time. So that’s why it’s funny (?).

There is also a non-diegetic anachronism and/or pop culture reference when the score by Patrick Doyle (MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, THE EMOJI MOVIE) goes into the iconic John Williams SUPERMAN theme. For some reason it doesn’t happen when Devon and Cornwall finally learn how to fly, but when they have been flying for a while and then they finally learn how to breathe fire. I don’t get it.

Another reference to the Warner Brothers live action library is Bladebeak imitating Dirty Harry. I wonder if there will ever be a day when cartoonists all agree that just having a cartoon character reference some other movie is not in itself a joke.

As you know I am a positive individual, so I did notice a few good things about the movie, and I will mention them. Some of the shots of flying monsters and stuff look pretty cool, if derivative. The idea of tricking Ruber into (SPOILER?) swinging Excalibur into the rock that Arthur pulled it out of is kind of cool. And the happily ever after type epilogue is the one part of their attempt at Disney style female empowerment that I thought worked. Kaylee is in a dress for a big ceremony and she walks down the aisle and Gareth is standing there and I’m thinking “Jesus Gareth, you couldn’t get dressed up or put your staff away for your wedding?” And the mom says “Don’t forget this!” and hands Kaylee her father’s shield and I thought “Well that’s kind of nice that she’s letting her do that at the wedding” and then she goes up there and actually it’s not a wedding, they’re being knighted. And then they ride away together on a horse with a sign that says “Just Knighted.”

That’s a real good joke by the standards of this movie and it genuinely feels like a subversion of the expectations of the animated fairy tale type formula. And that’s the one thing that feels legitimately modern-Disney-esque, since I think the most interesting thing about those movies is the step-by-step evolution of female characters from Belle reading books in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to the genuinely complicated characters and relationships of TANGLED and FROZEN.

Belgian director Frederik Du Chau made his directorial debut after working as an animator on ROVER DANGERFIELD, The Smoggies, TaleSpin, TOM AND JERRY: THE MOVIE and THE LAND BEFORE TIME 3. He went on to direct the live-action-with-computer-animation movies RACING STRIPES and UNDERDOG. He had stayed on after original co-director Bill Kroyer (FERNGULLY: THE LAST RAIN FOREST) was fired.

Du Chau was working from a screenplay credited to Kirk De Micco (later director of SPACE CHIMPS and THE CROODS), William Shifrin (T.U.F.F. Puppy) and Jacqueline Feather (KUNG FU KILLER) & David Seidler (TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM, THE KING’S SPEECH). The songs are written by Carole Bayer Sager (Neil Diamond’s “Heartlight”) and David Foster (Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration”) and pretty much represent the last days of that particular brand of polished schmaltz, or at least the idea of using it to sell adults on animated features. The song “The Prayer” has versions performed by Celine Dion in English and Andrea Bocelli in Italian and was nominated for the best song Oscar. It lost to a Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey jam from PRINCE OF EGYPT (though it did win the Golden Globe).

Just like the Disney movies, QUEST FOR CAMELOT inspired all kinds of merchandising, including storybooks, action figures, dolls with combable hair, plushed inbred dragons and Wendy’s Kids Meal toys. There was a video game for the Nintendo Gameboy Color which IGN called “bad” and “boring.” This stuff probly didn’t sell very well, since the movie itself only made $22 million, a little over half its reported budget.

The sad irony of Warner Bros. trying to force feed this bullshit to the public and having it coughed back up is that the following year they seemed to put much less effort into selling what is now recognized as a beloved classic, THE IRON GIANT – a movie that also references Superman during a climactic flying moment, and it makes people tear up instead of confusing them. (It did end up making just over what QUEST FOR CAMELOT did, but had a bigger budget.) This is pure speculation on my part, but I bet the brass at Warner Bros. were thinking “Well, CAMELOT was a failure, and we worked so hard to give the people what they want with that one. There’s no way this one will work. There are no funny animals. No songs. We had Celine Dion!

It’ll be interesting to see if some of our twentysomething readers have any sort of nostalgia attached to this one. As far as I can tell QUEST FOR CAMELOT has been mostly forgotten. Its legacy is to be included on WB’s “4 Film Favorites: Family Movie Night Collection” DVD along with THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO, CATS DON’T DANCE and DENNIS THE MENACE STRIKES AGAIN, currently available for $7.95 on Amazon. That seems about right.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2018 at 10:54 am and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Quest For Camelot”

  1. grimgrinningchris

    May 17th, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Yep… this movie is garbage.

  2. This is still one of my most disliked movies ever.

  3. Pressed submit too early. Sorry about that. Animation-Industry insiders have long been saying there are many great stories to be written/told about the making of this one. Apparently when Warner Bros. went into the theatrical animation game they were going to be the anti-Disney (just like with the old Merrie Melodies/Looney Toons). SPACE JAM made it out and was a big hit (for some reason) and QUEST FOR CAMELOT started production as a different take on the same type of movies that Disney was making at the time (well in the early ’90s) but then some genius(es) in upper-management decided QUEST would be and do even better if they just carbon-copied the Disney formula and by the time it was obvious that the movie now resembled nothing of what anyone signed up for and was terrible, it was too late to go back or course-correct.

    Also, you are correct about this one bombing hampering THE IRON GIANT. Even though WB Animation pumped out only two movies, one a massive hit, it was decided that they didn’t want to be in the animation game and if GIANT hadn’t been so far along it’s production would have been canned (similar reason for CAT’S DON’T DANCE being completed (also dumped like GIANT). This was good old upper-management in fighting, some executives never wanted to enter the animation game in the first place and used QUEST bombing as proof that they were right. Thus GIANT got dumped into theaters to be forgotten as quickly or quicker than QUEST but we know what happened with that.

  4. Fantastic review, Vern. I love how you unleashed your total and complete cynicism for it.

    The Iron Giant Blu-ray has a good documentary that discusses how the failure of Quest for Camelot shitcanned their movie.

    I actually didn’t mind Quest (maybe even liked a little?) but for probably the wrong reasons. I was kinda proud of myself in the ’90s for identifying the Disney formula: A social outcast leaves home and finds a surrogate family so they can return to take their place as leader.

    So perhaps a cynical copy of the formula appealed to me like someone saying, “You nailed it, Fred!” While most of the Disney formula movies are still great, I felt like it’s so obvious anyone should be able to do it, so they did. I did find the music catchy too so that helps, but they could just release a soundtrack without going to the trouble of drawing pictures.

    Mainly, I guessI feel like if WB had stayed in the game, they could have gotten better. We already saw how great their next movie was, so if they ever became their own artistic entity and not a corporate shill, who knows what hypothetical future classics we could have had. Although they did also make half of Osmosis Jones, so maybe not.

  5. Hey, just a few days ago I randomly started thinking of THE SMOGGIES. That’s all. The show was crap.

    I never saw QUEST FOR CAMELOT, but I watched THE EMOJI MOVIE a few days ago. Now I’m curious to see how these two movies compare in terms of awfulness.

    Random fun facts about the German dubbing: Instead of Celine Dion, we got Nena as singing voice. Y’know, the 99 RED BALLOONS Nena. The guy’s singing voice was Hartmut Engler, singer of a band named PUR, who were the German Nickleback of the late 90s in the way how they were super successful, but nobody ever admitted to liking them and instead used them as easy punchline for crappy music jokes. (I can’t remember a song of them that I liked, but I also didn’t hate them.)

    The twin dragons were voiced by Wigald Boning and Olli Dittrich, two extremely talented (and as it turned out also really smart) comedians, who rose to fame in the 90s thanks to RTL SAMSTAG NACHT, a surprisingly great SNL rip-off with an own identity and a cast that was so great, when their contracts ran out after five years and most didn’t want to return, they just cancelled the whole thing instead of trying to replace them!

    Anyway, Boning and Dittrich were the breakout stars. Their recurring bit 2 STÜHLE, EINE MEINUNG (2 chairs, 1 opinion), in which Dittrich played every week a different character (sometimes fictional, sometimes a celebrity impersonation) who got interviewed by Boning, got them a Grimme Award, which is more or less the German Peabody Award. But the thing that they are most remembered for are their music act DIE DOOFEN. They only released 2 albums, but the first was such a smash hit, they actually were asked to apologize to an academy of “serious” musicians for being so successful, while only singing songs about roasted bread, sweater vests, train rides to bordellos or body odor.

    Aaaaaaand…that’s basically all I have to contribute this time.

    Oh, and don’t be dissing CATS DON’T DANCE!

  6. I don’t know if I’ve ever watched a movie based on a bad review before, but this one tempted me for a moment. Sadly, I presume this does not fall into the So Bad It’s Good category.

  7. Also THE OGRE’S BUTT is a great named for a medieval themed cosplay punk band.

  8. Fred: That documentary on the IRON GIANT Blu is great and refreshingly blunt. The only reason I think OSMOSIS JONES got made was because the Farley Brothers were hot at the time. Also there is the KING & I cartoon movie that Rankin Bass did that Warner Bros. distributed and it makes QUEST look like the very epitome of what the animation format can achieve.

    CJ: I remember really liking CATS DON’T NORMALLY DANCE BUT THIS TIME THEY DO! but it has been years since I’ve seen it. I almost gave it a re-watch last year but then decided to leave it in my childhood. I can at brag I got to see it in theaters! Though funnily

    Johnny: Godspeed

  9. The half of the dragon voiced by Eric Idle looks an awful lot like Figment the imaginary animated dragon in the World of Imagination ride at Disney World, which *also* happens to star Eric Idle (but as a live-action man). It’s an odd coincidence that I only bring up because I hate that ride and the character of Figment as much as Vern appears to have hated this movie (which I don’t think I’d ever even heard of before).

  10. Holy shit, that sounds like a terrible movie. Especially for the talent they got to do the voices! I never even knew this existed and kind of wish I was still so naive.

  11. I guess I also thought that even a mediocre version of a female hero defying her sexist society (and a blind protagonist too) was worth existing. It’s doing more good than the admittedly better animated Minion nonsense. But again, “not minding it” is not the hill I’m going to die on.

  12. grimgrinningchris

    May 17th, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Its biggest sin… more than the bad jokes, more than the bland character designs and even more than the cookie-cutter storyline… is that the songs SUCK… like they suck baaaaaaad.

  13. I thought the opening song “My Father’s Eyes” by Andrea Corr wasn’t bad.

  14. CATS DON’T DANCE is actually very underrated and I rewatched it as recently as 2013, so it’s still relatively fresh in my memory.

    It’s a cute little homage to golden age Hollywood, it’s a shame it doesn’t have the cult following IRON GIANT does.

    Never seen QUEST FOR CAMELOT however, but I distinctly remember all those Disney ripoffs in the 90s, it’s easy to bemon the death of 2D American animated feature films but is it really any wonder why it happened when things had gotten so dire by the early 00s? Which includes Disney’s own films? (with the notable exception of LILO AND STITCH)

  15. Whoops, I meant to include the late 90s as well as the early 00s.

    My point is, the late 90s and early 00s was a very dire period for 2D animated feature films, with a few noteworthy examples (the biggest being IRON GIANT of course)

  16. Any fans of TITAN AE here?

  17. I liked Titan AE when it came out and I remember I saw it twice, both at press screenings so sorry I didn’t help out the box office there. I fully expected it to be a big hit. I was very surprised no one was interested. And Chicken Run came out a week or two later and that was certainly not the one I expected to be big.

  18. caruso_stalker217

    May 17th, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    I’m 32 and completely forgot this movie existed until this review went up. I must have seen it at some point on VHS, but I have absolutely no memory of it.

  19. caruso_stalker217

    May 17th, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Fred:

    I recall enjoying TITAN A.E. quite a bit when it came out. It was fairly dark for a kid’s animated flick with onscreen deaths, including someone straight up getting their neck broken Seagal-style (unless I’m remembering this wrong).

    I may have to revisit that one.

  20. I have never gotten all the way through TITAN A E, after several attempts. I hated LILO AND STITCH. But THE IRON GIANT is gold. I know that is not a controversial opinion but I said it anyway.

    Speaking of studios trying to mimic the Disney magic and failing miserably, please give us a review of A WRINKLE IN TIME when you can please Vern. I have not seen it but it has gotta be painful from what I have read (not even considering the Fox News style reactionary knee jerk “movies with women or made by women or black people or especially black women are signals of the coming apocalypse” reviews). It seems a bit like GOLDEN COMPASS, vilified by conservative wackos and not really good enough to launch a series like it should. I actually liked the WRINKLE books and especially the sequels when I was a kid so it is too bad they didn’t let an established visionary direct it. Del Toro could have maybe made it a success.

  21. “Terartagonist.”

    Come to Outlaw Vern’s for the great movie reviews, stay for the book-learnin’!

  22. Yeah it’s kinda a bummer CATS DON’T DANCE is tainted by association by being in that dvd set with….this. Though to me CATS is only decent, you’re more impressed something like that got made when it was you know?

    Also geoffreyjar’s comments with the original “anti-Disney!” aim of that short lived WB feature cartoon movie division and then with QUEST went 180 degrees….boy reading that gave me deja vu of the DCEU that would happen almost 20 years later.

  23. Also I remember when WCW Thunder (their Thursday night show) at the time did a promo for this. (WCW owned by Time-Warner like WB.) Yes a pro wrestling show with a demo mostly of adult guys? Definitely the target audience for something like this.

  24. As stated before, the number of fucks I had to give about movies was at an all time low in 1998, so the first I heard of this movie was last week when Franchise Fred bravely told us it was his first DVD. Even good animation tends to annoys the pants off of me (It’s the songs and comic relief—I couldn’t even get through MOANA) so this sounds completely intolerable. Looks like I picked the right year to sit out.

  25. I’m a 31 year old lifelong animation nerd and I have mildly fond memories of this one, but only insofar as it’s one of the God knows how many films I saw in the 00s one time and thought was not as bad as I had heard. I saw it when I was 13 on Satellite Television after coming back from a family holiday/vacation and remember enjoying it. I am definitely a hand drawn guy, so if I did revisit this I doubt I would be quite as harsh as Vern is on this.

    I know now it was a flop but at the time it seemed like kind of a big deal, as most animated films then did because they were advertised aggressively and had long shelf-lives because of the relative dearth of films with significant kid appeal, and of course many of them ended up doing quite well on VHS, even spawning sequels in some cases. I remember CAMELOT had a trailer at the start of just about every Warner Bros VHS for about two years.

    One thing I do think contextualises CAMELOT, as well as many of the other famous Warner Bros bombs at the time (THE AVENGERS, WILD WILD WEST, and especially BATMAN & ROBIN) was the company’s Six Flags/Warner Bros Store-era ambitions to seemingly become a hipper Disney. With their logo so synonymous with the LOONEY TUNES/MERRY MELODIES characters, by the 90s they were perhaps the only studio left with any kind of defined public identity beyond “makes movies”. There was even a TV Spot with Bugs, Tweety and others shilling for CAMELOT. This era, and the company’s rivalry with Disney, is actually alluded to in a gag for a later summer 98 film from neither company.

    I’ve long been interested in revisiting CATS DON’T DANCE, so I may go for that four pack. I have a soft spot for DENNIS THE MENACE, so I was quite enthusiastic before I saw it was one of the TV/DTV sequels. Guess there’s always a chance it’s a hidden gem. Stranger things have happened, right?

  26. grimgrinningchris

    May 18th, 2018 at 7:01 am

    As far as I’m concerned, Disney’s rennaisance didn’t end until they stopped making musicals.

    Even lesser works from the late 90s had merit in some great character work and solid songs. Hercules for example gets a pass if only for James Woods’ fantastic Hades (even though we now know he’s a screaming douchebag) and “I Won’t Say I’m In Love”.

    Their hugely ambitious, but wrongheaded attempts to “grow up”, like Atlantis are what sank them (ooooooooooh) in the early 2000s- though I will admit there is some really heavy, interesting and BEAUTIFULLY animated stuff Brother Bear between the fart jokes.

    Oddly enough, what I consider to be their second renaissance was kicked off by a live action movie (Pirates…) and a CG animated joint (Meet The Robinsons) neither of which were musicals.

  27. As a 20-something I have zero nostalgia for this movie, which I saw in theaters for some reason. All I actually remember about it is the brambles, an atmospheric classical fantasy trope that more stories should use.

    However I do have a real fondness for Cat’s Don’t Dance, which is a really sweet and actually amusing movie with good songs and strong performances. Plus, it’s a kids movie where the villains are basically (SPOILER) Shirley Temple and Erich von Stroheim. Delightful.

  28. I have only the vaguest memory of this, and CATS DON’T DANCE, even existing. I’ve seen neither. I think I’ve conflated QUET FOR CAMELOT with THE NUTCRACKER PRINCE, THE SWAN PRINCESS (pretty sure that was a Don Bluth), and maybe a couple other Disney wannabes.

    The Disney Renaissance is thought to have ended with TARZAN in ’99, by whoever gets to decide these things and puts them on Wikipedia. The turn of the century was one of the most exciting times for 2D animated features, so long as you were looking past North America. But yeah, Disney seemed a bit lost in the woods.

    One of the things I miss about 2D animation is the variety of styles it afforded. The novelty of 3D was fun for the first few Pixar films, but those movies are no longer interesting to look at, and they all seem to be reaching for the same type of visual realism.

  29. grimgrinningchris

    May 18th, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Tarzan is fantastic visually and storywise it works, if only just… its weakness is in its human protagonists. The animals are all great (even Rosie O’Donnell- Taran and A League Of Their Own are the only things I’ve ever been able to stomach- and actually kinda like her in) and the great Brian Blessed is a super antagonist as Carter… but Tarzan and Jane are both weak characters. When his mouth is shut, he’s pretty amazing as (at the time) the closest physical representation of Burroughs character- but once he starts talking… eh…

    It pretty much IS the dividing line between the Renaissance and the slump- partly too since they tried to hedge bets and start the “growing up” process with Collins great songs being used as narration (kind of like equally great songs in The Rescuers and The Fox And The Hound) instead of as character pieces- when the whole genesis (oooooooh) of the renaissance was in Disney turning out “the best Broadway musicals that never played Broadway”. (obviously most of them eventually did, but yeah…).

    I’m glad it’s as well regarded as it is now, because as an artistic achievement it was a huge success- but seemed kinda ignored at the time (maybe I’m wrong).

    Something like (again pointing to) Hercules though is pretty well forgotten now- always gets the gyp on home releases- yada yada- and while far less ambitious or classy than a Tarzan or a Mulan (or even a Pocahontas) it sure is a helluva lot more fun.

  30. Here is that TV Sport I was talking about with Bugs and the gang shilling for CAMELOT through the magic of randomly selected vintage clips with modern ADR

    It also seems there was a QUEST FOR CAMELOT SING-A-LONG tape with kareoke versions of the songs from the film interjected with clips from Warner Bros cartoons retrofitted into music videos for kiddy songs

    No idea if this is a good thing or not, but it’s probably worth mentioning that the TV division of Warners Animation either took a shot, had an affectionate jab or did something inbetween with in an ANIMANIACS episode featuring film called JAMALOT, a hip-hop tinged, arthurian themed musical about basketball

  31. Sorry, here’s the TV Spot

  32. Hmm, I guess the best I can do is say it’s on YouTube under the title “Quest For Camelot promo with the Looney Tunes (1998)”

  33. “Audience and critics in Animationald love it!”

    Well, that’s a convincing recommendation. Seems like we are all wrong about it.

  34. STREETS OF FIRE in TV tonight. I love this movie!

  35. I miss Bill Paxton!

  36. Saw Streets of Fire in 70mm a few months ago. This movie is way better than Quest for Camelot. Better songs too.

  37. Diane Lane. What a goddess.

  38. grimgrinningchris – Nah, TARZAN was definitely not ignored at the time of it’s release, it was hyped up like every other Disney release in the 90s, at least as I remember it.

    But then a funny thing happened, as soon as it was 2000 that hype that surrounded Disney’s newest release seemed to instantly vanish starting with EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE, which did find a cult following (and is a solid little film) but things only got worse as the 00s went on, when the 2D films sputtered out and they were putting out wannabe Pixar CG films like CHICKEN LITTLE and THE WILD.

    Meanwhile Pixar was killing it with movies like MONSTERS INC, FINDING NEMO and THE INCREDIBLES, so like I said before, it’s really no wonder the 2D animated Disney films died, but if you really think about it, it’s bullshit to think Disney has abandoned it entirely, I mean the studio has an absurd amount of money, it could continue to release 2D films for tradition’s sake and PRINCESS AND THE FROG was decent, but that was that.

    It just feels weird to me to think of 2D animated Disney films being a thing of the past, but that’s the problem with Disney today, it’s just another studio same as WB, Paramount, Universal etc, the idea of the “Disney” name as actually MEANING something is gone.

  39. I’m pretty sure if maybe TANGLED or definitely FROZEN had been the hand drawn revival feature rather than PRINCESS AND THE FROG we’d have seen a few more

    Anyway, I’ve kind of fallen down the rabbit hole with this QUEST FOR CAMELOT thing. Here’s MAD MAGAZINE taking a shot among an actually pretty amusing (IMO) spoof Warner Bros Studio Store Catalogue
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_4bp3IlpHOFI/R61AO4eWa1I/AAAAAAAAAWE/1dCm8grZi3A/s1600-h/mad8.gif

    And here are those 1.5 dragons getting ready to host a day of Kids WB (again through the magic of reused animation) where they pitch a MEN IN BLACK (The animated series!) spoof called (get this!) DRAGONS IN PURPLE

    1998 doesn’t seem like that long ago, until it does

  40. You can’t tell me I’m the only one who is now sad, because that sweet Looney Tunes coffin doesn’t exist in the real world.

  41. grimgrinningchris

    May 21st, 2018 at 5:18 am

    I think the Disney brand DOES still mean something… it just means something different and not 2-D handdrawn animation.

    While I don’t have any stomach for what the Disney Channel has become as far as the last 10-15+ years of goofy tween sitcoms and overly manufactured pop… in terms of features and animation, the Disney name is still a giant seal of quality (and I’m not even referring to the umbrella of Lucasfilm, Muppets, Marvel and Pixar… but the actual Disney brand) and a certain “type” of entertainment. Even when they stumble, either critically or commercially or both you still know you are never getting a total piece of shit (well, I dunno… maybe Beverly Hills Chihuahua) . And they succeed more than they stumble.

    Just in the past 15 years we’ve gotten: the POTC movies, Meet The Robinsons, Bridge To Terabithia, Sky High, The Princess & The Frog, the Zemeckis Christmas Carol, Tangled, Tron Legacy, The Lone Ranger, John Carter, Wreck It Ralph, Oz TGaP, Frozen, Zootopia, Frankenweenie, Saving Mr Banks, Maleficent, Into The Woods, Big Hero Six, Tomorrowland, Cinderella, the Alice movies, The BFG, The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon, Moana, Beauty And The Beast etc…

    Do I want 2-D animation to make a comeback and for Disney to lead the charge? Yes. 100%. But I don’t think the name or the studio are in any sort of creative or branding slump without it.

  42. But looking at Disney as a whole, including Marvel and Star Wars and soon maybe even 20th Century Fox, you see that it’s just another media conglomerate.

    The Disney “brand” still means something but it’s just one part of a larger whole, the idea of Disney having a company wide mission is dead.

    I tell ya one thing that bothers me is the direction the theme parks have gone in recent years, every new ride or land they build has some sort of branding, the idea of the parks as their own thing and not just an opportunity for corporate synergy seems to be dead as well.

    Like the fact that they stuck a fucking FROZEN ride in the middle of Epcot’s world showcase, sure it was a hit, but in the middle of a park that’s supposed to highlight real places in the world there’s a Disney animated tie in? It just shows that Epcot means nothing anymore.

  43. grimgrinningchris

    May 21st, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Epcot has never meant what it was supposed to mean. Even in its purest form. So I honestly don’t have a real issue there. I’m more worried about the wasted space in FutureWorld than character tie-ins in World Showcase- as long as they are geographically-culturally appropriate (or as close as they can be) and don’t infringe on the integrity of the pavillions as a whole (which I don’t see the Frozen ride in Norway as doing… though I do prefer Maelstrom- what they’ve done with animatronics in the Frozen ride is fucking stunning).

    I also don’t really have a PROBLEM, per se, with the ride brandings- although I do wish that there were more new rides that weren’t tied into franchises (and vice versa)- I’m not really bothered when they are… I get it.

    The Disney parks are still striving (and succeeding) in providing immersive, unique experiences and are still succeeding at that- regardless of the origins of the stories/characters in the rides.

    I have more of an issue with the lack of unique merchandising. Every store sells roughly the same shit anymore and it is ALL generic Disney (and now branded as “Disney Parks” instead of “Disneyland” or “Walt Disney World” etc… You use to be able to find so much super cool, super unique shit in the little shops all over the parks and it just isn’t like that anymore. Hell, even the beloved Magic Shop on Main Street at DL has been taken over by the Houdini retail chain. And WDW doesn’t even HAVE its Magic Shop anymore- fuck.

    Regardless of all of this, I am still in love with the Disney parks and they’ve yet to do anything that has actually markedly fucked up my enjoyment of them and I have to admit to being BEYOND stoked for Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land. I’ve been watching both’s construction over barriers on and off for the past 2-3 years.

  44. I just think it’s dumb to waste Imagineering talent only on translating popular properties into rides, Disney ain’t supposed to simply be Universal Studios.

    I mean a little of it is fine, more than fine, perfectly acceptable and sometimes even great (though I’d say it peaked with 20K Under The Sea) but to make that all there is to the theme parks now is dumb.

    Disney has not built a ride in America not based on a pre-existing property since Expedition Everest in 2006, that’s over a decade ago and counting, for all we know it’ll literally be the last.

    If I was in charge I would have them update the planned Western River Expedition for Magic Kingdom in Florida, the cowboy version of Pirates of The Caribbean that never came to fruition.

  45. grimgrinningchris

    May 22nd, 2018 at 4:43 am

    Look, I’d like the Imagineers to be able to focus on telling new stories as much as on creating new technologies too… I’m really not arguing that.

    Just that it doesn’t bother me enough to write them off.

    And like I said, from a commerce standpoint, I get it. The lines for FrozenEver After stretching into FutureWorld for the first few months that it was open and still now a couple of years later wait times hovering in to 70-90 minute range… when Maelstrom had gotten to the point that they removed it from the FastPass system because it wasn’t needed- speaks volumes to what the public wants.

    I do think the Imagineers are getting to flex their creativity a bit still too… just in more subtle ways- like the new version of Soarin, the now far more immersive queue for Big Thunder Mountain, the little details in New Fantasyland that aren’t direct tie ins to Disney properties etc…

    I think they may have blown their wad on anything cowboy themed years ago with the creation of Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris- since their version of the Haunted Mansion is unlike all the others and themed to a western ghost town.

    Also, it seems like the Asian Disney parks are much more open to non-IP rides (look at Mystery Manor in Hong Kong… Jesus that thing looks amazing- and I’d kinda hoped for a clone to replace the neutered Journey Into Imagination ride at Epcot- but also love the idea that they seem to be keeping it exclusive to over there- something also becoming more and more rare with the Disney parks) still giving Imagineers some meat to sink their teeth into.

  46. Are the Chinese parks actually designed by Disney or is it simply a licensing thing ala the Japanese parks?

    I think that frankly modern Disney doesn’t really like the theme parks, they’re a media conglomerate, not a tourism company, I can guarantee you Bob Iger secretly wishes the parks had never happened.

    Obviously they’re a good source of income, but they see it as just an opportunity for corporate synergy, the idea of making it “the happiest place on Earth” is too abstract a concept in today’s numbers and money driven corporate culture, they lack an actual vision the way a guy like Walt had.

    Know one reason why I know this? How damn expensive it is to actually go to WDW now, it’s almost been priced out of my range, what was once THE premier middle class vacation destination is quickly becoming just another playground for rich people, who get to have all the fun nowadays.

    The Disney parks were never meant to be an elitist thing, far from it actually.

  47. grimgrinningchris

    May 23rd, 2018 at 5:31 am

    The Chines parks are half owned by Disney and all major attractions (Mystic Manor, their POTC- which is fucking mind blowing in videos- I can’t even imagine in real life) are designed by WDI. Then obviously the clones of stateside rides were as well. There are minor attractions that have been outsourced, but only just

    The parks in Japan are the only ones that are not at all owned or operated by Disney- they are just licensed- and even those still have the lion’s share of their unique attractions designed by WDI.

    And I disagree about Iger and his feelings on the parks- if that were the case, then he wouldn’t have poured BILLIONS into them since taking the reins. And yes, he is the head of a giant media conglomerate- but if it is possible for the head of a giant media conglomerate to not be a complete shitbag, then Iger is it.

    And while I agree that the price of a Disney vacation has steadily climbed (as have vacations to every other similar destination- Universal, Busch- hell try to spend a week in Gatlinburg, TN for less than a week at WDW)… I still don’t find it out of reach. I make SHIT for money and do not drive and still manage to make it there for a multi-day trip at least once a year. Granted, 1) I am able to take advantage of FL resident discounts (though I am still 7+ hours away from Orlando and just this side of the FL border and 2) I don’t have kids. Those discounts are actually nominal in the grans scheme of a trip there. And I was able to take my sister and niece for 4 days/5 nights in 2015, stay in a Disney resort, add park hoppers to all tickets and do two character meals (where they REALLY get your $$$- though it’s an experience I am willing to pay for) for just over $1500 (we had groceries and ate in the room at least once a day to save money and sis paid for the few cheaper, counter service meals we had since I was covering everything else) That really is not bad at all for the experience you are getting.

  48. grimgrinningchris

    May 23rd, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Wow… that was poorly typed and rambling. Oops.

  49. grimgrinningchris

    May 23rd, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Also Quest For Camelot still sucks.

    I’m actually trying to think of a single full on musical animated movie NOT from Disney that wasn’t pretty much garbage (besides An American Tail).

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