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[9] Jim Henson’s Muppets make the leap from television to the silver screen in this comedy-musical road trip across America that shows us how the foam and felt vaudeville troupe found each other and entered show business. We meet Kermit playing banjo in a swamp, inspired by a passing agent to go to Hollywood. Driven by the desire to entertain and make people happy, Kermit …

[3] I’ve never been a fan of Lewis Carroll’s source material, so I’m not surprised to find this 1933 all-star studio production of Alice in Wonderland to be another tedious incarnation. You know the story: a little girl (Charlotte Henry) goes into a mirror and meets one fanciful character after another until sweet mercy brings the credits rolling. The details don’t matter: She drinks and …

[3] I’m a fan of many Disney animated features, but I find Cinderella to be one of the company’s stinkers. My problems are largely conceptual. I’m simply not a fan of a heroine who’s not strong or clever enough to punch her stepmother and evil step-sisters in the face, leave the house where she’s imprisoned, and get a job that pays. Worse still, this young …

[7] The five tenants of an old building in New York are threatened by a land developer demolishing buildings all around them. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy star as an elderly couple trying to keep the building’s storefront cafĂ© in business. Elizabeth Pena plays an expectant mother, Frank McRae plays a mute boxer-turned-handyman, and Dennis Boutsikaris plays a struggling artist. Just when all these characters …

[6] What if Peter Pan grew up? Steven Spielberg explores the question in his lavish production of Hook, the story of an adult Peter Pan (Robin Williams) who must return to Neverland to rescue his children from the dastardly Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). But at first, Peter doesn’t even believe in Neverland anymore, or that he is the famous character in J.M. Barries’ books. He’s …

[8] Julie Andrews stars as a magical nanny who swoops into a turn-of-the-century London family’s home to help two neglected children (Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber) reconnect with their busy-body parents. Mary Poppins is often regarded the best of Walt Disney’s live-action efforts, thanks to an effervescent combination of music and fantasy, and charismatic performances from Andrews and co-star Dick Van Dyke, who plays a …

[3] Vying with Nazi Germany to create ties in South American countries during World War II, the U.S. government guaranteed Walt Disney federal loans to produce animated films celebrating South American culture. Saludos Amigos is the first resulting film from this strategic effort (the second would be The Three Caballeros). It would also be the first of Disney’s “package” features — combinations of short subjects …

[8] The Brave Little Toaster bares the title of an innocuous children’s cartoon, but there’s more to this gem than may initially meet the eye. First, know that Pixar Animation founder John Lasseter originally pitched this movie as his first computer-animated feature, an honor that later went to the similarly-themed Toy Story. Many of the top talent from The Brave Little Toaster went on to …

[6] George Cukor directs Katharine Hepburn as Jo March in one of the earliest screen adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a chronicle of the lives and loves of four sisters growing up in New England during the Civil War. There’s intrinsic nostalgia and sentimentality to the storytelling, but Cukor never lets the film become maudlin. That’s largely owed to Hepburn’s contribution. The then-controversial …

[7] Five young dinosaurs are separated from their tribes during an earthquake in this animated adventure from Don Bluth (The Secret of NIMH, Anastasia). The unlikely band must square off against a ferocious ‘sharp tooth’ (Tyrannosaurus rex) while searching for a lush new feeding ground where they hope to be reunited with their families — overcoming prejudice and learning the value of cooperation along the …

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