I really loved Disney movies…the animated ones, I mean. And I always had fond memories of these from growing up, especially the princess ones. Despite my being a tomboy, the princess ones got to me. I think because, even back then, I was looking for that romance. And most (if not all) the princess movies have at least the hint of romance, if not more.
My favorite from childhood was Sleeping Beauty. I hadn’t seen it, or most of the older animated movies, in awhile, but I know that one was my fave. I couldn’t have told you why, hadn’t stopped to analyze it as a child. It just was.
My daughter (who just turned 3), has three princess movies that we watch on a running loop. She is obsessed. I don’t mind, but it means I’ve been seeing these same favorites on a running loop. Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. And after watching each of them a good twenty times a piece in the last few months, I’m now 100% sure of why Sleeping Beauty was my favorite as a kid.
Snow White: So we’ve got a sweet teen princess (the actress who lent her voice to dear Snow was 15…though they don’t specify in the movie how old she is). And our little sweet heroine meets this random prince who just happens to be walking by. You know, cause I run into princes daily. (What, you don’t? Someone’s not shopping at the right Kroger.) They meet while…singing. Naturally. This is a Disney movie after all. Snow sees him and bolts. Nice first impression there, dear.
Sidenote: You know the rest of the women in the audience are thinking… You’re living as a servant because your wicked stepmother the Queen hates you. And yet, you see a handsome, eligible guy that could lift you from poverty and kick the queen’s ass…and you RUN AWAY?
Yet, he’s enamored with her. It’s only logical that the whole “Playing hard to get” routine sucks him in. Men are simple. There’s this hot make out scene. Oh wait, no. They share a kiss…through a bird. (Insert shudder here.) The guy is in her presence for 92 seconds. (I timed it.) And suddenly it’s wuv, twu wuv. Then he’s in the movie the rest of the way through in order for the viewer to make a strong connection with the prince and root him on until the end. Oh, crap. Sorry. No, we never hear from him again until the last 3 minutes of the movie.
Snow goes through all these awful things like attempted murder and woodland abandonment and potential poisoning, and she deals with it on her own. I mean, there are the seven dwarves, and they’re good guys. They stand by her, give her shelter, a place to stay, and befriend her after a long, hard life in the castle. And when she’s poisoned by the queen (because she didn’t listen to the dwarves’ advice and not let anyone in…definition of TSTL) they build her a nice glass coffin. Not just anyone can work with glass, y’all. It’s a skill.
But I digress. After all this, once Snow White wakes up from her unfortunate coma, you would think she’d give props to the seven guys who stayed by her side through it all, yeah?
No. Charming sweeps in on his trusty steed, kisses her dead, lifeless lips, and scoops her up and takes her away on his horse.
I’m sorry, sir. And you’ve been WHERE this whole time? Thought so.
Lesson of this movie? Short guys lose. Bird foreplay wins.
Cinderella: Ah, now here’s a strong heroine, right? Her father dies when she’s young and she’s basically an orphan but for her stepmother and two ugly stepsisters. (Frankly, I think she’d have been better off an orphan. With relatives like these, who needs enemies?) She puts up with their haranguing and emotional abuse for a good ten or so years, give or take. All the while managing to keep her sweet, sensitive disposition and lovely personality. It’s a story of resilience and…stuff.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? Now, I can’t fault Cinderella herself. She’s sweet and kind, but she also gets a few jabs in there as well. Case in point: When the invitation to the ball arrives, she says, “Maybe I should interrupt the…music lesson.” But she’s all smirky when she says it, cause her stepsisters have the musical abilities of a cat who just had its tale run over by a child’s tricycle. Gotta give her credit for the well-deserved pot shot.
But it takes two to tango (wait, no, they waltzed…) and the prince isn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Sure, the dude can dance. But it takes more than some fancy footwork and a walk by the fountain to be a worthy romance hero.
And in the end, when his mystery girl bails on him (after 4 minutes, so an improvement on Snow), he knows he’s got to find her. On that, I’m with you, dude. Rock on. You go find your lady love.
Then he just screws up. He sends the freaking Duke out to find her. The Duke is doing all the dirty work. The guy can’t even be bothered to find his own wife. How…princely. Not to mention completely ineffective. The prince spent 4 minutes with her. Don’t you think if he was the one going out and meeting all these women in the kingdom, he could see that the petite blonde her danced with the night before is NOT the hideous redhead with a nose like a sausage? Why waste anyone’s time with that one.
But of course, Cinderella falls for it and is all “Oh, he loves me so much, he sent someone else to come find me!” Their get-away carriage might as well have a bumper sticker saying “I swoon for great delegators.” Talk about romance. Once again, the prince makes a cameo at the end, for their wedding. And since he has about 2 lines in the entire movie, we are once again presented with a hero that has the personality of a walnut.
Lesson here? Guys like women with small feet. And outsourcing courtship is sexy.
Sleeping Beauty: Ah, here we go. Let’s ignore the fact that she is actually sixteen, which so wouldn’t fly in this day and age. And also, in this one, shockingly they are only together for about 2 full minutes (though Prince Phillip spies on her for a little longer than that). So not quite as long as in Cinderella.
Sidenote: My daughter can’t say Prince Phillip. She calls him Frince Pill-up.
But what makes the difference here is that it’s not just singing. There’s a little banter as well. And while animals are involved, there’s no using cute woodland creatures for creepy flirting. Phillip also has a personality of something other than a block of wood, and that helps a great deal.
Let’s skip forward to post-dark moment. Aurora is now locked in the tower. He’s got to get to her and give her a kiss to wake her up. Does he send a representative? NO! He gets a little aid from the good fairies, but the guy’s only human. And in the end, he’s right there, battling the dragon on his own, doing the dangerous work. He’s getting his hands dirty, facing down death to reach the woman he loves.
Now we’re talking.
Lesson with this one? Men, get a kick-butt sidekick like Phil’s horse. It adds to your quality. And when a dragon comes along, kill the damn thing yourself. (This is symbolic, if you didn’t catch the not-so-subtleness of that statement.)
The movie isn’t without its faults, of course. But the point here is that when it comes to a movie where a romance is supposed to be believed, I can’t just have one side of it. I’ve gotta have both. Even as a kid I recognized that, though I wouldn’t have been able to express that opinion back then. It was just a feeling, a preference. And I chose well.
Do you have a favorite Disney animated movie? What’s your 30-second analysis as to why it’s your favorite?