Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Best & Worst in Disney Parents

Since most Disney animated movies feature broken homes, I figured I would look at how parents actually fare in Disney movies.


1. 101 DALMATIANS - Pongo & Perdita are awesome parents and the only ones where the parents are the heroes/protagonists of the story. After all of their children are kidnapped, they stop at nothing to get them back, and they rescue/adopt a bunch of orphaned puppies as well. They also both live.

2. MEET THE ROBINSONS - He may start out as an orphan, but in going to the future, he learns his friend is actually his future son and that he's going to be adopted by loving parents and make a pretty good husband/father down the road.

3. HERCULES - The Zeus/Hera team are portrayed as a positive bunch, and while helpless from Olympus, they keep track of Herc, who was adopted by another loving pair. Even though he learns he's a god, in the end he'd rather stay on Earth and live down the street from the two he calls Mom and Dad.

4. DUMBO - Mr. Jumbo is never seen (maybe sold to another circus?) but our Fantine of an elephant cared enough to name their son Jumbo Jr. She is fiercely protective of him and after suffering some injustice, she is redeemed and given the best seat on the train. Fortunately Dumbo has Timothy to look out for him while Mom's in jail.

5. PINOCCHIO - Single father desperately wants a child and gets his wish, and he does all the good-dad things he should, like sending him to school. Not his fault the Blue Fairy didn't start him off as flesh or made his conscience an external bug instead of an internal force. When his son goes missing he sets out to find him. Darn whale hinders him, but it works out in the end.

THE LADY & THE TRAMP - Darling and Jim Dear are pretty good to Lady.
LILO & STITCH - Older sister strives to be that positive parental figure for Lilo.
PETER PAN - Wendy's parents did well, judging on the way she handles Wonderland.
MULAN - Good parents, but Dad's ready to battle with one leg. She saves his life by going instead.
THE JUNGLE BOOK - Akela and his wife realize they can't keep their adoptive son Mowgli safe anymore so they sacrifice and send him to the human village.
THE LION KING - Mom and Dad have been raising him right. Too bad his uncle's evil.
THE PRINCESS & THE FROG - Mama's still there, and strong for Tiana after Daddy dies during the war. Although the single Big Daddy to his little princess feels like a parody of the patriarchal tradition of the other Disney princesses.


1. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME - Judge Frollo semi-accidentally kills Quasi's mother and is two seconds away from killing the baby when the priest talks him out of it. So the Judge raises Quasi as his own but never grows to feel affection for him. He uses him to help him find the gypsy hiding place so he can enact genocide, and if not for an old cracked gargoyle that couldn't support his weight, Frollo would've killed Quasi as an adult.

2. SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS - Snow's father was a poor judge of character, but we never see him. It's unclear how old Snow was when the Evil Queen became her stepmother, but as soon as Snow gets too pretty, the Queen wants her dead. When the Huntsman fails her, she sets out to murder her herself. (But why the "true love's kiss" loophole?)

3. CINDERELLA - Same story. Unseen dad marries horrible woman, and then he's MIA, so Cindy's raised as a servant. Stepmother despises her when compared to her own daughters, who aren't shaping up to be pillars of society. Rather than try ingratiating herself with Cindy once it's clear the Prince likes her, she tries to block Cindy from ever seeing him again. Good thing Cindy's friends with a bunch of smart mice and birds.

4. TANGLED - The only other Disney movie where the bad guy raises the protagonist from babyhood. Here she needs Rapunzel's hair to stay young, and there's never any hint she genuinely cares for Rapunzel; more like she memorizes her likes and keeps her placated. Her greed for youth is her downfall, and the movie is redeemed by loving parents who get to reunite with their long-lost daughter in the end.

5. THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE - However old Kuzco was when his parents died, they apparently didn't have much influence. We gather that most of his childhood he was raised by Izma, who spoiled him rotten while using him to get whatever she wants. Once he fires her, she sets out to kill him. It takes a nuclear family to open Kuzco's eyes to his selfish ways.

THE LITTLE MERMAID - If you don't obey me, I'll smash all your stuff!
BAMBI - Mom dies, and Dad's a cold figure who doesn't much believe in comforting children.
ALADDIN - If straight-to-video counted, Aladdin's bio-dad would make my worst list, but he doesn't show up til Aladdin 3. Meanwhile Jasmine's dad seems to trust everyone, including the evil guy.

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