Greetings students, and welcome to another edition of hoopla Film School!
The Disney brand may be best known for its legacy of classic animated features and sprawling theme parks, but I've always had a soft spot for their live action movies of the 1970s and '80s. Many a Saturday morning in my youth was spent eating soggy Cheerios while watching baby-faced Kurt Russell in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, opens a new window, or a scrappy young Jodi Foster in Candleshoe, opens a new window. They were some of the first non-cartoons I ever watched, and I felt very sophisticated indeed.
Imagine my delight when I discovered the colossal collection of old school Disney titles, opens a new window available at hoopla! It was quite a challenge to whittle down such ample offerings to just four favorites (sorry you didn't make the cut this time, Mr. Boogedy, opens a new window) but a hoopla scholar's work is never done.
So slip on your footie pajamas, grab a bowl of Froot Loops, and let the Disney marathon begin!
A Depression era adventure film about a brave teenage girl befriending a wolf and hopping freight trains on a desperate cross-country quest to find her father? Count me in! Add in a chaste romance with a cherubic young drifter played by John Cusack, and you've got the makings of an underrated childhood tearjerker that still holds up astonishingly well more than 30 years later.
Have you ever noticed that "family films" from the late '70s/early 80s were just a bit more racy than the ones they make today? This buoyant, disco-tinged love letter to Los Angeles follows five teams of college students on an all-night scavenger hunt across the city, from the Griffith Observatory to the oh-so-family-friendly Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery. Midnight Madness garnered only the second ever PG rating given to a Disney Production, and they make the most of it with plenty of Porky's- and Animal House-caliber hijinks.
10-year-old Fairuza Balk made her feature film debut as Dorothy in this mildly traumatizing, opens a new window, Steampunk-flavored follow-up to The Wizard of Oz. Set six months after the events of the first Oz novel, Return finds young Dorothy committed to a late-Victorian era mental institution for her excessive Oz talk. Thankfully, she makes a daring escape just before the electroshock therapy and finds her way back to the Emerald City...only the city is in ruins, and its inhabitants turned to stone by a diabolical Nome King with a severe egg allergy. Trust me, it's even weirder than it sounds!
And here we have the recipient of Disney's first ever PG rating! Released in the wake of Star Wars mania, this surprisingly dark space epic tells the story of an Earth research vessel that comes in to contact with Cygnus, a long-lost space ship hovering at the edge of a black hole. Aboard Cygnus are Dr. Reinhardt, the lone human survivor, and his two extremely '70s-looking robot sidekicks. But the mysterious Dr. Reinhardt may be harboring a sinister secret that could endanger his rescuers. If it gets too scary for you, just distract yourself with the comically visible wires attached to the '70s robots!