according to someone who has never seen them
Brace yourself: I have never seen a Disney movie.
Yes, commence very loud, aghast incredulity. Yes, I am a real human. No, I do not live under a rock. No, I did not have a morose childhood plagued with malady and woe. Don’t worry, I’m very, very used to it. Are you quite finished? Good, let’s carry on.
The explanation for this phenomenon is relatively clear—my parents never really got around to showing them to me, and, by the time I reached the age where I knew of the magic of online pirating and could initiate such watchings myself, my signature cynicism was just starting to bud, and they—brace yourself again—didn’t look like very good movies.
So, I’ve decided that the time has come to investigate these mediocre-looking films to which everyone around me seems to have some deep nostalgic attachment. To do this, I have chosen an assortment of Disney movies, based on recommendations from militant Disney-fan friends (seriously, guys, calm down). I am going to watch the trailer for each of them and, to the best of my ability, summarize what I think they’re about (Thanks to Dan O’Brien for the inspiration for this idea).
The Little Mermaid
The trailer opens with some woman with a tail swimming around. My exceptional powers of deduction inform me that this is the Little Mermaid. Said mermaid clearly lives in a community of anthropomorphic sea creatures: a perpetually skeptical lobster-thing, a flounder that seems far too happy to be dwelling in a dark and morose underwater cave, and a seagull who is almost certainly stoned. Wait, so why does she have to wear clothing? None of her sea creature friends are wearing clothing, and given that any sort of intercourse between any of them is anatomically inconceivable, from where would such a social convention even arise? Anyway.
We meet a terrifying, like, female…thing in a black dress, who seems to be offering the Little Mermaid a deal. Given that she is the least trustworthy-looking individual I have ever seen in a movie ever, I’m crossing my fingers that the mermaid turns down this deal and that the movie ends here.
Ah, wishful thinking. Apparently, she now has legs.
We are now treated to a series of humdrum human things—she flounces around in a dress (wait, she’s been swimming her whole life. How can she suddenly walk?), bounces on a bed, tries and fails to smoke a pipe, and seems to have a sore throat. An average-looking male always seems to be hovering in the background of these escapades. He seems spectacularly boring, but since he is clearly the only man in this movie, I assume he will be nailing the mermaid at some point.
My best guess: Angsty teenage mermaid is quite sexually frustrated, given the impracticalities of lobster-banging. Pays visit to shady underwater drug dealer for tail-to-leg drug, then goes off to stalk some rich guy until he, erm, shows her the ropes. Wait a minute, do humans still eat fish in this world? Like, what’s going to happen between this mermaid and her new soulmate when she finds out that he regularly slaughters her fully sentient sea friends and gobbles them up for his own pleasure? Speaking of sentient animals, does this mean the dude’s clearly nonverbal dog is actually—I know, I know, I’ve overstayed my welcome.
Sentimental violins and a flock of doves (really?) usher in a comatose-looking little boy, a quite seductive female goldfish, some cat thing that we never see again, and a lady in a blue dress with the magic wand. I’m assuming that the little kid is a Pinocchio—ah, yes, a talking cricket dressed like William Howard Taft has just confirmed (seriously, where are they drawing this bright line about which animals have to wear clothing?).
And apparently Pinocchio’s nose gets bigger unintentionally and fairly regularly. Wait, is that a euphemism? Guys, is this really a kids’ movie?
Ah, but finally some action! Pinocchio’s in Magic Disney Boy Jail! Someone screams at a really creepy carnival! A ship crashes! A raft is tossed to and fro on the high seas! A giant whale does a thing! An old guy prays really hard! Pinocchio wakes up on a bed and the old guy is really really really happy. Cricket Howard Taft assures me that if I wish upon a star, my dreams will come true. Seems legit.
My best guess: Pinocchio, an innocent little boy cursed with a terribly long and hard, erm, nose, and Cricket Howard Taft must embark on a series of swashbuckling magical adventures to save the world from the evil whale and his sidekick the harlot fish. They almost drown, but are saved when an old sorcerer invokes the Dark Lord Cthulu to return them safely (not in the trailer, but that’d be sick).
Some city looks very pretty, until some clearly evil chick in a blue dress makes it, oh no, god forbid…snow? Man, my New Englander’s heart is bleeding for them. A horse, like, kicks someone or whatever and, wait, is that Kristen Bell? Kristen Bell’s in this movie?
The Gossip Girl, guys! Wait, I need a minute to go re-watch that heart-wrenching Chuck/Blair scene from season five.
Okay, I’m back. Kristen talks to some guy with a bowl cut, and apparently snowmen can talk in this movie. Kristen and Prince Bowl Cut ride in a sleigh that some wolves want to destroy for some reason, the snowman does some unintuitive things with his snow body that I just cannot imagine add to the plot of this movie, Kristen throws snowballs at some evil snow creatures (I’m no expert, but I can’t imagine balls of snow are overly useful against that particular demographic), and, wow, this snowman is really intolerable. The evil chick in the blue dress does a lot of glaring. Seriously, she is so blatantly evil, I am sure she’s responsible for these non-ideal weather conditions that everyone seems to be fighting against in this movie. Why hasn’t anyone arrested her yet?
My best guess: A snowman interrupts Kristen’s and Prince Bowl Cut’s royal weather-related moping to invite them to Netflix and Chill. They’re only about half-way back to Snowman’s place, however, when—PSYCH! Turns out Snowman and evil blue dress chick have been in cahoots this whole time, and have combined powers to create an army of Evil Magic Disney Snow People. I’m assuming these Snow People destroy Kristen, Prince Bowl Cut, and everything they know and go on to rule as humanity’s new chilly overlords, condemning us to a dismal eternity of slippery roads and North Face.
High School Musical
It seems that The Big Basketball Game is coming up, and Zac Efron really needs to win. Oh god, I forgot that Zac Efron used to have his hair like that. Oh no, and he’s angsty and antisocial. I need to take a shot of something.
Okay, much better. So we see him singing very soulfully about love and lust at what sounds like a piano, except now apparently he’s singing about how badly he needs to score in basketball. It’s unclear to me why he can’t express these sentiments infinitely more succinctly in a few spoken sentences, but what do I know?
Zac’s (presumably) basketball coach and teammates seem really upset about the fact that he’s dating a girl. Wait, is he the only one on his team who’s dating someone? Does this men’s high school basketball team enforce a policy of celibacy? Now they seem to be put off by the fact that he’s involved in musical theater—oh dear, two extracurriculars? God forbid. Ashley Tisdale is livid because Zac’s name is on some list for something that her name is also on—man, I retract my earlier comments, this kid clearly just can’t catch a break.
Zac dumps his girlfriend, it appears, and the two of them sing about their feelings for the rest of the trailer, and some fireworks light up the sky and oh my god why haven’t I seen this movie yet?
My best guess: Zac Efron High is preparing for their final basketball game against Other Basketball Team, and also both of these teams exist in an alternate universe where people actually care about high school basketball. Ashley Tisdale, Head Theater Person of Other Basketball Team’s school, is determined to humiliate their rival Zac Efron by accidentally getting him a part in the school play. It turns out, however, that in a completely unforeseen plot twist, basketball players can actually carry notes sometimes, and oh my god I am downloading this movie right now.