It’s well established that I Have A Brand. Frankly, when Disney acquired Marvel, my friends considered my opinion of it to be “two great tastes that taste great together,” though I’ll freely admit my actual opinion on Disney’s acquisitions is more complicated than that. Still, Disney and superheroes combined does make for pretty powerful Gillian bait, and people have known that about me since at least the ‘90s. This makes it all the more surprising when they find out that there are actually Disney movies I haven’t seen.
From the animated canon, even. Oh, not a lot of them. I’m one of those people who has a strong opinion about the “Martins and the Coys” segment in Make Mine Music and bought the Three Caballeros/Saludos Amigos double movie disc the day it was released. Or at least the closest day to it I had money, depending on when exactly that was. Some of them, I’ve seen probably dozens of times, if not hundreds—people my age who had The Disney Channel in the ‘80s tend to lose track of how often we’ve seen Dumbo, for instance. Likewise The Little Mermaid and those of us with VCRs back in the day.
Still, there are three and a half Disney animated movies I’ve never seen—three I’ve never seen at all and one where the disc I was watching turned out to be damaged halfway through and I’ve never bothered watching the rest of it because I was so lukewarm on what I’d already seen. Two of them were deliberate choice because I was too angry at how the source material was handled; one, I’ve just never seen the point, and no one I know who has seen it has disagreed with me that it’s not worth watching. This is, when I’m telling friends all this, usually the point where I stop and make them guess; I’m idly curious if any of you can.
The damaged one was Chicken Little. As I recall, I got to about the big baseball game. The library’s disc stopped working. When I reported the damage, they asked if I wanted a replacement, and I said, “Eh.” Similarly, I’ve never bothered with Home on the Range, which I’m willing to bet just reminded about half of you—including several who have seen it—that Home on the Range exists and is part of the Disney Animated Canon. Meanwhile, I have consciously chosen not to see Pocahontas, because I know the history, and Hercules, because I was a mythology-obsessed child and still remember better than ninety percent of what I knew then—and have learned all kinds of other things since.
The live action stuff is a bit more coloured with “well, I don’t think I’ve seen it,” and then I’ll be watching it for this column and discover that, yes, I have. Just not since about 1987 or so. (I’ve never yet remembered a whole movie I saw that long ago, but there have been many moments that surfaced again as I watched something.) I don’t think I’ve seen Nikki: Wild Dog of the North or The Sword and the Rose, but I could be wrong. In the True-Life Adventures, I’m pretty sure I’ve missed Secrets of Life, but possibly I’ll watch it again and realize that, oh, yeah, fifth grade.
It’s easier with anything that’s come out from about Benji the Hunted on—I have not seen Benji the Hunted. There are a few, like Hocus Pocus, that I don’t think I’ve ever seen all the way through but were on The Disney Channel often enough when they were relatively new that I may have seen them if you reassemble the bits into chronological order. (My younger sister loved Hocus Pocus; from what I saw, I very much did not.) Frankly, starting with about Iron Will, it’s more likely that I haven’t seen it than that I have.
I’ve seen a smattering of what were originally called Disney Channel Premiere Films. I’ve seen a smaller percentage of the ones from the era when they were Disney Channel Original Movies. In fact, aside from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, which was a special request, it’s entirely possible I’ve only seen the animated Kim Possible ones of the latter. But I did see Tiger Town the day it aired, and of course Anne of Avonlea and Lantern Hill. Lots of Luck and Not Quite Human. The assorted Parent Trap sequels at least once each. Back Home, which I should see if I can track down again. And that’s where we’re kind of running out.
This is not even getting into the TV. There’s hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hours of Disney TV programming, going back to what was initially called Walt Disney’s Disneyland. I’ve seen a fair whack of it—there are not many people who will speak longingly of The Torkelsons—but there’s also a lot I’m missing, particularly Disney Channel stuff post about 1995. (For the curious, I graduated from high school in 1995, and my access to cable would be erratic for about ten years after that.) Most of what I have seen, I haven’t seen in a long, long time.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out my percentage is best with the shorts. I haven’t seen any of the Laugh-o-Grams, even leaving aside the lost Lafflets, and I’ve only seen a few of the Alice shorts. I’ve also never seen anything with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. But from “Steamboat Willie” on, I’m generally more surprised when I haven’t seen a Disney short, including many of the worst of the Silly Symphonies. I won’t say I’ve seen all of them, but my goodness I’ve seen a lot.
Ever since childhood, I’ve gone back and forth in my level of completism, but I’ve always leaned in the direction of “just don’t, if you don’t like it.” There’s a series I have where I stopped buying it before the last two books, because I’d gotten them from the library and they are bad. With Disney, it’s at least in part that my goodness there’s a lot of Disney media to be had, and all this is without getting into the assorted subsidiaries. Adding what was on ABC from 1991 on gets exhausting, for example. It’s also, though, that, if I don’t care or actively know I won’t like it, I have no problem just walking away.
Though if you, say, don’t like me and want to inflict Pocahontas on me or have a favourite later-era made-for-Disney Channel movie you think I’d genuinely love, I am willing to be bribed via Patreon or Ko-fi. I’ll warn you that the required bribe for Hercules is very high indeed; for some things, all it would take is a suggestion.