Rated PG | Time: 2:00
“Walt Before Mickey” is the story of Walt Disney’s early years, from growing up on a farm in Marceline, Mo., to his start in animation at his Laugh-O-gram studios in Kansas City. You’d think such a movie would be sort of a big deal around here. Yet the film, with a first-time director and some inexperienced cast members, is skulking in with no fanfare at just one theater: B&B Shawnee (the former Westglen).
The movie is based on the 2011 book of the same name by Timothy S. Susanin (with a foreword by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller) and is directed by first-timer Khoa Le. Thomas Ian Nicholas (“American Pie”) stars as Walt Disney, and Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”) is his brother Roy, with smaller-name actors filling in as artists Friz Freleng, Rudy Ising and Ub Iwerks. It was filmed in the Orlando area and premiered last week at Disney World.
Just one critic has posted a review online, Carlos deVillalvilla of Cinema365. To sum up:
“Clearly this is a labor of love and if sometimes the filmmakers seem to be a little star-struck by Walt, I suppose that it’s understandable especially considering what Walt meant (and continues to mean) to the economy of the region. …
“Although Heder, (Jodie) Sweetin and Nicholas do well in their roles, much of the rest of the cast is less successful. Some of the acting is stiff and the line readings more suitable for community theater. Not knocking community theater, mind you, but those expecting more should be forewarned as to what to expect. I have to admit that some of the dialogue sounded like it was being read rather than being said. …
“It should also be noted that this is a first feature for much of the cast and crew; a little leeway is recommended when viewing this.”
(At B&B Shawnee.)
| Sharon Hoffmann, firstname.lastname@example.org