So Bugs finally realized that Mickey is on to something and convinced the brothers Warner to come up with an animated film that follows the same tricks and conceits that Disney has been employing successfully for the past several decades. The destructive result is "The King and I," a film that the entire family can mutually despise.
Adapted liberally from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, but retaining the same songs, "The King and I" represents a bizarre and harebrained effort to emulate the Disney magic. The film, which feels even more dated than the 1956 live-action musical, opens with a boring display of credits, and as it slowly creaks into gear, it's easy to spot the attempts at Disneyfication. The most obvious being that the only "bad guy" in the original musical is the crusty King of Siam, so this mutated copy converts a minor character, the Kralahome, into the fey and devious villain "type" that has worked so well for Disney. It is a totally unnecessary rewrite.
Even more unnecessary is the introduction of a new character, Master Little. Drawn as a pudgy and toothy Asian, Master Little is supposed to be the equivalent of the hip Genie from "Aladdin." Voiced by "Saturday Night Live's" Darrell Hammond, Master Little is one of the most offensive Asian characters since Mickey Rooney's turn as Mr. Yunioshi in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Even more ridiculous is the attempt to make young Louis (voiced by Adam Wylie) appealing to a younger audience by making the lad's favorite catch phrase "cool." The film is set 100 years ago, remember?
Loveable animals, which Disney uses to extreme, are also thrown into the mix. Louis adopts a pet monkey and there's a tusk-impaired baby elephant. Can you say "Dumbo"?
You would think that given the great Rodgers and Hammerstein score, the creative team would leave well enough alone. But no. The opening song, "I Whistle a Happy Tune," sung as the evil Kralahome sends fiery dragons to attack the approaching seafaring vessel carrying the schoolteacher Anna to Siam, is presented in a preposterous minor mode, totally misrepresenting the song.
The only sure thing about this fiasco is that children will fidget and adults will be outraged at the bastardization of a musical classic.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.