This is part of an ongoing series where we watch each theatrical Disney Animated Classic and review it. To catch up with previous ones, please start here.
“Daddy, what just happened?” That was the question that I dreaded. I feared that my 5 year old would be keen enough to realize that something terrible just happened…and I was correct.
I sat down with two of my kids (ages 3 and 5) to watch Bambi (the 4th full-length movie released by Disney but the 3rd movie that we have reviewed because…Fantasia.) About 5 minutes into the movie I realized that my 3 year old was starting to get distracted by his toys and, quickly thereafter, he decided that he would rather play basketball in the other room. My 5 year old stuck with me until the shot rang out in the forest. He looked up at me and asked what just happened. I asked him what he THOUGHT had just happened. He teared up a little and said, “Bambi’s mom is dead, isn’t she.” I had no response. He then stood up, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I don’t like this movie. You can watch it if you’d like, but I think that I’m going to go to my room and play with my toys.” That was it. That was the end of our viewing of the movie.
My kids did not finish the movie but I decided that I needed to try to finish it. Very quickly I realized that Disney movies have changed (some would say “evolved”) over the years. Bambi was created in a time where the notion of a full-length animated film was brand new. That being said, it seems that this and other earlier movies in the Disney canon focused more on the visuals than the story. I believe this is one of the things that contributed to my kids being uninterested: the story just moves too slowly for them. While I would think that my attention span is longer than that of a young child, I realized that I was also scanning multiple social media sites while “watching” the movie. Another thing that I found interesting is that most Disney movies’ hero faces the loss of a parent (normally the mother) and the protagonist would find someone outside of their immediate family to help them along their way. This story differs because Bambi’s father is still there to help his son after his mother’s death. Lastly, The songs within the movie seemed to be less imaginative and did not move the story along as with the movies created before and after this film.
Overall, this movie is like a less entertaining version of Snow White to me (cute animals with less meat to the story.) On a scale of 1-10, I would give it a 4…my kids would give it a 1.