In a present day idyllic kingdom, the benevolent teenaged son of the King and Queen (Beast and Belle from Disney’s iconic Beauty and the Beast) is poised to take the throne. His first proclamation: offer a chance at redemption to the trouble-making offspring of Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, the Evil Queen and Jafar who have been imprisoned on a forbidden island with all the other villains, sidekicks, evil step-mothers and step-sisters. These villainous descendants (Carlos, Mal, Evvie and Jay, respectively) are allowed into the kingdom to attend prep school alongside the offspring of iconic Disney heroes including Fairy Godmother, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Mulan. However, the evil teens face a dilemma. Should they follow in their nefarious parents’ footsteps and help all the villains regain power or embrace their innate goodness and save the kingdom?
This sounds is to be a movie produced by and for the Disney Channel and directed by the same guy who brought us High School Musical. It's billed as an adventure/comedy, but the director is also a choreographer, so I sort of expect some song and dance involved. I may be wrong, they don't say one way or the other, but it's Disney, there ought to be some breaking into song and dance. It's supposed to premier in 2015.
I was intrigued immediately by this idea and went to read the comments about it on Facebook. Wow. People are downright mean about this one. It may not have hit me so hard if not for the explosion of snark during the recent Sound of Music Live, but coming on those heels, it did. It's almost as if people WANT to be disappointed or upset or even angry. I just don't get it.
Sure, as Disney fans we all feel invested in the culture surrounding the whole Disney experience, from movies to television to theme parks to stage shows to computer games to books to merchandise and on and on. Disney relies on that emotional investment as one key to its success. A lot of that investment is based in nostalgia and fandom for the things Disney has produced in the past, so when Disney "messes" with our memories by removing a favorite ride or changing a menu or re-making or serializing a beloved story, we can get defensive.
But I think maybe we've gone a bit too far. Look at the Disney message boards lately and all you find is complaints. The biggest investment in a Disney Theme Park since Cars Land, the coming Avatarland at Animal Kingdom, was being roundly panned before the first design element was mentioned. The new MyMagic+/FastPass+ system is driving the vacation planning geeks bonkers. And now when a new TV movie is announced, it's pounced upon and torn apart within seconds.
Ok, maybe all the things Disney does aren't for everyone. Maybe they aren't for all the Disney fans, even. But maybe we could give these things a chance before we attack the very IDEAS?
Back to Descendants, I have some questions. I wonder where the heck the Villain children came from? I mean, the heroes often end up paired up, Princess/Prince-style, but not the villains. The image of Cruella De Ville pregnant is......odd. But awesome, in its oddity. I can't wait to see how that's handled. If it isn't handled, if it's glossed over and left for us to wonder who slept with Jafar, then I'll be disappointed. But I'm going to wait and give Disney a chance.