Walt Before Mickey


This film is about Walt Disney’s early years. For ten years before the creation of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney struggled with, failed at, and eventually mastered the art and business of animation. Walt Disney worked in a variety of venues and studios, refining what would become known as the Disney style. This film captures the years 1919 – 1928, creating a portrait of the artist from age seventeen to the cusp of his international renown.

What people are saying:

“Few visionaries are as fascinating as Walt Disney, so it’s particularly frustrating that this drama is so uninspired. It seems more like an adaptation of a student’s book report than a compelling look at one of the most influential men of the 20th century” 1 1/2 stars

“The story is solid, but the screenplay is only partially effective, content to mope along with little joy or whimsy. And scenes resemble re-enactments more than meaningful human encounters.” 1 star

“Critics hated this flick – they hated the script, they hated the voice overs, they found it dull, didn’t appreciate the acting. Eh! The basic idea of the film is covering Disney’s initial 10 years. Good chance that there was a dull, plodding aspect to those years. The script was convincing and entertaining enough, I think, given the subject material. And I was sufficiently impressed with the actors abilities. Maybe I have a greater than average interest in Disney’s early years – but I did find it to be a worthwhile watch.” 3 stars

“To put it plainly, Walt Before Mickey was surprisingly disappointing. The acting occasionally felt like high school plays and the script skips to a new plot line every time it gets close to an answer. This results in many instances of flashing forward and never knowing how Disney continues to magically keep his business afloat. In the end, I find that I never got the answers that I sat down to find out in this film. Instead, I received interesting tidbits and a rough draft with crucial points missing entirely.” 1 star

“As a Disneyphile of sorts, there was no way I was going to miss watching this film on the big screen even though I had to travel two hours via the Interstate through Kansas to the Kansas City metro area (appropriately enough since that is where Disney started his animation company) to get to the nearest theater showing it. The trip was worth it for me personally, but the film itself may disappoint others. Its quality is uneven; it needs the sort of polish and texture that the Disney organization would be able to give it. Don’t expect something like  Savings Mr. Banks, the Disney film that dealt with Disney’s struggles to get Mary Poppins made toward the end of his life. While the story of Walt Before Mickey is itself engaging, and the plotting, pace and dialogue not all that bad, the editing is uneven, the cinematography is uninspired, and the acting is just this side of wooden and amateurish. However, Thomas Ian Nicholas saves the day, practically carrying the entire film on his performance alone. His acting is earnest and sympathetic to the persona of a young and struggling Walt Disney; and the character he creates is believable and likable. In the final analysis, the film will never win any awards, but it has a lot of heart and wins the approval of those, like myself, who wish to see Disney (and the Disney legacy) treated in the sort of fair, even-handed, and yet respectful manner he deserves.” 3 1/2 stars


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