Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fairy Tales From the 90's

Started a sunny, warm-ish day with breakfast, tidying up around the apartment, and making the bed. I don't often make the bed. Who's gonna see it? Trouble is, all those blankets were starting to fall everywhere. Given it's supposed to get extra-cold in the coming days, I'm going to need them.

Ran most of Anastasia as I got organized. This 1997 animated extravaganza turns Russian history into a bizarre and funny fairy tale about an orphan named Anya (Meg Ryan). She's determined to get to Paris, where she may have family. Con-men Dimintri (John Cusack) and Vladmir (Kelsey Grammer) are looking for a girl to play the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who may or may not have survived the Russian Revolution. They want to take her to Paris to fool Anastasia's grandmother the Dowager Duchess (Angela Landsbury) and get the reward money. While Dimintri and Anya fight their way across Europe, there's something more sinister rising beneath the surface. Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd), the former monk who had been the adviser to the royal house, died while executing his curse on the family. Now's he's determined to eliminate the last remaining member...which may just be Anya.

Major historical inaccuracies aside, I have to admit I have a soft spot for this one. I adore the music. Broadway tunesmiths Stephan Flahery and Lynn Aherns crafted a wonderful score, including the gorgeous, haunting "Once Upon a December." I asked for the CD for Christmas when the movie came out, and I've had it ever since. The animation is incredible, especially a runaway train explosion and a nightmare sequence on a boat. The characters are mostly a lot of fun, especially the spunky Anya herself. I'm less fond of Rasputin - the running gag with him losing  his body parts is unnecessary, and frankly, gross, and he gets my least-favorite number in the film.

A fair amount of violence makes this for older grade school princesses on up as they try to find their own journeys. Just be on hand to explain what's real and what isn't.

Work was on-and-off steady. It was still sunny and relatively warm when I arrived at work. Alas, the weather didn't remain. It got cloudy as early as 2. Maybe that's why people were in such bad moods. I had a lot of customers who were cranky, grouchy, grumpy, and just plain rude! You'd think people would be much happier on a holiday weekend. I was so happy when it slowed down enough by 4 for me to shut down with no relief.

Good thing, because I had a lot of grocery shopping to do. Most of it was restocking - grapefruit, sugar, apples, bananas, spinach, sponges (the generic Acme brand was buy-one-get-one for the 3-pack), I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, crushed pineapple, milk, Campbell's Hearty Chicken Soup, canned chicken. I found two seasonal boxes of Bigelow Tea on two separate clearances. One was the herbal Peppermint Bark (might be good for upset tummies - and I'll bet it'll be great iced). The other was more intriguing - Girl Scouts' Coconut and Caramel. I love the cookies. That was a no-brainer. Also grabbed more of those tasty Nestle's mint chocolate chips on clearance.

Went into writing when I got home. The kids are surprised to see Mr. Eldridge has created a toy soldier with their candy canes, and one that's much smaller than the others. They don't know how he can help...until their grandfather brings them over and sees Scott dueling with Barnaby, who has pulled a sword out of his cane.

When I got hungry, I made a spinach, mushroom, and cheese omelet for dinner. Watched The Swan Princess while I ate, and then while I vacuumed the apartment. Anastasia put me in the mood for another animated musical from the 90's about an especially strong princess. The title character is Odette (Michelle Nicastro) who has been turned into a swan by the evil Rothbart (Jack Palance) when the moon is out. At first, the handsome Prince Derek (Howard McGlinn), who has loved her since they were children, thinks she's the evil creature she's looking for. When she explains the curse, he swears he'll make a vow to her at the ball his mother is holding so he can find a bride. Odette's friends Puffin, Speed (Stephan Wright), and Jean-Bob (a frog who thinks he's a prince) do their best to help her...but thanks to Rothbart's trickery, they may be too late...

Like Anastasia, my favorite things about this one is the lovely music (I love the hilarious opening number "This Is My Idea") and the princess in question. Not only is this one of the few animated films prior to Frozen to even attempt to develop the romance naturally, but sensible Odette actually questions it when Derek wants to jump right in. I haven't seen the sequels, but this one is fine for most little princesses who love fairy tales with fairly strong heroines.

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