Let me say up front that I’m not a fan of Disney.  I’ve been cringing for four years now at the whole princess franchise and it’s not been easy to ban Hannah Montana from our household despite the fact that we don’t even have a TV hooked up. Disney gets in to your house from books, relatives, diapers, you name it. So, for the most part, even though I think the underlining message of Disney films is dangerous to the psyche of young girls, I’ve surrendered.

There’s something oddly sinister about film after film of young headstrong heroines with inept single fathers that either are widowed or choose cruel second wives whose daughters’ one strength lies in dancing around in party dresses, whistling to animal kingdom, and marrying the first guy that comes along. But nevermind. Likewise, the tween to teen Disney franchise has given us trashy superstar after trashy superstar (Britney, Justin, Miley) with vapid lyrics and so much hip gyration that it baffles me that somehow Vanity Fair photos are considered in poor taste.

But with Pixar’s artistic take over of Disney feature films, I’ve started to get hopeful. Clearly the Pixar guys and gals know how to make a film that doesn’t insult intelligence, gender, or taste. I had and still have, high hopes. It's been rumored by the delay of Tinkerbell's release that the Pixar take over crew didn't like this film in its earlier versions.

I also applaud Disney for noticing that perhaps the three to ten year old set would be better served by fairies that make things rather than ‘omigod like, whatever’ teen idols such as Hannah Montana. But straight to dvd makes me nervous. How good can anything be if it doesn’t get a box office opening?

Enter Tinkerbell.

I’ve viewed this film about twelve times now as it is already in preschooler rotation in our house via my mother-in-law. Perhap this is as good as Disney can do. The story is simple. Girl emerges as a fairy. Doesn’t like her skill set. Learns to not try and do things that are not in her skill set. Realizes that her skills have a place. Learns to like her place in life. The end. I don’t know. Kind of depressing, don’t you think?

I know the whole message here is supposed to be be proud of who you are and what you can do and don’t envy others and that’s all well and good, but come on. Really? Just find your one talent and stay there? Is that really all that different than, find your true love and you'll find happiness?

The best thing about the new movie is the soundtrack. It sounds like what you’d expect a fairy soundtrack to be like--Celtic. And it's a very pretty movie. But I’m thinking, that in 2008, does the bad fairy really have to be raven haired and pale? Does the good fairy always have to be blond? Do the wise old women have to always be fat? Do movies supposedly taking place in fairy tale Celtic lands have to have characters with American regional dialects? And when we have a cluster of fairies with minor roles does each one really have to be representative of the racial make up of the USA? It just seems a little forced to do that last one and in predictable bad taste to do the others.

Our girls deserve better than stereotypes.

Still, it’s better than most Disney fare on the Disney channel that I’ve seen. Better than the marketing of princesses to toddlers. Better than non-intellectual canned teen pop. But is better than good? Nope.
 

My only relief is that the novelty has already worn off and my daughter has gone back to requesting The Electric Company box set and The Secret of Roan Inish. That a girl. And despite the marketing everywhere, there's not a single 'fairy' item on her Christmas list.