USA - 1997

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

Give it up, Hollywood, the mouse is gonna rule this summer. "Hercules" is a sharp and funny animated flick with just enough sentiment to satisfy Disney protocol. The animation is primo, the characters dynamite, and the music's the best since "The Little Mermaid." Kiddies will want to see it a gazillion times. Heck, even *I* want to see it again.

If you don't know any Greek mythology, don't worry. The film opens with a rousing R&B precis of everything you'll need to know sung by the five, not nine, muses. Besides, Disney as usual, plays fast and loose with the story, throwing in a little from everything Greek myths have to offer. Herc's been promoted from demi to full god, and forget the twelve labors. This time out, baby Herc's ticked off Hades, god of the dead, voiced by James Woods in a wisecracking, sarcastic turn that's the flip side of Robin Williams' Genie. Hades tries to mortalize, then off, the little guy, only to have his plans go awry thanks to bumbling minions, Pain and Panic. He does succeed, though, in having the infant banished from Olympus, but the grown-up Hercules discovers his true identity, and sets about trying to make it back to god-hood by performing one truly heroic deed.

Naturally, there are sidekicks to help him along - the grouchy but tenderhearted saytyr Phil, hero-trainer to the gods, and the winged horse, Pegasus, beautiful but bird-brained. Then there's Meg, the definitive Disney post-feminist icon for independent and shapely womanhood. Yes, she's a damsel, yes, she's in distress, and yes, she can take care of it, herself.

The slyest, or is it the most cynical, thing about "Hercules," is the send-up of its own merchandising hype. The kiddies may not get the irony, but hey, they'd be screaming for this stuff anyway. The grownups might as well get a laugh out of it as they shell out the requisite big bucks.

© 1997 Andrea Chase Air Date: 6/25/97

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