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Disney Pals: The Movie
Directed by Alan Zaslove
Produced by Thomas Schumacher
Written by Alan Zaslove
Mark Zaslove
Francis Giebas
Based on Disney Pals
by Alan Zaslove
Starring Evan Rachel Wood
Tim Curry
Jonathan Taylor Thomas
John Morris
Julia Louis Dreyfus
Garry Shandling
Matthew Broderick
Kelly Preston
Wayne Allwine
Russi Taylor
Tony Anselmo
Music by J. A. C. Redford (score)
Steve Nelson (songs)
Thom Sharp (songs)
Edited by Ivan Bilancio
Production
companies
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Television
Animation
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Distribution
Release date January 15, 1999
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million
Box office $154 million


Disney Pals: The Movie is a 1999 American animated musical film based on the children's television series Disney Pals created by Alan Zaslove. It was the first of four Disney Pals films, followed by Disney Pals: Back In Action, Vanellope's Rhyme Time Movie, and Disney Pals: Jojo Siwa Jam in 2003, 2017, and 2023. Directed by Zaslove and written by Zaslove, Mark Zaslove, and Francis Giebas, it stars the voices of Evan Rachel Wood (in her voice acting debut), Tim Curry, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, John Morris, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Garry Shandling, Matthew Broderick, Kelly Preston, Wayne Allwine, Russi Taylor, and Tony Anselmo. In the film, the Disney Pals must save Main Street, U.S.A. from the worst magician ever, with help from a prejudiced child and her two brothers.

Disney Pals: The Movie was released in the United States on January 15, 1999 by Buena Vista Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was a box office success, grossing over $154 million worldwide against a $26 million budget. This was the last theatrical film to feature Paul Winchell before his death in 2005.

Plot

The Disney Pals perform a concert at a nearby elementary school in Main Street, U.S.A.. The world's worst magician, Mr. Magic, arrives and announces his plans to tear down Disney Street and replace it with his "Magic World" playground to become a more better and popular magician. The Disney Pals are distraught over the thought of losing their homes, but Mickey Mouse comes up with a plan to save Main Street.

Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Roger Rabbit venture out into a rural area where they approach a farm and meet three kids named Zelda, Zac, and Zal Markowicz. While Zac and Zal immediately take a liking to the Disney Pals, Zelda is visibly prejudiced toward what is considered "kids stuff", and refuses to believe in them, especially Mickey, therefore claiming that real mice don't talk, laugh, or sing.

At dinner, Zelda discusses with her parents and her uncle, McDonald, the owner of the farm, how the Disney Pals came to the farm. The next morning, the Disney Pals make a few attempts to cheer Zelda up by showing her the delights of believing. These attempts fail, but later, Zelda takes advice from Mickey to wish upon a star and reluctantly agrees to help the Disney Pals save Main Street from Magic. Meanwhile, back on Main Street, as American history news reporter Martha Schwartz reports what is becoming of Main Street, Magic discovers that Mickey took his wand and sets out to retrieve it.

The Markowicz kids and the Disney Pals journey down into the city, where it is revealed that Zelda is a ballet dancer. They take her to her ballet recital, where Zelda is often bullied by her arch-rival, Cassandra Woodhouse. As Zelda and Cassandra battle for the best ballet dance, Cassandra injures Zelda. Magic then arrives, retrieves his wand, captures the group (except Mickey and Zelda), and flees the scene. Zelda angrily tells him that he and the Disney Pals are just a sunshine-and-flowers fairy tale, but an undeterred Mickey prepares to follow Magic back to Main Street.

Back at the farm, Zelda has memories of her childhood as an infant, realizing that the true purpose of "kids stuff" is to make children happy. When Mickey gets lost and almost loses hope, Zelda apologizes to Mickey for her poor behavior and tells him she thinks he's cool. Mickey accepts her apology and tells her he thinks she's also cool, and both share a hug. Back on Main Street, Magic is about to perform his first trick: to turn Zac, Zal, and the Disney Pals into frogs. Mickey and Zelda confront Magic and demand that he release the Disney Pals and leave Main Street. Magic refuses and tries to turn them into frogs, but Cassandra, having a change of heart, steals his wand and breaks it, and she and Zelda distract him with their ballet dance moves, giving Mickey the advantage to knock him into the water with a tire swing, incapacitating him.

Unable to stop the Disney Pals and realizing tearing down Main Street is not as good as he hoped, Magic surrenders, changes his name to "Al", vowing to work at a toy store from now on. With Main Street saved, Mickey and Pluto reunite with their friends, while Zelda makes friends with Cassandra, reunites with her brothers and gives them a hug. The film ends with the Markowicz kids and Disney Pals returning to the elementary school to resume their concert.

Cast

  • Evan Rachel Wood as Zelda Markowicz, a young ballet dancer and Zac and Zal's sister who is initially pompous and prejudiced toward what is considered "kids stuff", but becomes a nice friend of the Disney Pals near the end of the film.
  • John Morris as Zac Markowicz, Zelda and Zal's brother.
  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Zal Markowicz, Zelda and Zac's brother.
  • Tim Curry as Mr. Magic, the world's worst magician who conspires to turn Main Street into his "Magic World" and become better and popular.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Martha Schwartz, a news reporter who documents American history.
  • Garry Shandling as McDonald Markowicz, Zelda's uncle who is the owner of the farm she and her family live in.
  • Matthew Broderick and Kelly Preston as Mr. and Mrs. Markowicz, Zelda, Zac, and Zal's unnamed parents.
  • Amy Sakawitz as Cassandra Woodhouse, a ballet dancer and Zelda's rival who becomes her friend at the end of the film.
  • Mary Kay Bergman as Ms. Collins, the principal at the elementary school where the Disney Pals plan to put on their concert.
  • Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse
  • Russi Taylor as Minnie Mouse
  • Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck
  • Bill Farmer as Goofy and Pluto
  • Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh
  • John Fiedler as Piglet
  • Paul Winchell as Tigger
  • Charles Fleischer as Roger Rabbit
  • Linda Larkin as ballet dance teacher
  • Will Ryan as bus driver

Production

Development

When Disney Pals launched in 1988 to rising popularity from parents and children, Disney considered developing a Disney Pals film for a theatrical release. In 1996, story reels were announced by Zaslove to have proved to be signs of good progress, thus, the film eventualy started production on August 1997.

Casting

Wayne Allwine, Russi Taylor, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Jim Cummings, John Fiedler, Paul Winchell, and Charles Fleischer reprised their roles from the show, with the film being Winchell's last theatrical film role before his death in 2005. In October 1997, Evan Rachel Wood, who was then ten years old, was cast in the role of Zelda Markowicz, a girl prejudiced toward what is considered "kids stuff". Wood said in an interview that being in an animated movie was like a "dream-come-true" for her, as she was a fan of the series. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, John Morris, Tim Curry, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus joined the cast in 1998. That same year, Disney confirmed that Amy Sakawitz would be a part of the film in the role of Cassandra Woodhouse, Zelda's rival in ballet dancing. Matthew Broderick and Kelly Preston joined in on August 1998.

Music

In December 1997, Steve Nelson and Thom Sharp announced their return for songs, while J. A. C. Redford was announced to be composing the film's score. The songs and score were released on cassette and CD on January 8, 1999 by Buena Vista Records.

Release date

Theatrical

Disney Pals: The Movie was released in theaters on January 15, 1999.

3-D re-release

On November 18, 2008, Disney re-released the film in Disney Digital 3-D for the show's 20th anniversary. It was paired alongside Disney Pals: Back In Action on the same day as a double-feature for a one-week-run.

Home media

Disney Pals: The Movie was released on VHS by Buena Vista Home Video on April 25, 1999. In 2001, when Disney began releasing Disney Pals videos on DVD, Disney released it on DVD and again on VHS on December 20, 2001. Subsequently, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the film on DVD and Blu-ray on December 9, 2008, then on Ultra HD 4K on October 1, 2019. On November 12, 2019, Disney Pals: The Movie was released on Disney+.

Reception

Box office

Disney Pals: The Movie opened alongside Varisity Blues, In Dreams, and Virus, and was projected to gross $17--19 million from theaters in its opening weekend. It passed the estimates, making $27 million in its first day, including $2 million from Thursday night previews. In its second day, the film earned $29 million additionally, bringing the opening weekend total to $56 million. The film ended its theatrical run on February 5, 1998, grossing over $40 million domestically and $55 million overseas, bringing up to a worldwide total of $154 million, against a $26 million production budget.

Critical reception

Disney Pals: The Movie received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 40% approval rating. The consensus reads, "Although Disney Pals: The Movie's sunshine-and-flowers narrative lacks the educational value of the animated children's television series, both preschoolers and parents can be moved by the light-hearted tone of what would be a family-friendly diversion". According to Metacritic, which has a score of 44 out of 100 based on 35 critics, Disney Pals: The Movie received "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.

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