Disney is going to screw the pooch

Donald Trump deciding to hold an indoor rally in Tulsa was a bad idea. As I noted in my last post, Herman Cain likely contracted COVID-19 at the event, along with probably many others, which is likely singularly responsible for most of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.

After Trump’s recent event at Mount Rushmore, the girlfriend of his son Donald Trump Jr. reported testing positive for COVID-19, prompting the couple to drive back to New York.

After six months even Donald Trump is starting to realize the optics look bad. Yesterday, he was seen wearing a mask in his visit to Walter Reed Hospital. The Republican Party is considering moving their convention to an outdoor venue. They would be much wiser to act like the Democratic Party and hold it virtually. If they hold a convention, I bet half the invitees won’t attend.

So why the hell is Disney opening up Disney World on July 11? In the history of bad corporate decisions, if they follow through, this is likely to be seen in retrospect as one of the stupidest corporate decisions of all times. If Trump’s optics look bad, consider what Disney’s short term pursuit of profits is likely to do with their family-friendly, squeaking-wholesome brand. If I had any Disney stock, I’d be putting in a frantic sell order.

Yes, of course Disney is claiming that it’s all quite safe. Attendance will be limited. Everyone will be required to wear masks. There will be social distancing. Doubtless they will be sanitizing surfaces regularly. But this is not just any theme park. This is the biggest theme park in the world. It brings in people from around the world. There are too many people in too confined a space coming from and going to too many places for this not to become a new super spreader event. Unlike a one-time Trump rally in Tulsa this is a super spreader that is likely to keep on spreading, making moot a lot of the efforts elsewhere to control the disease. It is likely to ensure a continuing set of COVID-19 casualties in the months ahead.

Consider what happened in and around New Orleans during Mardi Gras this year. It resulted in a spike of cases in the city and the state, but because people came from all over the world for the event, attendees carried the virus back home. It likely did a lot to spread the disease and likely killed thousands. It’s hard to say for sure.

Who knows what the effect of reopening Disney World will be? Umm, anyone with a brain. This is a state that had over 15,300 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. In any rational state, the Department of Public Health would lock the gates. It would be a no-brainer.

But Trump apologist “Governor” Ron Desantis, who is having a hard time even shutting the bars down, is running Florida. He wants to open the schools next month too, five days a week, damn the torpedoes, not to mention the students and teachers. St. Donald tells him it will all be fine.

Trump sent in the troops to quell protests in Washington D.C. If he wants to do some good, why not send in the troops to shut down Disney World or any other theme park that thinks it is safe to open up? This is a public health emergency. What Disney is going to do will be Mardi Gras on steroids. It’s going to spread the virus across the country and, if other countries lift their airline restrictions on our country, the rest of the world too.

This is just an appalling lapse of judgment on Disney’s part. Walt would be appalled, but more importantly perhaps its shareholders will be appalled when they discover the value of their brand is going to sink along with its share prices when this thing takes hold and the finger pointing starts.

This should go without saying, but don’t go to Disney World. If you have reservations, cancel them. If you have friends who have been there recently, shun them. Petition your governor to require Disney World attendees to go into a two-week quarantine if they are foolish enough to go there, or really any place in Florida.

This one company is likely to infect millions of us and kill tens of thousands more of us. Shut it down now, Disney, to protect your brand and what’s left of your good name.

Review: Enchanted

In case you haven’t noticed, it has been a while since Disney Studios has had a hit movie. Other animation studios like Pixar Animation (which Disney acquired a few years ago) have been running rings around Disney, much to the disgruntlement of Disney stockholders. Enchanted, now playing everywhere is Disney’s latest attempt to prove it has its mojo back. The result is this very satisfying but not totally enchanting mixture of animation, CGI and live action.

Reviews for the movie have been solidly positive. Based on a 3:20 p.m. showing over the holiday weekend, which was nearly packed, Enchanted has enchanted the public as well. Disney shareholders can now breathe a little easier. It is hard to say if Enchanted marks the revitalization of Disney Studios or whether it is a one-time wonder but its success must be taken as an encouraging sign to both shareholders and diehard Disney fans.

If you are reading this you probably know the plot. If not, here is a brief summary. Giselle is an animated princess waiting in her home in the woods for her Prince Charming (well, Prince Edward in her case) to find her and marry her. Of course if Prince Edward marries someone, his evil stepmother Queen Narissa (played by Susan Sarandon) gets demoted, so Queen Narissa pulls out all stops to ensure this does not happen. Fate of course intervenes; the Prince finds the Princess, they fall instantly in love and of course plan to get married the next day. As Giselle enters the castle the Queen takes the form of an old lady who manages to waylay her. She sends her to a place where she will not only not be a threat, but where life is not like in fairy tales. In short she ends up coming out of a manhole in the middle of Times Square. As you might expect this is where animation reverts to live action.

It is too bad that Giselle (who is wonderfully played by Amy Adams) didn’t pop out of a manhole cover in Greenwich Village. She might have felt more at home in her princess costume there. Instead the hopelessly naïve Giselle is left to appeal to the kindness of New York City strangers. She eventually encounters Robert, a high priced divorce attorney (Patrick Dempsey) whose cute six-year-old girl Morgan (Rachel Covey) latches on to Giselle as something like the mother she does not have. Prince Edward, who of course must rescue his true love, eventually shows up as does Pip, Giselle’s pet chipmunk. Queen Narissa eventually also sends her besotted aide Nathaniel to make sure Giselle is poisoned before Prince Edward can rescue her.

Giselle shows she is a real fairy princess and soon has New York City rats and cockroaches cleaning Robert’s apartment. She also pulls a Scarlett O’Hara and makes a new dress out of Robert’s curtains. Slowly, some of Giselle’s naiveté wears off as she adapts to our strange and harsh world. Along the way though movie buffs are treated to lovely songs by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. We also get both subtle and overt parodies of classic movie moments, including a scene in Central Park right out of the opening of The Sound of Music, and an ending scene that clearly had King Kong in mind.

Overall Enchanted is good spirited fun with a few hilarious moments but with a generally predictable feel to it. Yet what Disney family movie is not predictable? So in the insular world of Disney films, Enchanted is somewhat daring. Amy Adams (currently 33) is dead on as a fairy tale princess although her age suggests Giselle must have been waiting for Prince Charming for quite a long time. This is a scientifically designed chick flick that is also filled with plentiful humor that delivers the goods. The women around me in the theater were definitely enraptured.

Perhaps it takes a male perspective to find some flaws in this movie. While Amy Adams is delightful, and James Marsden plays Prince Edward with a fine comedic style the movie still feels too formulaic. The various CGI animals, which I now take as a given, generally annoyed me. Perhaps the director worried that if he strayed too much from convention the movie would be less successful. From the stockholder’s perspective, he likely made the right call. Still, Enchanted is not the best movie in this genre I have seen this year. While you will enjoy and likely even delight in Enchanted, if you missed Stardust, which played in theaters this summer, you should rent it. In my opinion, Stardust is the better movie and delivered the real enchantment and delight that I was looking for. Mark me, Enchanted is a very well done movie that you will doubtless enjoy. Yet if Hollywood were going to award any movie for best-realized fairy tale, Stardust would definitely win the award. So if you are pressed for cash, Netflix Stardust and skip Enchanted. It will cost you less and you will enjoy it even more.

Enchanted gets 3.1 on my 4.0 scale.