I’d like to think that this partial biography of Walt Disney (Thomas Ian Nicholas)—following him from his childhood through his early career as an animator, right up to the creation of the character that changed his life and the world—would feel quite unsatisfactory even to those who were not already extremely familiar with the true story on which it’s based. Actually, it’s not even so much about taking liberties, though director Khoa Le and the screenwriting team do so. It’s the decision to douse everything in a twinkly, romanticized tone that probably struck the filmmakers as apropos for Disney's life, but in fact loses all that was spiky and determined about the man: Sure, he just weathered his early failures with spunky determination, not because he was a single-minded perfectionist. And there’s an awful lot of not-very-good acting going on, which doesn't help matters. Maybe this is the perfect version for everyone who thought the first hour of the PBS American Experience documentary savaged the idealized legend of Walt Disney. This one won't offend anyone, except people who prefer movies not to be pre-digested for them.
Director: Khoa Lê
Producer: Arthur Bernstein, Armando Gutiérrez, Ben Everard, Adam Falkoff, Frank Licari, Devon Nelson and Christian Vogeler
Cast: Thomas Ian Nicholas, Jon Heder, Jodie Sweetin, David Henrie, Armando Gutiérrez, Conor Dubin, Ayla Kell, Taylor Gray, Hunter Gomez, Flora Bonfanti and Kate Katzman