Hercules (1997)

(In French, On Blu-Ray, July 2015) Most Disney animation films tend to go heavy on sentiment with a bit fo comic relief built-in, so it’s not a bad thing to discover that Hercules inverts the proportions and ends up being a comedy with bits of heartfelt sentiment built-in.  A half-satirical take on Greek mythology, Hercules multiplies the pop-culture allusions, irreverent jokes, deliberate anachronism and a conscious take on the hero’s journey.  The characters aren’t bad either, especially if you already have a good background understanding of Greek mythology.  It helps that we also get a strong heroine to play off Hercules himself: I had enough bits of pieces of the film years ago to figure out that Megara was one of my favourite female Disney characters until that point, and a good beginning-to-end look at the film only confirmed that quick assessment.  The jokes fly fast, and while the film can’t avoid a bit of mood whiplash when the dramatic stakes get heavier (kind of Mulan in reverse, which suffered from it comic relief), much of the film works reasonably well.  As an outright comedy, Hercules will never be considered in the top third of the Disney animated features, but it’s a very enjoyable one, and a welcome change of pace for the studio.

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