Review: Disney ‘Tinker Bell’ weaves magic spell on DVD

OK, so Disney’s new Tinker Bell isn’t a typical topic for an adult reviewer who proclaims his love of films such as The Exorcist, but that same adult grew up on Peter Pan and has long been a Disney fan, so I gave Tink a spin.

Produced for release directly to DVD (not counting a theatrical run at the Disney-geared El Capitan theater on Hollywood Boulevard — I even saw Herbie Fully Loaded there), Tinker Bell is a tidy (read: 68 minutes at the credits) foray into fantasy starring the tiniest supporting character of Peter Pan. It’s an origin or prequel, tracing Tink’s birth and origin as she does what all kids do: figures out who she is. This happens in the land of fairies who bring Earth the seasons, the dew, the colors on ladybugs, you name it. It’s Nature personified by winged little boys and girls (led by a queen voiced by Angelica Huston) who act very much like contemporary kids.

And they all speak, including Tink, which goes against her mute character in Peter Pan. If that’s artistic license, I forgive it.

The animation is CG, and it’s gorgeous, especially the vast vistas of natural beauty. The action scenes are lively if not riotous, too. Unlike many recent Disney flicks, this is no musical, though a song or two creeps in, notably at the end credits. Rather, it’s an extremely anecdotal series of comic misadventures as Tink tries to be what she’s not before inevitably embracing her inner “tinker” and helping the universe in the ways she knows best.

There’s virtually no reference to Peter Pan until the end, when that story’s Wendy Darling makes a cameo as an even younger girl growing up in London, with fleeting sounds of the song You Can Fly. For all of us who know what’s to come in Disney’s robustly entertaining 1953 film, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

But with its steady stream of flamboyant magic, Tinker Bell should be soaring fun for today’s kids, especially girls, who aren’t even vaguely aware that the character was reportedly modeled after Marilyn Monroe, a sexpot from their grandparents’ era. (In truth, that’s an urban legend, though Tink certainly is and was a shapely blonde.) For now, though, she’s just another modern girl who happens to be a magical fairy, full of innocence, wonder and a sprightly assertiveness that many of us first fell in love with in our own childhoods. Enjoy.

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