"Waking Sleeping Beauty" - NBC Southern California

"Waking Sleeping Beauty"

A Hollywood documentary goes deep into animation's recent past.



    "Waking Sleeping Beauty"
    Waking Sleeping Beauty
    "Waking Sleeping Beauty" plays at the New Beverly Cinema on Wednesday, July 14 and Thursday, July 15.

    When we saw "Waking Sleeping Beauty" a few months back, we immediately started recommending it to all of our animation-loving pals.

    And then we switched gears, and started recommending the documentary to anyone who has worked in the Hollywood studio system or adores insider-y tales of Tinseltown. That's just about a huge swath of this city, right?

    The film is playing on Wednesday, July 14 and Thursday, July 15 at the New Beverly Cinema.

    It's an expansive, behind-the-behind-the-scenes look a multi-decade slice in Disney Studio's animated-movie-making history. There are power struggles. There are disappointments. There are day-to-day decisions you will recognize if you've ever known life on a lot. You don't need a hint of animation acumen to get the greater stories at play in the film.

    The snapshots of a very young Tim Burton sketching in a very crowded artists' lair raised an audience cheer. And John Lasseter, pre-pre-pre-Pixar and pre-pre-pre-pre-the-"Toy-Story"-phenomenon.

    And the video of lyricist Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS-related complications at 40, pitching the "Under the Sea" sequence in "The Little Mermaid" is moving.

    One takeaway from the doc: Before our kids have watched a movie 145 times, before it has entered the pop cultural lexicon, there's someone somewhere sitting pitching a story. This movie is a reminder those stories don't always come easily, there is creative tension, and at the end of it all an ocean-based, orchestra-conducting crab may grab our hearts.