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With: (voices) Irene Bedard, Judy Kuhn, Mel Gibson, David Ogden Stiers, John Kassir, Russell Means, Christian Bale, Linda Hunt, Danny Mann, Billy Connolly, Joe Baker, Frank Welker, Michelle St. John, James Apaumut Fall, Gordon Tootoosis
Written by: Carl Binder, Chris Buck, Randy Cartwright, Andrew Chapman, Vincent DeFrances, Don Dougherty, Will Finn, Robert Gibbs, Francis Glebas, Ed Gombert, Joe Grant, Susannah Grant, T. Daniel Hofstedt, Broose Johnson, Kaan Kalyon, Glen Keane, Jorgen Klubien, Todd Kurosawa, Philip LaZebnik, Duncan Marjoribanks, Burny Mattinson, Tom Mazzocco, Bruce Morris, Dave Pruiksma, Nik Ranieri, Ralph Zondag
Directed by: Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 84
Date: 06/15/1995

Pocahontas (1995)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Native Daughter

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Disney's Pocahontas is one of the most scattered of the studio's famed animated features, which is understandable since it came together at a crossroads in their history, not to mention that it boasts more than two-dozen credited writers. Disney's successes The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were behind them, and they hadn't yet begun to adopt that smooth angular style stemming from Chuck Jones, or the wide-eyed use of scale from Japanese anime. Worse, since the overrated The Lion King had been such a huge hit, Pocahontas tries to copy some of its somber social significance.

On the other hand, directors Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg actually manage to weave some utterly brilliant moments into their film, such as the villainous slob Governor Ratcliffe (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) boarding a ship in the background, while rats board in the foreground. Additionally, the central character is drawn with a remarkable realism never before achieved in Disney; she looks like a live model traced into cartoon form.

It's difficult to reconcile these issues, especially while watching the story of the white men invading other lands, stealing their gold and trying to "civilize" them. John Smith (voiced by Mel Gibson) and Pocahontas (speaking voice by Irene Bedard, and singing voice by Judy Kuhn) form an effective relationship, even if it's doomed from the start, and the filmmakers find a decent way out at the end without bending history too much. Despite the mish-mash of styles and ideas, Pocahontas is still entertaining enough to make it worth a look.

DVD Details: Disney has re-released Pocahontas on a new 2-disc DVD set for its tenth anniversary, and has incorporated a new musical number (sung by Mel Gibson!) back into the film. Never fear: viewers can still select the original theatrical release version. Other extras include deleted scenes, a "making-of" featurette, and games and activities for kids.

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