Waking Sleeping Beauty

Critics Consensus

It doesn't probe as deep -- or tell as many hard truths -- as it could have, but Don Hahn's look at Disney's rebirth offers a fascinating and surprisingly candorous glimpse into the studio's past.



Reviews Counted: 50

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,271


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Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

Walt Disney Pictures has been the leading name in animated filmmaking since the 1930s, but the studio's crown was looking more than a little tarnished in the 1980s after a series of expensive commercial and critical disappointments such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, and The Great Mouse Detective. At that time, a handful of Disney executives were questioning the wisdom of continuing to make animated films, as the company was making more money in live-action movies, theme parks, and television. That changed when Roy Disney -- Walt's nephew and the last figure from the studio's Golden Age management team still on board -- teamed up with newly hired studio executives Michael D. Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg to restore their reputation for both quality and commercial appeal. With the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988, the team sparked a new interest in animation on the big screen, and a string of smash hits that began with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast launched a new era of both acclaim and box-office success for the company. But those successes didn't come without behind-the-scenes conflict, and Don Hahn, a longtime producer at Disney, offers an inside look at the creative squabbles and battles amongst the management that came during Disney's climb back to the top of Hollywood's mountain in the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty. Along with behind-the-scenes footage and rare personal artwork created by the studio's animation staff (including some unflattering cartoons of their bosses), the film includes interviews with many key figures of this era in Disney history, and several people who enjoyed greater success after leaving the company, such as Tim Burton and John Lasseter. Waking Sleeping Beauty was an official selection at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Waking Sleeping Beauty

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (16)

  • More Belle, more Ariel, more Simba -- and less of Eisner and Co. -- would have made a more interesting movie.

    Oct 1, 2010 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a not-so-great movie about some great movies.

    Aug 6, 2010 | Rating: 2/4
  • A few too many industry asides, but filled with behind-the-scenes moments.

    Apr 6, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Sly retrospective exercise in corporate self-congratulation masquerading as an insider's tell-all.

    Mar 26, 2010 | Rating: 2/5
  • Even in its sanitized state, this movie about the generational revolt that reinvigorated Disney's animation department in the 1980s and '90s is fascinating

    Mar 26, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty doesn't have as much behind-the-scenes juice as you'd hope.

    Mar 26, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Waking Sleeping Beauty


An interesting look back at the past of Disney's second age of Renaissance in the late 80s and early 90s. But my only problem with the film, its SO SLOW PACE. It may only be around an hour and a half, but it moves at the speed of a snail, and it feels like its 2 and a half hours, but still it is a very interesting look back at Disney's second rebirth.

Michael Edwards
Michael Edwards

Super Reviewer


I really want to like this movie, but it was basically a big "aren't we all awesome" masturbatory celebration rather than any juicy dirt.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

Engrossing account of the men who saved Disney's animation branch and brought it to a second "Golden Age" from the late-eighties to the mid-nineties (and all the drama that arose between them). Touching film is filled with interesting trivia and little-known facts about the biggest name in family entertainment ever. Waking Sleeping Beauty incorporates testimonies old and new, vintage video footage, animated clips, and, most importantly, the opinions of everyone that matters. The many different points of view prevent it from becoming a one-sided account. Essential viewing for Disney junkies.

Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda
Fernando Rafael Quintero Castañeda

Super Reviewer

The thing I love the most about Waking Sleeping Beauty is that it really is about absolutely nothing. I mean, alright, there's stuff going on, but it's not this complicated, detailed mess. It's more like, 'yeah, this what we did and how we felt while doing it. Isn't it great?' It's just this celebration of what was arguably the greatest era of Disney animation. That is just before Pixar's thugs took over the market. Personally, I got a bit sentimental, curz tha little mermaid is like the best movie eva! <3 And then there are also a couple really brief shots of Jack and Sally - if you don't know who they are by name alone, just leave. Now. Anyway, I was really surprised and the film is a helluva lot of fun. It's sort of reminder of why you fell in love with Simba, Ariel, Lumier, or Miku to begin with.

Jake ....
Jake ....

Super Reviewer

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