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.

70%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 50

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,268
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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

  • Jun 20, 2013
    I'm always fascinated by the story of Disney and how it has evolved over the years. Those who can remember that far back will remember the problems of Disney in the '80s. An interesting look as to how Disney recaptured its animation magic.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2013
    Fascinating documentary charting the fall and subsequent rebirth of Disney animation.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2011
    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 E Super Reviewer
  • Oct 05, 2011
    Does Waking Sleeping Beauty get deep enough or honest enough about the trials of the Disney company? Not really. Does it give a tantalizing glimpse into a dysfunctional organization where expectations kept getting raised without needed improvements in staffing and infrastructure, not to mention in interpersonal relations? Absolutely. Are some of the films between 1984 and 1994 glossed over with precious little information (like The Rescuers Down Under)? Yup. Are there fundamental problems with the way the doc is edited together, such as not having current interviews on camera and opting for only the audio of those conversations? Double yup. But you know what? For a company with an image of family and friends, Waking Sleeping Beauty throws cold water on the entire endeavor. A brisk 85-minutes, WSB gives the audience a starting place from which to seek out other docs on the Disney company. It begins the conversation and doesn't pretend to finish it.
    Jason V Super Reviewer

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