Walt & El Grupo (2008)

Walt & El Grupo (2008)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Walt & El Grupo Photos

Movie Info

Theodore Thomas, son of the late Walt Disney Studios animator Frank Thomas (1912-2004) and director of the acclaimed 1995 documentary Frank and Ollie, helms this second foray into Disney history, Walt & El Grupo (2007). The subject this time lies somewhat outside the boundaries of Disney animation and rests on an unusual footnote: in 1941, Walt Disney personally led a "goodwill tour" and research expedition of South America, with a team of animators in tow whom he collectively christened "El Grupo." The voyage transcended passing personal interest on the part of the animators; its residual effects can be seen in several Latin-themed Disney projects -- notably, Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1945), both of which won Oscars, and other efforts designed to support the Good Neighbor Policy of the United States. With Walt & El Grupo, Theodore Thomas and his wife, Kuniko Okubo, combine rare, unseen 16 mm home movie footage of the original trip (held in the Disney vaults for years) with footage from their own trip through South America that retraces the Disney animators' original journey -- contrasting 1941 footage with glimpses of the same locales, shot 60 years later. On the soundtrack, Thomas and Okubo overlay reminiscences by the original travelers, taken from journals and letters and read by family members.
PG (for historical smoking)
Documentary , Television
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Written By:
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Critic Reviews for Walt & El Grupo

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (11)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 22, 2012
Top Critic

The production values are first rate. But you will wait in vain to hear a good reason for this movie's existence.

Full Review… | October 29, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

At a time when Hollywood doesn't remember last year, is obsessed with the bottom line and is run by men who often have no sense of history, Walt & El Grupo evokes a better time.

Full Review… | October 21, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

While skimming over the troubled waters of impending war and ongoing labor unrest, it's both a vicarious vacation and a crash course in animation.

October 21, 2009
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

[Thomas] may need more distance from the subject -- Walt & El Grupo could shed about 20 minutes -- but there's no questioning his sincerity or his instinct for revealing anecdotes.

September 24, 2009
Seattle Times
Top Critic

This may be the first documentary that contains not a single American, living or dead, who is anything but merry of disposition. That cheer carries over to the on-the-spot gusto of el grupo's sketchbooks -- a more accurate tribute than the final cartoons.

Full Review… | September 20, 2009
New Yorker
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Walt & El Grupo

Brings a new meaning to "sentimental journey. Starts off strong informing the viewer of the days before the trip- the tension of pending war in Europe- the changing times at the studio- strikes and power plays. The need for creatiivity, the financial pressures of lost income and even Federal involvement as Uncle Sam will pay Walt for this trip to South America to generate some good will and counter growing NAZI influences. BUT the film gets bogged down with insider nostalgia, as this was a film made by Disney (company) insiders, and is more of a tribute to thier family members and while there are some genuines points to be made, gets lost in the "family" slide show.

Bobby Diablo
Bobby Diablo

Of the three documentaries this is the weakest and it should have been the best. The story is facinating and the original fotage is amazing but that makes for about 30 minutes of this nearly two hour film. When it's great it's amazing and when it's not...

Tom Swanner
Tom Swanner

even though the subject material would mainly please disney buffs who know about the good will trip. this film does not have any substance and has a saccharine type of sweetness about the film

samuel lazarus
samuel lazarus

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