There will likely never be a more enjoyable documentary about Disney animators than Frank and Ollie, Theodore Thomas' 1995 film about two very close members of the famed Nine Old Men. As far as informative chronicles go, however, the new film Waking Sleeping Beauty is at least a fascinating continuation of the studio's history and is every bit as captivating as its more recent predecessor and concurring account, The Pixar Story. Whether you're one of those hardcore Disneyphiles or merely a passive or nostalgic fan of the brand like myself, it's an engrossing and entertaining journey back to a significant moment in the company's past.
Waking Sleeping Beauty interestingly enough begins exactly as The Pixar Story does, with a home movie shot by animator Randy Cartwright as he tours the animation building in 1980 (introduction to a young, pouty Tim Burton gets an easy laugh). But while the earlier film quickly leaves the Disney lot with the firing of John Lasseter and the formation of Pixar, Waking Sleeping Beauty tells us what happened to the struggling department left behind. Specifically we're given a peek at the Mouse House between 1984 and 1994, the decade of the Disney Animation renaissance (which arguably ended when Pixar released its first feature, Toy Story, through Disney in 1995, thereby re-converging these parallel film histories).