As a working Mom, I applaud the new Disney feminism of such films as Frozen and Maleficent, because these movies believe in proudly upending stereotypes and even more importantly, in punishing men, especially wimpy princes. In Frozen, the heroine tossed out her underhanded boyfriend, in favor of sisterhood and a career in ice sculpture.
Maleficent tells the story of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the wicked fairy queen. As the movie begins, Maleficent is an innocent child, who grows wings and is soon happily and wisely ruling the enchanted swamps and meadows of the fairy district, which is filled with adorable, muppet-like beasties and graceful, flittering sprites; this region pretty much resembles a toy store, or the bedroom of any spoiled suburban toddler. Then one day young Maleficent meets a slightly whiny prince and they become fast friends, with a hint of nuzzling. But the prince is ambitious, and his father wants Maleficent destroyed so he can rule the fairies, or at least trademark them. While Maleficent is napping, the scheming prince slices off her wings, creating a perfect Freudian case study. And how many times have I personally dozed off, only to awaken and wonder, where are my goddamn wings? Wasn’t my husband Josh supposed to pick them up at the dry cleaners?
Maleficent has by this point turned into Angelina Jolie, which is pretty much the best thing that can happen to anyone. Angelina places a curse on her ex-boyfriend’s new baby. The baby’s Mom is barely seen, because she’d interfere with the story’s sexual politics; she’s sort of the Jennifer Aniston figure. The baby, who’s named Aurora, becomes a bewitching child in the type of blonde wig which involves miles of blonde braids; it’s like a Game of Thrones wig, because it looks like it needs its own parking space. Against her better judgment, Maleficent bonds with Aurora and tries to revoke the curse, but it’s too late, and Aurora pricks her finger on a needle and falls into an eternal slumber.
The curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss, but when a handsome young prince makes the attempt, Aurora keeps snoozing, because this is the new, progressive Disney, where handsome young princes are no longer the answer. In this more politically aware Disney equation, Snow White might warble, “Someday My Prince Will Come, After I’ve Made Partner.” Finally, Maleficent kisses the sleeping Aurora, which does the trick, because nobody’s going to nap through an Angelina Jolie smooch. Maleficent is Aurora’s fairy godmother, so it’s as if Aurora is kissed by Hilary Clinton, or the spirit of Maya Angelou.
Maleficent and Aurora team up and defeat the bad guys, especially Maleficent’s nasty ex-boyfriend, and Maleficent gets her wings back, and I swear I could hear Gloria Steinem sobbing happily. Overall, the movie is a little sloggy and doesn’t make all that much sense, but who cares, because it’s got Angelina, wearing augmented cheekbones and horns, which emerge from a Joan Crawford turban. Angelina triumphs, because she’s so much wittier, sexier and more perverse than anything else in the movie; Angelina Jolie is the opposite of Disney.
And of course, Angelina is destined to someday play the title role in The Libby Gelman-Waxner Story. Who else has the range, the innate sensuality, and the chutzpah to play me, a Disney princess for the new millenium? Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan and Libby – now we’re talking sisterhood, if you ask me.