In the 90’s, as Disney’s success in the animation field grew more and more, cheap Direct-to-Video companies started popping out of the shadows with their bottom of the barrel renditions of classic fairy tales and literature adaptations, and ironically would come out a month or two before Disney’s theatrical releases of those same tales. One of those companies, that my Grandmother bought several titles from for me to enjoy, was Jetlag Productions. They would make movies that were never over 45 minutes long, and sometimes would take such creative license with their storytelling that they would make Disney’s Pocahontas look like the most historically accurate film possible.
So in celebration of this bizarre catalog of films, here are some of the titles that stuck out the most to me as a kid, both positively and otherwise. I present to you, dear readers, Jetlag Productions – in all its repetitive animated glory.
The earliest movie of the Jetlag Productions legacy I remember was Sleeping Beauty. I’ll be honest that I never was a huge fan of Sleeping Beauty as a fairy tale on its own, and neither was I super attracted to the Disney movie. But for some reason, I was slightly borderline obsessed with the Jetlag version. Why? Dem fairies, yo. Not only did this movie have more than 3 fairies (which is more in line with the original fairy tale) but this one had at least a dozen of them, if not more. And each one of them had all the hair and dresses my little magical girl nerd was dreaming of.
I mean, look at how “kawaii” these fairies are! Sorry Tinkerbell, I’d rather be these ladies for Halloween any day. Unfortunately, the majority of the fairies had voices that lacked the charm of their character design, some of which sounded more in line with The Noid from Dominos than a pleasant fairy-like performance. The vocals in the songs of this movie aren’t much better, and carry as much of a tune as an adolescent boy going through his voice drop stage.
Though I don’t remember too much of this movie specifically, I do seem to recall that the Princess was called Felicity, rather than Aurora (coughFORCOPYRIGHTREASONScough) and she had obviously brown hair, rather than the blonde locks of her Disney counterpart. What drove me nuts, as I recall, is that whenever the fairies said her name, it sounded as if they were doing their best Wicked Witch of the West impression, rather than speaking like most of the human race does. But maybe its because fairies are physically unable to say “Felicity” correctly? Lord knows.
You also might notice from the clip above that in this version, the Princess has not been raised off the grounds of her castle, and is instead with both her parents in complete peace, along with her fairy godmothers. I think this makes Felicity seem like the most well adjusted character of the entire cast, ironically, considering that she is the one with the most conflict in front of her. But aside from the fairies, terrible voice acting, and ugly baby animation, this one is pretty forgettable.
Next up is The Nutcracker, a video that is still in my VHS collection, and on occasion makes the rounds during the Christmas viewing rotation. This was definitely, at the time, among my favorite adaptations of the classic, but only because I like Clara’s dresses. Yep, I was a very vain 90’s child back then. I can’t help but think that this was one of the reasons I morphed into the Lolita Fashion wearing lady I am today. Clara rocked some frills like no business, but more importantly, she also had to stay as calm as possible standing next to this creeper of a co-star…
Can we say, nightmare fuel? And I am saving you all from even seeing this guy in full motion – truly this is the stuff of all my holiday fears. And it doesn’t stop there! Look at all the other weirdo designs on the male characters.
Can the both of you keep your mouth shut, please! And look at the poor mother, her eyes look like she dropped some serious acid before the big family Christmas party. From this point onward, this movie goes into full cheap animated, drug-like sequence territory, specifically that of the dance scene between Clara and the Nutcracker. They even decide to show the same frames, in the same order, for the near ending song, that basically describes how Clara realized she is fine with not being a Princess in a second rate candy land with Lord Creeper McCreeperpants. Enjoy the two “brilliant” songs….. or at least, enjoy how miserable they are.
Clearly, The Nutcracker is without a doubt, one of the creepier (if not my personal pick for the creepiest) of the Jetlag titles. From the terrifying designs on the male lead, to the situations that poor Clara has to go through to realize that she’s a Beyonce approved Independent Woman, this is definitely on the terrifying side of my childhood memories.
The last one I am going to touch upon for now, is what was Jetlag’s last official production, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This movie, of course, came out around the same time as Disney’s version, but rather than be a carbon copy of it, it is probably more inaccurate than the Mouse’s adaptation. Why? Hmmm…. let’s look at this scene, shall we?
Yes, don’t be surprised, but Quasimodo is indeed in love with Esmeralda. Big woop, right? Well actually in this version, Esmeralda and Quasimodo end up happily ever after. Yeah, that’s right, no one dies, and this unlikely pair actually get together, without a care in the world. Yes, the ending is ridiculous, and yet everyone is always saying Disney’s is the most hard to stomach – well, then look at this ending credits scene, and you tell me what you think afterwards.
Many of you will cry “SPOILER,” but no my friends. No, this is too good not to reflect upon. You are in fact seeing a version of Hunchback in which the two characters who are definitely, a hundred percent, dead in the original text, instead run off happily together in the sunset, as all of Paris is supposed to be burning, two men who wanted to bang Esmeralda are killing each other in her name, and then somehow, Es and Quasi just gracefully end up on a stump in front of the sunset – you know, while Gypsy’s are being slaughtered and enslaved in the streets. NO BIG DEAL. Say what you will, internet, about Disney’s rendition – but at least there was some sort of atmosphere to reflect upon the conflict in the story. This ending though? Ridiculous to the core.
So now I beg the question, have you seen any of Jetlag’s “timeless” films? If so, comment below with your nostalgic memories, favorite god awful songs, or any other memories of these cheap pieces of animated brilliance. And if you like making me suffer through watching these, let me know in the comments below, and for your laughs and enjoyment, I’ll keep going. Cause you know, they made Pocahontas as well, and you know you want me to review that.