Something's happening at Walt Disney Pictures. After years spent ruining its brand, the company seems determined to regain its position as the standard-bearer for family movies, recently with one winner after another. Think "Cars," "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Now add to that list Disney's newest offering, "Invincible," the story of Vince Papale, a nobody from Philadelphia who was given the chance for a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles and, against all odds, made the roster. It is every young boy's Walter Mitty fantasy -- except the story is true.
My youngest son, Reid, may only be 9 years old, but he could hold his own as an ESPN commentator. There's nothing he doesn't know about sports. It explains why, after viewing a trailer for "Invincible," he announced that we would be going to see it.
So we went -- reluctantly. It's a movie about a professional football team, and it's rated "PG." One imagines the possibilities. Raunchy locker-room language. Sexual innuendo, or worse. Graphic violence. "PG" means anything these days, and anything could happen. I was prepared to leave, if necessary.
What a delight. The movie is terrific, in many ways. But the best part was that none of the ugly possibilities materialized. The MPAA rating warns of "some mild language," but I didn't hear a single curse word. No raunch. Nothing objectionable. Just a wonderful, uplifting story. You walk out of the theater wanting to shake the hands of those in charge at Disney who made a simple decision: If it's a movie with a target market being youngsters, their innocence will be protected -- period. That's the Walt Disney Co. I remember.
But then you return home and turn on your television set, and it's like a frying pan to the face. You see how others in the industry are deliberately doing the exact opposite, doing their level best to insert mature, sometimes even disgusting material into their programs, not in spite of the fact that impressionable children are watching, but because youngsters are there.
Take this year's broadcast of the "Teen Choice Awards," on the Fox network. The hosts were Jessica Simpson, recently featured vamping skimpily through the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie, and Dane Cook, a hot stand-up comic with a tour called ... "Tourgasm." Within the first 10 seconds of the show, Cook was joking about being high on drugs and, acting as a pirate in a "Pirates of the Caribbean" spoof, talked about all the "booty" he hoped to find at the awards show.