The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Bomb Rating: 

It's not the appearance of Quasimodo that's so alarming. It's the smell.

There are all sorts of things wrong with Disney's 34th full-lengthanimated feature. First of all, the reclusive bell-ringer of Notre Dame, Quasimodo (voice by Tom Hulce), has been holed up in the church's tower for his entire life by his evil master, Frolo (voice by Tony Jay). When Quasimodo ventures down into the town for a festival he is decloaked and the Parisians are shocked to find that their bell-ringer has a huge hump on his back on a huge lump over one eye -- a near spitting-image of boxer Gerry Cooney after Michael Spinks beat the crap out of him some years ago.

But it's not the appearance of Quasimodo that's so alarming. It's the smell -- he's been up in that tower for the last twenty or so years without a bath. Just imagine what kind of odor it would take to get Parisians to turn tail and run, given that they should be taking to Quasimodo like flies to you-know-what since Parisians themselves aren't exactly Olympic medalists in "hygiene."

What kind of a message, then, does Quasimodo's social isolation send to young kids? Are we prepared to tell our young that if you're ugly and different, life is but a cruel exercise in loneliness and despair? Sure, if you've been stuck in an asylum for your entire existence, things can improve, but in Disney's world the ugly can only get so far. Quasi would certainly like to play jump-the-gypsy with Esmeralda (voice by Demi Moore) but is ultimately forced to concede that she is meant to be with fraternity president and captain of the guard, Phoebus (voice by Kevin Kline).

By the way, is anyone else sick of Demi Moore? Frankly, if you're going to use her voice in an animated movie why not just forego the human intermediary altogether and have the character communicate by scraping her fingernails down on a chalkboard? Also, the villain is certainly a mean bastard, but what the hell kind of name is "Frolo"? It sounds less like a villian and more like some kind of woman's summer garment or a kind of near beer:

"Gee, Hildegard, you look cute today. Where'd you get that darling frolo?"

"Say, bartender, I'm the designated driver. Give me a Frolo."

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