Bambi ★★★½

Bambi is the type of movie that I respect more than I necessarily enjoy. It stands as a bit of departure from its predecessors. Whereas those were meant to have more of a through line (not including Fantasia), Bambi attempts to be more of a coming-of-age/slice-of-life film, detailing the important events of this deer’s life. And in many ways, the film succeeds at this goal. For one, this has some gorgeous animation for the time. I love so many of the forest-scapes in this, and colors just make everything pop. I especially like the character designs they chose. They manage to be very cutesy and likable, and also really expressive. They really do help sell the emotions that the characters are feeling, which can be hard to do for animal characters sometimes.

The story is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I like how the film is just watching life being lived. It feels in line with films like Kiki’s Delivery Service or Call Me By Your Name, where there isn’t really a goal in mind, it's just characters going through their lives, encountering new people and new places as they go along. It also works really well as a coming of age story, as we see Bambi grow from a child to an adult. And it’s pretty well done, for the most part. 

On the other, the film’s structure can often leave it feeling aimless at times. I guess you can say that about the other movies I mentioned, but in Bambi, it doesn’t really feel like the characters have anything to do. The plot has a tendency to meander in many parts. Also, the film just cuts from when Bambi is a child to when he’s fully matured. That skips a huge chunk of what should be character development. I heard this time period is explored in the direct-to-dvd sequel, but I’ll watch that if I ever do a marathon of those movies.  

While the film can drag in areas, Bambi still stands as an animated classic. There’s a certain timelessness to both this and many of the other early Disney movies. They haven’t always aged the best in certain areas, but there’s a sort of inexplicable charm to them that makes them fun for all ages, even this many years later. There’s a lot to appreciate about Bambi. It's an endearing tale that’s brought to life with amazing animation and a lot of heart.

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