Across the first two eras of Disney animation — the Snow White to Sleeping Beauty years of Walt himself, and the great revival that began with The Little Mermaid in 1989 — the template for an animated movie was so consistent as to barely require elaboration: a familiar fairy tale as scaffolding, a prince or princess in the leading part, a romance, a comic-relief sidekick, friendly animals, a menacing villain, a bumbling henchman, songs, swordfights, cut.
With the release of Raya and the Last Dragon, we can say that the third era of Disney — the computer-animated era, now just over …
This article appears as “The Platonic Plot” in the April 5, 2021, print edition of National Review.
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