Walt Before Mickey is a biopic, directed by Khoa Le, someone who I had never heard before. The narrative is exactly as the title suggests: it is about the life about Walt Disney, up until the time he made Mickey Mouse.
I’ll just say it essentially out the gate: I did not like this movie very much. While it is interesting to see some of the struggles of Walt with studio executives, his period of homelessness and a representation of the creative process, as a whole, I don’t think this movie did Walt a whole lot of justice. Perhaps it was because it seemed to be framed as a children’s film, with pseudo Disney style music that might work in classic fantastical animations or outright comedies, don’t fit here. While I don’t think every movie needs to be dark and gritty, the total opposite style doesn’t work.
Among those problems are the occasionally cringeworthy “inspirational” dialogue that isn’t well delivered and comes across as tacky. Performances also are nice attempts, but don’t seem to elevate it beyond it’s cheesiness into a proper biopic, but many of them do seem enthusiastic and genuine rather than always just phoning it in, so that’s something it’s favour. The film is also marred by inconsistent set quality that at times looks perfectly fine and off in others, such as a scene where Walt is waiting outside a studio to meet with an exec.
There’s not really much else to say about it otherwise other than it’s bland. The technical side seemed more or less competent. Overall, it just feels like an overly saccharine and disappointing biopic about an animation legend and the team he worked with to create one of the most successful film studios to date.