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Frank and Ollie is a highly controlled glimpse at a unique friendship. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of Walt Disney's famous Nine Old Men original animators, are such naturals on camera, they'll put a smile on any audience member. The two met at the Stanford Art School in 1931. Sixty years later the next-door neighbors are so close they meet when taking out the garbage. They have seldom been farther apart. Director, writer, and coproducer Theodore Thomas (Frank's son) is at his best when his film is at its simplest. When Frank and Ollie are at a desk talking to the unseen narrator, it's magical. The two are so in tune they unselfishly finish each other's sentences.
Frank and Ollie is basically a handsomely produced home movie. Nary a negative remark is heard, a procedure challenged, a spark of unpredictability captured. The early scene of Ollie and Frank "accidentally" meeting at the garbage cans is embarrassingly contrived. Yet these aged animators win the audience over. Who cares if the documentary is rehearsed? Anyone who grew up with Disney animation (who hasn't?) will revel in the tidbits Frank and Ollie reveal, including Thumper's origin in Bambi and the ending of The Jungle Book (the film's funniest and most spontaneous bit). --Doug Thomas
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