Crash-landing their plane into ancient ruins at an archaeological site, Scrooge McDuck and his three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, and niece Wendy, uncover a map that will lead them to the famed treasure of Collie Baba. However, watching nearby is the evil wizard, Merlock, who through his magic amulet is able to transform himself into any creature. Merlock orders his cowardly pickpocket flunkie, Dijon, to be the McDucks’ guide into the desert.
The treasure-seeking party unearths a booby-trapped pyramid and, in the style of Indiana Jones, makes their way to the treasure. In amongst the riches is a worthless-looking lamp, which Scrooge gives to Wendy just moments before Merlock swoops in to steal the wealth.
Back at the McDuck mansion, the grandnephews innocently rub the lamp and out comes a early Donald Duck version of a boy-genie. Zealous for giant ice-cream sundaes and the like, Huey, Dewey, Louie and Wendy have a wish-fest. The genie, who longs to be a real boy, warns them that the evil Merlock must not get possession of the lamp, for if he does, the combination of magic amulet and magic lamp will render unlimited wishes for him.
Merlock and Dijon come looking for the lamp, which accidentally falls into the greedy hands of the Gehazi-like Dijon. Dijon uses the genie to take Scrooge’s fortune and mansion for himself, but Scrooge and his nephews devise their own plan to penetrate the fortress and thwart Dijon.
Entering the stronghold with them as a cockroach, however, is Merlock. He enjoins his amulet to the lamp and orders the genie to transform the abiding structure into a gargantuan, monstrous, ominous-looking castle. However, thanks to a trusty slingshot, the lamp is knocked loose from Merlock’s hands…
Although this is a light comic adventure which does not proclaim a New Age worldview (as TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES does), a few Christians will find the film blatantly unsuitable because of the ancient myths woven into the storyline which promote magic as an integral and accepted part of life. Other discerning Christians, however, will instead see this film as a teaching opportunity to explain to children and others that these myths are based on a nominalistic worldview not held by those who hold fast to the faith.
Nominalism is a philosophy that says that reality is merely a great thought; and so, universal truths, such as “God is sovereign” or “God abhors magic,” are mere names with no real substantive existence to support them. From that point of view there is no harm in presenting a light-hearted approach to wizards, sorcery or magic, because they are realities in name only. However, the fact of the matter is that we live in a real world, created by a real God, who warns us to stay away from sorcery and magic. If this is explained to children ahead of time, then the film’s minimal potential for harm can be diffused.
Here are some other aspects of the picture that can be discussed. The boy-genie states that it is better to be a boy than a genie (and, ironically, gets his wish). There is a parallel between Dijon, Merlock’s greedy servant, and Gehazi, the likewise greedy servant of Elisha. Just as Gehazi’s desire for material gain brought leprosy upon him, Dijon’s disloyalty and greed in seeking his own material advantage brings on a wrath that turns him into a swine. Finally, as David would probably testify, slingshots seem to be a favorite when it comes to felling the enemy.
As far as wishing is concerned, the genie has to turn down one of the ducks’ wishes for world peace and harmony, as he humorously makes a distinction between wishes and miracles. So much trouble, in fact, does the film imply that wishing brings, that even Scrooge himself vows he’ll never make another wish again.
The film is aimed at children, but adult humor is slipped in here and there, such as when the lamp is deemed to be “user friendly,” or when Scrooge is thankful that their plane crash-landed into old ruins. “It could have been worse,” he says. “They could have been new ruins.”
Of all the new animated features released this year, DUCKTALES is by far the best scripted and animated. Furthermore, the sound effects and music are excellent. Thus, children of all ages should enjoy this adventure, putting great pressure on Christian parents to take their offspring. Since this is a light movie which does not teach a non-Christian worldview, you may want to discuss the movie with your children ahead of time and then enjoy the picture.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please address your comments to:
Mr. Michael Eisner
Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521
Ancient myths woven together with The New Age notion that magic is an accepted fabric of society and everyday occurrence.