As popping with winking self-parody as anything Disney has ever put onscreen, Hercules is a delicious send-up of the hero worship heaped on professional athletes, as well as the exuberant and often ridiculous cross-promotional marketing campaigns with which the studio is quite familiar. Using the type of anachronisms that served as a wellspring of sophisticated humor in Aladdin, Hercules turns its title character into an overnight sensation and media darling, complete with his own line of action figures and breakfast cereals. This type of winning self-awareness carries the picture through the familiar story and crisp set pieces that have become Disney's "if it ain't broke don't fix it" formula for success. The wonderfully angular animation jumps off the screen, and some of Disney's best vocal work yet adds contagious giddiness to this breakneck adventure. James Woods stands out as an alternately sarcastic and enraged Hades, while Susan Egan's readings drip with the kind of eyeball-rolling feminist wit that makes her one of Disney's strongest female characters. The studio's knack for casting comic relief continues its winning stride with minions Bobcat Goldthwaite and Matt Frewer, as well as the pint-sized satyr that's a perfect visual incarnation of the pint-sized actor who voices him (Danny De Vito). Hercules deserved to scratch out more than its $100 million domestic take, given the fertile world of Greek myths it conjures with such bursting colors and lampoonish sensibilities.
by Derek Armstrong review