The Best Disney Man Isn’t Who You Think
by Angela Dahl
As little girls, we often dreamt of our Prince Charmings. These dream men, and our Halloween costume ideas, generally depended on which Disney princess we chose to emulate that year. I never got to be Ariel for Halloween, but I loved Prince Eric so much that I named my cat after him – the greatest gesture of love I’ve ever done for a cartoon man.
Though I have, what can only be called, an obsession with Disney movies, my search for “the prince” has been somewhat of a letdown. Disney princes, along with Jane Austen novels and Hollywood endings, have resulted in some very high expectations. I once expected my prince to be able to steer a sunken ship through a typhoon into a giant octopus drag queen’s heart. Was that really asking for too much? … I guess so. Even sans octopi killings, to also expect a man to wield a sword and sing and know how to waltz is just unrealistic.
It’s not asking too much, however, for our “prince” to make us laugh. Or to be successful doing the thing he loves. Or to commit to us, love us, and be kind to animals. Sound familiar yet?
Roger Radcliffe from 101 Dalmatians has been severely overlooked and underloved.
At first glance, he lacks the stereotypical good looks of the standard Disney man; but, if you look closely, he’s got a bit of a John Krasinski kind of appeal. Roger even makes the goofy Jim Halpert-type faces periodically throughout the movie – especially in the scenes with Cruella. And maybe this is only a selling point for nerdy girls, but a tall lanky man in a sweater vest is pretty hot. The pipe smoking, though now potentially off-putting, was considered gentlemanly and cool at the time, and Roger is undoubtedly an English gentleman. Who else but a gentleman would, as a reflex, offer a woman a hanky? Pulled from his own pocket, no less?
Roger is a musician who clearly works hard. His work ethic is shown by the unkempt nature of his bachelor’s pad and the shenanigans Pongo, his dog, has to perform to get him to stop working and find a girl. Roger takes Pongo for a walk in the park where he meets Anita, and in the very next scene, marries her. Unlike the Disney prince stories, we really get to see their lives together, and they’re happy.
Roger does sing for his lady, but it’s to a) piss Cruella off (another comparison to John Krasinski’s Jim can be drawn here), and b) make Anita laugh. Roger in the “Cruella de Vil” song scene is so playful and so funny, from playing obnoxiously loud to using his sweater as a prop. The sweetest moment between him and Anita is at the end of that scene – after he dips her, of course (And have you ever noticed all the instruments Roger’s able to play in that scene? He’s got skillz).
If all that weren’t enough, he later brings a newborn puppy back to life. I mean, come on! That’s swoonworthy.
By the end of the movie, the Radcliffes are wealthy beyond their dreams, thanks to the success of Roger’s song. When Pongo and Perdy return with eighty-four more puppies, Roger, without hesitation, decides to keep them all and buy a “Dalmatian Plantation.” That’s love and kindness beyond belief. Imagine being responsible for 101 dogs! I could barely handle one cat.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s quite clear: Roger Radcliffe is the best man Disney has to offer us. Give me a man in a sweater vest with a hanky over one in tights with a sword any day.
Preferably without the 101 dogs, though.