Ah, Atlantis… easily one of my favorite animated Disney flicks. It has a Steampunk feel, which makes the politically-correct history believable, a star-studded cast, a fairly serious treatment of religion (look at the scene where Kida prays before the tombs of the kings and the Crystal), and lots of really interesting characters.
It was really hard to pick one, but finally I centered on the one my family still quotes to this day– even after fourteen years.
Mrs. Wilhelmina Packard is the cranky, sardonic switchboard operator and communication officer of the expedition. Between reading out sarcastic, monotone announcements, “Whoever removed the ‘L’ from the ‘Motor Pool’ sign… ha ha, we’re all very amused,” she’s gossiping with an old friend of hers, Marge.
While the submarine is attacked by the Leviathan and the order to abandon ship comes through she pauses long enough to say, “He took his suitcase? Marge, honey, I don’t think he’s coming back. We’re being attacked now. No no, I’ll call you.”
But she’s good at her job. She alerts Commander Rourke when she hears the Leviathan and knows it’s bigger than a pod of whales and not an echo. When Helga argues, she snaps, “You wanna do my job? Be my guest.”
And when things get especially bleak she adopts her catchphrase– the one my family still uses. “We’re all gonna die.” None of us are smokers, though, so we lack the cigarette flick effect, but it’s always great when she says it. She doesn’t give a damn about dying, you can tell.
I think Mrs. Packard still appeals to me because she has the makings of a Hitchcock character, like the sardonic nurse, Stella, from Rear Window. Although Atlantis uses Packard to make a lot of the cruder jokes, she could just as easily talk about how Thorwald had better get the trunk with the dead body out of his apartment before it starts to leak. But even Stella made a bathroom joke about how she predicted the Crash of ’29 because of the director of General Motor’s kidney ailment.
Maybe one’s an ancestor of the other. Now that’s a really scary thought.