On October 27, 2022, Kevin Lima received quite a surprise.
"My social media all just blew up," he told me. "I was like, 'What the hell is this?'"
Lima is the director of 1995's "A Goofy Movie," and although his film has become widely beloved in the years since its initial release, he certainly didn't expect it to be the subject of a full episode of the final season of Donald Glover's FX series "Atlanta." The fourth season's eighth episode, entitled "The Goof Who Sat By The Door," is a hilarious (and highly fictionalized) accounting of the making of "A Goofy Movie."
The episode completely breaks from the format of what "Atlanta" had ever done before, adopting a documentary style to riff on concepts that appeared previously in movies like "Putney Swope" (in which a fictional Black man is unwittingly made the CEO of a major company) and novels like "The Spook Who Sat By The Door" (about the first Black CIA officer) to tell the story of a Black animator from Atlanta who becomes the CEO of The Walt Disney Company and makes "A Goofy Movie" as a passion project before his ultimate downfall.
Kevin Lima, who also directed movies like Disney's "Enchanted" and "Tarzan," is never mentioned in the episode (that would have broken the fake reality "Atlanta" was trying to construct), but he says he was "completely honored" by director Donald Glover and his team choosing to tell a story that included his film.
"I sat down and watched it with wide eyes and my jaw on the floor. Like, 'I can't believe they got away with this.'"
'It's Amazing To Me'
I first spoke with Lima in 2020 when I put together /Film's oral history of the climactic Powerline concert scene in "A Goofy Movie." It was incredibly surreal for me, as a big fan of "Atlanta," to watch the show basically do its own version of an oral history in that episode, but I suspected the experience of watching it was even more bizarre for Lima.
"The movie is so entrenched in our culture and in Black culture in that way," he said. "It's amazing to me and it's so confirming that it touches people. So I dig it, I'm into it."
Lima said none of the writing staff reached to him about the episode beforehand, so the whole thing took him by delightful surprise. Regarding how the episode came together, he has a theory:
"I'm guessing that [Donald] loved it when he was a kid. I'm just guessing — and I'm supposed to talk to him. I have a friend of a friend. There have been a couple of videos online that people have made calling it like 'The Blackest Disney Film Ever Made.' I've watched a couple of those things just to get a sense. The Black community just adores the movie and takes ownership of it in a big way. So I'm sure it's the perfect storm of all of those things. And then I figured FX is owned by Disney. So there's that little connection there."
If you're one of those viewers who fell off as "Atlanta" took a big break between seasons 2 and 3, I highly encourage you to go back and catch up now that the fourth and final season has concluded. The show takes some daring chances in its third season that won't be to everyone's liking, but season 4 brings things home in an emotionally satisfying way. "The Goof Who Sat By The Door," which has nothing to do with the adventures of Paper Boi, Earn, Darius, and Van, is the third-to-last episode of the entire series, and serves as a wonderful reminder that "Atlanta" began as a show that was built to push audience expectations and ended with that same mentality six years later.
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The post A Goofy Movie Director Reacts to That Incredible Atlanta Episode About the 'Making' of the Film [Exclusive] appeared first on /Film.