Saturday, January 02, 2010

Go See The Princess and The Frog

The Princess and The Frog (2009)[G] First off, you need to go out and see this movie this weekend. Whether you've seen it already or not, you need to go to the theatre today or tomorrow and see this movie! Ya see, this is the first hand-drawn animated movie Hollywood has put out in quite a few years (The Simpsons Movie doesn't count) and Princess is getting clobbered at the box office by the shinny, hi-tech Avatar...which is largely computer animated. Now we all know that the folks in Hollywood ain't too bright and when they look at the numbers and see Avatar at $212 million and counting...and even Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 making $75 million in one week, and then they look at The Frog which has taken a month to only rack up $64 million...they are once again going to make the assumption that people only want to see CGI/computer animation and it will be another 10 years before we see a beautiful hand-drawn cartoon feature like The Princess and the Frog.

Now, is Princess as great as Disney would like you to believe? No, the film has some flaws. It follows in the footsteps of some of the greatest movies ever made like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Pinocchio. It also lives in the recent shadow of movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King - which are all beloved films that have become part of the American culture. These are all hard shoes to fill.

The Princess and the Frog is beautiful to look at. Set in New Orleans in the earlier part of the last century, the backgrounds are full of vibrant colors and rich detail while the character animation is flawless and fun to watch. Visuals alone can't carry a picture, and in the second act of this film the story starts to drag as it gets lost in the bayou. There are a handful of characters that are introduced which seem to serve no real purpose except to kill time. Some of the characters are completely forgettable, like a group of backwoods hunters who show up and still some of the other characters are really great: like Louis, an alligator with dreams of playing jazz and Raymond, a Cajun firefly who almost steals the show but again has no real purpose in the story.

The music is great and catchy and will probably add another two or three songs to the legacy of classic Disney music, but the music almost seems to fail to advance the story the way songs are used in true Disney masterpieces. The musical numbers are enjoyable and the highlight of the film, but they lack the storytelling/showstopping power of Disney tunes of the past.

With all the complaints and criticisms, I still found this to be an incredibly entertaining movie. It's just that the pieces don't quite fit together when compared to other Disney cartoon movies. It's still one of the best movies of the year. Hopefully, the talented Disney artists will have another chance real soon to make a trademark high quality picture like this one...but people need to go out and see it in the movies!!!

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