Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"Falkor, it's like the Dork Age never happened!" - Thoughts on "The Princess and the Frog"
Movie #61: "The Princess and the Frog"
"Princess and the Frog" is truly, truly wonderful. Easily the best Disney animated movie since "The Little Mermaid". Go see it already! Quick, before Disney decides that what we all want is more movies about talking rodents who make poop jokes.
I think I understand why I wasn't so jazzed about "Enchanted" when I saw it: it's too "Shrek"-like. (If I ever were to write a list of Movies That Are Good, Don't Get Me Wrong, But They Also Kind Of Ruined Movies Because Studios Like To Follow The Leader, I would (a) come up with a snappier title and (b) have "Shrek" very near the top.) It has that ironic detachment that the "Shrek" series popularized and flatly refuses to give in to the fact that, well, it's a fairy tale. It's corny by it's very nature. Why not embrace the corniness?
So my inner ten-year-old and I are both very happy to report that there is not one iota of snark or insincerity in "The Princess and the Frog". You cannot imagine how refreshing this is.
Now the trailers and commercials looked awful. They were cut to make the movie look like something it isn't. (Trust me, the butt jokes make sense in context. No I am not kidding.) That firefly who looked like he'd be another Jar-Jar type annoyance? Turns out he's a fun character, and he even has a couple of genuinely touching moments.
Now I don't want to spoil too much but there's a scene some ways into the movie that made me sad... and then, when I heard the rest of the audience reacting the same way, it made me smile through the tears. Because this* is what great animation can do. This is what we've been missing from Disney all these years.
You could easily slip this movie in with the Bronze Age Disney Animated Films and it would not look out of place at all. The character animation is amazing, the backgrounds are gorgeous, and the songs are terrific. There's a great villain with an awesome song, and a musical number that uses stylized animation very similar to Tex Avery's "Page Miss Glory". This is Disney forgetting it's mistakes from the past and going back to the kinds of things it does best. Is it a little old-fashioned? Well, yes it is. But it is a damn good Disney movie. I had forgotten how much I'd missed their classic style. Disney has won me back and I actually want to give this big scary corporation a hug.
Go and see it already, so their executives get the message! This merry throwback to Disney's classic style will stay with me for a long time. Not sure I can say the same thing about "Avatar"...
* - The following is a major spoiler so here comes the hard-to-read text.
Look, this is a movie that got our whole theater to feel bad that a beetle got squished.
By the way, killing off the little sidekick critter for real is about the only truly daring thing in this movie. It's a pretty big deal if you're a Disney fan, but if that's not extreeeeeeeem enough for you, "Alvin and The Chipmunks 2: Ow My Childhood!" is just the next theater over.
For more posts in this ongoing series, go here, or click the Chronological Disney Animated Canon tag below.
Sketch of the Day!!!
I have no idea either.