The Princess and the Frog

I love Disney. Mr. Walt pioneered early animation techniques and was the first to create feature length animated movies. If it weren’t for him and his fellow animators at the Disney Studios, animation wouldn’t be what it is today.

I wish I could say that was a good thing, but the truth is, it really isn’t. Disney animated films are targeted for younger audiences, and because of the massive influence these movies have had in our culture, all other animated features are judged by the same standard. Mostly this applies to whether the movie is appropriate for children, and if it isn’t, then it is discarded. Either that, or people dismiss animation as a childish thing.

So you can imagine how annoyed I was when Disney not only graduated from their period of sucky animation, to go on to endorsing lousy singers and make TV shows about them. That’s like throwing a party, everyone’s having a good time, then the booze starts flowing, your friends start acting like jackasses, they trash your place and then leave.

Naturally I’d be suspicious the next time said friends suggest we have another party at my place. This is exactly how I felt when I first heard of Disney’s latest animated feature; The Princess and the Frog. All I really knew about it when I first heard word, was that it would feature the first black princess. All good and fine, being politically correct is important, especially considering Disney’s past track record. However, I had the uncomfortable feeling that was the extent of the thought that was being put into this picture.

At first I was afraid that it was going to be the typical Fairy Tail setting, with a black person transplanted into the middle of it. Nothing wrong with that, it just sounded jarring to me.

Then, later on, I found out that the setting would be New Orleans. A faint shimmer of hope, at least the character and the setting were being reconciled. Of course that didn’t mean much, past Disney attempts at good writing in their animated features have failed to impress me. (Which isn’t entirely fair, I thought Enchanted was a fun movie, an excellent concept, and a chance for Disney to poke fun at the stereotype they created, but it was a live action movie first and foremost).

When I saw the character design for the villain, I was even more hopeful. The guy looked pretty darn cool. But still, I went into that movie theater–that was occupied by twenty people max–with as cynical an attitude as I could muster.

So, what did I think of the movie? Some of the character development seemed off to me, the songs, while not bad, weren’t even close to the memorability of past Disney musicals (personally I’d rather they do away with the musical format in their animation). In fact, the movie even had its moments where it was surprisingly dark. And not to spoil anything, though I imagine that anyone that cares about this movie has already seen it before reading this, but when a character dies in this movie, they stay dead! I was sitting there the entire time, thinking, He better stay dead, or so help me!

The final plot twist wasn’t anything that should have surprised me, but it was enough for a kid to be surprised. Though for most of the adults in the audience it was kind of a “Doh!” moment.

Now, what did think of this movie? Did Disney manage to succeed in what they should have been doing in the first place, rather than endorsing Milley Cirus and the Jonas Brothers?

In fact, I think they did. While it doesn’t feature ground breaking writing, the story manages to keep you entertained, and the character dilemmas felt very real, though they could have been resolved slightly better. The animation is Disney at it’s best, though the art style, while harking back to classic Disney, seemed a little odd for some of the characters. It was like the only really pretty girl was the main character, and every other character seemed a little off, even her best friend. Though, the art style wasn’t all that was strange about her. Speaking of her best friend, was I the only one who was a little weirded out by how much more pronounced the animation for her bust was?

In the end, a surprisingly good movie. It could have done with another half hour or so, with which to develop the characters properly, but it did well for the length it was given. The happy ending we got didn’t feel tacked on, despite the obvious loophole at the end, which was pointed out best by our good friend The Bum. Still, I did find it worth noting that both characters had issues they needed to work out. While these could have been resolved better, the flow of the movie was strong enough to make it at least bearable for the parents watching the movie with their children. Just look at it this way, it’s no Cinderella 2, or III.

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