Thursday, November 17, 2011

Disn-A-Thon: The Princess and The Frog (2009)

A modern day retelling of the classic story The Frog Prince. The Princess and the Frog finds the lives of arrogant, carefree Prince Naveen and hardworking waitress Tiana crossing paths. Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by a conniving voodoo magician and Tiana, following suit, upon kissing the amphibian royalty. With the help of a trumpet-playing alligator, a Cajun firefly, and an old blind lady who lives in a boat in a tree, Naveen and Tiana must race to break the spell and fulfill their dreams. [imdb]
I can not state too much just how much I love The Princess and The Frog.  I think I can honestly state that it's in my top five(5) Disney films... Definitely my favourite since The Emperor's New Groove and The Little Mermaid.  It's just a magnificent and beautiful movie... and the fabulous return to traditional animation.

When John Lasseter took over the creative aspect of the Disney company, one of the first things he did was decide to bring back traditional hand-drawn animation.  The next decision he made was to bring back Ron Clements and John Musker to write the new film.  This excited a lot of the animation department, who rightly missed their "lost" art, abandoned by their previous department head.  Many animators had left or been fired from Disney after the change to CG animation, so Lasseter had as many brought back as possible.  Really, it was just a re-structuring back to the way it should have always been...

If you've ever seen this movie, you could probably attest to how stunning it is visually.  It's almost hard to grasp that this movie was entirely done by hand, even so much as the hand-painted backgrounds.  I can't even think of another hand-drawn movie that looks this clean, even by the classic "Nine Old Men" of Disney past.

So we have classic-style animation, fully traditional artwork, the best-of-the-best in the animation department, and... Randy Newman.  Another brilliant move by Lasseter was to bring in Newman to write the score and soundtrack... while making sure other artists sing the songs to make sure no one confuses the film with a Pixar movie, where Newman's voice is best know in this generation.  Another full musical, The Princess and The Frog has about as many songs as time could possibly permit, sung mostly by the characters themselves... Another long-lost gem of Disney movies.

I can't speak enough praise of this film.  From the moment I heard about it in pre-production, through to even now, it just thrills me.  I love the new twist on the old story, the characters are fantastic, and just everything about it is "Classic Disney" and that is exactly what I wanted from them.

Let's hope for more traditionally-made Disney films.