Are you ready...
Yes, I know this came out almost a week ago so I apologize for the tardiness, but Christmas shopping and a full schedule in the real world has prevented me from posting this...
First off, I don't call this a review. This is just my thoughts/opinions/feelings on the latest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios. I've always been uncomfortable with the idea of writing reviews and if you've noticed, I haven't written one in a good while. Just think of this as my perspective on Disney's forty-ninth animated feature with some illumination on where it's headed for the fiftieth and beyond.
I didn't get around to seeing "The Princess and the Frog" till Sunday because of the flooding that Southern California was having. My friends and I had to postpone our little get together a few days and I've been busy making sure I stuffed all those stockings and between that, work and juggling meetings and plans over my iPhone, I just didn't have time to put down on paper or computer, exactly how it was.
Now that that's out of the way let me say: "Welcome back hand-drawn animation." I missed you! And the relatives you've had around weren't exactly the best showing of your family. Let's face it, "Home on the Range" is a hayseed hick in your family and I don't really like spending much time with 'em.
I thoroughly enjoyed TPATF and it's a glimmering jewel of what can be done my the Mouse when bean counters understand they weren't hired to write, but count. Yes, I loved it but many will ask if it's as good as the films of the early nineties like "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin;" both of which were directed by the same people. Truthfully, no it's not. I believe that the quadrilogy of films from the late eighties to mid-nineties are superior stories. That doesn't mean that this has a horrible story, only that it doesn't hold up as well as something like "Lion King." But again, that's a tall mountain to climb. I found the first act somewhat rushed and uneven, but still entertaining. The second act was my favorite and it had a strong finish.
I do believe that the animation is second-to-none. It's truly spectacular and shows you what Disney Animation is all about. I have nothing against CG animation and think Pixar is the top of the game with theirs, but I love hand-drawn animation and this film is a testament to the love of that form. Even thought it doesn't come out in cels anymore, I love seeing the animated form that starts first with a pencil or Cintiq.
The songs in the film are also not as memorable as the earlier films; as least in terms of quantity. There are two stand outs though. The "Friends on the Other Side" and "Dig a little Deeper" had the entire audience clapping and swinging to the tune.
But the boys/girls up at the Hat Building have something to be rather proud of. And it should show everyone, including Mr. Eisner that it was a tragic mistake to throw away those drawing tables a half a decade ago. The Suits of the time thought people didn't want to see hand-drawn films. What they didn't want to see was badly told hand-drawn films. I have a feeling we won't have to worry about that for the next few years. Hopefully it'll be for a lot longer. I for one can't wait to see Disney's next hand-drawn film in Spring of 2011. From what my Bothans tell me, "Winnie the Pooh" is moving along at a shockingly fast rate. It'll likely be done well before the release date which is something that can't be said for "Rapunzel" which will be rushing to meet its deadline with six and even seven day work weeks as the film draws closer to it's release next year. Development on "Snow Queen" continues and "Joe Jump" is moving forward with each vying for a release date in 2012/2013 sometime. Then there are at least four other projects that are moving through various states of existence that will fill the rest of the Disney half of animation from the Mouse over the next five years.
After watching this latest effort I count the days until the next release. And I can't wait to own it on DVD in a few months.
Especially with that sneak peek at the girl with seventy foot long hair that will be included...