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The Princess and the Frog


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#1 Izo

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 12:57 PM

The Princess and the Frog - ****1/2/*****


I loved this movie, and so did the kiddo. First off, it's a beautifully animated film, the backgrounds in particular are stunning. The voice work is all excellent, particularly Ray and the Shadowman (who I think will go down as one of Disney's greatest villains). The music is mostly forgettable, with a couple of exceptions (the Shadowman's song is the best, I think). Mostly it all sounds like everything else Randy Newman's written in the last fifteen years.

The best part about this film though is the way it completely toys with Disney's tried-and-true formula. Forget that this introduces Disney's first black princess, that's unimportant. What is really exciting is the film's quiet subversion of traditionally "Disney" values. Take the film's moral: wishing gets you nowhere without work. Imagine that in Aladdin, or Pinocchio, or Cinderella. In all those films and many others the characters simply wished...and got what they wanted in one way or another. Here, Tiana busts her ass.

My absolute favorite thing about this film, however, is the way it completely demolishes one of the most formulaic - and popular - aspects of all Disney's animated films: the sidekicks. They appear in every film and they rarely do anything to advance the story. They are comic relief, usually voiced by celebrities, there to keep the kiddies from getting antsy. As time went on and the films followed the Disney formula more and more closely, the uselessness of the sidekicks became more and more egregious. Look at late-era Disney films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with it's cut-up gargoyles, or Pocahontas with it's downright irritating raccoon/hummingbird combination, and you'll see what I mean. These characters add nothing and eventually become downright annoying. This film has two sidekicks, both are more or less traditional - a cajun firefly and a jazz-trumpeter gator - but the outcome of one of them is anything but, particularly in the context of a Disney film. I'm trying to be very careful not to spoil anything, but when what happened...did...I was nothing less than shocked. And while there is a (pleasantly) manipulative ending to the character's story, the director-writers do not shy away from the darkness, and that is precisely why the moment is so utterly powerful.

I desperately wanted this film to be good, and it exceeded all my hopes. I wasn't expecting much, particularly in light of Disney's recent track record. It's not perfect, but one of the best films of the year.

#2 mikesncc1701

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:14 PM

Well put sir. I absolutely loved it too. The only thing I have to add is that Dr. Facilier is definitely one of the coolest Disney villains out there.

#3 Ian

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:48 PM

This was a horrible movie. The songs were terrible, the story was uninspired. (A dumbed down version of Anastasia set in Louisiana sprinkled with Haitian voodoo culture -Disney style!)

I don't agree with your remarks about the sidekicks. They were just as dumb as any sidekicks that have appeared in other recent Disney films. Their presence was almost entirely for comic relief and to offer inspiration to our annoying protagonist at the climax so that she gains a second wind to help save the day. A variation of this formula has been a staple in most Disney films of the past two decades. I'm assuming that you feel it's different since the firefly dies. That segment was by far the best in the film and is probably the only thing about the film that wasn't stale. That character's appearance in the rest of the film is typical Disney schlock.

I enjoy classic Disney animation but the studio hasn't made anything that is even close to a classic since The Lion King (and really, the box office has reflected this.) With Pixar's John Lasseter now in charge of development at Disney, I'm hoping that he brings the same work ethic and dedication to quality that has enabled Pixar to replace Disney as the producer of tentpole animated pictures back to the cell animation division.

Princess and the Frog was hardly better than some of the direct to dvd sequels my nieces have made me watch. I almost fell asleep in the theater watching this. I think we all had a much better time at Fantastic Mr. Fox

#4 mikesncc1701

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 04:00 PM

With Pixar's John Lasseter now in charge of development at Disney, I'm hoping that he brings the same work ethic and dedication to quality that has enabled Pixar to replace Disney as the producer of tentpole animated pictures back to the cell animation division.

I don't know if that's such a good thing the way Pixar has been going lately. Ratatouille is the only decent film they've made since The Incredibles. Wall-E was crap, Cars was abysmal, and Up tried so hard it just fell flat. They better do good with Toy Story 3 because other than continuing a bad streak of films, they could ruin a good franchise.

#5 boyhoodbravery9

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 04:27 PM

Wall-E was crap


Why, again? It's actually crap, or you can realize it's a good movie you just didn't like?
Free your mind and your ass will follow. -Catherine Breillat's Romance

If this is about the time I puked green slime and masturbated with a crucifix--it was my first keg party, Bobby! -Scary Movie

#6 Ian

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 05:23 PM

If I remember correctly, Mike's reasons for not liking Wall-E was due to some bizarre theory of his that the film's message of "polluting and destroying the earth is bad" is actually liberal propoganda and is part of the Walt Disney company and leftist hollywood's frequent attempts to indoctrinate children and the film should have had an R rating or something to prevent youngsters from being exposed to radical ideas like consevation and recycling.

#7 Izo

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 06:19 PM

Well put sir.


Ma'am.

#8 Izo

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 06:41 PM

This was a horrible movie. The songs were terrible, the story was uninspired. (A dumbed down version of Anastasia set in Louisiana sprinkled with Haitian voodoo culture -Disney style!)

I don't agree with your remarks about the sidekicks. They were just as dumb as any sidekicks that have appeared in other recent Disney films. Their presence was almost entirely for comic relief and to offer inspiration to our annoying protagonist at the climax so that she gains a second wind to help save the day. A variation of this formula has been a staple in most Disney films of the past two decades. I'm assuming that you feel it's different since the firefly dies. That segment was by far the best in the film and is probably the only thing about the film that wasn't stale. That character's appearance in the rest of the film is typical Disney schlock.

I enjoy classic Disney animation but the studio hasn't made anything that is even close to a classic since The Lion King (and really, the box office has reflected this.) With Pixar's John Lasseter now in charge of development at Disney, I'm hoping that he brings the same work ethic and dedication to quality that has enabled Pixar to replace Disney as the producer of tentpole animated pictures back to the cell animation division.

Princess and the Frog was hardly better than some of the direct to dvd sequels my nieces have made me watch. I almost fell asleep in the theater watching this. I think we all had a much better time at Fantastic Mr. Fox


Obviously we disagree on several points, but I really think you're off the mark about Disney's films since The Lion King. I think between that film and this one there is at least one great film: Mulan. I watched it just a few months ago and it holds up really well.

I generally agree with you about the music in Princess and the Frog, but I love I Got Friends On the Other Side, and a few of the others were really memorable. During the firefly scene, too, there's a little Aaron Copland-esque music que that is really gorgeous. Simply put, though, Disney should stick to house composers. Alan Menken was the composer for a really stellar run of films in the '80s and '90s, and Elton John and Randy Newman really just can't compare.

#9 mikesncc1701

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 08:22 PM

If I remember correctly, Mike's reasons for not liking Wall-E was due to some bizarre theory of his that the film's message of "polluting and destroying the earth is bad" is actually liberal propoganda and is part of the Walt Disney company and leftist hollywood's frequent attempts to indoctrinate children and the film should have had an R rating or something to prevent youngsters from being exposed to radical ideas like consevation and recycling.

You read me like a book. :]

Oh, and sorry about that Izo.

#10 Izo

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 12:58 PM

Gracias to whichever mod deleted the garbage.

Looking back, what I find most impressive about the film is how Tiana's hard-work credo goes against virtually every other Disney protagonist I can think of. Snow White wished in a well. Pinocchio wished on a star. Aladdin wished with a lamp. It really goes on and on, but Tiana just put her head down and busted her ass. This is the kind of quiet subversion of the Disney formula I was talking about.

And I was genuinely shocked and moved by the firefly's death. His entire "love" with the star was very manipulative, yes, but I think the film earned that ending.




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