A Dreamer Walking

The Princess and the Frog

Posted in Movie Reviews by Jacob on April 13, 2010

The Princess and the Frog is a wonderful movie for the return of Disney Hand Drawn animation. I have seen it several times now and it just seems to get better each time I watch it. The reason why this film is so wonderful to keep going back to is because of the depth you see in every aspect of the animation process.

In 2006 when John Lasseter (co-founder of Pixar) was put in charge of Disney animation, one of the first things he wanted to do was to bring back hand drawn animation. This was a tall order since hand drawn animation had been discontinued from the studio about four years before. In order to accomplish it’s rebirth the first thing John did was bring back two old Disney directors, John Musker and Ron Clemens. The two are know for codirecting The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. In all these films I saw a true effort on putting story first and a magnificent ability in getting the whole crew to come together in order to make the best film possible.

I think Ron and John put their best foot forward on this film, and were able to create something original and magical. Both Ron and John said the Princess and the Frog crew was the most talented crew they ever worked with.

In this movie you see a young woman, Tiana, work extremely hard in order to reach her dream of owning a restaurant one day. The film is located in New Orleans in the late 1910’s. Because Tiana is an African American, she is forced to jump through even more hoops then an average white citizen would in order to have her dream come true. Tiana, is unique for a Disney Princess movie. She is not yet a princess and has no inclination of finding a prince to live happily ever after with at the beginning of the movie.

This movie goes further with its unique qualities by having the Prince be a flat out jerk at the beginning of the film. Prince Naveen is a moneyless (Family cut his funding off) spoiled bachelor that comes to New Orleans in order to marry into a rich family.

The movie is about the character development of Tiana and Naveen. In the film you begin out with these characters hating each other and end up with a genuine love story, where two people work through their faults to find love.

The way Disney pulled this story off was simply wonderful. Every aspect of the movie seemed to be working together. You had a Music legend Randy Newman (composer of Toy Story 1 & 2, A Bugs Life, Monsters Inc., and Cars) come up with some magnificent songs for this movie. Randy grew up in New Orleans and really seemed to go back to his roots in creating and composing the music for this movie. He had Jazz, Gospel, and Blues, all highlight the story in wonderful ways and all are worth listening to away from the movie.

What was truly wonderful was the location the story took place. Ron and John said they studied Disney classics, such as Bambi and Lady and the Tramp, as inspiration for this movie. New Orleans was Character in and of itself, each location was made to highlight the animation and further the mood of the story. The City and the bayou were wonderful pieces of art in their own right, but never seemed to distract from the characters.

The character animation was some of the best I have ever seen. I am a big fan of Eric Goldberg and he did a marvelous job as lead animator for Lewis the Alligator. We simply see an entertaining character with a lot of life in the alligator who lives in the bayou, Lewis. Some of the expressions for Lewis are quite extreme, but we never lose track of who the character is. The extremes simply seemed to be expressing him in a better way.

One character I will always cherish is Raymond the Firefly. Mike Surrey was Ray’s lead animator and he and his team did a wonderful job bringing this character to life. Some of the movements that I saw from Ray was like candy to the eyes. In Ray you found a lot of good humor, but more importantly you found heart.

We saw wonderful gags in the animation and the action was pulled off extremely well, but what made this movie great for me, was the animators ability to take us into the character’s head. The drawings became real. I did not just see a bunch of lines moving, I saw real people trying to make hard realistic decisions and real friends having sincere emotions for each other.

John Musker said that he believes there is magic in the Disney Studios still. I saw evidence of that magic in The Princess and the Frog. They truly made this movie to be enjoyed for generations. It is a simple story told in a wonderful way.

 

2 Responses

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  1. minnow said, on April 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Nice review, Dreamer! The English teacher in me has a few minor corrections but nothing insurmountable.

  2. striker49 said, on April 20, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I really am sorry about the bad grammar. Thank you for commenting though 🙂


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