I just wanted to share that I got to see a screening of The Princess & The Frog tonight (Tuesday)!
I won't make any major spoilers or give the plot away, instead I want to tell you about the experience, drop a few minor hints about what to look forward to, and then there was my brief "brush" with fame with John Lasseter. Also, I got to speak with one of the animators afterwards (he said it was their first day of screenings they have had for the film!).
In case you were interested: I got the passes for the screening from movies.com (occasionally they send emails about screenings, in this case, you knew it was The Princess and the Frog only if you clinked on the link for more info..I'll have to do that more often!). It was at The Bridge Cinemas in Los Angeles, and was staffed and run by the "Nielsen" the ratings people. A free popcorn and soda was a nice touch.
Before the feature film began, they explained in person, as well as in a short film, that the movie wasn't finished, and that we would see a combination of parts of the finished film, the storyboards, and the unfinished hand-drawn animation. I thought this aspect of the evening was fascinating, and I loved seeing the unfinished hand-drawn animation, and I was somewhat surprised at how game the audience was, who seemed to be as involved in the story as if it were the finished product (I think that speaks well for the project!). I thought some of the finished animation was quite beautiful, and I can't wait to go back and see the finished film.
I was quite touched and happy at all of the "Disney" references the filmmakers threw in. It made me feel like people behind the movie had a great affinity and knowledge for the subject. They were just small touches, and I won't spoil it for you, so you can find them for yourself, but they included homage's to specific parts of Disneyland (including Yesterland), as well as classic and not so classic Disney cartoons, and even specific divisions in the company. Sometimes these "nods" were quite subtle and respectful, and sometimes they seemed to be poking fun at their subject, for me, they seemed to find a balance, and it worked.
As for the film overall, personally I really enjoyed it. It has some “classic” storytelling elements that I think are going to freak a few people out, but I thought it was well done and way overdue. The only thing I wasn’t happy about were the songs. Don’t interpret that as I didn’t like the film. I am just not a big fan of Randy Newman. I would rather have had Alan Menken, but that’s just me. Don’t let that stop you from seeing a great film.
The following might be a minor spoiler, (so you can skip ahead if you wish) but it has previously been brought up on this website. I know that some people have previously complained about the “Thomas Kinkade” inspired look (Kinkade is a very popular contemporary painter, who is sometimes described as “mall art” - check his website out) . Well, you might already know they also use another contemporary artist for inspiration as well, and that is “Shag” (You can buy Shag’s retro-style products everywhere now, including from Disney). I thought the two completely different styles made for an interesting contrast. And, as so many of Kinkade’s paintings are “all about the buildings” watching the movie is an architecture lover’s dream . I am not a Kinkade fan, but the look of the film didn’t bother me at all, I thought it looked great. And just an FYI: I don’t blindly like every Disney movie I see, but I enjoyed this one.
After the film, they asked us to fill out comment cards, and I was one of the last people to leave. I really had to go to the bathroom, and when I walked out of the theater into the hallway, there was a “clump” of people in the way. I really had to go. I could see the men’s room across the hall. A small gap opened up in the clump, and I made my move. Of course, as soon as I went for it, someone backed up, and I accidently brushed against them as I went by. I looked back out of the corner of my eye, to see who I had made contact with, and it was, of course, John Lasseter. It was literally my brush with fame for the night! When I came out, he was still surrounded, but seemed to enjoy talking to the group.
Later, after a burrito, while leaving the mall, I saw one of the animators and struck up a conversation with him and got to tell him how much I enjoyed the film. Among other things, he said how much work they still had to get done, that they obviously had a lot of animation to finish. He sounded a little stressed about it! I am sure they will finish it before Christmas...right?!!
Well that’s it. I hope you enjoyed it.