I finally got a chance to see The Princess and the Frog and I have to say, I was VERY impressed! It's always been a mystery to me why 3D animation just destroys 2D animation at the box office, and why Disney has given up on it, despite making their money back. But I just thought the film was outstanding! It was drop-dead hilarious at parts, I don't remember when the last time I laughed so hard at a Disney animation, and it had a lot of "scary" parts that were like a drug trip or something, and it had some very touching and sad parts.
To be quite honest, I truly believe this is the best animated film Disney has put out since The Lion King. Now, that's not to say it's as good as The Lion King, far from it, but it is definitely better than anything that's come after it. For the few people who haven't yet seen it, I'm not going to spoil the surprise, but that tribute to the dead character was so touching. I was just waiting for the sappy, horrible moment when the writers would spring the dreaded, "Oh look, that character's not dead, he was just pretending" moment because they never have enough guts to truly kill off a character, but that moment never came. Instead, the payoff that you waited the entire film for showed up and it made that character's death so much more meaningful and bittersweet... it was pure classic Disney. Now, that moment was also a complete rip-off of Dragonheart from 1996, but it was endearing nonetheless.
And that's my only complaints about the film, there's so many "tributes" and "homages" to classic films that it almost winds up being a collection of cliches and Disneyland settings. If I'm not mistaken, I'd say the bell sound is taken directly from the Mark Twain and the whistle is just a deeper form of the Twain's whistle (probably just modified in the studio). The alligator who loved music came from "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and there are many others I can't remember, but there's a lot of heavy "borrowing" going on here.
But, I give Disney a LOT of leeway here because they haven't even attempted a 2D animation in 5 years and they haven't created one with any kid of emotion since Mulan, so if Disney actually pursued 2D animation and gave it half a chance, it would've had nowhere to go but up and start a whole new fascination with 2D again.
The songs are very forgettable, except for that "Down on the Bayou" one... I've had that one stuck in my head ALL day long! This is one form of synergy that just works so well, it makes the Disneyland show more powerful, which in turn makes that scene in the film more powerful. I am just REALLY upset that Disney made such a half-hearted attempt at bringing back 2D animation... it was like, we'll make this one film, oops, it didn't make $500 million, lets go back to 3D forever now. While this film had its faults, it showed such tremendous promise for the future of animation.
I can't figure it out... Pixar makes good films, no doubt about that, but once you've seen them, that's it, there's no lingering effect afterwards. When you see a movie like The Princess and the Frog, it sticks with you for days after you see it. There's SOOO much more emotion and heart put into it. And yet it is 3D films, even poorly conceived 3D films, that continue to pile up $300 million or more every single time without fail. And since traditional animation can't match CGI films in terms of 3D, as in the type where you wear the glasses, it's pretty much all over for traditional animation for the future. Disney has proven to us that animation, *true* animation (2D), still has that spark it had back in the hand-drawn days, but they're just going to let it rot because it didn't make enough to buy a new corporate jet.
To anyone who hasn't seen the film yet, I strongly recommend it. That little firefly is one of the best comic sidekicks in a long time and the "hunter" scene is matched only by the slapstick genius of the 3 Stooges... in fact it feels *exactly* like the 3 Stooges, right down to the timing (again, another "borrowed" theme, but still classic). Tiana is also one of the best princesses ever... she's a strong character, yet she is still very feminine. The accent comes and goes, but when it's there it's really neat to have a non-stereotypical princess. I just hope the animators are proud of their work because it appears that in this day and age, box office receipts mean *nothing* to the actual content of a film, as far as how good it is. This one should have blown Pixar's "UP" off the map... so to speak.