The Princess and the Frog

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Zahveed
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Postby Zahveed » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:51 pm

SPOILER

The first shot of where Charlotte dances with Lawrence-as-Naveen is a scene taken from both Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast.
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:01 pm

Zahveed wrote:BJ, did you catch which scene was "re-animated"?

I'm not sure. Tell me!

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Postby Zahveed » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:49 pm

BJ, did you catch which scene was "re-animated"?
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:39 pm

I'd definitely rank this below the other animated films I've seen this year (haven't seen Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, though.) It's got some things to recommend about it -- some lovely, old-fashioned animation, and a plot that's pretty zippy. And for someone of my generation, who grew up with the '90's Disney renaissance, there was definitely a nostalgia factor which allowed me to be moved by a lot more of it than I probably should be.

What's surprising, then, is that I think this is also its biggest weakness. I had much the same problem here as I had with Enchanted -- the film seems more interested in "re-capturing" the appeal of earlier Disney movies than creating something fresh and new. As a result, it ends up feeling a little stale, trotting out recognizable tropes -- wishing upon a star, animals who want to be human -- instead of incorporating more original elements.

Another big problem -- and this seems like something it's almost unfair to carp about in a Disney cartoon -- I didn't buy the romance. Tiana and Naveen fall in love WAY too quickly. Now believe me, I'm not expecting great levels of depth in the relationship between the two leads here. But in Beauty and the Beast, we saw how Belle and the Beast gradually fell in love with each other, so that, at film's end, their union felt emotionally satisfying. In this movie, the characters have barely even known each other a couple hours before they're ready to get hitched. I'm sorry to be overly critical of a cartoon, but it didn't work dramatically for me.

The score is pretty mediocre, well below Randy Newman's Pixar efforts, not to mention the glorious melodies written by Alan Menken in the '90's. This isn't to say a song couldn't be nominated, but there's certainly nothing I'd really root for.

So, all in all, it's an unoffensive diversion, and probably an Animated Feature nominee, but it's nothing major, and I'd be shocked to see this actually win the Oscar given the competition.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Nov 24, 2009 7:02 pm

OscarGuy wrote:You don't have to say goodbye to Coraline. The race is open to five nominees, so Coraline is still in the running as Princess and the Frog, Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox have been solid contenders for some time. The other two spots are relatively open and Princess was not going to be one of the films to bump anyone out.

Yeah, that's true. But the more heavyweight films there are, the more Coraline looks like a pallid seat-filler among such comapny. Now I can't even fool myself into thinking it's a dark horse candidate.

I had a feeling Disney struck a goldmine once the P&F commercials started getting relentless. Anyone see the shameless Geico-P&F hybrid?
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Postby Sabin » Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:21 pm

I really hope this movie is good.

I know this is kind of a tangent but I'm very interested in how history will judge the renaissance of "New Disney Classics" beginning in '89 and continuing onward. When The Little Mermaid came out, a lot of discussion began because of the alleged two years that it took to create the fires. Two Oscars followed and a whirlwind of success. Then came Beauty and the Beast and its six Oscar nominations and how it legitimately challenged (in a weak year) four live-action films for Best Picture. Two Oscars, a slew of nominations, and glowing reviews. Then came Aladdin and The Lion King and probably somewhere close to three billion dollars in revenue. Then in 1995, Pocahontas was completely eclipsed by Toy Story and got some pretty middling notices. I like much of The Hunchback the following year but already talk had begun that this era was over. Hercules didn't do much to bring kids back. Mulan and Tarzan did but really once the 90's were over, so were these "New Disney Classics".

On the other hand, PIXAR is still kind of the hill almost fifteen years and onward. I don't really like most of the "New Disney Classics" but I have enough nostalgia for them to come back.
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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:53 pm

You don't have to say goodbye to Coraline. The race is open to five nominees, so Coraline is still in the running as Princess and the Frog, Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox have been solid contenders for some time. The other two spots are relatively open and Princess was not going to be one of the films to bump anyone out.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:35 pm

Two rave reviews. We have a genuine race. All we can hope for is Mr. Fox getting great box office, and Best Animated Film could be the most exciting category of the night.

(*sniff* Bye-bye, Coraline.)

The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum | Nov 24, 2009
EW.com


Grade: A
Young viewers of The Princess and the Frog won't give a croak that the marvelous new 
 adventure from Walt Disney Animation Studios has been created using the same hand-drawn, 2-D techniques that entertained those viewers' Bambi-loving grandparents more than 65 years ago. But adults should: This old-fashioned charmer holds its own beside the motion-capture elegance of Disney's A Christmas Carol, the engrossing stop-motion universes of Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox, the CG-enhanced genius of Up, the wonder of 3-D technology, and, indeed, the unique, hand-drawn Japanese artistry of Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo as the year's deepest, most affecting, and most inventive movies.

Still, for the greenest or the grayest in the audience, the inclusive story of a resourceful African-American girl in 1930s New Orleans who kisses a frog with unexpected, funny results is its own reward: This A-level, G-rated entertainment is a fresh twist on the classic fairy tale about a handsome prince temporarily out of commission due to a malicious magic spell, a royal catch requiring the smooch of the right kindhearted, risk-taking heroine to restore him to his waiting throne. (As an added benefit, the smoocher gets to stand alongside her royal as his princess.) Only this time, the kiss that the lovely heroine, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), bestows on frog-bodied Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) backfires. He ends up in the same shape that he hopped into — and Tiana turns amphibian too. The patient, beautiful, hard-
working, entrepreneurial young woman is particularly irked because she has no desire to be a princess at all; what she really wants to do is open her own restaurant.

Great swampy mess! The race to restore happily-ever-after order involves a jazz-loving alligator named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley); Ray (Jim Cummings), a bebopping Cajun firefly; Dr. Facilier (Keith David), a shady New Orleans gent who dabbles in dark arts; and Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis), ancient royalty of the bayou magic world with the power to undo Dr. Facilier's treachery. And this being the Disney kingdom under the beneficent creative rule of veteran directors Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) and composer Randy Newman (Cars, Toy Story), the frolic also includes songs of gumption (''Almost There''), mischief (''Friends on the Other Side''), optimism (''When We're Human''), spiritual uplift (''Dig a Little Deeper''), and 
 the love of something up above — in this case, an evening star (''Ma Belle Evangeline'').

But while little kids laugh at the froggy humor (summed up in the excellent, repeated punchline ''that's not slime you are secreting — it's mucus!''), the firefly antics, and the cute sight of a fat alligator wailing on his trumpet like Louis Armstrong, adult viewers are rewarded with something more moving — a Proustian remembrance of the durable 
 power of Disney at its old-school best. The filmmakers trust in story over special effects, and character over celebrity voices (there are almost none here, save for a brief cameo by queen-of-all-she-surveys Oprah Winfrey as Tiana's saintly mother, Eudora). They steep the movie in colloquial American culture. They offer a sophisticated musical experience (ragtime, zydeco, gospel, Tin Pan Alley) 
 accessible even to the youngest ears. And in doing so, the creative team behind The Princess and the Frog upholds the great tradition of classic Disney animation.

The Princess and the Frog happens to introduce an African-American heroine, a Disney animation first. The story also 
 happens to be set in an idealized New Orleans of an earlier time, a city whose historic beauty and cultural importance will forever be 
 filtered by contemporary adults through grimmer awareness of the natural and man-made disasters of Hurricane Katrina. It's all the more effective, though, that this Big Easy of a movie needs no overt mention of Katrina to move our hearts, and inserts no overt lesson in the history of civil rights to distract from the groundbreaking matter-of-factness of Tiana's equality. What matters is that Tiana triumphs as both a girl and a frog, that dreams are fulfilled, wrongs are righted, love prevails, and music unites not only a princess and a frog but also kids and grown-ups.

--------------------------------------------------------

The Princess and the Frog -- Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt, November 24, 2009 02:33 ET


The narrative behind "The Princess and the Frog" is that Walt Disney Animation has rediscovered its traditional hand-drawn animation, which has been supplanted by computer-generated cartoons. But this misses the point about what allowed Pixar -- which Disney now owns -- DreamWorks and other CG-animation companies to upstage the one-time king of the animation world. It's a thing called story.

So "Princess and the Frog" really marks Disney's rediscovery of a strong narrative loaded with vibrant characters and mind-bending, hilarious situations. Under the direction of veterans Ron Clements and John Musker (the team behind "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin") and the watchful eye of Pixar guru John Lasseter, now chief creative officer of Disney Animation, "Princess and the Frog" celebrates old and new: It's a musical fairy tale that dates back to the days when Walt Disney was a person, not a brand. Yet it deftly mingles with the new sensibilities in animation where fairy tales must get fractured, settings must be fresh and humor pitched to many age levels.

Check, check and double check.

This is the best Disney animated film in years. Audiences -- who don't care whether it's cel animation, CGI, stop motion, claymation or motion capture as long as it's a good story -- will respond in large numbers. A joyous holiday season is about to begin for Disney.

The title performs a sly bit of misdirection. In the old fairy tale, of course, a princess kisses a frog, the unlovely amphibian turns into a handsome prince and ... everyone yawns. In this new fractured version, something quite different happens.

The scene is New Orleans during the Roaring '20s, and Clements and Musker go crazy with period details drawn from decorative arts, architecture and design styles. This is not just hand-painted animation; it's characters and backgrounds lovingly drawn by animators in love with that city, the bayous of Louisiana, the black magic of its underworlds and the 1920s themselves.

Meanwhile, Randy Newman has composed foot-tappin' songs and a melodious score that weaves together jazz, blues and gospel.

One other thing marks this as the new Disney: Most of the story's characters are black. They might turn into green frogs or appear as Cajun fireflies or a trumpet-playing 'gator, but these characters act and talk exactly the way you would expect in an American city whose influences are French, Spanish, African and Creole.

There is no princess here, but there is a prince, Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos), a n'er-do-well who is penniless because his parents cut him off. The heroine is Tiana (Tony winner Anika Noni Rose), a hardworking servants' daughter who dreams of owning her own waterfront restaurant. There also is a menacing magician, the cunning Dr. Facilier (Keith David), who lives to thwart happy endings.

So when that big kiss of a slimy creature comes -- "It's not slime, it's mucous!" the frog insists, as if this will make all the difference -- oh boy, do things go wrong from there.

The story transports Tiana and the prince from the French Quarter's jazz-drenched streets and Garden District's lavish mansions to a mystical, alligator-ridden bayou where good and bad magic battles for their souls. They are aided by the romantic firefly Ray (Jim Cummings), the jazz-loving 'gator named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) and the bayou's own queen, Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis).

Voicing memorable smaller roles are John Goodman as Southern aristocrat Big Daddy (a name borrowed, perhaps knowingly, from Tennessee Williams), Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard as Tiana's loving parents and Jennifer Cody as Big Daddy's spoiled Southern debutante daughter.

So "Princess and the Frog" is one big jambalaya. Disney traditions do get more than lip service. Animals talk -- and given that at least some are really humans, this makes perfect sense -- and the directors along with co-writer Rob Edwards are unafraid to let several characters actually wish upon a star. Also, the rambunctious spirit of today's computer geeks and their CG cartoons brightly flavor the recipe.

Then there's this: Computer animation has yet to lick the warmth factor. Hand-drawn and painted animation has a richness to its textures, brilliance in its colors and humanity in its characters that digital 0s and 1s can't quite hack. "Princess and the Frog" reawakens your appreciation of the timeless beauty of the classic style while evoking a fantastic world with such warmth, vigor and confidence that you surrender to its happy lunacy.




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