I saw The Princess and the Frog over three weeks ago and have been mulling in my head what to say about it. The truth of the matter is I don't know what to say about it, or at least I haven't formed anything into some grand thesis. So what I am going to do is give myself twenty minutes to write about it and we'll see what happens.
The setting: This isn't the first Disney animated classic set in America but I believe it's the first "princess-based" one and New Orleans works well. What other American city has so much character? Of course, it was already a very Disney-ish city to begin with.
The characters: Okay, we know everyone is going to love Louis. I think they love him already and many people haven't seen the movie yet. And I thought Ray was going to be a one-note comic relief character but I was wrong. He has some pathos too and when he sings his "sad song" you wonder if maybe he is crazy then you realize you don't really care because he ain't harming nobody and then you start empathizing with him. I kept wondering when Mama Odie was going to show up but it's near the end. I think she lives in the same bayou shack as Tia Dalma from the last two Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Jenifer Lewis does a great job delivering her lines. I especially love her line about the "special candy." And then her Homer Simpson move right after that. Dr. Facilier is like a cross between Jafar and that voodoo guy with the deep laugh from The Spy Who Loved Me. I love what they do with Facilier's shadow. Kind of like Peter Pan but a little different.
The music: I think the music is decent but I think if Alan Menken had been kept on board he could've hit a home run out of the park with the music. I don't think Randy Newman is used to writing music for singing characters and I think that made the musical numbers lack a little punch. Now I wonder what would've happened if Newman and Menken had worked on the project together.
The visuals: If you like hand-drawn animation (and I sure hope you do) then you will want to see this. This film has superb production values and represents in 2009 the fact that hand-drawn animation is not a forgotten pastime. And the people at Disneyland were all revved up for the special Princess and the Frog musical show they put on on the Mark Twain Steamboat when I stopped by yesterday. I am hoping this will be a big hit. The rather blase audience I saw it with may have me made feel blase about it too so I am hoping to see it with a more excited crowd sometime. And I saw some possible cameos on first viewing so my second viewing may reveal if I was seeing things or not.