Thursday, April 22, 2010

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG - your thoughts?


So - what are your thoughts about THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG?

Personally, I thought it was a remarkable return to great classic Disney animation. Beautiful visuals, charming and charismatic characters, great storytelling with drama, comedy and heart... and the Randy Newman score took me completely by surprise as one of his best efforts.

I was thoroughly entertained!

It seems there are two camps... some people love Disney no matter what the studio does. Others look to find fault no matter how earnestly Disney approaches making their films.

I'd like to see some good, honest commentary here. Share what you liked, and didn't like, about this film.

So - what are your thoughts about THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG?

33 comments:

C.Edwards said...

Isn't there a third camp somewhere in between? "People who are optimistic about Disney projects like the Princess/Frog and while recognizing why it's good don't necessarily think it's meets the bar compared to some of their modern classics?"

I feel like I fall into this camp. I think the animation/disney is top notch as always, but the story itself could've been stronger.

I either want a full musical or no music, Princess/Frog was a little light, the lead had one real song and comic relief had two.

I thought this villain was really great, but didn't really believe his connection to the story was strong enough.

I question some the character development of Charlotte, Eudora and Laurence.

And there are many comments that can be made about the races of the two leads that I feel that no matter how legitimately they are expressed people shut down and claim "oversensitivity".

I guess as a whole I thought that while enjoyable, "The Princess and The Frog" lacked the charmingly simple storytelling of the studios previous fairy tale pictures.

Alphonse Doré et Noir said...

I realliy liked the princess and the frog, and I think it's great that Diseny is coming back to the Prince-Princess films, though something was missing in the film, I don't know what, bu it's understandable since DIsney hasn't done any Princess film since Mulna. I want to think that it's just that they are a little bit rusty.

Luis María Benítez said...

I watched this movie. Personally, I don't like many things from Disney. But the animation is beautiful, the background desings are amazing.

Despite nowadays most of people consider that musicals in these movies are something from the past, I think this time it was a great opportunity to refresh people's hears and have the chance to listen to some jazz like the old times.

Brett McCoy said...

I liked PatF quite a bit, I saw it on opening night... great music and great animation. I really liked the villain in this one also.

ROB RICHARDS said...

C. Edwards, I agree, there IS indeed a third camp. And you and I are firmly there!

No less than Walt Disney expressed the problem - with SNOW WHITE, the studio created something so nearly perfect it would be impossible to match, let alone top.

That standard still stands today.

Alphonse Doré et Noir - I think that future Disney animated features will indeed get better and better. With the esteemed John Lasseter overseeing things, there is no doubt the Pixar creative standard will enhance the work at Disney.

Luis María Benítez - musicals are, were, and will always have a place in the entertainment world. Musician Howard Ashman was a key player in Disney story development and the animation Renaissance during the 1980s and 1990s. As talented as Alan Menken is, Howard's death dealt a heavy blow to the studio.

The Sherman Brothers were very involved in story and creative development in the 1960s.

Walt Disney recognized that music would be a key component in his films in the 1920s. And it has remained so.

Will a perfect combination of people come together to create another string of Disney animated films as it did in the 1980s? We can only hope! I believe that synchronicity is developing already.

One need only compare THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG to HOME ON THE RANGE to see the quantum leap back to Disney excellence.

While PRINCESS AND THE FROG may not be perfect, it is a great animated film and great entertainment. I, for one, eagerly look forward to more!

Claire said...

I am also of the third camp. I really liked the Princess and The Frog and thought it lived up to the Disney production quality. I especially loved the sequence during "Almost There". However, I was a little disappointed that Disney didn't take a perfect opportunity to push the boundaries and re-invent themselves. Instead of innovating 2D again by coming up with something new, I felt they played it a little safe in the look, story and presentation. Since making another 2D movie was a little risky anyway, it seems that they would have had nothing to lose by coming up with a fresh new look that would raise the bar again. That said, I have been and always will be a Disney fan at heart and I am optimistic that they will eventually come out with something that will blow us all away the way Lion King did when it came out.

ROB RICHARDS said...

Claire,

I appreciate your comments. I don't really think Disney played it safe on this one though.

Having a black American princess was long overdue. I thought Tiana was an incredible character, beautiful and very well written - tough, spunky, sweet, sassy, and charming.

Yet the naysayers still found fault with her.

As they did with the Cajun firefly character Ray. I found that particularly unfair. After all, he was a comic character...

Sometimes it seems Disney can't win no matter what! I think the film succeeded at breaking some new ground...

One step at a time!

Claire said...

Rob,

I think you're right. I loved Tiana, Ray and all the characters. Disney is a master at developing characters that you can really empathize with. I think people (myself included) just have such high expectations for Disney that they can easily get unfairly picked apart. Disney has so much amazing talent, I would love to see something a little different visually. One step at a time is right though, and I think The Princess and The Frog is definitely a step in the right direction. I will always love 2D animation the best and I hope that Disney continues to make more 2D features!

Nancy Muller said...

Third camp, most definitely. I approached this movie with a cautious optimism, and found that while I quite enjoyed it, it could have been much stronger. But I do believe Princess and the Frog is a step in the right direction for Disney.

For me, the music was good but not very memorable, with a few exceptions. The "Almost There" sequence was one of my favorites musically and visually, and the same goes for Mama Odie's "Dig a Little Deeper." They were both such fun and both were relevant and important to the characters and story. I wish there had been some sort of reprise for "Almost There," though.

The main characters were likable but not as genuine as I would have liked. They were too one-track minded, and so lacked depth. I felt the same about the villain. Oddly enough, I really loved some of the supporting characters, though I wish there had been more development all around.

But some things that were just plain right. The backgrounds were lovely, the color scheme was very strong, and all together it was a delight for the eyes.

And *sigh,* the very idea of a firefly in love with a star... oh Evangeline! I loved that. It grabbed me right by the heart.

I think while the Princess and the Frog may not be a perfect film, it's fun and enjoyable and a great step in a promising direction. I just really really hope to see more growth and movies of the same spirit in Disney's future.

Ghosts in Me said...

First of all, thank you for posting more TPATF backgrounds, they are awesome!

About the movie, I really enjoyied it. But I have to say that one of the weaker points about the movie was Facilier. He didn't had a strong story, a real reason to do what he was doing, it seemed to me that it wasn't well written.
Sometimes I think there were too many characters to develop and they didn't found enough screen time for each one. Having said that, the comic duo - Ray and Louis - had, if not in a deep basis like Tiana, a well written story, specially Ray - I'll never forget what I felt watching his story coming to an end (but I would never change a single line about him).
I also love Naveen's story. Actually, Naveen and Tiana's. How they come to know each other until they fall in love. You really feel for these characters. The audience knows they have trully fallen in love for each other, and is beautiful watching that.
About the songs. I'm a huge musicals fan, and I have to confess I downloaded the songs before watched the movie, cuz I was afraid of what Randy could bring up to the movie (I'm not a big fan of Toy Story soundtracks). I was impressed, really loved Mama Odie's song and When We're Human. But after watching/listening it in the big screen, I felt like something was missing. Maybe a big ballad for Tiana (maybe I was expecting too much), but what didn't clicked me was that it didn't felt epic as other movies. Tho I agree that it works well in the movie.

Overall, I really like the movie, went two times to the theater, bought the blu-ray+dvd as soon as it was released and Disney once more left me hopeful for the next masterpiece to come (as Enchanted did lit up the sleepy flame inside us). PS. I just wish Charlotte had more screen time, the girl made me laugh hard!

Dani Boy said...

If I'm honest, it was the backgrounds which first really grabbed my attention. Having just finished a thesis film riddled with intricate background work, it was a pleasure for me to sit back and enjoy the stunning parts of this film that don't move! (similarly to the way I appreciate Sleeping Beauty) But BIG mention must go to the spoiled blonde character whose name I can't recall. My god, her animation was good! Her keys were stunning. I also really enjoyed the alligator. I suppose I'm in camp one, since there is always a tasty nugget for me to extract from a Disney film, regardless of the film's overall quality.

Ian Merch! said...

I thought it started off strong, but fell into some of my least favorite story pitfalls midway through. I loved the Tiana character, but still don't understand why she fell in love with the prince. Plus I thought the firefly was annoying. Other than that I thought it was pretty high quality and loved a lot of the animation and little touches. Charlotte and Louis were really fun characters, as was Facilier.
I'm optimistic about Winnie the Pooh, and hope that Eric Goldberg is animating the titular bear, as he's my favorite animator, and I'll look forward to future projects, but I thought Princess and the Frog ranked somewhere in the middle, as far as Disney films go.

Sheryl said...

(My comment exceeds maximum character count, so I am splitting it into two parts.)
Part One

Personally, I thought that TPATF was more dedicated to making money and merchandising than to creating a good story or good animated movie and that it showed.

I understand that Disney is a business out to make money, of course, and I'm not going to claim stupid things like "betrayal" and blah blah blah. Disney makes money by selling what people will buy, in merchandise and movies. Much as some people might worry about -- and criticize Disney for -- the Disney Princess line, that line sells because people buy. It is why this is The Princess And The Frog, not The Frog Prince.

I love Disney animated movies. I grew up on them. I continue, as an adult, to watch them with adoration. I used to want to be an animator. As a child, I drew Disney fan art and created my own original characters in the Disney style. So, I had to watch the latest offering.

And it just was not very good. Overall, it felt more like the discussions for what to do went more along the lines of, "Hey, what sold really well from this movie and that movie and this other movie? Rehash that stuff!" than, "What would make a good and original rewrite of a famous -- though widely misunderstood -- fairy tale?"

The story felt lacking, and many scenes felt like filler, like the story could not carry an 80 minute (or however long) film. Normally, musical numbers are great fun, but these felt like tedious moments that I had to sit through before I was allowed to watch the story continue.

Sheryl said...

Part Two

The characters were really hit-and-miss. Tiana herself... ugh, I could make my issues with her an entire separate post; I have been thinking of doing so! In summary, she is incredibly single-minded and the girl doth protest too much against princes, methinks. The villain was too ineffective and threatened by his own demons to seem threatening, and the lightening bug... I don't think that I'm supposed to celebrate when a major supporting character gets stepped on, or annoyed when he apparently survived that long enough for a "touching" drawn-out death scene later.

On the flip side, Charlotte and Prince Naveen were fun. Charlotte made me think of a non-villainous Darla Dimple (Cats Don't Dance), and that character was fun. Pretty girls too often have to be fairly straight characters to keep them pretty. Charlotte was pretty, but she had flair and flaws that made me want to know her better. Prince Naveen, likewise, was flamboyant and enjoyable. Sure, he and Charlotte were flakier than Tiana. If I want to hire someone, then I'll select Tiana. If I want to watch an entertaining movie about someone, then I'll select those two.

The moral of the story: FAIL. The message is theoretically to work hard for what you want, but let's look at what happened: Tiana worked hard and still failed to get what she wanted. She still had to be saved by a prince (with a crocodile's help) to get her dream.

Also, why didn't Tiana just get a loan from Charlotte and her father in the first place? She obviously had a good history with them, first her mother working for them and then Tiana regularly serving them their favorite food at a restaurant. Alternatively, why wasn't she working for them directly, where she probably could have gotten better pay than she did from waitressing? They clearly liked her food and hired her to cook for them on odd jobs. Take advantage of your good business connections where you have them!

There's also the animation itself, which felt a little phoned-in in places. Yes, yes, it was pretty, but the backgrounds were not as masterful as they have been in other movies. Also, more than once in the 2-D movie (my SO gets headaches from 3-D movies, so we watch them in 2-D), we could see where the editing crew had not bothered to fix things from 3-D to 2-D, so images looked wrong.

For me, TPATF was simply not a good movie. While I assume that many of its predecessors that I loved were at least partially written and made with profits in mind, this one felt like it showed that it was written with profits in mind, and not art or good story-telling.

Luca Bonatti said...

couldn't agree more with Sheryl! Wasted occasion to show what 2D Disney movies could be capable of.

Ghosts in Me said...

For Nancy Muller: there's actually an Almost There reprise in the movie. It's when she's in Charlotte's room, heading to the balcony. You can listen to it in the track Ray Laid Down, by 1min39s. IT's shorts, but still, a reprise. :P

Fabien MORISSET said...

I just loved it altogether.

Great movie really!!!

Patrik Spacek said...

just my opinion: today everything is so expensive and spent around 100mil $ just for clean-ups work its ridicilous! I wish to be back in 50s I care more about work than money! My opinion about this movies is, that nine old men would do much better job. They always care about those little details, they did more detailed research, they put more motion into the characters, all was more blended and smooth. Same way was Don Bluth, who did great job on Anastasia etc. I know there was a lot of work done on this movie, and it cost ridicilous money, but when I watch it, I can see many rush work moments there. Cut the money, do better job (sadly)

darren charlton said...

s a true fan of Disney and traditional hand drawn animation i was so underwhelmed. What was progressive renaissance of the old style in the 90's came off as pastiche here and dare I say it looked like sub standard 80's Don Bluth. The quality of character designs was patchy. All the progress made with more challenging features like Pocahontas seems lost now and I can only hope that they gather strength with Rapunzel. They need to look forward more than look back at this point I feel.

RAWLS said...

I agree with there being a third camp... those who honestly love 'classic' disney animation and who look for that to return. This was proclaimed as that said return to their classic roots, but in my honest opinion was a very poor attempt. Now, I say poor attempt, not because the backgrounds weren't beautiful, they were, not because the fx weren't fantastic, as they were as well. But because the most important core points were lacking. Story and character. I'll give them a B for effort on trying to do a story that was a little... 'different', but it just came off being too forced and cliche. If the story stinks, no amount of good art can save it. But sadly, the character designs were some of the worst I've seen to date.
So overall, C for a good try, but in the end, a fail in my books.

Lorraine said...

I personally loved the movie, although it isn't my favorite and I do see the flaws in it. I think people's expectations were so high for this film that they set themselves up for disappointment: don't forget that Hollywood will Always play it safe at established studios. And remember that it took approx. 3 films Before the Lion King to build the studio back up to it's early standards. (Although Lion King is my least favorite of Mermaid, Beauty, and Aladdin)

Considering which, I was delighted to see the animation in the Almost There sequence: as a designer, and long-time animation enthusiast, I thought it was gorgeous!

I'm really excited about Rapunzel: the story is close to my heart and everything I've seen from it so far looks great. TPatF is a spring board: delightful in its own way, Almost There in terms of story and development, and opening the door for more films to follow.

MistahB said...

I thought it looked entertaining and fun to look at with charismic characters in all, it's just that there where so many loopholes like in every other disney film and Prince Naveen looked exactly like the prince guy in Little Mermaid except he's black. And also the huge alligator guy looked so similar from the big lipped alligator from All Dogs go to Heaven personality-wise. But all of that's just nit picking the film itself was pretty fun.

Nicol3 said...

I'm still bitter-- though I feel like I'd have to see it again to reflect (more accurately) upon my likes and dislikes.

But as of now, I'm firmly with Sheryl on this one; especially the "rehash, regurgitate" comment.

I mean, 'dis ere joint had it all. WOOOH, DA MUSIC. 'Dem KOOKY CHARACTERS. BLATANT ROMANTIC TENSION. And let's not forget.. CULTURE. OOooh Wee Cher'. Beignets anyone?

Okay, so maybe the those elements weren't nearly as extreme... But then again-- the film itself made little to no use of subtlety.

It also suffers heavily from a heavy dosage of GENERIC I-DONT-CARE-ACTER OVERLOAD. I mean, look at the poster. It's friggin' engorged. There are too many stint-characters to keep track of! Birds, and Turtles, and dingbat Hillbillies, Oh my!

Why yes, I'd love some cheese with this whine.

There's one more thing I really really need to get off my chest.

Why is this film robbed of ALL ethnicity?

Yeah, they sprinkled it with a bit of Gumbo generic Louisiana cultural elements-- we got that.

But down to it's core-- The final designs are so cockblocked and watered down that even though many of the main the characters are black-- they look no different from their white counterparts.

They don't HAVE to look pickaninny to be appealing! What were they so afraid of? Earlier designs of Tiana (Then Maddy) looked so promising.

I watched as design releases got more and more and more.. chocolate-dipped Jasmine + Belle hybrid. That poofy, badass hair? Gone. Those sleepy, sultry eyes? Wretched open for the sake of being cute.

I feel like I want a redo. More risks, mind you. But I guess that's all one can really expect from "That Company" as of now-- gamey films that cater to bubblegum-blowers.

Noor Mohammed said...

Yes 'Princess and frog' is cool. But I will suggest you to place some oooold movies like Jungle book, Sword in the stone (where the old men drawn on cell and painted behind that) near to it them compare it. I will say it has nothing new even the song is in old ward kimball style.Just look at the animation flow of the old movies. Each action will make your eyes pop out. Here you can find out some flaws very easily. In order to bring the lost glory if the Romans decide to use their old age costumes, I bet it will be a foolishness. We should try to bring that IMPACT back which we see in the old movies.

Niki said...

I'll be blunt. Watching it felt awful, It seemed jumbled, almost as if it where a million piece puzzle and all the pieces are slammed together in whatever part looks right. The art looked gross, I hope you'll take the time and look at water effects in older Disney films and realized Princess and the Frog's looked like clear melted human flesh.

I saw Ponyo for the first time that same day, it's not as much computer input but it got a more solid feeling and the water(Which was everywhere) looks like water. There is a big gap to the two, and because of Walt's and the great nine's absence I don't think the Disney company can fill it.

Squibble said...

I loved the film, and I am hoping it is just the start of a new series of Disney 2d animated movies. I wrote an in-depth review a while back:

http://www.squibble.org/weblog/105-review-princess-and-the-frog

ArtbyAndy said...

I haven't read what other people said as their comments on this blog... but, in my opinion, it was fantastic. The storytelling was captivating and the visuals were top notch. I did read at another blog about how certain things weren't done right but after watching it again... I forgive Disney.

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elisef said...

I think the story would have recieved far less attention if it had not been Disney's first attempt (that's an embarassment in and of ITSELF that they took so long) at making black main characters. There are dozens of Disney movies, and some are undeniable Classics, and others fell through the cracks and you can only find copies of them on Amazon or Ebay. If this had featured white characters I don't think people would be as scared to admit that the movie was a disappointment, considering how much hype it received prior to its release. The story line was too shallow, with very little SUBSTANCE, I think. If it WAS gumbo, TPATF would be missing hot sauce, definitely. The plot was missing something that made me actually CARE. The heroine was just a monotonous cliche of the Spunky Hopeful Girl with Dreams, the 'prince' was a JOKE, and the supporting characters were actually the only thing that kept me watching the show. Keith David is always PHENOMENAL as a villain, but I think even his efforts were wasted on a rather un-terrifying villain, compared to the late greats like Maleficent, The Wicked Queen from Snow White, Scar, and Lady Tremane. The firefly was humorous and I felt more for his relationship with Evangeline than for Naveen & Triana's. Jennifer Lewis was great at giving the old woman (forgot her name) life, and that rich friend of Triana's stole every scene they shared together. Of course the animation was stunning, but that's Disney for you. All in all, I think they should have thought the story through more and given the plot more fluffing. :(

Ryan Gatts said...

I'm pretty late to this party, but I found the movie to be overly-animated in an attempt to celebrate it's 2D-ness. There were many scenes that seemed extra zany or otherwise had overly-bombastic animation. It really messed with my ability to connect to the characters. The work in the recent Winnie the Pooh is significantly better (actually, go watch Winnie the Pooh; it was excellent).

I also didn't care for the story on the whole. Unless I misunderstand, the message of the movie is, "don't work harder to achieve you dreams, keep you mind open to where love and fate point, you and you'll be happy." The fact that they characterized Tiana as being short-sighted for wanting to work hard to achieve her goals (because what she really needed was love.) really bothered me.

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