Saturday, 20 February 2010

A hand drawn Disney film? It can't be!

I just posted the first instalment of my new web serial over at my new blog, Tales from Vertigo City. Go follow the blog, or subscribe, and you'll get a new instalment every week!

In other news, I went to see The Princess and the Frog today. I bet you didn't guess that I'm a Disney fan, eh? I love their work, up until and including The Lion King (although I do have a soft spot for The Emperor's New Groove). I have to admit that I never thought I'd live to see the day when I'd be sat in a cinema in 2010, watching a hand-drawn 2D cartoon. It felt slightly surreal, but at the same time, perfectly normal. Why shouldn't Disney go back to doing what they do best, when all their efforts at 3D films have sucked?

It's somewhat surprising that the mastermind behind The Princess and the Frog should be Pixar genius John Lasseter, but then again, the man has a passion for storytelling. What he's done here is given us a fairytale with a twist, but without going down the self-indulgent Shrek route. Set in 1920s New Orleans, our 'princess' is hard-working Tiana, a waitress with dreams of running her own restaurant, while our prince is a lazy playboy out to marry a rich girl after being cut off by his royal family. Tiana is feisty, and a lot more intelligent than your typical Disney film, and once you ignore her "Hard work will get you everything you want" spiel, she's quite likeable. Naveen is spoilt and charming, and a little more like the lazy royalty we're used to reading about in the tabloids.

As ever, the boy-meets-girl plot is given a little makeover, since our girl meets our boy when he's a frog. Prince Naveen adopts this amphibian persona after a run-in with the local voodoo witch doctor, Dr Facilier. As Disney villains go, he's not bad, but he's no Ursula or Maleficent. Anyway. Prince Naveen mistakes Tiana for a princess and gets her to kiss him (thinking this will turn him back into a human), though it does little more than turn Tiana into a frog. 

The pair end up in the bayou and seek the help of the local voodoo wise woman. Aided by a Cajun firefly in love with the North Star and a jazz-loving alligator, they get into the usual scrapes and perform an assortment of musical setpieces, none of which reach the dazzling heights of The Little Mermaid's 'Under the Sea'. I won't sport with your intelligence by asking you to guess the ending, but despite its veneer of Hollywood happiness and fairytale gloss, The Princess and the Frog is actually an enjoyable little film about recognising what's really important in life, and the value in balance. Naveen is all play and no work, while Tiana is the other way around, but neither are truly happy until they realise there's a compromise in there somewhere.

The musical numbers aren't bad, and as I've already said, Tiana makes a refreshing change as a Disney heroine, although I can't help thinking the realities of life as a black woman in 1920s Louisiana weren't quite as rosy as Disney would have us believe. The characters are rounded and likeable, although not quite as iconic as those from Disney's 'classic' oeuvre, but to be honest, I don't care. I'm just glad to see Disney back doing what they do best, allowing Pixar to do what they do best, while they piss all over their competition.

4 comments:

natc85 said...

I think I might have to go and see this tomorrow as Martin is away.

Icy Sedgwick said...

You should!! Just beware of the many screaming brats that will no doubt also be there.

monokulture said...

Like me.

Eisley Jacobs said...

We still haven't seen this yet... maybe I feel a 50 cent movie coming on ;)

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