Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I finally had a chance to see last night Princess and the Frog and here is my review. The movie was released in France last week only and unfortunately the press screenings happened when i was on holiday last month and i've missed all of them, so this is the reason why i couldn't write before this review.
So, i saw Princess and the Frog in perfect condition yesterday evening and i liked it a lot! I think it's a wonderful Disney animated movie and i strongly encourage each of you to go out as soon as you can and see it!
First, the animation is first class animation, just like in the old time of Disney animated movies, and Disney animators did a fantastic job, really. The characters are perfect - everything is perfectly done, in fact - and some of them are really funny like the crocodile or the rich daughter character. Backgrounds are sumptuous and Randy Newman's music is as great as you can expect from such a talented composer.
Though, it took Princess and the Frog more than six weeks to make $100 M at the U.S box-office and the movie is not as successful as the latest Pixar movies. So, where is the problem - if there is one? If we except the huge success of Avatar who took a lot of spectators, some may say that if Princess and the Frog was not extremely successful it's because it's a 2D animated movie. Let's think about this one minute : personally what i liked in Princess and the Frog was precisely that it has the class of Disney animated features in the grand Disney tradition (as John Lasseter would say). And it's true that when you see it you have the feeling it could have been done anytime between the 1950's to the 1990's as the animation style and the "Princess" storyline could have been one they choose to adapt in these old days. But that's a big part of the movie charm, precisely! It is this quaint charm which makes it enjoyable.
However i can see two reasons which could explain its so-so success at the box-office. First it's a "Princess" movie and although i don't doubt that young girls can still believe to these poor-girl-who-finally-meet-the charming-Prince stories i think that it's not anymore the same with parents. Let me be clear: even forty years ago adults didn't believe that this kind of fairy tale was true. But, in our 21st Century age, the cynism of the society reached such a point that it has almost destroyed any form of innocence in people's mind. Life is harder and harder - and it's going to get worse - and it's more and more difficult for adults to keep (even hidden) a childhood spirit.
I know that when we go to Disneyland it's precisely to find back this "childhood spirit", but we know that it's not the real life. Back in the 1950's - 70's when the future was bright it was different. Innocence was not yet replaced by cynism and even adults could be sensitive to these "Princess" stories. But not anymore. And that's probably one of the reason why "Princess" didn't had the success it deserves.
One other reason could be that in the times we're living people like what is "shiny". And i have to admit that CGI animated movies have a look more "shiny". It's absurd because it is the animation quality and the storyline which should be more important, but the look of CGI animated movies is more "charming" for the eye. And, by the way, we can see this love for shiny everywhere if it's not in any product. As you know i'm a big fan of Apple computers but i'm furious that all Mac computers have now - and only - a glossy screen. The reason why Apple is doing this is not only an economic reason but also because, precisely, glossy-shiny screens are as i've just said more charming for the eye.
All of this to say that the high quality of Princess and the Frog is not into question. It's probably more difficult now to have huge hits at the B.O with a 2D animated movie but that's not a reason to stop 2D animation. Right now the international box-office of the movie is $149 M but if we except Germany and Italy where the movie was released last December - and France since last week - the movie has yet to open in theatres of many major countries like the U.K or Japan. So, in the meantime, please go out to watch Princess and the Frog, it's a wonderful movie with great characters and, as i've said, top class animation. I'm sure you will love it!
/Film did recently a great behind the scenes Princess and the Frog documentary called "Frogumentary" and filmed at Walt Disney Animation Studios. It's now released in four parts on Youtube and i've embedded it below. Great document, don't miss it!
Picture: copyright Disney
Video: copyright slashfilm.com