11 December 2009 | Apemangalore
Reiterates that Walt Disney Animation is back and here to stay
With such disappointments as Home on the Range and Chicken Little, Walt Disney Animation Studios – on the whole – has had a pretty rough decade. Last November, however, the Mouse House released Chris Williams and Byron Howards' Bolt, which is not only generally accepted as a return to form for the studio, but over the course of this past year, has usurped Pulp Fiction as my personal favorite movie of all time. With that said, I went into The Princess and the Frog with relatively high expectations; having walked out of the theatre just a couple of hours ago, I have to say that John Musker and Ron Clements' latest - while not overthrowing it - certainly continues the magic of the studio's previous film.
Visually, The Princess and the Frog is absolutely mesmerizing. Seriously, 2D animation has never looked better than it does in this film. As executive producer/Pixar founder John Lasseter said, it's very much like stepping into a pair of old, comfortable shoes. Familiar, yet seemingly brand new. The energetic look of New Orleans is perfectly captured on screen, enhancing the story all the more.
Speaking of which, the story of this film is just like the animation in that, while being traditional Disney fare, it's executed in such a way that it feels completely different from anything you've ever experienced. As many times as this movie will make you laugh, it'll make you cry, which – for me – has always been the sign of a classic Disney Animation film. The movie also succeeds in making you feel invested in each and every one of these characters, major and minor ones alike, which is definitely one of the most difficult tasks that any film could hope to achieve.
Unlike most Disney princesses, Tiana is strong, independent, and isn't looking for her Prince Charming. In fact, it's these differentiating traits of hers that make Tiana my favorite Disney princess to date. It also helps that Anika Noni Rose delivers a stunning performance as her voice, making Tiana all the more captivating every moment that she's on screen. Bruno Campos also does a terrific job as Naveen, whose character is also a departure from the traditional Disney prince. He's a fellow who, while being stuck-up and lazy, somehow manages to come across as extremely likable. Both of these characters make for what is easily the most convincing Disney couple to date.
The real stand-out performance, however, is that of Keith David as Dr. Facilier. Since his performance as the Arbiter from the Halo video game series, I've been a huge fan of this guy's work, and couldn't have been more excited when I heard that he'd be doing the voice of the villain in this movie. With his low, creepy voice, David captures the essence of this character perfectly, and by the end, you're genuinely scared of this guy. Because of this, Facilier is definitely one of – if not my absolute favorite – Disney villain, challenged only by Gaston and Frollo. With his performance as the Cat from Coraline, and now Facilier, Keith David continues to prove that he is the man.
As with every other aspect of the film, the musical numbers in The Princess and the Frog are extremely memorable, most notably Dr. Facilier's "Friends On the Other Side", a deliciously creepy piece that ranks right up there with "Hellfire" from Hunchback of Notre Dame as one of the best Disney villain songs. You'll definitely find yourself humming several of these tunes on your way back home from the theatre.
The Princess and the Frog is an excellent return to 2D animation. The animation is more beautiful than ever, the characters are some of the most memorable ones I've ever seen on film, and the musical numbers are infectiously catchy. The Princess and the Frog clearly reiterates the statement already made by last year's aforementioned Bolt: Walt Disney Animation is back and here to stay.