If you haven't heard, Disney is releasing a new 2-D animated movie based on the classic story The Frog Prince called The Princess and The Frog. This seems like a great move to bring back the audience whose childhood revolved around the Disney Renaissance of the 90's. While there has been plenty of controversy on the internet about the race of the characters and the setting I was offended by the trailer's marketing but before I get to that I should go over some things I liked about it.
Disney has been showing some real balls lately- When was the last time a G-rated animated movie was in contention for the best movie of the year? I still maintain that Wall-E should've been nominated and won best picture and the majority of that goes to the risk Disney/Pixar took to make an animated movie with limited dialogue and hold the mirror up to society. Here, Disney is showing similar guts by releasing a 2-d animated movie when everything is moving towards 3-D CGI it is nice to see someone taking a chance. Also when was the last time there was a mainstream animated movie with an African American main character? While Disney is probably trying to make up for characters like the Crows in Dumbo and that Disney himself was apparently a racist, this is huge for Disney to take a step in this direction. Disney certainly has needed to catch up with the times. It's good to see they did.
John Lassater is an Executive Producer-When Ratatouille came out everyone talked about Brad Bird being the best animated storyteller in the western hemisphere. While thats true, Lassater has some major chops with the aforementioned Wall-e and Finding Nemo.
Essentially An Unknown Cast-I know some of these actors are very well known but the only one I could recognize is Terrence Howard. This is also a sign of Disney's guts in an age when solid movies like Kung-Fu Panda are released with a bloated cast.
Despite these redeeming qualities I can't get too excited about this next outing from Disney. My main problem with the trailer & the marketing campaign in general is that it is manipulating those of us who were kids in the 90's during the peak of not only Disney animation but western animation in general (Don Bluth). To imply that this movie is going to come close to classics such as Aladdin, Lion King, and Beauty and The Beast is absurd. Disney's last few original 2-D animated movies have been, for the most part, less than stellar. Let's take a look at the list:
Brother Bear (2003)
Treasure Planet (2002)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
Just to be clear, I do like Lilo & Stitch a lot and The Emperor's New Groove certainly has it's moments. If we are really being honest with ourselves though, the last great Disney 2-D venture is Mulan. However there is something to be said for the best movie of that bunch (Stitch) using water colors, so maybe this throwback is enough.
One other thing, why is this movie being put out in limited release? Disney is really showing confidence in the box office draw of its own name. My only guess is that they are really trying to push the nostalgia factor in a way that would make this an "art film." As I mentioned before, just because it's in 2-D or hand drawn, doesn't automatically bring it up to par with those from the 90's. Again, heres the trailer, if you haven't seen it or need to watch it a second time. Let me know what you think.