It came with a gimmick. A return to old traditional, hand-drawn animation gimmick, that is. Now to be honest, I couldn’t put words on what was different between hand-drawn and CG animation only that I found myself much much easier to fell in love to the hand-drawn than a CG. For instance, I could still enjoy “Aladdin” or any other Disney’s classics even after multiple viewings nowadays. Heck, I recently began collecting the old Donald Duck cartoons again. On the contrary, I rarely, if ever, felt the same passion toward CG animations. Even “Up” which I immensely liked wouldn’t get a second viewing anytime soon. So there, I couldn’t put it to words, but I felt it. The hand-drawn animations hit me closest to home.
That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed “The Princess and the Frog.” Aside to the fact that I’ve always been a sucker for musical films, *any* musical films, I had expected that it was going to be more inline with “Cinderella,” or “Snow White,” in retrospect that this film will have that old, true classical vibe with story that sometimes bordering close to tragedy. I wasn’t expecting that this film will only loosely based on the original fairy tale, will be an enjoyable feat as it was heavy with comedy elements without being too over the top, and will have plenty strong and likable characters that easily richer than most of the CG-heavy animation films released recently. So yes, I’m having a great time, except of course, for that stupid woman two rows in front of me that kept flashing her *bright* Nokia E71. Yes, I know the model.
The opening sequence of this film lacks grandeur, true. But if you’ve seen much (animated) films, I bet you’d (remotely) feel something warm and relaxing with the view and who dare not to laugh at the misery of that little kitten? Like an appetizer, it was right and satisfactory. Here was Tiana, a (soon to-be) hard-working girl with a dream of opening her own restaurant and here was Charlotte, a daughter of the wealthiest man in New Orleans. Between them came a Prince from a distant land but he was not an usual Prince you’ve always knew. There’s also the Shadow Man, a practitioner voodoo-ism as the main villain, an equivalent of fairy godmother, and a couple of charming sidekicks (you’ll love them, and you’re going to laugh at one of the sidekick’s introduction, promise). All those elements that made up and screams “old school.” Added into it, layers of beautiful sceneries from old New Orleans to the depth of bayou, all was properly and perfectly done. For me, nothing seems out of place and even if I’d liked it more had the film ends shortly before it’s actual ending, I was more or less managed to keep my satisfaction level all the way up to the very end.
But of course, my favorite part of the film was the songs. Sure, some of the lyrics are better left unsaid, and it was *definitely* better if you didn’t read the subtitle during the song and dance sequences, but the jazz (was it jazz? Well, the characters says it was jazz), even at its weakest sequence (in particular, the fairy godmother sequence), was pizzazz. Oh, I love it. We don’t often see this kind of thing again as of late. But again, I’ve always been a sucker for musical film.
My rating: *** / **** I’m enjoying it immensely. Coming in, expecting a melancholy classical fairy tale and getting a joyous romantic comedy journey (which Disney is very good at) with great characters and voice-works and song and dance was exhilarating.
P.S: I was going to make a resolution. From now on, should I see *anyone* flashes their handphones during the film and if this stupid thing was within an earshot of my whispering, I would politely tell it to stop flashing. Promise.