After finding out that The Princess and the Frog was still playing at one of the theaters in Tempe, Haily and I took the kids out for a night on the town. Unfortunately, money's been tight for some time, so we haven't been to the movies much in the past year - in fact, we only saw Up and the 3D Toy Story double feature.
My daughter, for the first time, sat through the movie without needing to climb up on Mommy or Daddy's lap. My son's prior movie experiences have left either me or my wife leaving the the theater to tend to him. He was a little rambunctious, but watched the movie - sometimes in his seat, sometimes in Mommy's lap - but we didn't need to move from our seats to calm him down.
The presentation was a great twist. Rather than a straight telling of the Frog Prince fairy tale, the film takes the premise and creates a world where the characters are aware of the story and take matters into their own, er, flippers.
About halfway through the movie I found myself doing something I haven't caught myself doing in a long time. I had a silly grin going from ear to ear. Beginning with the introduction of Louis, a trumpet playing alligator . . .
. . . and continuing with the addition of Ray, a cajun lightning bug . . .
. . . I found myself completely caught up in the movie. It's been years since I found myself so fully enveloped by a film. I'll admit, I'm too much of a geek to lose myself in movies. I have to know how a particular effect was created, or try to comprehend a particular character's motivation. For example, early in the film, the style changes from the romantic animated form to an art deco tapestry, and in the midst of the scene found myself wondering if any previous animated films have had such a drastic change in style.
Dr. Facilier, is a worthy addition to the Disney rogues gallery. The clip I've included offers a bit of the background on his character by both the voice artist, David Keith, and lead animator, Bruce Smith.
The Princess and the Frog was truly charming, and I look forward to repeated views (it is scheduled to be released on DVD in March). True, I am an avowed Disney animation nut, and will pretty much always say something good about every Disney cartoon that comes along, but this one will be ranked in my library alongside true classics such as Pinnochio, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast.
I know, this review is several months beyond all others out there, but it touched a part of me - the part that loves animation for being animation. But what I think I'll remember most is looking over at my daughter, fixated on the magic up on that movie screen.