2010 Oscars Challenge: The Princess and the Frog

a-princesa-e-o-sapo-poster-1THE PRINCESS & THE FROG

Up For:
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
(2) Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Where do I begin with The Princess & The Frog? What happened to Disney films?

Before viewing Princess & The Frog, I revisited two Disney classics, Aladdin and The Lion King. Now yes, they are classics and therefore rule all in the kingdom of Disney, but honestly, Princess & The Frog is no where even in the ball park of the originals. That said, even in the field of animated features that it is in, I believe it fails, and in several aspects, including the categories it is up for.

The songs were (and still should be) the guiding light of the Disney genre. I could recite to you the lyrics to the songs of most all the major Disney films. Two days removed from Princess & The Frog and I can recite maybe three words from the movies one nominated song “Almost There” (singing that part and that part only over and over in your head is not recommended). I feel with even several more viewings (please God don’t make me), I would still not catch onto the songs because they were unexciting and unremarkable. Disney is a worldwide powerhouse, so obviously I can see the film winning its nomination for that fact only, but Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox were light years beyond this film, songs or no songs.

The characters were too specific for a Disney film. A black “princess”, a Southern belle, and Hispanic princess? I know they were building up the Southern theme in New Orleans, but it got to be a little much. That aside, the messages that were being pumped across were too much for me as well. The voodoo shadow man being in “debt” to the demons, his “friends” on the other side while the main “princess” (not actually a princess until the final minutes of the film) is advocating for hard work to earn what she wants (so much so that she neglects everything else).

Some of the characters, however, were enjoyable. The voice of John Goodman added light to his character of Big Daddy. Though hardly in the film much (as were most of the supporting characters), his voice lightened up the darkness that was this film. The voodoo shadow man was excellent. Instead of recycling the likes of their other villains, Disney still knows how to create a unique villain that could stand next to the others in a line-up and still look unique. The voodoo mama was good as well (though, once again, hardly even in the film). The best character of all was a caricature of the Southern hillbilly in the form of a lightning bug. Every line coming from the cartoon characters tiny little mouth were hilarious.

For a child’s film, the Princess & the Frog contained some dark subject matter. Though the voodoo demons were scary in their own way, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) the death of a certain beloved character was handled adult-ish, as though children would understand what was going on. I would not want to be the parent explaining what the death of that character meant. Sure, it can be told off as just a film, a fantasy, but to subject your children to death at such a young age seems anti-naivety.

The children that were in the film during my screening were enthralled with this film. They laughed at parts that I would never find funny, they were close to balling during the death scene, and it dawned on me that these Best Animated Features should truly be judged by children, because though adults get something out of the films a majority of the time, these films are ultimately made for children to enjoy and adults should not be judging them. So maybe that is what I will tell myself if this film wins on Oscar night to make myself feel better. I say, “the children must have decided the winner of that one.”

(13 FILMS TO GO)

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