The Princess and the Frog (2009) (Blu-ray)
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Jason, Bellville. 11 June 2010
Just the opening Disney Animation logo made it clear to me the Disney meant business with this title. There was Mickey Mouse doing his Steamboat Willy spiel, which was Disney's way of saying that they were going back to what made them famous in the beginning. There's a simple tale, beautifully fleshed out through song and dance where mere words just won't suffice. Also the characters. Here they are not mere vehicles to show off the latest CG animation algorithms; they are lively and flowing in ways that cel animation can best accommodate. The bit with the three hick hunters on the johnboat illustrates this point perfectly, with quickfire animated antics that I'm sure Chuck Jones himself would approve of. This is but a small example, as all characters contribute positively to the overall production from a Cajun firefly and his kin to a shadowy sinister charlatan. Southern stereotypes they may be, but these are the kinds that give stereotypes a good name. The writing here is also noteworthy, allowing for key characters to be fleshed out while offering a generous helping of humour and keeping the pace just right (not too fast, not too slow). Let me just touch on the humour. It has been too long since I came across physical humour in movies that was as well-staged, well-timed, and with such great pay-offs as in this title. The fact that the aforementioned johnboat incident made me laugh out loud is a testament to that fact. Then came a very sombre moment at the end, one that I wouldn't expect from Disney and one that I laud them for including in the final cut. So this is it. Disney has emerged out of the doldrums with a title that I consider their second best ever, after Beauty and the Beast.
Disney once again delivers a quality blu-ray, with top-notch picture and sound accompanying a simple tale that entertains so many ages at so many levels without being preachy or patronising. As an animated musical it works astonishingly well, recalling the past musical numbers of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman in the way the songs integrate into the storytelling process to express what mere spoken words cannot. This is the Disney I recall, and it feels good to have it back.
Region B - Includes most European and Middle-Eastern countries, all of Africa, Australia and New Zealand.