I love animated films. I'm a huge fan and always have been. AND I love musicals. So the formulaic Disney traditional cell-animated movies often rank up among my favorites. The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast – I think they're all brilliant. So why did this new one leave me a bit cold?
I wouldn't say it was bad – far from it – it was a good, solid Disney film. But it doesn't rank among the best, and I can't figure out why.
It could be the music – Randy Newman is not one of my favorite composers and his music was the only bad part of Monsters Inc. – but even despite him, some of the music is pretty catchy. And I'm really happy that they pulled inspiration out of music from the south (Jazz, Dixieland, Zydeco, Gospel). It offers something we haven't really heard before in a Disney movie.
It could also be the animation – although it sticks pretty true to classic Disney style, and there really are a few moments of brilliant animation.
Or maybe it's the story, which does indeed fall a little short. I know it's a kids movie and there is good reason to keep it simple, but a few of the scenes (i.e. the Frog hunter scene) simply felt a little tacked-on to add to the overall length. It might have been better to deepen the story a bit rather than just add a chase sequence.
I guess it's just a combination of all these things. Whatever the reasons, I can't really recommend it for a theatre viewing, but it's certainly rental-worthy. Or maybe I'm just getting tired of Disney cartoons.
This year's Oscar for best Animated film should (and will) go to Up, but I guess what irks me most is that the Princess and the Frog, while good, even made it onto the nominee list for animated films. There were more deserving films this year that didn't get a nod – Mary & Max, for instance, was way better – and I think the Academy needs to look beyond Hollywood. There's a whole world of animation out there, and Disney is just the tip of a very large iceberg.