Friday, March 09, 2007

Hurrah! Disney's (possible) triumphant return!

Okay, I believe I mentioned in some posts a long time back that Disney, with it's half-animated musical Enchanted might finally be the start in the right direction we've all been waiting for. Not on this blog (but to my parents) I was starting to complain about how the "Disney Princess" thing has become a brand name to merchandise decade-old movies instead of making actual new princess movies.

Well, over at Ain't It Cool News, they're reporting that John Lasseter met with shareholders to talk about Disney's upcoming projects, and one that they mentioned is The Frog Princess. Here are a few of the things that have me excited about it:

1. Apparently, it's going to be hand-drawn! Yeehaw! That's what I'm talking about - now that Disney and Pixar are together, it's better for everyone if Pixar sticks to the CGI films and Disney keeps with what it's done best for sixty years - fantastic, two-dimensional, hand-drawn feature films.

2. It's going to be a MUSICAL!

3. Obviously, there's going to be a princess in it, which makes it just so nice. Apparently, Disney's making a big deal about how the story's going to be set in New Orleans, and the protagonist will be Disney's first ever African American Princess. Um, well, I'm going to have to agree with some of AICN's Talkbackers and say: who cares? In the last ten years, we've had Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, and Esmerelda - who were Arabic, Chinese, American Indian, and Eastern European (but a swarthy Eastern European!), respectively. Ah well.

Now normally, I'd be insanely excited about this, and in many ways I am. But not completely. There are a few sticking points in my brain that keep this from being the absolutely perfect return to form I hoped Disney would make:

1. They stole my idea. Well, no, not really. Not at all, actually. I've been daydreaming lately about making my own animation company to make musical fairy-tale movies, and I had a few ideas in mind for the films (one was an accurate retelling of The Little Mermaid, sad ending and all, only because of Disney's copyright it wouldn't be called The Little Mermaid, but something more vague like Hans Christian Anderson's Mermaid or something). One was a version of The Frog Prince. I like to imagine that Weird Al would voice the wisecracking amphibian and Sarah Silverman would tone down her humour a tad to play the spoiled beyotch princess...but anyway, getting a little ahead of myself - I was kinda wishing for a Frog Prince movie to be made. Sure, I love the Disney princesses, but there's nothing wrong with having a male protagonist in an animated film, is there? Heroes are outnumbered by heroines ten-to-one in the protagonist department, it seems to me. There's Quasimodo, and Aladdin, and Peter Pan, and Simba - and that seems about it. Maybe it's just me. Oh yeah, and Kenai from Brother Bear - I guess I'll count him, although the movie wasn't very good.

Anyway, realistically I know there is a next-to-nothing chance that I'll start my own animation company and do Disney-style stuff (or at least in the next five years)- I have more of a chance of actually working for Disney itself. Still, I can't help but feel a little disappointed that I wasn't able to implement my idea first.

2. Alan Menken isn't doing the music. Randy Newman is. Alan Menken, in my eyes, is the master of providing dynamic scores and excellent songs to help narrate a film. Randy Newman did Toy Story - and it was background music. Are they going to be, y'know, actual show-tunes that push the story further along and explain things, or are they just going to be (N'Awlins-Flavoured) soft-pop tunes whose drippy lyrics kinda sorta metaphorically refer to the movie itself (like Phil Collin's work for Brother Bear and Tarzan?) Again, I'll refer to an AICN Talkbacker who recalled a Family Guy bit where Randy Newman, sitting at a piano, can only make songs about what he sees, to the tune of "red-headed lady, gonna eat an apple, now she's not gotta eat it, now she's breathing on it, chew, chew, stop, chew..." etc.

Still, I'm really glad that Disney is going back to animated, fairy-tale musicals. I mean, The Little Mermaid came out 18 years ago (really? wow) and children are still buying the toys. That's a sign that those types of movies have longevity, if you ask me.


  1. Anonymous12:48 PM

    great blog! I like all your book and movie reviews!

  2. Are they going to be, y'know, actual show-tunes that push the story further along and explain things

    Undoubtedly. Newman has done musicals before (Faust) and Lassiter has said many times that When She Loved Me was the highlight of Toy Story II. Since Newman's family was from New Orleans and he spent some of his childhood there (and loves it and its music), I think he's a perfect fit. Remember, he also wrote the Katrina anthem (Louisiana, 1927) decades before Katrina even happened! He knows Louisiana.

  3. Siri --> Thank you. I haven't been able to do a lot of movie + book reviews lately because of University, but I'll try and do more. ^_^

    Susan M--> Good point - I'd forgotten he did Faust. I did like "She Loved Me," but I considered that a "background song" whose general lyrics fit with the scene - but I'm more of an Alan Menken fan, so I could be biased.