I flew out to LA last week to catch the opening day screening of "The Princess and the Frog". We made a vacation of it of course and went to Disneyland, as well. By this action, I was obviously looking forward to this movie and with high expectations. I read in D23 Lasseter say this movie could've come right after "The Lion King", clearly referring to what was known as a short-lived golden age for the studio with the consecutive releases of "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", and "The Lion King", and implying that "The Princess and the Frog" could be among them. In my opinion, it couldn't. Nor is it among the films that I believe extended that era up until the turn of the century ("Pocahontas", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Hercules", "Mulan", and "Tarzan").
It comes close, but overall I found there to be too many story problems. There is no signature scene that compares with Disney's most memorable. The animation is beautiful at times, but more often than not it reminded me of a DTV release. The characters aren't developed, especially Dr. Facilier, who makes a lackluster villian because of his weak motive and preparation. I also felt the movie was rushed. Most jarring is the transition from "Almost There" to "Friends on the Other Side". And they spend maybe one day in the Bayou which doesn't make for a particularly exciting adventure.
I didn't hate it by any means. I think its comparable to something like "Cats Don't Dance", which I love. I didn't have the expectations riding on it like I did "The Princess and the Frog", which may be unfair. And believe me, I'll be giving it another chance (or three). I just wanted more from Disney's return to traditional animation. I think I was most disappointed with exactly that! With the roster they had working for them, shouldn't this have been a visual masterpiece? Looking at the secondary characters, you're wondering if you've stumbled into a Warner Bros. television cartoon. During the sequence "Down in New Orleans" (the movie's best song, in my opinion), there is a band of a few musicians playing. Comparing the epic, festive lyrics with the visuals just doesn't match up.