The Princess and the Frog : 5 of 5

It's not often that something so anticipated meets every expectation, so I had my fingers crossed when I went to a sneak preview (thanks to Melinda, of course!) of Disney's new animated feature The Princess and the Frog. This movie is so important to the future of animation, and marks several "returns" for Disney - a return to hand-drawn animation, a return to fairy tales with a princess, a return to true musicals - so I've been hoping with all my might that this film could start a new renaissance just like The Little Mermaid did so long ago. I'm so happy to say that Disney has done it - The Princess and the Frog brings back the magic and spirit of all the classics that Disney fans love! From the moment the movie began I was tingling at seeing a true cartoon on the big screen again - there's just something about knowing human hands made this living artwork that's overwhelming to me. The animation was never disappointing, with fantastic, expressive character designs, detailed lip-sync on human characters, and hilarious variety of movement. Of course I could keep gushing about the animation (I love it that the incredible Mark Henn has another beautiful princess in his portfolio), but truthfully the most important element is the story (as any Disney fan would tell you), and directors Clements and Musker (who thankfully were willing to come back to Disney after the animation shakedown) have managed to craft an absolutely beautiful tale. Each character has a perfect fit in the plot, and everyone (not only Tiana) is allowed to grow in a wonderful way. The songs are wonderful, especially since they're influenced by New Orleans Jazz, and there are several giant music numbers that really bring the house down (think of the pizzazz of I Just Can't Wait to be King from The Lion King, then multiply it by three)! Tiana is a truly lovable and admirable character, Prince Naveen has some hilarious lines, Louis the gator is a reincarnation of Baloo from The Jungle Book (and that's a compliment!), and Dr. Facilier is a welcome addition to Disney's gallery of villains. But the character that shines with brilliance (pun intended) is Ray the Cajun firefly, who creates an emotional sob-fest that ranks right up there with Bambi's mom and Dumbo's tear (all I can say is, be prepared to cry). I absolutely cannot wait to see The Princess and the Frog again - I'm going opening day to "vote with my wallet" for the future of hand-drawn animation!