I'm as big a fan of Pixar movies as anyone, but I honestly miss the old-fashioned 2-D style animation from Walt Disney. I think there's definitely room for both hand-drawn and computer animated films, because as brilliant as movies like Toy Story, Ratatouille and Wall-E may be, they're a completely separate kind of filmmaking from the traditional Disney films. They shouldn't be compared to nor should they replace the kind of beloved fairy tale classics we've enjoyed from the Mouse House for 70 years. So, before commenting on the new teaser trailer for The Princess and the Frog (available here if the YouTube version is removed), let me just say, welcome back, 2-D!
OK, so what do I think? Well, upon seeing the New Orleans setting, my first response was unfortunately one of fear: what if Disney one-ups its Hunchback of Notre Dame pole-dance debacle with a scene involving Mardi Gras beads? Well, obviously Disney knows better than to be so blatantly naughty, though I wouldn't doubt that animators will find some way to slip in a hint of Big Easy-style debauchery.
My second response was that I really wish Alan Menken was still in charge of the music rather than Randy Newman. The former would have been much more appropriate if Disney is hoping to get back to at least the quality of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (those films' writer-director team of Ron Clements and John Musker are at the helm of this film, too). Newman may sound more Louisiana (he was in fact born in New Orleans), but Menken is the better songwriter.
As for the actual sequence shown in the teaser: cheers for Disney finally introducing a black princess (voiced by Anika Noni Rose); jeers to Disney for creating new characters that remind me too much of old non-Disney characters, specifically Warner Bros.' Michigan J. Frog and electrical safety spokesperson Louie the Lightning Bug. As usual, feel free to share your own thoughts down below.
The Princess and the Frog will open nationwide Christmas 2009.