CATEGORIES Reviews

Disney's holiday animated film this year, 'The Princess and the Frog,' carries the torch of several firsts: old school hand-drawn animation that had its death rattle sounded nearly a decade ago, the casting of an African-American princess after years of tardy inclusion. And critics are responding ... very well.

As the story of a princess who finds her prince after kissing him while he is a frog, 'The Princess and the Frog' follows the two through a mystical journey across New Orleans. Since 'Up,' 'Cars,' and even 'The Polar Express,' animation for kids has undergone a dramatic transformation. Smooth visuals and computerized looks replaced the old fashioned, hand-drawn way, as today's kids have become more comfortable in a technology-dominated world. 2-D animation became another relic of the 20th century like an 8-bit Nintendo.

While the story may not be a hit for all, critics are nearly universally celebrating the high wire acts of 'The Princess and the Frog' in its attempts to play catch-up. Movie critics can be a cynical bunch – but their hearts are open to this movie.

Disney's holiday animated film this year, 'The Princess and the Frog,' carries the torch of several firsts: old school hand-drawn animation that had its death rattle sounded nearly a decade ago, the casting of an African-American princess after years of tardy inclusion. And critics are responding ... very well.

As the story of a princess who finds her prince after kissing him while he is a frog, 'The Princess and the Frog' follows the two through a mystical journey across New Orleans. Since 'Up,' 'Cars,' and even 'The Polar Express,' animation for kids has undergone a dramatic transformation. Smooth visuals and computerized looks replaced the old fashioned, hand-drawn way, as today's kids have become more comfortable in a technology-dominated world. 2-D animation became another relic of the 20th century like an 8-bit Nintendo.

While the story may not be a hit for all, critics are nearly universally celebrating the high wire acts of 'The Princess and the Frog' in its attempts to play catch-up. Movie critics can be a cynical bunch -- but their hearts are open to this movie.

Entertainment Weekly: "Young viewers of 'The Princess and the Frog' won't give a croak that the marvelous new adventure from Walt Disney Animation Studios has been created using the same hand-drawn, 2-D techniques that entertained those viewers' 'Bambi'-loving grandparents more than 65 years ago. But adults should: This old-fashioned charmer holds its own beside the motion-capture elegance of Disney's 'A Christmas Carol,' the engrossing stop-motion universes of 'Coraline' and 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' the CG-enhanced genius of 'Up,' the wonder of 3-D technology, and, indeed, the unique, hand-drawn Japanese artistry of Hayao Miyazaki's 'Ponyo' as the year's deepest, most affecting, and most inventive movies."

Associated Press: "Thankfully, the spirit of animation maestro Walt Disney lives on. The studio has gone back to its roots with a fresh, funny retelling of a classic fairy tale in 'The Princess and the Frog,' Disney's return to hand-drawn animation after a five-year hiatus ... 'Princess and the Frog' isn't the second coming of 'Beauty and the Beast' or 'The Lion King.' It's just plain pleasant, an old-fashioned little charmer that's not straining to be the next glib animated compendium of pop-culture flotsam.

The Hollywood Reporter: "Disney brilliantly rediscovers hand-drawn animation and the value of story ... This is the best Disney animated film in years. Audiences -- who don't care whether it's cel animation, CGI, stop motion, claymation or motion capture as long as it's a good story -- will respond in large numbers. A joyous holiday season is about to begin for Disney."

USA Today: "The movie captures the traditional Disney aesthetic, with some up-to-date spins. Tiana is African-American, while Naveen's ethnic origins are less evident. The film embraces diversity in a natural way. The film's ethos is summed up by voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) in her native patois: 'Only thing important is what's under the skin.' Where 'Pinocchio' was about wishing on a star, 'The Princess and the Frog' emphasizes backing up wishes with hard work. That proviso is a thoughtful message for young moviegoers."

Los Angeles Times: "Go ahead and pucker up. Because long before 'The Princess and the Frog' is over you'll want to smooch the charming couple, air kiss a romantic firefly and hug a voodoo queen in this foot-stomping, smile-inducing, heart-warming animated twist on the old Brothers Grimm frog-prince fairy tale. The filmmakers have brewed up a delicious roots story in every sense of the word."

Newsweek: "For what seems like forever, I have waited for The Princess and the Frog. This is the first Disney animated film about an African-American princess, and this delightful fairy tale couldn't come at a better time, what with the two little African-American princesses who live in the White House ... I'm certainly not suggesting that we all follow in the steps of a fictional character, but I am proposing that we take a good, long look at what the fairy tale is trying to teach the children of the world-and us. In The Princess and the Frog, we see a young girl not inhibited by the color of her skin or her suitor's."

New York Daily News: "Imagine the burden of legacy that the Disney team faced with 'The Princess and the Frog.' The first real addition to its princess lineup in almost 15 years, and the studio's biggest non-CG - that is, classically animated - cartoon in half a decade, it also belatedly brings racial diversity to a genre that's been mostly snow white for seven decades. Jiminy crickets! That's a lot for one fable to carry on its slender shoulders. The good news is that 'P&F' quickly cruises past the fact that Tiana is Disney's first African-American heroine. Unfortunately, the story that surrounds her often finds itself stuck in the swamp."