I dropped into the big D23 Disney Fan Expo in Anaheim today, attended Bob Iger’s talk and watched the Disney Legends ceremony. The big surprise at the show was a screening of the first half hour of The Princess and The Frog (PATF). I’m now officially enthused. If the rest of the film is as good as the first 1/3 I saw today, it will be a huge hit for the studio — and just could revive Hollywood’s dormant interest in hand drawn character animation. They’ve got the visuals, the humor and the heart down tight on this one. I had a huge smile on my face throughout the screening. What I really like about what I’ve seen of PATF so far, is that it combines familiar elements of classic Disney and throws them into a whole new stew, completely different in tone from the rest of the traditional “princess” films. I’ll leave the plot surprises for you to discover – but I must quickly comment on one musical sequence: The “I Want” song. It’s called Almost There and it’s terrific. But it’s especially interesting as it’s visualized in an art deco/poster graphics style of the 20s (can anyone inform me which artist inspired this sequence?) and its directed like an homage to the 1936 Tex Avery short, Page Miss Glory!
The other PATF news today, is that the studio is opening the film early in L.A. and New York. It’ll open November 25th exclusively at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan. In L.A., the studio is playing the film for two weeks on the studio lot. For the first time I know of, the general public will be able to buy a ticket (at $30 bucks a pop) and screen the film in a Disney screening room! In addition, Disney will “dress” the backlot like a mini-Disneyland with PATF-themed attractions! For more information and tickets click here.