So here’s the deal. I have discovered the best thing to do during snow days is to not do work for your actual college classes, but complete you own mini goal of watching the oscar movies. So let’s get onto discussing Princess and the Frog and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The Princess and The Frog is the first 2D animation to come out of the Disney Studios in a good matter of years. It wasn’t a Pixar or a Dreamworks film, it was just a good old Disney movie with all the sing along songs and disney princesses included.
This movie is also the first to include an African American princess though there was a loophole to the whole princess thing, but then most of the disney princesses weren’t princesses until they actually got married to the prince.
So in the movie we have Tiana voiced by one of the Dream girls, Anika Noni Rose. She has a dream to open a restaurant with her daddy who makes delicious gumbo. Warning here, but I don’t know if you really need it if you know how Disney Movies work…her dad dies. Big surprise. Good job Disney for killing off parents.
Cue Prince character: Prince Naveen voiced by Bruno Campos is a player, big time. He likes the women and he just wants to play his music. Not a surprise than to find out that he is in New Orleans, the home of traditional Jazz and having a good time. He has a goal however to find a princess to marry him so his parents trust him enough to give him his allowance again.
Tiana is slightly overshadowed though by her friend Charlotte, her white skinned Mardi Gras princess childhood friend voiced by Jennifer Cody. For one she is hysterical, shrieking and giggling about. A nice side about Charlotte or as Tiana calls her Lotte, isn’t a spoiled brat. Charlotte acknoweldges her as a friend and not as the seamstress’s daughter. Fun fact: the seamstress is voiced by Oprah Winfrey.
Now here’s a little SAT comparison fun. Meeko and Flick is to Pocahontas as Louis and Ray are to Tiana.
Louis voiced by Michael-Leon Wooley is a gator who just wants to play his trumpet with fellow musicians of the French Quarter.. He has a big heart, but sadly he is a alligator.
Raymond or Ray voiced by Jim Cummings is the bayou lightning bug who is in love wit Evangeline. Evangeline is not a fellow firefly, she is a star. Sweet and a little bit sad.
Both Louis and Ray provide the comical relief through Tiana’s journey in the Bayou.
The songs composed Randy Newman sound familiar, right? Well that’s because he’s the composer for Pixar’s Toy Story and Toy Story 2 along with Cars. The songs though had a nice New Orleans vibe that helped distract me from the fact that Disney is resusing alot of their ideas to make their movies. For one, the evil voodoo doctor, Dr. Facilier reminded me and my sister of an African American Jafar, the villan from Aladdin. Also, he kinda reminded me of Scar, obviously not in lion form.
Overall, Disney did a good job of working off the story idea of the Princess and the Frog and giving it a more substantial story line than just a princess kissing a frog. If that was the story, then the movie would have been has long as the story, 5-10 pages or a short twenty minute animated film at most.
The Princess and The Frog reminded me of my childhood and it was nice to revisit and singalong with the characters and not having to worry if my 3-D glasses are working properly.
So now Fantastic Mr. Fox steps in and let’s just say, it’s not a disney movie. It was rated PG for the use of cigarettes, action and slang humour so kids could go see it, but let’s just say they probably wouldn’t have gotten all the satire given off by good looking Mr. Foxy Fox voiced by George Clooney. Yes his name is Foxy and yes, I just called a fox, good looking.
This film like Coraline, another film nominated in the oscar animation category, is stop motion filming. I’ve always been a fan of it because of all the work that goes into just getting one frame perfect. That one frame then will last for about 2 seconds on screen. Let’s just say the puppets get played with alot and that I’m bad at frames per second math. Good thing I’m not a film major anymore or I’d be in trouble.
The premise of this film is that Foxy does what a fox does which is steal and eat chickens. That changes when his wife Felicity Fox voiced by Meryl Streep tells him that she is pregnant and that he needs another lifestyle. He becomes a journalist but sorely misses his natural ability to catch live, but smaller animals. Another main focus of the movie is that Foxy’s son, Ash feels overshadowed by his cousin Kristofferson Silverfox who pretty much is a natural at anything. Ash wants to be an athelte and a perfect son. Now don’t worry it’s not a disney story. First there are no dead parents and second remember the director is Wes Anderson.
Those familiar with Wes Anderson’s other works including The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou can expect Anderson at his best, adding in his own little quirks. Fantastic Mr. Fox is based off Roald Dahl’s book “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.
Some of my favorite quirks is Mr. Fox’s catchphrase of whistling and then snapping his fingers. Second quirk is that the word cuss is used to replaces a not so nice word that would have made the movie an ‘R’ rated movie in an instant. Favorite replacement of that word: clustercuss. It had me in stitches when I finally caught on what Anderson was doing with the word cuss. Last favorite quirk of Anderson’s movie that made me notice and chuckled was fox-hours v. human-hours. I know what you’re thinking, what? I don’t know how to explain, just watch the movie.
I lied… I have one other favorite quirk. The quirk occurs when Anderson describes Whackbat which is an even more complicated sport than Quidditch from Harry Potter. I am not joking. Owen Wilson, a friend of Anderson’s, is the voice of Coach Skip who explains the game with such ease that even a five year old should understand it. I’m 19 and I still have no idea. At least I have the rules of Quidditch under my belt.
Fantastic Mr. Fox however, like all movies that last 90 mins, has a lesson in the end and as Felicity tells her son Ash when he asks, “I’m not different, am I?”
“We all are, especially him [she points to Foxy], but that means there’s something fantastic about him.”
Overall when watching both movies, I got to revisit my childhood and right after while still enjoying the first, I got to remember why I like being 19 and that’s because I get to understand Anderson’s perfect satire.
Fantastic Mr. Fox Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature and Best Achievement in Music, Alexandre Desplat
The Princess and The Frog: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song for “Down in New Orleans” and “Almost There”