It struck me as I watched this film how much I value freshness in my animated films, and how many additional points an animatia earns just for breaking new grounds – say, into Chinese martial arts mythology a la 2008’s Kung Fu Panda, or, in this case, into America during the Jazz Age.
There was a lot of originality and freshness to be found here. I remember growing up with Disney’s traditional animated fairy tales: the Disney princesses, anyone? Then Disney rendered a twist to the Rapunzel tale, choosing to depict the titular character as a spunky rather than dainty princess (in 3D, no less) and her Prince Charming as, well, Rogue Charming. Disney continues the spunky princess theme here, and breaks new ground also in terms of the princess’s ethnicity while choosing to preserve the 2D feel in the vein of its traditional fairytales. Besides the twist (of having the princess, who’s actually not even a princess, transform into a frog rather than having the frog transform into a prince), there’s also sorcery thrown in. It might be a tad disturbing for younger children, but for this reviewer the darker and more morbid tone was a real gem.
Speaking of gems, I maintain that the biggest gem here is Disney’s foray into the American Jazz era. If you remember, Disney’s traditional fairytale cartoons featured lots of spontaneous bursting into song and dancing, and here the songs show heavy jazz influence. It really is immensely rejuvenating to watch, especially since American ideals deviate from the traditional, more European fairytale structure and themes. This ‘princess’ has dreams and aspirations and the spunk and drive to arrive there, and it’s a real joy to watch her struggle through and eventually triumph over her trials and tribulations.
In this age where the animation industry is steadily migrating to 3D computer animation, Disney makes a welcome return to traditional 2D animation in fine form.
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Rating on IMDb: 7.2
Viewing history: Seen 1x. Library DVD.