Underrated Disney Movies

I love me my underrated Disney movies. In some ways, a lot of these have found their way to the top of my personal list. But I guess before I delve into my list of underrated Disney movies, what exactly constitutes one?

Well first off, an underrated movie doesn’t make the entire world go see it. You won’t see any Frozen or Lion King on this list. These are movies that are extremely good but maybe didn’t do too well at the Box office. They might have still made a profit (or maybe they didn’t). These are movies that have gotten pushed to the wayside for differing reasons. They’re the movies that when you say them, people go “wait, what movie now? Disney did that?” or maybe people know about them, but thought they’d be bad, so they never went to go see them.

These are movies that I think are gems. They are movies that might teach a unique lesson. I actually LIKE the fact that half of these movies never garnered a huge audience and got hugely popular. These movies I think are deeper than your typical Disney flare: they have something about them that makes them incredibly special that maybe not everyone saw.

Some of these movies were easy to come up with, and others weren’t. t do have to say that a lot of these are prone to ME thinking they’re underrated. Especially the newer ones on the list. It’s possible I didn’t see them as popular as they really were at the time. Some of the newer ones are ones I believe will possibly fall to the wayside in years to come. If they have a question mark (?) by their entry, I was hesitant in adding them but will try my hardest to explain why I think they are underrated.

You will also notice this is not a “Disney movies people forget exist” list. I didn’t include The rescuers, Oliver & Co, or even The Sword and the Stone. While these are good movies, they don’t have that special something that I think these other movies have.

These are in chronological order…. not in any other type of order…

Let’s go!

1. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

the-fox-and-the-hound-image-2

I think everyone in the world should watch this movie right now. It teaches tolerance in a way kids can understand. It’s from Disney’s “Dark Ages” but it really is a gem. It preaches its lesson by not preaching, but instead getting viewers to fall in love with two adorable characters and then watch them grow up and we see the first hand effect on what cultural norms can do to change a person (or in this case, animal). It has some incredibly memorable moments, action, adventure, and laughs. I’m not going to justify why this is underrated. It just is because movies that can teach the lesson that it does in the way that it does are few and far between. And I bet the only people who really love this movie and know about it nowadays are the people who were a) kids when it came out, or b) kids when it came out on VHS for the first time. I’m the latter.

2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

quasimodo-the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-capturas-captures-screencaps-fotogramas-el-jorobado-de-notre-dame-disney-principes-heroes-18664

My personal favorite Disney movie is also one that people (and the studio – where’s my blu-ray diamond edition special release??) not only forget about, but don’t seem to want to watch. It’s “too dark” or “too adult” for kids. I’m sorry, but this movie came out when I was a kid (11 years old to be exact), and I’m here to tell you it has always been a favorite of mine. It takes a hard story and makes it reachable for kids to understand. It takes incredibly complex ideas such as hatred and damnation and lusts and intolerance and somehow spells it out so that kids understand. It doesn’t patronize them. Instead, it admits that kids CAN understand this stuff, and should. It treats its viewers like adults. It has amazing music, animation, and characters that are some of the best (minus the gargoyles…).

3. Treasure Planet (2002)

treasure-planet-(2002)-large-picture

You can blame the advertising and styling for this one. No one saw it because it was “different” for Disney. And it is, and you know what, I think you do have to just kinda go with the flow a bit with this movie and say “ok, that’s an anthropomorphic cat-human-thing.” But this movie is superb and way underrated because it’s a) the best adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and b) We get some of the best relationships in a disney movie EVER in this one between Jim and Silver. Plus, it’s a Disney movie where the bad guy turns out good(ish). Whether you like it or not is up to you, but it’s on my list because I would watch it over and over just to see the characters.

4. Lilo & Stitch (2002)

LiloAndStitch

Ok, this might be my first stretch. Because I know there was a TV show and direct to movie sequels, but I still didn’t feel like people went to see this movie. I feel like no one ever talks about it except to say how cute Stitch is. If that’s all they took away from this movie, those people need to watch it again. I was in High school when this came out, so maybe that’s why I get the feeling this wasn’t a huge movie for Disney. I wasn’t the age when all my friends might have been obsessed with it. (although I did have huge Disney fan friends…).

Again this movie suffered from what I’m going to call the “strangeness” factor. It has Aliens and Hawaii. Not typical fanfare for Disney. But this movie is SO much more. It’s about belonging and family and what constitutes a family and that family is important and you’d do anything for them. It’s letting kids know that ALL types of families are good, and we have almost REAL people and REAL situations (except the alien part). Sister trying to scramble and provide and grow up after parents die? Check. Messed up little girl suffering from something after her parents die? check. realistic sister relationship? check. This movie has so much heart. It just chose to explore it in a strange way.

5. Brother Bear (2003)

brother_bear

I know a LOT of people that don’t like this movie, and i know I’m in the minority of people that actually might possibly call it a favorite. BUT… let me explain why it’s here on the list (it’s not because it’s strictly a favorite, I promise!!)

Yes, it’s a body swapping story. Yes, there are lessons that come along with that. Disney had never done an animated story like this before, and this one gets deeper than you think. Not only does our main character Kenai learn that bears aren’t the horrible monsters he thinks they are, but he learns that his past actions have affected someone he genuinely cares about. Coming to terms with that and telling the truth about it is why I have this on my underrated list. That’s deep for Disney. It’s about learning that what you used to believe actually hurt someone you love and dealing with the outcomes. You can’t take back your choices. You’re stuck with what you did and what you thought in the past. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change and be a better person (er, bear) and make up for in in the future.

6. Meet the Robinsons (2007)

47

I would attempt to name them all L to R, but I can’t…

If you had told me 10 years ago I was going to put this on this list I would have laughed at you. Because the trailer looked ridiculous. Because this movie seemed ridiculous. And in a lot of ways, it is. In a lot of ways, it’s messy, and weird, and disjointed. But if you look past all that and get to the heart of this movie, you’re left going “whoa.” I talk about it in my review, but the lesson in this movie of not dwelling on the past and to “keep moving forward” is unique in a Disney movie. That’s why it’s on this list. The idea is so great, and in some ways it’s done well. Lewis is great as is our villain (with regards to the lesson). They don’t bash it over people’s heads, but it’s not super subtle either. This movie COULD be better, but it’s underrated in my mind because I think this is a movie no one went to see. And they really should just give it a chance.

7. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Naveen-Tiana-Princess-and-the-Frog-Wallpaper

Ok this one IS selfish. And it’s different than the others on here. But this movie SHOULD HAVE BEEN bigger than it was. It SHOULD HAVE BEEN Disney’s rise back into the Revival. Because it’s good. It has everything that is so “classic” Disney and so much more. It has an amazing protagonist. Great side characters. A good Villain. Good songs. But did it get much mention? no! Ugh. I wish this movie had done better. Because it’s awesome and does not deserve to get forgotten (which I feel like it already has!). It teaches that hard work and perseverance are good, and you need them to get ahead in life, but they aren’t everything. You need to strike a balance between work and play and love.

Rant over.

————————————————-

I was going to add Tarzan (1999) and Mulan (1998), because I think they’ve fallen to the wayside now, but eh, I can’t bring myself to do it. I think they were somewhat popular when they came out. But I do think they are movies that everyone should see for differing reasons (see my reviews for more info)

So there you have it. 6 movies I think everyone who is a true Disney fan shouldn’t skip. Movies I think that deserve more credit than they got, even if just a little. Movies that make me think or might have a profound effect on a child’s thinking. Or an adult’s for that matter.

Next up: Enchanted, then on to Pixar!

 

Ranking my favorite Disney Songs

Alright y’all. I don’t know about you guys, but with the state of the country and the world today, I need an escape. What better way to do it than with Animation and Disney! Not just the movies, but how about the songs? humming your favorite tune has been known to lower stress. I know when I’m annoyed or having a bad or stressful day, music can definitely help.

Disney has ALWAYS been about the music. Although it occasionally goes through periods where they apparently think they’re “too good” for songs, the majority of Disney animated movies are known not only for their stories and characters, but their songs. That is why I am going to List my favorite Disney songs (I’m not limiting it to 10, because personally I think that would be impossible). These are sort of in order? It’s hard to do the higher up ones. At least the top 3 are probably right… Here we go!!

A Whole New World (Aladdin)

I WOULD have this further up on the list, except that every time I listen to it compared to the others it seems sort of… blah. There’s really nothing that sets it apart. But it is still a good song.

 

Colors of the Wind (Pocahontas)

As much as I really dislike what Disney did to this movie, this song is spectacular. the lyrics are thought-provoking, the animation is lovely, and it almost makes us forget we’re in a movie where they aged Pocahontas 10 years and made her fall in love with that white guy

 

Someday (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Ok, I think I’m kinda cheating with this one and the next, but I don’t care. These are the songs that appear in the credits and are *not* sung by Disney characters. They were singles on the radio.

Someday is an All-4-One song, and if you don’t know who that is it means you’re too young and you should go educate yourself on awesome soul/R&B/whatever the heck they were – boy bands of the 90s. This song is still one of my favorites even 20 years later. It’s the “imagine” of the Disney world. Here, take a listen:

 

Little Wonders (Meet the Robinsons)

Little Wonders is a perfect song for a movie that is unique and underrated for Disney. Sung by Rob Thomas (who is a personal favorite of mine), this song perfectly sums up the feelings of our protagonist Lewis while at the same time somehow digging deep into each of us and touching each of us in the chest. We’ve felt this before, or might at some points in our life. It’s a song I still listen to constantly.

 

Best of Friends (The Fox & The Hound)

There’s nothing really special about this song. It just comes at a time in a movie when our two main characters meet and are playing and having fun. But at the same time it somehow epitomizes childhood. We don’t care who we play with when we’re really young, because we’re just having fun. It’s not until adults and the world “gets in the way” that our mindsets change. I’m starting to think everyone in the world should watch this movie right about now…

 

Why Should I Worry? (Oliver & Co)

This one is a bit of a personal favorite. There’s nothing amazing about this song. It’s not on top Disney song lists. But I love it because 1) It’s Billy Joel, 2) it’s rock, so it’s different than normal disney songs (seriously, you could see this playing on the radio in the 80s), and 3) it kinda sums up the character of Dodger perfectly.

 

Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)

I’ve talked about how much I love this movie. I’ve talked about how I love the atmosphere and what they did with the songs in this movie. To be honest I could pick any of the songs in this movie and throw them here. I love “Down in New Orleans” as well, but if I had to pick one this would be it. This is the classic “I want” song from Disney (on par with “Part of this world” and “When will my life begin?”), but I love this one more than those simply because it’s done in the jazz style, the animation goes back to the 20s posters, and it sums up our character of Tiana so well. She’s worked so hard. she IS almost there.

 

Kiss the Girl (The Little Mermaid)

I made a rule that I couldn’t put more than one song from a movie on here. It was a real toss up between this and “part of your world.” I’m still deciding if I picked the right one. But I love this song. Fun story: In college my friend found a techno version of this song. My life has never been the same since.

 

Let it Go (Frozen)

Yeah, go ahead and shoot me now. Any parents reading this are going “what? how can you stand that song anymore?” It’s true. Frozen is the movie that refused to die in our culture. For the 3rd year in a row, 3/4 of the trick-or-treaters that came to our door were dressed as Elsa. But you can’t ignore just HOW GOOD this song is. After a long hiatus of truly GOOD Disney songs, we finally got a ringer. I mean, the emotion, the words, the message. It’s all there. I love this song, and I’m not sorry.

 

Something There (Beauty and the Beast)

I know, I know. I should have picked the titular song. And I DO love that song. I actually almost picked “Gaston” simply because that song is hilarious. But if I really had to pick one from Beauty and the Beast (and I do because well, it’s Beauty and the Beast), it would have to be this one. They start to understand each other. Belle starts to see past the exterior, and the Beast allows himself to soften. I love the way this one plays out, and the way it sounds.

 

I Won’t Say I’m in Love (Hercules)

Again, I seriously could have picked any song from this movie, which is weird because I know a lot of people could take or leave them. I personally LOVE the music in this movie. If I listed ALL the Disney songs, the ones from Hercules would probably be in the top 20. They’re all just so peppy, zany, etc. But this is the one that I love the most. It’s the one I listen to on my iTunes over and over. And honestly I have no idea why. Maybe it doesn’t sound like any other Disney song. Maybe I like the vulnerability a seemingly tough character is showing.

 

I See the Light (Tangled)

Ok, I’m sort of cheating with this one too. Half of the reason I love this song is because of the animation during it. But it is a pretty good song. It’s our love song but it’s almost like that’s not the main focus. It’s about seeing that there’s more to life than each character previously thought. Plus, it’s pretty!!!

 

You’ll be in My Heart (Tarzan)

I could be cheating with this one too because although this song IS in the movie, I actually mean the one sung by Phil Collins during the credits. But I don’t care. This song is amazing. It perfectly sums up our movie. It’s beautiful when sung by Glenn Close (voice of Kala). It’s sweet and serene in the movie and during the credits has our typical Phil Collins flare. When my son was super young, I sung it to him to get him to sleep. This song has a lot of personal memories attached to it. A list without this song would be incomplete.

 

Circle of Life (The Lion King)

How could I not? I remember seeing this movie in the theater when I was 8 and even then knowing that I was already watching something special. This song is beautiful. It’s the perfect way to open this movie, and again, we have the entire idea of the movie in one song. This is the story about the life of this lion cub. It also has the distinction of setting the atmosphere in the movie, and transports us to Africa. It’s beautiful, it’s epic, and if you ever see the broadway show, it can make you downright cry.

For fun here’s the Broadway version. Revel in the Amazing-ness:

 

He’s a Tramp (Lady & The Tramp)

huh? I bet a lot of people are wondering where this one came from. To be honest, this is one that has only grown on me as I’ve gotten older. Part of that could be because I understand it now (this actually is an incredibly “grown up” song). But I love Peg’s voice, I love the style, I love the sad atmosphere of the pound. It’s a one of a kind Disney song.

 

Out There (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

This is already my favorite Disney movie. While it doesn’t have the majority of my favorite Disney songs, most of them in this movie are quite good (as I talked about in my review). I really SHOULD have put “heaven’s light/Hellfire” on here from a technical standpoint. That song is unbelievable. Or I should have put “The Bells of Notre Dame” on here, because of the musical and storytelling ability. Or even “God Help the Outcasts.” But this one is a bit more of a personal favorite. It’s another “I want” song, and it’s not only beautifully sung and written, it’s beautifully animated. It lets you see what our main character is really about, and it’s great.

 

I’ll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)

There really was no question when I started making this list what would be number one. Which is kinda funny, because honestly I would have put my money one of the other songs on here myself. But the more I thought about it, this really is one of the BEST Disney songs out there. It’s a montage song, but it’s a well done montage song. It’s catchy and upbeat, Donny Osmond’s voice fits perfectly, and I DARE you not to sing along.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Naveen-Tiana-Princess-and-the-Frog-Wallpaper

Words cannot express how excited I was to see this movie. Not only was it the first Fairy Tale adaptation (I say that lightly though) from Disney in 10 years, but it was also the first hand drawn movie since Home on the Range in 2004. It was also the first Disney Princess since Mulan (which again… I dunno why Mulan is considered a Disney princess but whatever). That’s 11 years! Tiana is also the first African American princess, which of course was ballooned out of significance at its release (we’ll get to that later).

To put a long story short, I was willing to do whatever it took to go see this movie. I didn’t care if it was crappy or wonderful. I was going to support 2D animation. I still do, and I really wish Disney would do another one. There’s something about the hand drawn animation that has a magic to it.

But I digress. This movie, while not doing extremely well at the Box office (it did better overseas than here, even though it was a success), marked what they called the beginning of the “revival” which we are in the midst of right now. It’s based off of the story “The Frog Prince” with a little modern twist to it that we start seeing more of in this new revival part of Disney.

Apparently straight up adaptations aren’t good enough for them anymore.

Anyway, Here we go!

This movie is set in New Orleans in the 1920s. It focuses around a girl named Tiana, who we see in almost a prologue learn from her daddy that hard work gets you what you want. So now she’s a young woman working 2 jobs to save up to open the restaurant her father always wanted.

We also very early in the movie meet our other characters, namely a prince Naveen visiting from a fictitious country called Maldonia, and our villain, Dr. Facilier, or the Shadowman – a voodoo man. Naveen is there because he has been cut off from his family and has to marry a rich woman to upkeep his lifestyle. He gets invited by the shadow man to his “office” where he is turned into a frog for his own sinister purposes.

Meanwhile, Tiana gets paid the rest of the money she needs for her store from her friend Lotte for providing refreshments at her party, where Lotte intends to woo Prince Naveen. An imposter shows up pretending to be Naveen (it’s really his man-servant lawrence under voodoo magic), and the real Naveen (the frog) mistakes Tiana for a princess and asks her to kiss him, like in the story “The Frog Prince.” She manages to pull herself together to do it, but instead of breaking the spell, it turns her into a frog as well.

The two flee the party after being chased by our Lawrence/Naveen and drift off with balloons to the Bayou. Tiana is pissed at Naveen for the situation she’s in, and he is upset with her for misleading him to believe she was a princess. In other words, they don’t get along. She’s about to leave him, but he promises that if he helps him become human, he’ll get the money for her restaurant (see, the realtors have told her that unless she can pay more in cash, she’ll lose to another bidder). She agrees, and from there they meet an alligator named Louis with a yearning to be a jazz trumpeter and a cajun firefly named Ray on their way to meet Mama Odie, another voodoo witch lady who has the potential to turn them back into humans. All they have to do is avoid the demons the Shadowman has sent after him, frog catchers, and other alligators!

They get to Mama Odie’s (and of course by now they have realized a few things about each other), and she doesn’t turn them human, but instead explains that they need to look inside themselves and see what they need vs. what they want. But she does show them that until Midnight on Mardi Gras, Lotte is technically a “Princess” because her father has been elected king of the Mardi Gras Parade. Tiana works hard to get Naveen to Lotte so he can kiss her and Marry her and have his life go back to one big party, but he of course has a change of heart because he realizes he loves Tiana. But he intends to see his plan through, because he knows how much the restaurant means to her.

They get to New Orleans and the Shadowman and Lawrence (who have had a story B about how the magic keep Lawrence looking like Naveen is running out) capture the real Naveen. Tiana goes off to rescue him after Ray lets it slip he’s in love with her, and soon she’s working with the others to keep the amulet that is holding the power over Lawrence and Naveen away from the others long enough so that Naveen can go find Lotte.

The shadow man has an awesome death, Lotte finds out both Naveen and Tiana are frogs, but Naveen can’t let her kiss him because he’s in love with her. Lotte agrees to kiss him and not marry him, but waits until after midnight and it’s too late. Naveen and Tiana agree to just be frogs if it means being together, get married in the bayou, and get married. When Naveen goes to kiss his bride, they turn back into humans because Tiana is now technically a princess.

There’s a nice little epilogue that shows the two of them working hard to get the restaurant, get it fixed up, and opening it. The end.

_______________________________________

I missed a lot with that synopsis, and I’m sorry if it’s a bit confusing. There’s a lot that goes on in this story, and there are two parallel story lines: one with Tiana and Naveen, and the other with our villains. but that’s the story in a convoluted nutshell. If you want a shorter synopsis, here you go:

It’s the story about two completely opposite people who both get turned into frogs and have to figure out how to change themselves back and each has a change of heart by the end.

If you still can't picture it, this screen cap might help... it's pretty accurate

If you still can’t picture it, this screen cap might help… it’s pretty accurate

There’s actually a LOT I want to talk about with this movie. I guess I’ll start with the good stuff.

1) Atmosphere.

There is so much atmosphere in this movie!!! Disney has NEVER done a movie with THIS much atmosphere. Granted I have never been to New Orleans, but wow – between the music by Randy Newman being all jazzy and gospel-y to the accents to the animation and inclusion of things like Voodoo and beignets and gumbo, this movie reeks of atmosphere. That, to me, is one of the things that makes this movie incredibly special. You can tell they put a lot of work into really creating the world that was New Orleans in the 1920s (whatever that entailed!). The only other movie I can think of that comes close to this in atmosphere is The Lion King. In the first few minutes, you KNOW where this movie is set.

 

2) Characters.

In my opinion, this movie has some of the best characters Disney’s come up with since Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. On the whole, these characters are each interesting. We learn backstories to each of our more major characters (except our villain, but we never need backstory with them!). We understand why they do what they do. Because of this level of effort put into their personalities, the relationships we get that form between them are believable.

I want to start with Tiana, because oh my God she is by far my FAVORITE Disney heroine (right up there along with Mulan, Belle, and Anna – each for completely different reasons). But she’s at the top. Why? Because she’s so real I swear I have known someone like her. I have been her.

princess-frog-tiana-cooks_thumb

Tiana is an extremely hard worker. She’s trying to raise money to buy her own restaurant, and she has a special gift for cooking. Anyone can see that. But she’s almost insane about working for her restaurant. It’s the only thing that’s important in her life. Why? Because it was something she and her father dreamed about when she was little. Then he went off and died in the war (go disney! Killing a Dad off for once!), and it’s almost like Tiana thinks that’s all he wanted to and she wants so hard to fulfill his dream and make him proud of her. As if that’s the only way.

She’s all work and no play, but it’s of her own accord. She’s extremely grounded in reality and doesn’t believe the fairy tale nonsense until she gets swept into it. I mean, that scene where Naveen talks her into kissing him. You have two kinds of people in this world: people like Lotte, who would jump at the chance to kiss him on the off chance that magic is real, or Tiana, who has a normal reaction by dancing around in disgust at the mere thought of kissing a frog.

Case in point

Case in point

 

I love her reactions, I love her personality, I love her character design (which actually reminds me of Belle’s), and I love love love the journey she goes through (but more on that later).

On the other end of the spectrum we have Naveen, the prince of Maldonia who has never worked a day in his life, gets things handed to him, and wishes to party and be with all sorts of women 24/7. But he gets a backstory too! He was cut off from his parents and to maintain his lifestyle, has to marry a wealthy woman (Lotte, essentially).

Naveen_on_balcony-Princess-and-the-Frog-Wallpaper

Frogs don’t have teeth, but it’s Disney, so I guess I’ll let it slide…

 

Naveen is annoying. He’s supposed to be. In the beginning he sees Tiana as only a means to get what he wants, and luckily she’s smart enough to strike a deal. It’s as the movie goes through it’s motions that Naveen learns that having money isn’t everything, and that he can be happy without it if he has love. This message comes earlier to him than to Tiana, but I think it has to. Tiana really is the focus of this movie and to her, it’s harder to come to terms with. Naveen has just never lived a day in his life when he had to work. Tiana shows him that working can produce something you can be proud of.

 

These two are good for each other because they start off as polar opposites, and throughout the course of the movie, each teaches the other (inadvertently sometimes) that good aspects of the way the other lives their lives. Naveen learns to be a little more hard working, and Tiana learns that there’s more to life than work. Sometimes, it’s ok to have a little fun.

Joining them on their journey is Louis the Alligator, and Ray, the firefly. I’m actually not going to say much about them. They are interesting characters with definite personalities. Ray is a bit annoying, but he has a good heart. You can almost tell they stuck him in for comedic relief, which is fine, but you don’t get that anyone is really connected to him, so when he dies it’s not really as sad as it could be. Louis is better. While he’s comic relief as well, it’s done a little less “in your face.”

Louis_Princess-and-the-Frog_Green2

Lotte and Lawrence are the same way. I adore Lotte. She is hilarious, set on marrying her prince, and flat out crazy. But that’s what makes her fun and she’s a good opposite for Tiana in the scenes they have together. You don’t understand how they could be friends, but yeah. They still somehow are.

Them in a nutshell

Them in a nutshell

Lawrence is possibly the least developed character, but you understand he’s a man who feels used and is sick of it. He’s willing to do whatever it takes in the beginning but then realizes the Shadowman has pushed it a little too far.

Ah yes, let’s talk about Dr. Facilier for a moment. He’s one of my favorite Disney villains, because as Naveen so nicely puts it in the movie, “He was very charismatic.” He’s voiced by Keith David, which is always just… awesome. He’s a voodoo man who will read fortunes and has shrunken heads and makes deals with the devil. He’s the source of magic for our movie, and while I know real Voodoo isn’t anything like it’s depicted in the movie, it’s still fun. He can be extremely scary at some times, and at others he has this quiet way about him that still comes off as scary. I really enjoy the way he realizes he got in too deep, and this villain possibly has one of the best deaths in the Disney canon (dragged into his own headstone by a demon? that’s great!)

btw, it had been a long time since I had gotten scared during a Disney song... problem fixed.

btw, it had been a long time since I had gotten scared during a Disney song… problem fixed.

3) The Message

I’ve touched on this above, but I feel it’s worth reiterating. This movie has a few really good messages in it. They are front and center with our characters, but strangely enough, watching this movie, you don’t feel like the message is crammed down your throat.

This movie teaches people that you need to work to get to your dreams. They don’t just fall into your lap. This is evident with Tiana. She never shies away from any work, because she knows if she works hard enough, she’ll get her restaurant.

On the other hand, this movie also teaches that you can’t throw yourself 100% into work and your dreams. Not only can dreams change, but working that hard can strip your life from what’s really important.

So what’s important? Love. This part of the message gets evidenced once they get to Mama Odie’s and she tells them they have to find what they need, not necessarily what they want. I think this is actually a great message to teach kids – they’re not the same thing. You can want a new iPad, or the newest Xbox game or best car, but will they make you happy? Not necessarily. Everyone these days is so caught up in what we want, we, like Tiana and Naveen, forget about what we need. Love and family. They’re what make life worth living, and without them, we may not have a full life.

4) The Music

Again, I’ve mentioned it before, but the music to this movie is great. It’s not the best Disney’s had to offer (far from it in my opinion), but every single song fits into the southern vibe. There are a few great songs (My personal favorites? “Almost there,” “Dig a little deeper,” “Down in New Orleans.”) and some not so great ones. There are songs that are much better in the movie than on your computer (Friends on the other side). But all in all, these are wonderful songs that add to the movie. It’s also the first movie since Mulan that a character has actually sung an entire song….

Ok, now on to some not so great things/contoversies of the movie, and my take on them:

1) The Plot

Ok, I’ll admit it. This is probably the worst thing about the movie. It’s not hard to understand when you’re watching it, but it’s just kinda… boring. It’s a road trip movie to a point (Disney has loved those in the last 10 years…), but it’s not as exciting as even Bolt. It’s very compartmentalized. They go somewhere, they run into a problem, they repeat. I know that’s how road trip movies are, but with some, you don’t feel it as much as you do with this movie.

There’s also the fact that I still have no idea what Dr. Facilier was actually attempting to do with his little takeover thing. He was trying to take over New Orleans so the demons could run amok? why did he need Lawrence and Naveen for that? ugh I don’t understand!!!

2) The Humor

This one and the next one kinda run into each other, but I’ll do my best to try and keep them as separate as possible without reiterating too much.

To put it lightly, a lot of people criticized this movie because the humor, they felt, was inappropriate and “racist.” They’re quick to point out a few things:

The appearance of guns

It happens just after this. I just love this screen cap better...

It happens just after this. I just love this screen cap better…

The frog catchers

Princess-disneyscreencaps_com-5816

Ray

Ray_Princess-and-the-Frog_Green2

Ok. I don’t know about you, but personally? I laughed extremely hard when Louis was telling his story about how he tried to play on a riverboat and got guns pointed at him. I laughed like hell when the frog catchers beat each other up. You know why? Because it felt like an old school Disney movie! It felt like one of those old shorts Disney used to put on!

Does that mean it’s not racist? eh, I guess you could argue that type of humor still is, but then again there are people that live like that. Maybe they’re not that dumb, but I even think if I were in the situation with two frogs as smart as that, I’d get into trouble too.

As for Ray, he’s the one that sort of borders on racist, BUT is it just because of his humor and his accent? he’s not dumb, he’s got a huge heart, and he’s a good friend. I’m sorry, but to me, that’s not racist.

I didn’t see this humor as inappropriate. I saw it as nostalgic. And as for the guns… uh…. do you people see what types of movies 4-9 year olds are seeing these days? a few guns pointed at an Alligator for laughs isn’t what you should be criticizing.

3) The “Controversy” of Race.

I saved this for last because honestly I’m just going to talk and if I get myself into trouble than so be it. I could completely ignore this issue, but I’m not going to. I personally don’t think that there IS an issue, but when this movie was announced and promo footage and pictures were released, people, for some reason, flipped a shit.

They made a Disney Princess black.

Now I read a lot of stuff as it was coming out. There were the crazy white people who couldn’t believe it. There were the crazy black people who thought that Disney was just doing this to appease them, and the majority of us were in the middle thinking “Ok, Diversity, cool.”

Personally, I’m surprised it took them this long.

But… the more stuff came out, the more people started complaining. Disney changed Tiana’s name from Maddy because they didn’t want people thinking they were associating her with “Mammie,” or a term for a black maid in the south. I got the feeling that Disney had to walk over all these hot coals just to get this movie done and not cause a huge controversy, yet people still found one.

People are insane.

I’ve already talked about Tiana. I’ve already told you she is one of my favorites. Why should it matter what color her skin is? If anything, she is by far the smartest of the Disney Princesses. She teaches an extremely good lesson, and she’a great role model. If anything, she’s the normal person in this movie.

Lotte’s the one that makes white people look crazy.

tumblr_m8x2rfdhvu1rsfpfeo3_400

There is NO issue of race in this movie. There is NO controversy. If anything, this movie paints it like it was in the 1920s: White people had the big houses, African Americans lived in shacks and had jobs like seamstresses and waiters. There is nothing wrong with depicting life the way it was. It’s not like the white people were being rude to Tiana and her mother. I mean hell, Lotte and Tiana were friends! Her father respected Tiana’s! Geez

People make me so mad to think this had to be an issue.

Disney likes to claim that it was after this movie that they decided to shy away from movies with the word “princess” in them, and that they were done with 2D animation. That somehow, both these things detracted from people going to see the movie. Because this movie didn’t make as much as they thought it would.

That is bullshit.

You want to know why people didn’t go see this movie? (this is just my opinion, I really don’t know obviously). It was two fold:

1) the “Controversy” (as stated above) that surrounded this movie at the time of it’s production

2) At the time of its release, Disney still wasn’t known as a powerhouse of moviemaking! People probably saw the trailer and thought that Disney was trying to get back to what was important, but didn’t want to risk going to see if they were right.

Ok I’m done.

This movie is extremely underrated. Upon watching it, Tangled and Frozen in a row, I can honestly say this was my personal favorite of the three (although I do like the other two). I really encourage anyone who hasn’t seen this movie to give it a watch. You might fall in love with Tiana like I did. She’s awesome.

I give The Princess and the Frog (2009) a 4 out of 5.

Next up: Tangled (2010)