Link to Previous Part: The Disneyathon Part 17: The Rise of 3D Animation
Oh wow, does anyone remember this movie?
I can fondly remember when Enchanted came out. Everyone loved it so much that it was almost impossible to escape from the Enchanted rage. Nowadays when I talk about Enchanted I feel like I am talking about an obscure but underrated gem.
In case you haven’t heard of this movie it’s a pretty simple story that takes a classic fairytale like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, but instead of the old bat poisoning the princess she pushes her down a well where she ends up in late 2000’s New York City. It becomes a pretty fun fish out of water story where our ditsy optimistic princess befriends boring every man. Eventually more fairytale characters join in on the fun like the incredibly good looking idiot prince, the hopelessly devoted evil henchman and an annoying screeching chipmunk.
This movie is kind of like Disney’s Shrek where Disney is poking fun at their older movies which seems to be a recurring trend for these Disney 2000 movies. It’s quite effective here as most of the humour is normal people reacting to these cartoon characters and it’s quite cute.
I especially liked what they did with Giselle and Patrick Dempsey’s character. Giselle learns that love isn’t as simple as it seems and the lawyer learns to lighten up a bit. One of my favourite scenes is when Giselle and the Prince are on the bridge and she realises how boring he is. This change is expressed further with Giselle’s dresses which are a lot less fairytale like as the movie progresses. There are interesting ideas here but it’s kind of ruined a bit when they fall back on that predictable happy ending after the movie has been introducing the idea that life doesn’t really have a happy ending.
The main reason why this movie works so well is because of the great casting. The big standout is Amy Adams as I believe this was her breakout performance. This might be my favourite movie with her as it feels like she was born to play Giselle. James Marsden I think gives a pretty underrated performance as, like Giselle, he’s so awfully loveable. Patrick Dempsey is pretty good at playing the normal man and has good chemistry with Amy Adams. The most wasted actor I feel is Susan Sarandon as the evil step mum as she is barely in the movie and they don’t really do much with her. It gets worse when she turns into a dragon that has the crown of the Statue of Liberty and is defeated by a chipmunk. Great climax!
This movie is mostly live action, but the movie starts out with the traditional 2D animation that defined the company for years. It feels very nostalgic for the old days, but when it’s gone I didn’t really miss it as the New York portion is just way more entertaining. The songs I felt were a bit lacklustre and the only saving grace is that they’re sung by either Adams or Marsden. The best song is Happy Working Song and no doubt you can tell what this was inspired by. The most amazing thing about the music is they cast a talented singer like Idina Menzel in the movie and yet they don’t let her anywhere near a song. I guess they’ll make up for that later.
Anyway, I quite enjoyed Enchanted. The beginning and ending is a big miss, but this movie is saved because of how innocently cute the rest of the movie is and of course the great acting. 7 to 8 out of 10. I know I’m a cynical man, but it’s still worth a watch or a revisit, especially if you have young kids.
It seems that good Disney movies are here to stay. (Not that I’m complaining because I’m a bit over average Disney movies.)
Bolt has an interesting premise, good characters, some laughs and, most importantly, it has heart. That’s about all you need if you want a good family friendly animated Disney movie. But if you want one above standard it needs something that makes it special, which some of the movies in the last two parts did with flying colours. Bolt’s opening looks really promising, like it could be the next Meet the Robinsons or Lilo and Stitch, but as the movie progresses it just goes back to the standard Disney schtick.
I think my favourite scenes in this movie are on the TV set. There are some pretty funny jabs at Bolt’s TV show being predictable and at one point jumping the shark, which feels kind of meta to me as I feel like I have been repeatedly saying that throughout this series. Penny’s Agent gives the best line in the movie when he says he would trade his own daughter for a Disney Channel star. I also find it bizarre that the show’s highest concern is to make sure this dog is convinced he’s a superhero. When I watch a movie I am never looking for an Oscar worthy performance from a dog, but I guess if they want Bolt to be like Truman, then go ahead, I’m intrigued.
When Bolt arrives in New York and meets the alley cat Mittens it starts to feel like a typical Disney movie for me. I don’t mind these characters as it kind of reminded me of Buzz and Woody’s dynamic in the first Toy Story movie, but I have seen this all before and what they get up to isn’t really that captivating. The cat helping the dog learn to become a regular dog really isn’t as interesting as some TV studio convincing a dog he’s an actual superhero.
I have nothing against the hamster or the pigeons, but I am a bit fatigued by comic reliefs in these movies. The only character I don’t like is Penny mainly because she’s hanging out with way funnier characters and they got Hanna Montana to voice her. On the plus side At least the animation has improved and the 2000’s songs are too forgettable for me to complain about. Overall I would watch Bolt again and I’m giving it a 7 out of 10.
To jump away from the main animated Disney films let’s talk about Robert Zemeckis. Around this time he started a new trend of making the animation look as close to real life as possible. The results may or may not be more terrifying. With this new technology Zemeckis gave us two Christmas movies – The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol. (Just in case you’re wondering, I skipped The Polar Express because it was distributed by Warner Bros, but I think I will bring it up again another day.)
I’m sure everyone either knows or has heard of this story, whether it’s Michael Caine being terrorised by ghostly Muppets or Scrooge McDuck or modern day Bill Murray being visited by three ghosts of the past, present and future to help them change their perspective on life. This movie also follows that same tale and, from what I can tell, it does it quite well. So I’m just going to move on from the story.
Jim Carrey plays this iteration of Ebenezer Scrooge and I was unsure at first, but as the movie progressed he slowly grew on me, although I much prefer his voice work for the different ghosts as it better fits his style. The rest of the cast is also pretty good and I quite liked the score.
Moving onto the star of the show – the animation. I guess the design of Scrooge looks impressive, but when it’s time to be more expressive it’s not a nice sight. With the help of the animation this is definitely the darkest looking Christmas Carol I have ever seen. I think it even rivals The Black Cauldron for how dark and disturbing it is. The story gets pretty grim, especially when the Ghost of Yet to Come shows up, but I was already clenching onto my armrests from when the nightmarishly looking Ghost of Christmas Past showed up. Once Scrooge is all tucked up in bed I swear this movie becomes a horror movie and I feel like the PG rating is pushing it.
This movie was surprisingly better than I remember. (I’m more shocked that younger me wasn’t tossing and turning at night after seeing this!) Don’t watch this at Christmas, save it for Halloween and I’m giving it a 6 or 7 out of 10.
Here it is, the final movie of the 2000’s and to be perfectly honest I’m not okay with that. Oh well, I can get over it because this last movie was sure a strong finisher!
I think I’m going to regret ’til the day I die that I never saw The Princess and the Frog in the cinema. I was a young boy who would rather see movies like Transformers than a girly princess movie, but I must confess I did use to watch Barbie in the Nutcracker on repeat. (I don’t know why, I was a weird kid!) Over 10 years later I was hyped to watch this as it has everything I desire in a Disney movie.
Just as the company was dipping their foot into the world of 3D animation, they did a full 180 and went back to the classic 2D animation that made their older movies so great. Five years after Home on the Range I feel like I just reunited with an old friend. It’s better than ever as the colours are more vibrant, especially during the musical numbers.
I had a moment of absolute joy when Tiana actually started to sing a song. The Princess and the Frog doesn’t have some singer like Phil Collins sing the tune or some pop song playing over the scene. They went back to their roots and got a talented Broadway performer instead of an A-list celebrity to play the lead, which is incredible especially for this era. Speaking of the songs, they’re all great, fitting right in with the jazzy New Orleans style. Tiana’s song, the Oscar nominated Almost There, is definitely up there with the best, but my favourite is Dig a Little Deeper which is probably because it features a gospel choir which I absolutely love..
The story is really good as hard working Tiana meets laid back Prince Naveen. They are great on their own, but once they turn into frogs and learn to listen to one another they get better and it’s very touching. Their relationship is up there with Belle and The Beast as one of my favourite Disney romances. The side characters are also very enjoyable. Mama Odie, Lottie and Ray all have a fun quirky personality and surprisingly started to grow on me. The only weak link is the trumpet playing alligator as he doesn’t serve much of a point but he’s not the worst comic relief I have seen. Dr Facilier was a nice return to a more memorable bad guy. He is charismatic and full of energy thanks to Keith David’s very smooth voice.
It’s ironic that after almost a whole decade of the 2000’s movies poking fun at the Disney Renaissance movies, in the end they went and created another Disney Renaissance movie and it’s great. The Princess and the Frog is charming, funny and emotional at times. It was a blast and I’m giving it a 9/10.
It may be hard to believe, but there are only fourteen movies and four parts to go in The Disneyathon. The 2000’s were fun, revisiting movies that I grew up with, but next up is the 2010’s featuring movies that I didn’t really grow up with but still feel a bit nostalgic for. Plus the final few movies take place at the start of my reviewing days. Anyway, as is tradition, here are some alternate titles for these last four parts.
My Official Disneyathon Ranking List
Link to Next Part: The Disneyathon Part 19: The Revival Age
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