Monday, May 3, 2010

When will Disney cartoons be awesome again?

I mean, the animation itself is awesome. The art direction and voice work are awesome, but not since 1994 have they come out with a cartoon feature that was actually a good movie. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King were amazing bloody films that also happened to be cartoons. Then they made Pocahontas and everything went to crap.

Well, no, The Emperor's New Groove wasn't bad - gotta' give 'em credit, there - but it seems like the good animated movies (in North America) are all being made at Pixar, now. Like anyone who was once a child, I was very pleased to see Disney return to hand-drawn animation with The Princess and the Frog, but upon watching it last night...

The whole thing feels very after-school-special, y'know? The difference being that movies like The Lion King, Snow White and Bambi concern themselves with being good movies first, and then - perhaps - there's some sort of subtext that will provide their target audience with a life lesson.

Ever since Pocahontas, however, they seem to first aim to teach their young audience a wholesome lesson we can all agree on, and either shoehorn a narrative into it or squeeze it into a previously chosen property. It's no longer a subtext - it's the whole text.

Animation? Great. Wonderful artistry, and some clever humor. But The Princess and the Frog is nowhere near the classics that Disney once churned out with such regularity.

Or perhaps I'm just getting old.


  1. No, it's true. I wish more animation studios would use 2D animation. I've always found it be incredibly sleek, especially if you break away from the conventional method of drawing. Instead everything is CGI. Not that it's a bad thing. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was friggin' awesome and Dreamworks has been having a pretty awesome streak lately. But still... I wish 2D wasn't dropped entirely.

  2. Hmmm perhaps I should look into Meatballs. I did rather like Monsters Vs. Aliens, even if the plot was kinda' weak.

  3. I think that most people would agree with you, but it's hard to deny Pixar's talent for making great films that are very marketable. Still, I agree with you about the Princess and the Frog. I was let down. Also, do check out Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I think you'll really enjoy it - it's fun, it looks great, and it's genuinely funny and smart.

  4. Yeah, you guys were right about Meatballs. It knew exactly what it was and didn't try to be anything more - and if it happened to have a subtext about staying true to your dreams, all the better.

    Also: did Anna Faris play the reporter/love interest? I love her.

  5. I feel it might be a side effect of the Animation Age Ghetto, or at the very least related to it.

  6. At least there's still Studio Ghibli.

  7. Yeah, and a lot other anime studios are still making great stuff as well. It's mostly just American--no, western animation in general that is sucking. It's because most people here in the West are stuck in the mindset that cartoons are just for kids, which is hardly true at all. Look at Toonami's cancellation back in 2008. They had some of the best shows that I've ever watched on there, and not just Japanese anime either, but western animation as well. Since then, I've hardly seen a single decent, let alone good or, God forbid, great, show on Cartoon Network. Yeah, there's still [adult swim], but there isn't a great deal worth watching on there, at least not that I've seen recently; maybe I'm just not watching it often enough. And sure, SciFi (I refuse to call them Syfy, unless I'm mocking them, which I almost always do anyway) has Ani-Monday, but it's only two hours long, one night a week, some Mondays they just don't have it on, and it's late at night to boot, so even fewer people are going to watch it. Yes, I realize [adult swim] is on late also, but SciFi could at least have it more than one night a week. There's TONS of really good science fiction and fantasy animation out there. Oh, right, SciFi doesn't show really good science fiction and fantasy anymore... But I digress.