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Rhett Wickham: A Kiss Before Dying ... Can You Save Animation This Weekend?!
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by Rhett Wickham (archives)
December 31, 2009
Rhett Wickham challenges readers to see The Princess and the Frog this weekend to send a message to Hollywood and save quality animation.

A KISS BEFORE DYING…CAN YOU SAVE ANIMATION THIS WEEKEND?!

 

The challenge is simple: send a message to Hollywood that a good story, told well, is worth making. That’s it. It doesn’t happen by writing a letter or posting a comment, it happens by buying a ticket and going to the movies THIS weekend.

 

Disney’s magnificent, moving, and visually enchanting Princess & the Frog is about to croak at the box office, with numbers that simply do not reflect the film’s true value. Critically acclaimed, the Disney feature has an impressive 83% of critics praising the film – the same percentage praising Avatar, by the way - with comments such as “Flawless”, “An instant classic”, and “the best Disney animated film in years!”. Even recent Disney nay-sayers and harsh critics such as Time’s Richard Corliss call it “a start to finish delight”.

 

So what gives? How can it be that a CG-animated “Squeakquel” - Alvin has an average audience rating of C minus and a pitiful 22% of critics giving it even a reluctant thumbs-up – raked in $87-Million in just six days, while Tiana and company limp into their fifth weekend with only $66-Million?! Simple answer – people aren’t going to see it. One of those people might be you.

 

So, if animation, quality animation of any sort – hand drawn or not – truly matters to you, then you have to go to the theatre and say so with you wallet. And you have to do it this weekend.

 

So, what’s keeping you away? Let’s see if we can counter some of the arguments you might offer up:

 

DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

There are many folks, both on the discussion boards and elsewhere – who are saying that hand-drawn animation is dead and we “traditionalists” should let it die gracefully. Okay, so let’s say hand drawn animation has seen its day. This will certainly nail that coffin closed if Princess and the Frog doesn’t break $100-Million in the next month. But what will it do to dig a hole and bury the type of storytelling and characters that don’t need 3-D glasses and an additional ten dollars to be enjoyed? Are we to mourn the death not only of Roy Disney – the last champion of Walt’s vision – along with an approach to story-telling that has been at the core of the Disney brand for seven decades? If you don’t support this film with your wallet, while it’s in the theatres, then yes, yes you will be part of killing off hope for quality animation – no matter how it is rendered. So go see it!

 

THE “PRINCESS” THING…YOU KNOW, IT’S FOR GIRLS

If you’re turned off by the “girl” factor, well, first, shame on you. Second, okay, so you think that because it has “Princess” in the title that you know the story and that it’s not your type of film, or your son or nephew or grandson’s type of film. Wrong. Way wrong. The adventure is here, the comedy is here, the villain, the hero, the action and the suspense all required to keep toads, snails and puppy-dog tails in their seats. And they might learn something from a female character with character. Does that really bother you? Didn’t think so. And for those of you with little girls who are all “princessed out”, take note: not all princesses are alike, and Tiana is groundbreaking – and not because she’s Black. Speaking of which…

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