Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review: 'The Princess and The Frog"

Last night, Mary and I finally had the opportunity to see Disney's latest 2D animated film, The Princess and the Frog. We were enamored with the character of Tiana from the video clips available via the Internet and both looking forward to this film with high anticipation and it did not fail to disappoint. To sum it up .. Disney brilliantly rediscovers what many term as the classic Disney formula, hand-drawn animation and the value of a good story!

The Princess and the Frog really marks Disney's rediscovery of a strong narrative loaded with memorable characters, a story that pulls you in from the beginning and an unforgettable music score. Under the direction of veterans Ron Clements and John Musker (the team behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin) and the watchful eye of John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Disney Animation, The Princess and the Frog celebrates old and new. It's a musical fairy tale that dates back to the days when Walt Disney was a person, not a brand. Yet it deftly mingles with the new sensibilities in animation where fairy tales must get fractured, settings must be fresh and humor pitched to many age levels.

The story takes place in New Orleans during the Roaring 1920's, and Clements and Musker go crazy with period details drawn from decorative arts, architecture and design styles. This is not just hand-painted animation, it's characters and backgrounds painstakingly drawn by animators in love with New Orleans, the bayous of Louisiana, the black magic of its underworlds and the 1920's themselves. Randy Newman has composed songs and a melodious score that weaves together jazz, blues and gospel.

There is no princess here, but there is a prince, Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), a n'er-do-well who is penniless because his parents cut him off. The heroine is Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a hardworking servant's daughter carrying out her father's dreams of owning her own waterfront restaurant. There also is a menacing magician (new Disney villain), the cunning Dr. Facilier (Keith David), who lives to thwart happy endings.

The story transports Tiana and the Prince to a mystical, alligator-ridden bayou where good and bad magic battles for their souls. They are aided by the romantic firefly Ray (Jim Cummings), the jazz-loving alligator named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) and the bayou's own queen, Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis).

Voicing memorable smaller roles are John Goodman as Southern aristocrat Big Daddy, Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard as Tiana's loving parents and Jennifer Cody as Big Daddy's spoiled Southern debutante daughter, Charlotte.

Mary ranked this film with Beauty and the Beast, absolutely loving this film. I personally would rank slightly below The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast but par with Aladdin and much better than The Lion King. My only fault with the film, too much time was spent with Tiana and Prince Naveen as frogs.

I liked the relationship between Tiana and Charlotte and how Charlotte gave up her dream for her friend. The substory of Ray and Evangeline, if when Ray joined Evangeline didn't choke you up and/or bring a tear to your eye, you lack heart and/or emotion. Favorite song was "Almost There" and thoroughly enjoyed "Friends on the Other Side" and "Dig a Little Deeper."

If you're a fan of hand-drawn animation, you definitely want to check this film out. If another opportunity presents itself, we'll definitely be seeing again while in theaters, if not, pick up as soon as released on Blu-Ray/DVD.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Buzz and Woody want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays in this quick video (courtesy of plus a promo for Toy Story 3:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Villains Series: Should it be Abandoned?

After the announcements were made, my friend Matthew and I were discussing the upcoming King Louie sculpture. With the announcement of the Walt Disney Collectors Society being suspended, Matthew wondered if this could have been the planned Villains Series release for 2010.

I didn't think so, as I never saw King Louie as a Villain. Did a little research via Google and stand corrected. King Louie is considered a Villain and one of three (3) Villains, Shere Khan and Kaa being the other two from the 1967 animated classic, The Jungle Book.

The Villains Series made it's debut in the summer of 1997 and over the years featured such Villains as Maleficent, Cruella DeVil, the Evil Queen, Scar and the Queen of Hearts to name a few. The initial releases, the Villain was in a 'setting' such as a turret (Maleficent), a bed (Cruella) and a throne (Evil Queen). Others were released as a stand alone with an 'accessory' item (Stomboli with a table, Jafar with his hourglass on a brick pedestal and the Old Hag with her potion table and cauldron) and some were done as a single sculpt (Queen of Hearts with rose tree and Shere Khan in the jungle). King Louie fits the style of some of the earlier releases where the character was part of the setting, so does you make you wonder if intended as the next release in the Villains Series??

Even though the Walt Disney Collectors Society has been suspended, I'd hate to see some of the series that were part of the Society be abandoned. Why couldn't the Villains Series continue, with the logo but no longer a members only release? The sculptures could be either a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) or Limited to Production Year.

The packaging for Society pieces were no different than non-member releases, so see no reason for this series to be abandoned. Continue the series, either use the same logo (without members only being part of the backstamp) or come up with a new logo. There are still so many Villains that could yet be done, the Horned King from The Black Cauldron, Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective and Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog.

How Many Molds Does It Take?

At the recent signing event with Patrick Romandy-Simmons at Gallery of the Lakes (November 07, 2009, collectors asked the following question:

Q. How many molds did it take to produce this years Signature Series release of the Dwarfs on the Log ("
Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! It's Home From Work We Go!")?

A. 245

Toy Story 3 Trailer

Initially planned to debut during Sunday's screening of The Incredibles on the ABC Family Channel, we see the first extended look at Toy Story 3 series has already rolled up online.

Director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo) appears in an introduction before the new scene and an outro at the end, but there’s no new revelations in what he has to tell us. This clip is all about the footage from the film.

Thanks to
Coming Soon for sourcing this already. Clip is courtesy of Toy Story 3 hits theaters on June 18, 2010 and stars original cast members Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Wallace Shawn (Rex), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head), John Morris (Andy) and Laurie Metcalf (Andy's Mom, Mrs. Davis) as well as new additions Michael Keaton (Ken), Whoopie Goldberg and recently announced Kristen Schaal. Also new to the cast is Blake Clarke, who will replace the late Jim Varney in the role of Slinky Dog.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Prep and Landing: New Holiday Special from Disney!

Was a weekend to do a lot of catching up, in spite of taking time to shovel, though we were so fortunate compared to a lot of friends in Mother Nature's first snowfall this year.

I missed Prep and Landing when originally aired but thanks to the Internet was finally able to catch it. My BFF's Bob & Toni saw previews on the Disney Cruise this past September and kept telling us, 'wait until you see this!'

A very enjoyable holiday short! Great characters, good story like only Disney can do! Prep and Landing (Official Title: Disney Prep and Landing) is a computer animated television special, based on an idea by Chris Williams at Walt Disney Animation Studios and developed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton
into a half-hour Christmas special. It first aired December 8, 2009 on ABC.

  • Director Kevin Deters' hometown is Quincy, IL, home to Deter's Dairy. During a scene in which Wayne is "being naughty" and making himself a drink, the milk carton Wayne is using has the Deter's logo.
  • The Longitude / Latitude coordinates for Timmy Terwelp's house are N 34' 9' 20" / W 118' 19' 23", which are the real-world coordinates of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, CA, though a map seen earlier in the film depicts it to be in the middle of a storm covering New England.
  • Santa Claus' face is not revealed during the show, similar to the way Hollywood treated depicting Jesus during early films (only over-the-shoulder shots, or concentrating on his hands/actions).
  • Santa uses snow globes to look in on some of the "drop zones" much like in the Santa Clause series.
  • Tiny, Magee's "secret friend," has his own short adventure which can be seen on Disney's Official Site for the special.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A 'Mythic Menagerie' from Fantasia!

Walt Disney’s masterpiece Fantasia is a universe of animated treasures, including the celebrated segment that beautifully animates “The Pastoral Symphony.” Soaring serenely over the Olympian landscape is a majestic mother Pegasus who, once settled, tends to her multicolored babies in an elegant nest.

The Pegasus Family ("Mythic Menagerie"), sculpted by Kent Melton is a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 500.

Sculpture includes a
70th Anniversary backstamp in honor of the film's release is scheduled for a Spring, 2010 release.

Update: Two (2) additional side-view angles have been added. Please click on either Pegasus Family images to view.

Maleficent's Castle Includes a WDCC First!

Deep in the Forbidden Mountains stands Maleficent’s ominous fortress. Guarded by goons and surrounded by craggy peaks, this forbidding castle is the scary site of both fearsome plotting and sinister celebration.

Castle includes a sound clip with music and narration, a Walt Disney Classics Collection first! The music and narration are from the digitally remastered Sleeping Beauty film sequence which introduces Maleficent's Castle. The narration goes as follows:

"For everyone knew that as long as Maleficent's domain, the Forbidden Mountains, thundered with her wrath and frustration, her evil prophecy had not yet been fulfilled..." [thunder and lightning]

Pressing a button on the hardwood base, this sound clip starts playing (approx. 23 seconds) and LED lights within the castle flash to replicate lightning. Powered by 3 AA batteries (not included).

Maleficent's Castle ("Forbidden Fortress"), concept designed by Larry Nikolai is a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 500 and scheduled for an April, 2010 release.

Yzma: Making Her WDCC Debut!

Wild and wacky as well as wicked, Yzma tries hard to be elegant—but somehow she’s prone to slapstick mishaps. This slinky seductress is actually a sorceress and while she plans on poisoning the spoiled young emperor and take over the throne, fate has something else entirely in store.

Making her WDCC debut, from The Emperor's New Groove, Yzma ("Calculating Conspirator") is a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 500. One of Disney’s most hilariously heinous baddies, Yzma is plussed with pewter, resin and a magnet to hold the elaborate headpiece (featuring real feathers) in place.

Sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons, Yzma is slated for a Spring 2010 release.

Update: Two (2) angles (side and back view) have been added. Please click on Yzma image to view.

King Louie: The Jungle VIP!

It’s no wonder this madcap monarch is known as King Louie the Most, for he’s the most outrageous animal in the jungle. This kooky orangutan holds crazy court in an ancient temple, where Louie loves to dance up a storm when he’s not lounging on his elaborate throne.

King Louie ("Orangutango-Jango!), sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons is a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 750.

Scheduled for a Spring 2010 release, this irresistible sculpture set is complete with an urn full of jungle delicacies, and plussed with wire, pewter and resin.

Update: Three (3) additional angles (two (2) side view and a back angle) have been added to the presentation page. Please click on King Louie image to view.

Jiminy Cricket Finds Himself in Some 'Bubble Trouble!'

While Jiminy Cricket advised Pinocchio to always follow his conscience, it’s the cricket-conscience himself who follows the wooden puppet everywhere—even to the bottom of the sea, where the inquisitive but irresistible insect finds himself inside a bubble.

Jiminy Cricket ("Bubble Trouble"), an Open Edition release is richly plussed with exquisite details including a glass bubble, exquisitely capturing this classic character in a delightful yet rarely portrayed moment, and is truly worthy of Walt Disney’s animated masterpiece Pinocchio.

Scheduled for an April, 2010 release, the sculpture will bear a 70th Anniversary backstamp in honor of the film's release.

All in a Golden Afternoon-Alice & Dinah

All in a golden afternoon, Alice daydreams in the daisies with her cuddly kitty, Dinah. A new and utterly irresistible entry in the Disney Artist Series, this sweet sculpture captures winsome Alice as she plays with her rarely portrayed pet, Dinah.

Alice and Dinah ("Riverbank Reverie"), a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 1,500 was sculpted by Jacqueline Perreault Gonzales. Alice & Dinah has been selected as the Spring Premiere Event sculpture and will be available through all participating Walt Disney Classics Collection Dealers and the Walt Disney Theme Parks, April 23-25, 2010. This sculpture marks the third release in the Disney Artist Series and honors David Pacheco.

Previous releases in the Disney Artist Series include Tinkerbell ("Blithe Spirit"), first release in the series sculpted by Margi Wray, a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 2,000 and Sorcerer Mickey ("Impatient Apprentice"), second release in series sculpted by Dusty Horner and Limited to Production Year 2009.

'Ohana! - New Scene from 'Lilo & Stitch'

On the heels of the recently retired Halloween Lilo and Stitch, the Walt Disney Classics Collection releases a new scene release of them in their hula attire.

‘Ohana is the Hawaiian spirit of family, and if Stitch is to ever fit in as family he’ll have to dance the hula—but with Lilo as his model, the destructive yet endearing alien aces each sway and swing. Every little movement has a meaning, and with lovable Lilo and irresistible adorable Stitch leading the luau, each motion means ‘ohana.

Lilo ("Hawaiian Hula"), Limited to Production Year 2010, was sculpted by Bruce Lau. Stitch ("Alien Auana") , an Open Edition release was sculpted by Dave Spafford, first time sculpting for the Walt Disney Classics Collection. Lilo and Stitch are scheduled for a Spring, 2010 release.

Update: Additional angles of Lilo (side and back view) and Stitch (back view) have been added. Please click on Lilo and Stitch image to view.

Friday, December 18, 2009

RIP: Roy E. Disney (1930-2009)

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Roy Edward Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney, died Wednesday after a year long battle with stomach cancer, according to a Walt Disney Co. spokesman.

Disney "played a key role in the revitalization of the Walt Disney Co. and Disney's animation legacy," the company said. He died in a Newport Beach, California, hospital at the age of 79. His father -- Roy O. Disney -- co-founded the Disney entertainment business with Walt Disney in 1923.

Roy E. Disney's 56-year association with the company culminated in 2003 when he stepped down as vice chairman of Disney's board and chairman of the Disney Studio's Animation Department. He kept the title director emeritus and consultant in recent years, the company said. "As head of Disney Animation, Disney helped to guide the studio to a new golden age of animation with an unprecedented string of artistic and box office successes that included 'The Little Mermaid,' 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Aladdin' and 'The Lion King,' " the company said.

A private funeral service and cremation are planned, the company said. His ashes will be scattered at sea, it said. He was born in in Los Angeles seven years after his father and uncle began building the Disney empire. His entertainment career began in 1952 -- after he attended Harvard University and Pomona College -- with a job as an assistant film editor on the "Dragnet" TV series. He joined the family business a year later as an assistant film editor at the Walt Disney Studios. He received two Oscar nominations. One was as a writer and production associate on the 1959 short subject film "Mysteries of the Deep," and the second was for his work in 2003 as executive producer of "Destino," a film based on storyboards and original art by the iconic artist Salvador Dali.

Disney founded Shamrock Holdings, an investment company owned by the Disney family, in 1978. He also was an avid competitive sailor, the company said. He held several elapsed-time records for offshore races in the Pacific Ocean, including multiple wins in the 2,225-mile Transpac race between Hawaii and California, it said.

The following statement was issued by Bob Iger on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 12:14PM:


It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of our friend and colleague Roy E. Disney. After a courageous year-long fight with stomach cancer, he passed away peacefully this morning at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, surrounded by his loving family.

Roy played an important role in our lives here at Disney, and in the success of our Company over many years. Along the way, he touched many of us in a personal way. During his 56-year association with the Company, his true passion and focus was preserving and building upon the amazing legacy of Disney animation that was started by his father and uncle. His commitment to the art of animation was unparalleled and will always remain his personal legacy and one of the greatest contributions to Disney's past, present and future.
Roy not only helped to keep the legacy alive, but he also embraced new technologies, and gave the filmmakers the tools they needed to tell their stories in new and exciting ways. He encouraged talent, and loved working with the creative community. And they loved working with him.

Roy was a Disney Legend in every sense of the word, and his contributions to this great company have been profound and will always be remembered. For the next week we will be flying the Disney flag at half mast here at the Studio and at our parks, and I know you join me in sending thoughts and prayers to Roy's wife, Leslie, his four children, and his 16 grandchildren. For those who wish to pay their respects, the family has requested that donations be made in Roy's name to the California International Sailing Association (CISA) to benefit youth sailing.

A Heartfelt Thanks!

I'd like to thank all those via the Blog, Facebook and Twitter for your emails, cards, phone calls and well wishes during a very difficult time when I lost my Uncle to cancer earlier this month.

Still hard seeing someone vibrant and healthy succumb within 11 days to cancer. Very thankful to work for allowing me to spend as much time as possible with him during that time. I feel so blessed to not only know but be related to this amazing person who was an AWESOME Uncle.

Love & Miss You Uncle Paul. Gone but NEVER forgotten!