Dr. Toon: Wielding the Hatchet
Let me make this clear: I am not promoting The Princess and the Frog, nor does Disney give a damn what I think of it. It has flaws that are hard to ignore, including problems with consistency. For example, if the film followed its own internal logic, then Charlotte should have been turned into a frog the instant she kissed the Nassim frog for Tiana's sake--but this would have altered the entire climax. On lesser notes, if a crowd flees the Mardi Gras at the sight of a horn-playing alligator in one scene, then they should do so a second time, not accept him as a Dixieland musician in the interests of a Happy Ending. If anyone can tell me why Lawrence was arrested and what he was charged with, I'd be grateful. Impersonating a prince? Aiding and abetting voodoo? More likely, Tying Up Loose Ends With Justice.
What I am talking about is the need for animation critics and would-be critics to either pursue training in, or train themselves, in film theory and analysis. They should have some grounding in animation history. The experience of watching as many animated films as possible, both good and poor, is indispensible. If bandwagon-jumping, unwarranted opinions and uninformed hatchet-wielding are to be avoided, education and experience are vital. So is an all-consuming love for the animated medium.
By this point some readers may consider me to be an insufferable elitist and wish they could cram this essay down my throat. Those with a better voice than mine, and they are many, are welcome to do so. After they do, however, let them carry on their responsibilities to our culture and art. It's the best path to truth.
Dr. Toon presents the following 1980s-educational-post-cartoon message:
A true story: Since the premiere of The Princess and the Frog, doctors nationwide have treated at least 50 cases of Salmonella directly resultant of young girls kissing frogs. There have been no reports of handsome princes generated by these actions. Don't let your little girl join the ranks of the afflicted even if it means shattering the fantasy. Prevent all possible opportunities for frog smooching. Remember, it's not slime, it's mucus. Thank you.
Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman is a longtime student and fan of animation. He lives in Anderson, Indiana.