This weekend, I was lucky enough to go to the Cast and Crew Premiere of The Princess and the Frog, a beautiful film that ushers in a very welcome return to hand-drawn animation and the golden age of Disney musicals. The party itself was like nothing I've ever been to, especially in light of the fact it was technically "a work party."
Aside from the food, the New Orleans Jazz band, and the complimentary milk and cookies as we left the ballroom - I think the thing that will stick with me the most about the experience is the wondeful sense of togetherness and collective pride in the studio's accomplishments as a team. The applause was nearly constant for the entire duration of the five minute credit sequence.
I'm used to watching little short films I did with friends and being excited when we all applauded our work. This, there is nothing to really compare it to when you are in a room with people like John Lasseter and everyone who brought the film to reality, from the executive producers all the way to the lighting artists and assistants.
Having seen the movie for the first time on Saturday evening, I won't tell you spoilers other than it was easily another Disney classic, a beautiful movie with a great message, and something that should not be missed.
On that note, here are my top 5 reasons you should take my word for it and check out the film went it debuts in theaters nationwide on December 11.
- It's directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. Know what else they directed? The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules. Remember those little movies from your childhood? Yeah, I know you're totally singing "Friend Like Me" in your head right now... dork.
- Everyone knows that Princess Tiana is the first African-American Princess. However, did you know that she's also the first American princess? Forget the fourth of July, the time to be patriotic is now.
- Miss those catchy Disney musicals? Not only is Princess a musical, the entire soundtrack is done by New Orleans native and acclaimed composer, Randy Newman. The genius behind "You've Got a Friend in Me" has captured the spirit of the city in songs that will entertain a whole new generation of kids and adults alike.
- John Musker went to CalArts with John Lasseter, Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) , and Pete Docter (Up). There's a reference in the movie to their classroom "A113" - you gotta see the movie to find it.
- Oprah does the voice of Tiana's mother. Enough said.
Oh, and I got to meet Jennifer Lewis (the voice of "Mama Odie") so that was pretty flippin' sweet.