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Here’s to a school of dagger-propelled, orange barracuda siccing any listmeister who jumped the gun and failed to consider A Town Called Panic for his or her top ten films of 2009. Undeniably the most entertaining and energetic movie of that now-caput year, I found myself funstruck from film’s start to its fireworks-laden finish; ATCP is also 2009′s best animated film, somehow scurrying and climbing past other visionary, grand entries from the oh-nine like Wes Anderson’s fireside-classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pixar’s latest crown jewel Up, and Disney’s strong, under-appreciated The Princess and the Frog. This superlative—and I realize how questionable it may seem to those unimpressed by the accompanying image—is not fueled by contrarianism or ostentatious indie preferences; this Fantastic Fest Audience Award winner is simply that effing good. Seek it out.

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On Friday December 4th, I was lucky enough to spend the whole day at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank. My mission was to film footage for a /Film Exclusive documentary about the return of hand-drawn animation, focusing on Disney’s superlative new picture, The Princess and the Frog.

During the day I carried out filmed interviews with the film’s directors John Musker and Ron Clements, leading lady Anika Noni Rose, producer Peter del Vecho and a whole host of animation, storyboarding and design talent. I think I pushed deeper than you’d typically see on a behind-the-scenes piece for DVD, for example, and I’m sure I managed to get an awful lot of good footage and interesting discussion, as well as some genuine revelations about the current state of hand-drawn animation and the creative qualities of The Princess and the Frog.

That documentary will be some time coming, however – I’ve got hours and hours of footage to sculpt – but, in the meantime, I’ll be able to show you a few little glimpses of what went down on the day. To start off with, there’s a very brief and essentially unedited clip after the break, one in which Peter del Vecho makes very clear the next few hand-drawn projects from Walt Disney Animation.

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Early Buzz: Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

Disney’s 2D animated film The Princess and The Frog won’t hit theaters nationwide until December 11th, but right now the film is playing in limited release in New York and Los Angeles. So what is the early buzz? Lets take a look at some of the early reviews.

The Hollywood Reporter: “So Princess and the Frog really marks Disney’s rediscovery of a strong narrative loaded with vibrant characters and mind-bending, hilarious situations.” … “This is the best Disney animated film in years. Audiences — who don’t care whether it’s cel animation, CGI, stop motion, claymation or motion capture as long as it’s a good story — will respond in large numbers. A joyous holiday season is about to begin for Disney.” .. “Princess and the Frog” reawakens your appreciation of the timeless beauty of the classic style while evoking a fantastic world with such warmth, vigor and confidence that you surrender to its happy lunacy.”

Variety: “Disney goes back to the drawing board with results more diverting than captivating” … “this cheeky update of a classic fairy tale boasts almost as many talking points as merchandising opportunities” … “this long-anticipated throwback to a venerable house style never comes within kissing distance of the studio’s former glory.” … “That derivative quality pervades the entire production, as directors John Musker and Ron Clements — who collaborated on such Disney new-wave masterpieces as “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” but also 2002′s poorly received “Treasure Planet” — seem content to sample the company’s back catalog and riff on classic conventions rather than forge an actual classic.”

More after the jump.

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A couple weeks ago I traveled down to Los Angeles for a very unusual press day for Disney Animation Studio’s new film The Princess and the Frog. Disney is really hoping to promote the return to hand drawn animation with an old school Disney look and feel, and took a group of online journalists on a day trip to Disneyland where we went behind the scenes, back to the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank, before seeing some never before seen footage from Frog, and talking to directors Ron Clements and John Musker.

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A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to participate in a round table interview with The Princess and the Frog directors Jon Musker and Ron Clements at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank. You can read the full interview after the jump, which includes a lot of information on the development of this new project. The biggest revelation to me is was that Pixar was originally developing the project as a computer animated film, set in Chicago in the 1930′s. It was at Pixar that John Lasseter suggested New Orleans as a new setting for the story. Read the full interview after the jump to learn more.


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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

Walt Disney Pictures has released the first five minutes from the company’s upcoming return to hand-drawn animation The Princess and The Frog. The video clip features a bit of uncompleted animation. The movie is a new take on E.D. Baker’s novel The Frog Princess (which was actually the original title of the film). Thanks to /Film reader Jaynbait for the tip. Watch the video clip after the jump.

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Exclusive: The Princess and the Frog Movie Poster

The Princess and the Frog

Walt Disney Animation Studios has provided us with an EXCLUSIVE look at the movie poster for The Princess and the Frog. As you know, this is Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation, a new take on E.D. Baker’s novel The Frog Princess (which was actually the original title of the film). Check out the full poster after the jump, and click on the image to see the poster in high resolution.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Trailer #2

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

Walt Disney Animation Studios has released a second trailer (the theatrical trailer) for The Princess and the Frog. This is Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation, a new take on E.D. Baker’s novel The Frog Princess (which was actually the original title of the film). If you haven’t seen the teaser trailer, check that out here. Watch the new trailer embedded after the jump.

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