I am probably about twenty years older than the target audience and with one extra appendage but I can see why young girls would be charmed by the film. There is a cute chameleon, a beautiful princess, a handsome hero and plenty of jokes and sight gags to keep a young child entertained. From my perspective it had some of the magic of an earlier hand drawn Disney animation but has been updated in order to appeal to 21st Century children. No longer is the hero a valiant Prince but a thief and it is the female character who often saves the day. The genre has been subverted and it seems that it is no longer acceptable for the heroin to simply wait for the hero to rescue her but must show that ‘sisters are doing it for themselves’.
The animation is breathtaking. I have a soft spot for the old fashioned, hand drawn style of Snow White and Dumbo but maybe a modern child wouldn’t. Either way the computer generated animation is incredible. It looks wonderful. There is so much detail and the light and shadows look so incredibly real. The characters still maintain the traditional Disney look, the chiseled handsome man and demure, slightly too young looking woman but they’ve updated the look to fit with modern times. One scene in a tavern had all the charm and comedy of an earlier Disney film and was my favourite scene while the lantern scene was simply spectacular.
At $260 million this is the second most expensive movie ever made (after Pirates of the Caribbean 3). I'm a little surprised by this as there were no big name stars, expensive locations or CGI robots etc, but I guess you pay for this quality of animation. And anyway, the film made more than $590 million worldwide so Disney made their money back and then some! Incidentally it cost $60 million more than Toy Story 3 which was released in the same year.
As I said, this film is not aimed at me and I was a bit bored by it. Even a five year old can tell how it will end and the jokes were on the whole not funny to me. Nevertheless I am sure that people born in 2005 will be as charmed and attached to this as children in the 1940’s were by Pinocchio and my generation was by The Lion King. It is far from Disney’s best but also far from its worst and compared to its last ten years output is very good indeed.