The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is.
A modern day retelling of the classic story The Frog Prince. The Princess and the Frog finds the lives of arrogant, carefree Prince Naveen and hardworking waitress Tiana crossing paths. Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by a conniving voodoo magician and Tiana, following suit, upon kissing the amphibian royalty. With the help of a trumpet-playing alligator, a Cajun firefly, and an old blind lady who lives in a boat in a tree, Naveen and Tiana must race to break the spell and fulfill their dreams. Written by
The Massie Twins
The streetcar Tiana takes to work, during an early scene, is labeled with the number "A113." A113 was the room for the animation department at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts; the room now houses graphic design classes). During the 1970s, directors John Musker and Ron Clements, in addition to Disney/Pixar animation executive John Lasseter and Pixar director Brad Bird, studied animation in room A113. "A113" labels are hidden in Disney and Pixar films. See more »
When Prince Naveen prepares the romantic dinner, he leans over the improvised table, and falls. However, only seconds later he gets up and sits on the edge of the table, which this time supports his full weight. See more »
[telling a story to Tiana and Charlotte]
"Just at that moment, the ugly little frog looked up with his sad, round eyes and pleaded, 'Oh, please, dear princess! Only a kiss from you can break this terrible spell that was inflicted on me by a wicked witch!'"
Here comes my favorite part.
"And the beautiful princess was so moved by his desperate plea that she stooped down, picked up the slippery creature, leaned forward, raised him to her lips, and kissed that little frog."
[...] See more »
When Toy Story was first unleashed on the scene back in 1995 to resounding success, it was the beginning of the end for traditionally hand drawn animated films. They were a dying breed, and as Pixar picked up steam (and inspired countless rivals), Disney began focusing more on the wave of the future and not of the past. But nostalgia is a funny thing, and can help lead to some of the best ideas. And that is where The Princess and the Frog fits in.
Instead of using the now traditional method of computer animation, The Princess and the Frog is like a trip right back into the early 1990s. Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) is a hardworking woman living in Jazz-era New Orleans with dreams of owning her own restaurant. She is an inspiring individual, but she lacks the wealth needed to buy and restore any buildings. But a chance encounter with a frog, who claims he is actually visiting Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), leads to a kiss that makes Tiana a whole lot more amphibian.
Although it pales in comparison to the simply magnificent Up, The Princess and the Frog is like a dream come true for anyone who has ever enjoyed Disney films. All the adventure, music and wonder that made classics out of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King is back and in full form. The trailers predicted the return of a Disney dynasty long thought extinct, and thankfully they were right on the money.
While I had some hesitation towards how gimmicky it sounded for the film to finally make a princess out of an African-American, it actually works in the film's favour. Right from the start, we know we have seen predictable animated and live action films that play out exactly the same as this film does. But throwing in this new invention of a different breed of spunky and independent princess, one so closely timed to the election of President Obama, makes the film more original than any of its contemporaries. While Tiana's attitude is a little bothersome at first, it blossoms into something beautifully inspiring for young girls primarily, but for just about anyone who has ever had a dream before. She is every bit as developed as Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Belle or any of the other countless "princesses" Disney has thrown into the mix since 1937.
But while there is a lot of predictability in the script, (even with the clever additions of the likes of a trumpet-playing crocodile aptly named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) and a backwoods-speaking firefly named Ray (Jim Cummings)), the film's success rests solely on the visuals on display. Right from the start, we are thrust into this classical looking New Orleans, where even the darkest depths of the bayou seem all the more brightly lit when drawn by Disney animators. There is just such reverence and bravura shown throughout the film that one wonders why hand drawn animation was ditched in the first place. This film only proves how vibrant and imaginative the format can be, and how much easier it lends itself to varying styles. The "Almost There" musical sequence near the beginning of the film is done in a style totally unlike anything else in the film, and is so incredibly well done that you may not even notice. But something like this could never be manipulated or maintained anywhere near as wonderfully in a fully computer generated movie. This speaks volumes for how affective this film is, and that is only in one sequence.
The voice cast is not filled to the brim with well known stars, but each actor voices their part with so much enthusiasm that you may think they all are. Rose, known likely best for her role in the amazingly well choreographed but fatally flawed Dreamgirls, is a clear standout as Tiana. She breathes life into this amazingly well rounded individual unlike anything I ever imagined. She made the audience smile, laugh and weep with her all at once, and never broke a beat when she did it. Much the same goes for Campos, who gives a fun and energetic voice to the off-the-wall prince. Wooley and Cummings are simply excellent in their roles, instantly bringing back memories of treasured Disney characters. Small roles by John Goodman, Terrence Howard and even Oprah Winfrey are all well done.
But this wondrous return to hand drawn animation is not without its problems. The film spends a bit too much time in the middle focusing on Tiana and Naveen, and almost throws away any potential built up for the evil voodoo witch doctor, Dr. Facilier (Keith David). He is a commonly used archetype, but David is just so brilliantly sinister in the role that he practically begs to be shown more than he actually is. His development is stilted, and what easily could have amounted for more pathos and motivation is simply squandered away for more of a love story. It is understandable why it is done, but it is nonetheless disappointing and acts as a bit of a black hole in the story.
Another issue of course, is the underlying stereotypical content in the film. It is not horrendously racist and offensive like I originally assumed, but the conventions are still at play here, and are not entirely glossed over in all instances. Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) comes off as being played a bit too close to racist conventions, as do many jive-talking individuals who give the twins in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen a run for their money.
But in the end, The Princess and the Frog is a triumph of animation and imagination. It is an enjoyable ride from start to finish, and just may be the start of something beautiful for Disney. Let's just hope that they see the potential in it too.
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