A waitress, desperate to fulfill her dreams as a restaurant owner, is set on a journey to turn a frog prince back into a human being, but she has to face the same problem after she kisses hi... Read allA waitress, desperate to fulfill her dreams as a restaurant owner, is set on a journey to turn a frog prince back into a human being, but she has to face the same problem after she kisses him.A waitress, desperate to fulfill her dreams as a restaurant owner, is set on a journey to turn a frog prince back into a human being, but she has to face the same problem after she kisses him.
Imagine my surprise when I saw The Princess and the Frog yesterday. Surprise nothing! I nearly went into a shock induced coma. This was a brilliant film, something truly worthy of Uncle Walt's iconic signature. This film had all the makings of a Disney classic: great story, great characters, great music, and of course, great art.
One thing I always give the Walt Disney Co. credit for is their masterful art work in their features, even the less than stellar ones. This has, especially, been the case the past 20-25 years. Some of the same artists that worked on the more recent classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast worked on Princess and the Frog. I was told after the film that the same man that drew Belle (Randy Cartwright) drew for Tiana, and you can tell. The art in general in this movie is extremely impressive. Not only are all the characters well drawn, but the backgrounds are breath taking, very reminiscent of Hunchback of Notre Dame. They seem to take you into a painting of the location without losing it's touch with reality. Also, the use of different art styles stood out, especially the "Almost There" number, which was drawn mostly in the Art Deco style.
Randy Newman's score left the biggest impression on my after the film was over, though. I think this is the first time a Disney feature used, primarily, North American music styles like jazz, ragtime, southern gospel, and even zydeco. Of course, like any great Disney feature; Princess and the Frog had it's signature musical number: the previously named "Almost There". With a great tune, appropriate lyrics, and of course, the voice of Anika Noni Rose; I'm sure (and I hope) this will become another Disney standard. Unlike some Disney films, there wasn't that dreadful "Oh dear merciful God, when is this going to end" number. Every song was thought out, appropriate for it's setting, and just...good. Kudos to Randy Newman, who will hopefully get an Oscar nomination (at least) for this film.
Then, of course, there's the high water mark for not only Disney movies, but for movies in general, especially animation films: characters and story. Movies can have an amazing score and even good animation, but if the story flops and if the characters are insufferable, then it's going nowhere. This movie, thankfully, had neither problem. There was no character that you wish would just go get himself or herself bent. Everyone served his or her purpose in the movie.
Like many of the newer Disney movies, The Princess and the Frog had a, well...Princess character that was blue collar and hard working.Tiana is young woman from the slums of New Orleans, whose sole purpose in life is to open up a successful restaurant serving authentic Louisiana cuisine. Of course, the man puts her down and she finds herself sunk. I will say that I'm VERY proud of Disney for not shoving the race issue down our throats and, at the same time, for not avoiding it all together. This was seen in the scene where the land lords of the building she's looking to purchase.
At the same time, a lazy hedonistic prince comes to New Orleans looking for a (Rich) bride since his monetary supply has been cut off by his parents. He sets his sights on a bona fide southern belle named Charlotte, Tiana's foil and best friend. The Prince and his reluctant English servant (what prince would be complete without one) get sidetracked by a voodoo man/street performer named Dr. Facilier aka "The Shadow Man", a slick deceitful crook with his own silhouette as a side kick (and yes, they are able to make it work). Dr. Facilier says both Prince Naveeh and Lawerence will get what they both desire most (money and a life without servitude, respectively). Louis is turned into the Prince (or at least, given his body) while Naveeh turns into...a smiley frog; which as we learn throughout the film is mucus.
Naveeh meets Tiana after she changes clothes (and after her dreams of owning her own restaurant). Tiana, who is less than fond of frog, tries to kill our hero; but later finds out that this is a frog with a difference...he can talk. After Naveeh sees a copy of a print version of, appropriately enough, the Princess and the Frog, he asks Tiana (Who is wearing a tiara at the time) to kiss him, believing that she is, indeed, royalty herself; though he later finds out that she is a waitress. He promises that after she kisses him, something she is far from enthusiastic about, he will make her dream of owning her own restaurant a reality. Well, she does kiss him, but there's a bit of a SNAFU: she turns into a frog herself. The two of them must find a way to become human again. Along the way, they meet a cavalcade of characters including a trumpet playing alligator (and yes, they are able to make it work somehow) and a Cajun firefly named Ray.
The Princess and the Frog, a movie (I hope) that is destined for greatness.
- Jan 3, 2010