The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and The Frog is a beautifully drawn, well animated slice of the standard Disney pie with a Louisiana spin. Although I found all of the characters to be very loveable, I thought that Disney’s “playing it safe” (you know exactly what I mean) due to a bunch of jackasses who blindly let a […]
The Princess and The Frog is a beautifully drawn, well animated slice of the standard Disney pie with a Louisiana spin. Although I found all of the characters to be very loveable, I thought that Disney’s “playing it safe” (you know exactly what I mean) due to a bunch of jackasses who blindly let a trailer mislead them, ultimately hurt the movie where it could have been a lot more dynamic.
From the wee age of a little girl, Tiana (Anika Toni Rose) and her father James (Terrence Howard) had always dreamed of owning their own restaurant. Her mastery of cooking from her mother, combined with her respect for hard-work from her father, has made her into a very level headed young woman. Still the hardships of being born poor made the only shining light seem that concept of a jumping restaurant of happy patrons and good cuisine. On the other side of town, Tiana’s best friend Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) is very much the princess, with her father ‘Big Daddy’ La Bouff (John Goodman) buying her anything her little heart desired except for a prince to whisk her off her feet.
Although birds of a different feather, Charlotte and Tiana are very much friends and when word comes to town that a prince was to be within their very midst, Charlotte makes it her mission to woo him and Tiana continues to save her tips in order to buy her restaurant. When the evil Dr. Facilier comes into the mix of these people’s lives, things get complicated as Tiana and Prince Naveen are turned into frogs, and the popular fairytale of the frog Prince takes a turn for the worst.
The Princess and the Frog offers up a tremendous amount of positives where many people will be digging for negatives. Tiana isn’t the standard damsel in distress, nor is she the rubber-necking, sassy stereotype. I loved this character in terms of her being the epitome of the modern woman – ambitious to a fault, hardworking and all the while maintaining an air of femininity and vulnerability at the same time. In contrast the prince, Naveen (Bruno Campos) is a playboy, not the brightest bulb in the set and comes off a bit childish like Tiana’s buddy Charlotte. Kind of a jab at the trust-fund babies in the audience I would assume. At the heart of it all there is the ever present moral that if you follow your wishes they will come true, no matter how bizarre and unreal. If I had a daughter I would want her to watch and own this movie, based on Tiana alone. Her dynamic is a strong one and modern day princesses could really learn a thing or two from a two job hustling entrepreneur in training.
Then as you know it IS Disney, so the villain’s song has to be the highlight of the movie. The deep, menacing voice of Keith David wasn’t as scary as I expected it to be, but his song of “having friends on the other side” was my favorite of the many songs included. And Ray (Jim Cummings) the Cajun firefly ran a close second, still. The music sets the mood quite well and the only drawback to all of this, was that the central romance story seemed to take a backseat to everything else going on. Dare I say Tiana and Naveen’s love seemed a bit (gasp) rushed? In the span of a traumatic experience, a playboy like Naveen starts to make eyes at the cute little waitress. I did not see love, I saw lust, admiration and need but not the “I want to marry you” love, that did not work out so well for me. If this were real life, Naveen would have got the panties from Tiana and not much else.
If the central romance was orchestrated a tad better, it would have been more believable but it seemed as if Tiana and Naveen got together for the hell of it, rather than growing to really have feelings for one another. With the large talent pool brought together for this movie – Terrence Howard, Oprah Winfrey and Keith David, The Princess and The Frog will do good, and the art being absolutely beautiful, may sober the speculating mob a tad.
Staying relatively light and cute for the early parts of the story, I will warn that it does get dark near the end, if you are the type of parent to shield your child from death and loss in these things. It was a treat to watch, and Disney hasn’t skipped a beat, outside of ugly stereotypes of movies past. You should see The Princess and The Frog and you should bring your daughter with you, for the more Princess Tiana’s we have in the world, the better for all of us.