97 Min | Animation – Family – Fantasy | December 2009
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Anika Noni Rose, Keith David, Oprah Winfrey
The Princess and the Frog Review: The Princess and the Frog is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. It marks Walt Disney Animation Studio’s return to 2D animation, to recapture the era of amazing movies like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast – timeless tales that have reached audiences across the world. However, unlike these previous movies, The Princess and the Frog does something new. It’s an updated take on the classic fairy tale, set in Jazzy New Orleans filled with witch doctors, Maldonian princes, southern lovesick daughters, Jazz playing alligators and even Cajun fireflies! In the midst of all this jazz is Disney’s first black princess, Tiana, and her story. Tiana is a young girl who wants to follow her father’s dream and open up her very own restaurant. She works hard, never taking a chance on Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet – she is a realist Disney ‘princess’ – and that makes her stand apart from the rest.
One of the strongest aspects of this musical is, of course, the music! Randy Newman has provided an array of songs, from bouncy piano songs to gospel to Broadway. There is no one single style of music and Newman serves up a diverse platter accompanied by stunning animation. There are several songs in The Princess and the Frog, perhaps more than needed, but all catchy while bringing a yet another flavor to New Orleans. The downside to these songs is that they are many, short and have the task of pushing story. Their presence feels like designated intervals, sometimes jarring up moments which could have been executed wonderfully without any song. Pacing and story are the main challenges The Princess and the Frog faces. Too much happens and it happens too fast. There is an engaging plot, obstacles are overcome through action and songs also push the story forward.
Despite its darker side, The Princess and the Frog is surprisingly funny and downright hilarious. Like the old classics, the movie is timeless in a way. It doesn’t reference any modern pop culture. There are lots of things that made audiences laugh, some more than others. There is no one type of humor strung throughout the whole film. Without giving anything away, I would also like to say the humor gets pretty risque at times but it’s welcoming because it tells us Disney is not excluding anyone from the audience. There are some very spectacular moments of animation in this film. The characters are drawn in the 90’s classic Disney style and don’t have extremely stylized or exaggerated features that we’ve seen in later works like Emperor’s New groove or Home on the Range. This blast from the past is a breath of fresh air. 2D animation is here to stay.