Movie Name: The Princess and the Frog
Studio: Walt Disney Animated Studios
Release Date(s): November 25, 2009 (Premiere)/December 11, 2009 (US)
MPAA Rating: G
Tiana has a dream. She longs to honor her deceased father and finally open up the restaurant that they dreamed of while she was growing up. While her rich friend Lottie longs to be a princess, Tiana just wants to run a restaurant. When Prince Naveen of Maldonia comes to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Lottie thinks she might get her wish. Unfortunately, Prince Naveem has met New Orleans’ resident voodoo witchdoctor Doctor Facilier aka the Shadow Man and Shadow Man transformed Naveem into a frog. When Tiana encounters Prince Naveem, she takes the chance that the bewitched prince could help her achieve her dream…and unfortunately finds herself transformed into a frog as well. Now Naveen and Tiana must find a way to regain their humanity, and teamed with a lightning bug named Ray and an alligator named Louis who dreams of playing jazz, they must stop the Shadow Man before time runs out.
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, The Princess and the Frog is the forty-ninth film in the Walt Disney Animated Features series. Following Bolt in 2008, the movie was both a critical and box office success. The film is loosely based on the 2002 book The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker (which had the “kisser” turn into a frog), but both stories take the core idea from “The Frog Prince” by Brothers Grimm. The film was nominated Best Animated Feature (losing to Up) and had two nominations for Best Original Song for “Almost There” and “Down in New Orleans” (losing to “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart).
Disney’s modernization of “The Frog Prince” is a smart one. A telling of the original story would have been too simple and through some rewriting, it was turned into a strong film. The movie gained a lot of attention simply by having the first African-American “princess” in Tiana. Though this also was an important development, it doesn’t change that the movie is simply a solid picture.
The movie actually has a lot of twists and turns and I honestly wasn’t sure where it was going to end up…that is pretty amazing for a kids’ animated film. The movie sets up a lot of roadblocks for the characters, and many times I thought characters were going to make the “wrong choice”, but other than the Shadow Man and his lackey, everyone come out of the story quite clean…and that isn’t always a bad thing. Race is not directly mentioned but hinted to a few times, but it is a non-issue in the film.
The adaptation was a great way to turn the story into a “Disney” story, but it also made Disney’s insistence in goofy (aka marketable) characters plausible and less intrusive than some of the other Disney characters. While a character like Louis or Ray might have been irritating in a lesser film, they come off as fun and kind of charming in this film.
The animation for the film is stellar. In my opinion, computer animated imagery is good, but it still doesn’t have the heart of traditional animation. The movie has the heart of the older animated films though I still feel that it isn’t the same as the old animated movies. I do think that The Princess and the Frog is close to having the same fun and energy that the old animation possessed.
I am a big fan of traditional animation and much prefer the traditional Disney films. The Princess and the Frog really feels like a throwback to the older titles (or at least something like The Rescuers). It is a nice solid entry in the Disney Animated series. Disney followed The Princess and the Frog with Tangled in 2010.
[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B0034JKZ8G” locale=”us”]