Disney was in need of something family friendly and easy on the eye after their failed attempt at remaking “A Christmas Carol.” Returning to the cel animation that made Disney what it is today, “Princess and the Frog” is a fantastic return to form.
The story follows the age old tale of a prince needing to be kissed by a princess, because he’s been turned into a frog by some type of curse. The prince in question is Prince Naveen. He’s been cut-off by his wealthy, royal parents and has been shipped off to New Orleans to find a wealthy bride.
New Orleans is home to a young African-American girl named Tiana who has dreams of opening up her own restaurant one day. In order to achieve her dream, Tiana works multiple waitressing jobs. Tiana is friends with the richest girl in town, Charlotte, who is intent on marrying Prince Naveen.
Filling in the standard Disney villain role is Dr. Facilier, but everyone in town calls him The Shadow Man. Facilier works with the dark arts, most specifically voodoo. He’s a tall, gangly man with a top hat that has a skull and crossbones scrawled on the front.
In order to weasel his way into securing the prince, and the town’s wealth Facilier works some voodoo, which ends up turning Naveen into a frog. When Naveen escapes he finds Tiana dressed up to go to Charlotte’s masquerade ball. Thinking she’s a princess he asks her to kiss him. According to the previews for the movie, Tiana is then turned into a frog herself, because she is not actually a princess.
The story actually follows quite closely to the character arcs and plot developments we’re used to seeing in the classic Disney animated features. True love is defined by a kiss, quirky talking animal side characters are written in to help out (and sell merchandise), and the entire time we know we’re on a road to “Happily Ever After.”
So what makes “Princess and the Frog” such a fantastic time at the movies? Well, first it gets back to the basics of Disney animation; lush colorful locales, fun and interesting characters, and a bevy of memorable sing-along songs. But, what sets the film apart is the true heart it possesses. Take for example one of the talking animal sidekicks, Raymond. He’s a firefly. Sure he talks like a backwoods, Lousiana redneck, but his story is heart-breaking. He’s in love with a star, only he thinks it’s another firefly. Evangaline he calls it. Evangaline becomes an integral part of the story. When all is said and done, and the endgame with Evangaline is fulfilled, if your eyes are dry your heart must be made of stone.
Another aspect of the movie that needs addressing – because of the fact that many people and critics are using it to bash the film – is the choice by Disney to finally use an African-American as the leading role. People that are looking at some type of subversive meaning in all of this are doing themselves a disservice. She’s African-American, so what? Does it matter? No it doesn’t. People need not dissect this movie into some sort of racial comment on society. In the end it’s a fantastic family friendly film that can be viewed by adults and children. There’s something for everyone.