Dec. 11, 2009
Anika Noni Rose, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jimmy Cummings, Michael-Leon Wooley, John Goodman, Emeril Lagasse, Jenifer Lewis
Ron Clements, John Musker
Walt Disney Pictures
The Princess and The Frog: Official Web site
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Disney's The Princess and the Frog
By Hannah Goodwyn
- It’s not until you’re watching The Princess and the Frog that you will remember just how fond you are of Disney's classic animation style. Forget about the computerized 3D work done so often these days. From the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, this is the first African-American princess film from Disney.
This animated romance entertains with a strong vocal cast, fun songs, and hilarity mixed in with an inspired story based on "The Frog Prince" by the Brothers Grimm. Measuring it against its predecessors, The Princess and the Frog is better than Pocahontas, almost as good as the fan-favorite of recent years, Mulan, but doesn't quite reach the magnificence of The Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Cinderella.
True to classic Disney storylines, evil is defeated by the heroes. But along the way, mysticism is used by the villian, Dr. Facilier, and a "good witch" named Mama Odie.
The Movie in a Minute
Young Tiana wants one dream to come true: to fulfill her and her father's wish of opening the finest restaurant in all of New Orleans. Working two jobs is slowly helping, but her plans are disrupted when Prince Naveen of Maldonia comes to town. Looking for an easy way to get rich after being cut off by his parents, Naveen -- and his servant -- seek the help of Dr. Facilier, the Voodoo Man. Wanting his own fortune, Dr. Facilier tricks Naveen, turning him into a frog and the servant into a prince ready to marry a wealthy girl. In his attempt to change back into a human, Naveen turns Tiana into a frog. It isn't until he kisses the city's princess that they will be themselves again.
The Good and the Bad
The Princess and the Frog joins together a noteworthy cast with Tony award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Tiana, Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard as her parents, Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen, John Goodman, Emeril Lagasse, and others. The fairytale film boasts a strong repertoire of captivating, sing-along songs from Oscar-, Grammy-, and Emmy-winning composer Randy Newman (A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Cars).
The bright evening star seen in other Disney movies plays its part in this new film. Tiana wishes upon it as she dreams of her restaurant, and rich, little Charlotte hopes for a handsome prince. Tiana hangs on to her father's advice about acheiving dreams: "You've gotta make 'em happen, it all depends on you" (from the song, "Almost There"). There's a hint of karma sprinkled in, evident in the song, "When We're Human", which goes, "If you do your best, each and every day, good things are sure to come your way. What you give is what you get." By the end of the film, each character learns his or her lesson, money-hungry and irresponsible Naveen and nose-to-the-grindstone Tiana both see what's most important -- love.
As in each Disney cartoon classic, the villian, Dr. Facilier, is portrayed as pure evil. Called the Voodoo Man, this representation of evil and greed uses voodoo dolls and tarot cards to advance his mischevious goals. Interestingly though, Dr. Facilier is not his own boss. He has essentially sold his soul to gain power and money, and now must appease his "friends on the other side" by helping to spread darkness in New Orleans. Dark shadows embody this overbearring evil, and Dr. Facilier himself has one attached to him. A rather fascinating scene is when Tiana's friend Ray, a Cajun firefly, attacks the dark shadows burning them with his light. In Dr. Facilier's case, evil is well represented. However, in Naveen and Tiana's quest to become human again, they seek the help of mystic Mama Odie, who does "good magic".
Happily Ever After?
The Princess and the Frog is relatively clean, with the exception of one use of profanity and the aforementioned mystical elements. Its message of good winning over evil in Naveen and Tiana's lives and in the city of New Orleans is a plus. Still, parents should be aware of the movie's use of magic.
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Hannah Goodwyn loved watching the Disney cartoon classics, such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, when she was a kid, and is glad that they decided to honor that animating tradition in this new film.
Hannah is CBN.com's Family and Entertainment producer. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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