The Princess and the Frog (2009)
I was cursed by a dastardly witch doctor. One minute I’m a prince, charming and handsome, cutting the rug, and the next minute – woah!
— Prince Naveen
The Disney Company has gone back to their hand-drawn animation roots with the release of The Princess and the Frog. Deviating from the classic tale, “The Frog Prince”, the movie is set in 1930s New Orleans. This is billed as Disney’s first movie with an African American princess as the lead. The problem is that it’s not… really.
A young woman named Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) works double shifts as a waitress to save enough money to open her own restaurant. It has been a life long dream for hers and her father, James (Terrence Howard) that died years earlier. Her aging mother, Eudora (Oprah Winfrey) wants Tiana to focus on finding a man that could provide her with the life that she always dreamed.
As fate would have it, Prince Naveen of Maldonia (Bruce Campos) visits New Orleans to find a bride quickly. He has been cut off from his wealth, because of her womanizing, philandering ways. Accompanying the inconspicuous Prince Naveen on his journey is his manservant, Lawrence (Peter Bartlett).
When the duo steps off the ship, “The Shadow Man” Dr. Facilier (Keith David), a voodoo doctor that pretends to be a tarot reader, confronts them. He wants to isolate them to grant their greatest wishes, for Naveen it is wealth and fortune that he was stripped and for Lawrence it is a privileged life like Naveen’s. They both decide to have a deal with The Shadow Man where Naveen is turned into a frog.
Tiana’s friend from childhood, Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) commissions her to provide 500 beignets for her masquerade ball that night. With the money from her dad, “Big Daddy” La Bouff (John Goodman), Tiana has enough money to make a payment on a broken down warehouse. The problem is that another bidder made a bid on that property, and she needed the money by the next day or she will lose it.
Distraught about the situation, Tiana spills food on herself. Charlotte quickly whisked Tiana into her room to change. She is dressed as a princess when she wishes on the Northern Star for a solution to her situation. Prince Naveen as the frog shows up to convince Tiana to kiss him to turn him back into a human. She is reluctant at first, but she does kiss him. There has an adverse effect; she is turned into a frog.
The whole movie is an epic journey for Naveen and Tiana to go into the grand bayou to seek out the wisdom of old, blind voodoo queen, Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis). Along the journey, a trumpeting playing alligator Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) and the broken down Cajun lightning bug Raymond (Jim Cummings) befriend Naveen and Tiana.
In the African American community, people are debating about the state of class in the movie. The privileged people in the movie were the whites and poor were the blacks. They don’t realize in that at the time, blacks people did not have the same opportunities that whites had. They had to work extra hard to catch up. Even though this is a fairy tale, it doesn’t have to be completely unrealistic in that aspect.
This was supposed to be a return to form for Disney, but I thought there was something about the climax of the movie that bothered me. I thought it was wrapped up too tightly at the end of the movie with all the characters collimating at the Mardi Gras parade at the same time. The love story between Naveen and Tiana felt a little rushed to me. I did not have room to breathe. Besides, that I thought that it was a fun time with the upbeat jazzy numbers the characters.
Judgment: A Disney movie that has a somewhat lackluster story.
Posted on January 11, 2010, in 2009, Academy Award Nominee, Adventure, Animated, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romantic and tagged Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Jenifer Lewis, Jennifer Cody, Jim Cummings, John Goodman, Keith David, Michael-Leon Wooley, Oprah Winfrey, Peter Bartlett, Terrence Howard, The Princess and the Frog. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.