The Princess and the Frog
Rated G; Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker; Starring the voice talents of Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jim Cummings, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jenifer Lewis,
My girlish heart filled with glee when hearing about Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. A good, old-fashioned Disney version of a fairy tale? One with a plucky heroine, a charming prince, and wicked magic? Not only that, but it was going to eschew the modern computer animation and go back to the beauty of classic hand-drawn animation. And beautiful it is. The Disney animators make the locations wondrous to look at. They also have fun with the time period. For this doesn’t take place in some medieval world, but in the vibrant New Orleans of the 1920s.
We meet our heroine, Tiana. No princess, she’s daughter of working-class parents. We see her grow up, dreaming of one thing: to fulfill her father’s plan to open the finest restaurant in New Orleans. Hard working and serious, working towards her goal, Tiana (voice of Anika Noni Rose) has little time for fun. It’s quite the opposite for high-living Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos). He knows nothing of hard work, partying all the time. On his visit to New Orleans he gets mixed up with voodoo practitioner Dr. Facilier (Keith David), who uses dark magic to turn Naveen into a frog. In the traditional story of the frog prince, a kiss from a princess restores the frog to the handsome prince, but when Naveen asks for a kiss from Tiana, things go wrong. She also becomes a frog. With the help of a jazz-loving alligator and a Cajun-voiced firefly, the two frogs head off in search of Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) to find a way to restore their human form.
This reimagining of the old fairy tale gets fine Disney styling. The film is bright and breezy, with plenty of humor and even some effective pulling at the heartstrings. Randy Newman provides some nice songs to fill out the story, and the cast sings them effectively. The voice work is excellent, with Anaki Noni Rose shining as Tiana. Bruno Campos has fun as the partying prince, making this one Disney hero who comes across with more personality than those classic charming princes. And Jim Cumming’s firefly, Ray, wins plenty of points. The villain is also a standout. With some major voodoo, and voiced by Keith David, Dr. Facilier comes across as one of the wickedest Disney bad guys.
With gorgeous animation, we get atmospheric bayou scenes with fireflies, beautiful New Orleans, and some delightfully silly moments. My girlish heart enjoyed the movie. Will The Princess and the Frog hold up in the long run and become another Disney animated fairy-tale classic? Maybe not, but it makes for an enjoyable movie now.