Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is a delightful re-imagining of the classic Grimm’s fairy tale, The Frog Prince.
A dashing prince is cursed and turned into frog and his only cure is the kiss of a princess. But he has to convince the princess that he is more than just a frog.
In the new movie, the setting is New Orleans in the 1920s as a young waitress, Tiana, dreams of opening her own restaurant. She works all hours of the day and watches as her best friend, a rich as sin Southern belle, Charlotte, gets everything she wants.
Prince Naveen comes to New Orleans after his parents threaten to take away his inheritance unless he marries a woman worthy of his crown. The prince has his eye set on Charlotte until a voodoo witch doctor turns him into a frog.
And as a frog, he tries to get Charlotte to break the spell when he mistakes Tiana for a princess and she kisses him. The cure backfires and Tiana becomes a frog. Together they have to find a way to break the curse.
The twist on the classic is the case of mistaken identity and how the princess becomes a frog too and an adventure ensues.
The movie itself is throwback to when Disney reinvented their animated franchise with The Little Mermaid in 1989. Disney promised that their 2-D classics would be back with Ariel bellowing out the song, Part of Your World.
Then other classics followed like the Oscar nominated Beauty & the Beast (still the only animated movie ever nominated for Best Picture), the high adventure of Aladdin and the family charmer, The Lion King.
Disney presented Pixar’s Toy Story in 1995 and quickly 2D animated films became something that went direct to video. Pixar changed the face of animation and another art form was almost lost.
Don’t get me wrong I adore every Pixar movie (well except A Bug’s Life) but it is true they stopped making movies like Princess & the Frog.
I have dubbed that era “The Silver Age of Disney 2D Animation.” The Golden Age” I would say was from Snow White to The Black Cauldron. Funny thing, is that there was only a 4 year gap between the end of one era and the beginning of another.
Disney says that with Frog a new era of Disney 2D is dawning and they hope to release more 2D movies in theatres. I hope it is true.
What makes Princess and the Frog so delightful is the humor, pure innocence and simplicity of the story, it’s originality and well the nostalgia factor. Frog reminded me of slivers of all those Disney movies that followed Little Mermaid. Tiana’s dream is similar to that of Ariel’s, the evil witch doctor reminds me of Jafar from Aladdin, The prince is Aladdin without his mission, and the supporting players are very similar to other Disney classic characters.
What some people are going to forget when watching this movie is that Disney classics had a lot of musical numbers and there was probably one or two songs that could have been thrown out but they were used to allow the heroine/hero have their own song, villain to have his song, intro songs, etc. The songs in the movie are a character of the film. The jazz/blues and very earthy music of Frog is very vibrant and makes you want to sway to the music. The lyrics in the songs aren’t very memorable like in say any of the top five films from The Silver Age of Disney 2D.
I think Frog is an instant classic because not only does it remind us of how precious a real Disney 2D movie was but how we wanted to share it with everyone.
4 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer