The Princess and the FrogBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: G
Genre: Animation/Fairy Tale
Release Date: December 11, 2009
Running Time: 1 hour and 35 minutes
DVD Release Date: March 16, 2010
Plot Synopsis: In New Orleans, young Tiana works two waitress jobs to save enough money to open her own restaurant, the dream she shared with her father. But just as she's about to accumulate enough for the down payment, a mysterious talking frog convinces her to give him a kiss--in the hopes that he'll break the Shadow Man's spell and turn back into a prince. That fateful kiss backfires by transforming Tiana into a frog herself. The two frogs journey deep into the swamp in search of the mystic Mama Odie who may be able to help them, and along the way meet a jazz playing alligator named Louis and a romantic lightning bug named Ray.
Sex/Nudity: As little girls, Tiana is grossed out by the story of the princess kissing the frog while her friend Charlotte thinks it sounds great. Prince Naveen offers to kiss Tiana, maybe even a few times. Ray the firefly declares his love for the evening star. Tiana and Naveen fall in love while they are frogs and he proposes. They kiss after they are married which turns them back into humans.
Violence/Gore: Dr. Facilier (aka The Shadow Man) and Lawrence, Prince Naveen's manservant, plot to turn Naveen into a frog. In the swamp, some mean alligators chase Tiana and Naveen. Three swamp hillbillies try to capture Tiana and Naveen but they escape. Dr. Facilier sends out the shadows to capture Naveen. Ray the lightning bug is smooshed by the Shadow Man.
Which Kids Will Like It? Little girls who wear tiaras (and big girls who used to) will be totally charmed by this new animated musical.
Will Parents Like It? Adults will be pleased to accompany their daughters to this movie with its excellent animation, strong musical score and squeaky-clean Disney morality.
Special Features: The 1-disc DVD version includes the theatrical version of the movie plus deleted scenes, a "Princess Portraits" game in which fireflies slowly form the faces of popular Disney characters and players try to guess the character in a short amount of time, audio commentary by the filmmakers, and a full-length music video by Ne-Yo.
The Blu-ray edition includes featurettes on the making of the movie: "The Disney Legacy", "The Making of a Princess", "Conjuring The Villian", "The Return to Hand-drawn Animation", "Disney's Newest Princess" and "Bringing Life to Animation". Bonus features also include art galleries, the "Princess Portraits Game" and a full-length music video by Ne-Yo.
The 3-disc Blu-ray Deluxe Extended Edition all the bonus features from the blu-ray version plus a DVD copy and digital copy of the film.
Kaboose Review: Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, lived a beautiful princess--and she has probably been depicted on screen by The Walt Disney Studios. From Sleeping Beauty and Snow White to Mulan and Pocahantas, these beloved Disney-fied characters have charmed little girls around the world.
But now, the House of the Mouse has finally added an African American heroine to their stable of royal princesses. She's named Tiana, and in The Princess and the Frog she is a hard-working girl from New Orleans who smooches an enchanted frog prince and becomes a frog too. With lovely animation, beautiful characters and toe-tapping songs, this new movie harkens back to the classic Disney musicals. It's sure to become as essential to many family movie libraries as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.
What makes The Princess and the Frog such a triumph for Disney is the way it's simultaneously old-fashioned and strikingly modern. The film walks a fine line between lauding the richness of Black culture in New Orleans while also eliding the history of Black disenfranchisement. Tiana's blackness and her friendship with whites are never considered derogatory.
For instance Tiana's family lives in a very different part of town from her pampered white friend, Charlotte. And while Tiana's parents hold down working class jobs (seamstress and cook) and so does the waitress Tiana, the film never puts a value judgment on their professions other than celebrating their hard work and dedication to the family dream of opening a restaurant.
A sequence where Tiana fantasizes about the family restaurant becoming a reality uses a graphically bold animation style that evokes Jazz Age modernism and the singing styles of African chanteuses like Josephine Baker or Lena Horne. With gorgeous songs and even more striking drawings, the movie makes it seems like any of Tiana's dreams are possible, regardless of the legacy of Jim Crow.
Tiana is also the kind of movie heroine you want to bring home to your daughters. Initially when she meets Prince Naveen in his froggy guise, she kisses him out of pity not a desire to become a princess. Later she discovers he's lay about who wants to marry for money and her entrepreneurial spirit balks at this behavior. Through their adventures together Tiana does learn how to let loose and have fun, while Naveen comes to value hard work. Their love is about compromise and becoming equal partners in the restaurant they open together. Tiana gets her crown in the end, but she's definitely a post-feminist princess.
Directed by: Ron Clements and John Musker
Cast: Anika Noni Rose (voice of Tiana), Bruno Campos (voice of Prince Naveen), Jennifer Cody (voice of Charlotte), Micheal-Leon Wooley (voice of Louis), Keith David (voice of Dr. Facilier), Jim Cummings (voice of Ray), Jenifer Lewis (voice of Mama Odie), Peter Bartlett (voice of Lawrence), John Goodman (voice of Big Daddy La Bouff)
Movie poster courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.