Of course this is Disney’s first black princess, and she’s a frog half of the film. Classy Disney!
Down in New Orleans during the fabulous Jazz Age, young Princess Tiana (voice of Anika Noni Rose) searches for true love and comes face-to-face with snooty debutante Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), ancient voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis) and the evil Dr. Facilier (Keith David). But with the help of her mother (Oprah Winfrey), a crooning alligator and other friends, Tiana’s fairy-tale dreams may come true after all.
When you have a film that’s advertised as the people who made ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’, you got a lot to live up to. However, I can say that black isn’t better, but still alright.
With all of the talent involved, I have to say that they really did do a great job with this material. Granted, the original story isn’t much different from anything else we’ve seen before, but they do a great job of actually expanding on that idea and giving it a little fresh twist of actually having the princes be a frog too. Not much of a huge shocking twist in the story, but still a good one none the less.
I think if anything was to really stick out about this film was the setting of New Orleans which really did a lot for this film. You go from the southern swamps, to the mansions, and to French Quarters which all give it a really cool look especially with this beautiful 2D animation that just pops out here. With just about every film being released in 3-D nowadays, it was kind of cool to actually see a film, let alone animated, that could have really benefited if given the extra dimension. It’s a film that is very very pretty to look at but if this was in 3-D, I think it would look even better. Especially this scene where some kind of crazy voodoo is going on and these constant colors are just flying all-0ver-the-place and bring you into this sort of acid trip, which would have been even more awesome, if I had those glasses on.
The songs are also another strong-point by how much different types of song genres that come about and give Randy Newman a lot of space to show his talents in. One song is typical jazz, another is gospel, another is Cajun, and then so on and so forth and it was just awesome how great all of these songs sounded. Hell, the film even opens up with some Dr. John here as well and once you open up with him, you know you got the flavor.
The cast and characters in this film are also all pretty good with the likes of Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, John Goodman, Bruno Campos, and Oprah Winfrey among others. Probably the most stand-out job of the whole cast was Keith David (aka THE EFFIN’ Man) as Dr. Facillier, the voodoo man. He not only proves he can deliver sinister dialogue but he can also sing like a professional. He has totally got some major respect points from me now.
However please don’t get me wrong, I do not think this is a bad film by any stretch of the means, it is just not as memorable as any of the other Disney-animated films. When I walked away from Aladdin, I always remember humming “A Whole New World” or “Friend Like Me”. Even with The Little Mermaid I caught myself singing “Under the Sea” or “Part of Your World”. Damn I’m even singing it now! Even though the songs here may be fun to listen to and very well-done, they still don’t match up one bit to any of these other songs from any of these other films and I still can’t remember one off the top of my head.
There is also no real break-out character that we’re always so used to seeing. With Aladdin it Robin Williams as The Genie, and with The Little Mermaid it was Sebastian. Here…I’m guessing maybe the big ass alligator named Louis, who just wanted to play in a jazz band because he was very good at the trumpet. How ironic that his name is Louis too. Even though these characters aren’t memorable, they’re still amusing.
Consensus: The Princess and the Frog benefits from good music, a sweet and tender love story at it’s core, and the beautiful look of the film, but nothing else really stands out and even though the film doesn’t have much wrong with it in general, it just lacks in comparison to so many other Disney classics. Not a bad film just not a memorable one either.