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Overall Rating
4.06

Awesome: 16.13%
Worth A Look74.19%
Average: 9.68%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 13 user ratings


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Princess and the Frog, The
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by William Goss

"Turning That Crown Upside Down"
4 stars

Itís strange, saying that they donít make Ďem like they used to when they only stopped five years ago, but thankfully, the "they" at Disney have decided to return to the hand-drawn animation on which they built their foundation, and 'The Princess and the Frog' is as welcome a return to form as 'Home on the Range' seemed like a poor note to end on (I never did see it for myself).

The biggest reason that Frog has drawn attention to itself is because its heroine, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), is the studioís first African-American heroine. I would like to think that itís only coincidence then that Tiana isnít actually a born-and-bred princess, but rather a down-on-her-luck waitress who dreams of opening her own New Orleans restaurant someday. Worse yet, sheís not even a black heroine for long, as royalty-turned-amphibian Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) mistakes her for a born-and-bred princess and ends up transforming her into a frog as well once their lips lock.

It is the Roaring Ď20s, though, so class conflicts are to be expected, and it is a Disney musical, so lessons are to be learned, and both come as gently as can be. In fact, directors Ron Clements and Jon Musker (The Little Mermaid) slyly subvert expectations a bit by suggesting that any young princess can achieve her dreams with diligence and discipline instead of wishing on a star. Of course thereís still some magic at hand Ė after all, theyíre not about to transform themselves back into humans, but itís nice to see them changing things up a little bit.

Itís also nice to see certain things kept the same, namely those lavishly animated, rip-roaring musical sequences. Frogís time period and Big Easy setting make for a welcome blend of jazz and gospel influences from composer Randy Newman, and the numbers themselves take on some era-appropriate flavor as well (an art deco number early on ranks as a personal fave). The sidekicks are charming enough, even if the horn-tooting alligator boasts significantly more charm than the buck-toothed lightning bug, and the voodoo-flaunting villain is voiced to seductive and sinister perfection by Keith David.

In what might be a first, Iíd saved the story for last, because thatís primarily what holds The Princess and the Frog from greatness. Thereís your typical A-plot, with Tiana and Naveen on a journey home and a quest to discover what they really need in life; a B-plot involving Naveenís fed-up butler, Tianaís Southern belle of a pal, and some transformational hoodoo; duel deadlines between the frogs turning human again and Tiana being able to afford the perfect property for her dream restaurant; and a regrettable detour into hillbilly territory, where we meet that Cajun bug and some bumbling hunters more worthy of Looney Tunes. Werenít the classics simpler than this? Girl, guy, baddie in between Ė Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, so on and so forth.

Still, I suppose itís not all that convoluted if it means getting something this lively and inspired out of a recently defunct department of the Mouse House. At a time when animation is resetting standards left and right, 'The Princess and the Frog' may not raise the bar, but itís a worthy reminder of who put it there first, with a lot of hard work and just a little magic.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=19077&reviewer=409
originally posted: 12/12/09 15:07:37
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User Comments

1/17/15 Dr. Lao Disney meets Tennessee Williams. I hate Tennessee Williams. 3 stars
12/04/11 Quigley I hope this becomes a classic someday. A more-than-worthy addition to Disney's canon. 5 stars
10/19/11 Magic Traditional animation is not dead! A great revival of a long-thought dead genre. 4 stars
10/29/10 Rolly Hyatt Great. I'm no opponent of CG, but I welcome the traditional animation. Louis is awesome! 5 stars
10/06/10 millersxing Disney goes cajun...Laissez les bons temps rouler! 4 stars
5/02/10 Amy Green Criminally overlooked. Tons of laughs for kids and adults. Right up there with Aladdin. 5 stars
3/22/10 Stanley Thai It's old school storytelling, and it's a breath of fresh air. 4 stars
2/11/10 aliceinwonderland I expected an old fashion princess tale Disney but I got a movie a la Hercule & Kuzco..., 3 stars
1/08/10 Jeff Wilder Easily Disney's best animated film since The Lion King. 4 stars
1/04/10 Dominic Directed by JOHN MUSKER and RON CLEMENTS,(THE LITTLE MERMAID,ALADDIN). 5 stars
12/30/09 damalc about what i expected 3 stars
12/19/09 kuukj993 No Crazy!!!, 5 stars
12/13/09 PAUL SHORTT ENTERTAINING, LIVELY AND CAPTIVATING 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Nov-2009 (G)
  DVD: 16-Mar-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Nov-2009
  DVD: 16-Mar-2010



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