The Princess and the Frog is a Disney animated movie released on DVD in 2010. The story is an imaginative retelling of the frog princess fairy tale in which a princess kisses a frog thereby freeing him from a curse he was under and returning him to his original form. The Disney version takes the original story as its start but reimagines what might have happened after the kiss.
This version is set in New Orleans in the 1920s. The princess is actually a hard working waitress named Tiana. She has a big dream; she wants to run her own restaurant. The prince is a disinherited royal in love with jazz and fun times but in desperate need of money. He’s determined to marry an heiress. A voodoo master wants to take advantage of the prince’s arrival to gain control over the city. He captures the prince and woos him and his companion with false promises before turning the prince into a frog. The frog prince is able to escape; seeing Tiana dressed up in a beautiful gown and tiara for a masquerade, he asks her for a kiss because he thinks it will break the spell. Unfortunately for both of them, it doesn’t. Tiana is turned into a frog as well. During a wild chase in which the voodoo master tries to recapture the frog prince, the two frogs are carried away into the countryside to the bayou by balloon. The two of them must learn to work together in order to get home and figure out a cure for their curse. They meet a cast of eccentric characters and make new friends, including a voodoo priestess, a loyal lightning bug, and a crocodile obsessed with jazz.
The Disney movie The Princess and the Frog was supposed to be the next great American animation. I mean, it was from the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, and it featured hand drawn animation with original music. How did it go so wrong though?
I did not like this movie and I would not recommend it for kids. It features a lot of voodoo. The sentient shadows, in particular, scared the crap out of me. These shadows were capable of dragging a person away. They could detach themselves from their person and chase down whomever they wanted. These creatures strongly reminded me of the scene in Ghost in which the villain was carried away to hell — very scary.
I also was not fond of how much reality there was to this fairy tale. When I immerse myself in a fairy tale, I don’t want to know where it is actually set or its time period. Instead, this movie gave us too much real life and not enough fantasy. The story was set in a particular place and time: New Orleans, before the Great Depression. The main character was plucky and beautiful, but she worked multiple jobs and was exhausted all the time. It was hard for me to suspend my disbelief enough to accept the magic and romance of the story. I knew too much about the background of the setting. I knew that the Great Depression was just a few years away from the storyline and her restaurant probably wouldn’t make it. I also knew that New Orleans would suffer through many hurricanes until it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina.
Despite claiming that there was too much “reality” in this fairy tale, I thought some elements were too fantastical. Specifically, the friendship between the two main female characters. I’m excited that Disney finally featured a black princess. However, I felt that the storyline was revisioning history. Tiana was a poor black woman working multiple jobs. It was unlikely that she was such good friends with a blonde, white and rich young woman that they would share clothes. Also, the other heroine’s reaction at the end of the film was unrealistic in my opinion.
Don’t waste your time. This movie had such potential, and an excellent pedigree. I’m disappointed that it didn’t live up to its promise. Although the art was beautiful, this movie is not one I will watch again or recommend to others.