Gorgeous. A well received return to Disney's traditional roots. Beautiful animation, memorable characters, catchy songs and music.
The voice work is pitch perfect. The leads are great but it's the side characters that bring that Disney magic. I always love Keith Davids distinctive voice and here he brings such delightful menace to Dr Facilier. Michael-Lee Wooley's Louis the Aligator is so spirited and Jim Cummings Ray the Firefly is heart warming. Jenifer Lewis brings Mama Odie to life and she is gold!
The Princess and the Frog is funny and it's sad. It's charged and it's touching. It's New Orleans.
Random side note: I took my son to see the exhibition Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney's Classic Fairy Tales in Melbourne, Australia in April 2011 which ended with PatF (and Tangled, also another joy to watch) and they had the character maquettes. It was quite a spin to walk among these great characters with a third dimension and see the fine attention to detail.
Beautiful 2D animation! Made me come back to my childhood again.Funny and emotional, full of vibrant colors and great musical numbers!
Not surprisingly so, this film has earned its place as my favourite Disney feature. Being partial to cooking and very much a fan of New Orleans Blues and Jazz, the plot and soundtrack made the best of first impressions. The film and soundtrack are now a permanent fixture in my iphone.
[6.5/10] When I wrote about Moana, I talked about how much I enjoyed the film, but wish that it had done more to break out of some of the familiar beats of Disney princess stories. A friend pointed out that however else it may hit the usual princess notes, Moana completely omits any love story for its title character, even as a side dish, and how quietly revolutionary that is for the genre.
No film has driven that point home better for me than The Princess and the Frog, a film with a unique protagonist, a rich setting, and stellar array of animated flourishes and toe-tapping musical numbers, but which nevertheless proves itself a cut below by becoming bogged down in a rushed, uninspired love story between the title characters. The directing duo of Ron Clements and John Musker helmed both films, and maybe their experience with this 2009 release showed them what could rightfully be jettisoned from their films when they tried again in 2016.
The crying shame of The Princess and the Frog is that it feels like a real missed opportunity for a distinctive main character. Tiana’s defining characteristic is that she believes in hard work above everything else, something unique even among Disney’s spunkiest princesses. There’s some not so subtle riffs on Disney’s history of “When You Wish Upon a Star” magic solutions to problems (mainly through Tiana’s wealthy wannabe princess friend, Charlotte). But rather than succumbing to the studio’s standard doe-eyed dreamerism, Tiana internalized the lesson her father taught her when she was young -- that dreaming is only half the battle, and you yourself have to put the legwork in to make that dream come true.
That too is quietly revolutionary for a Disney movie, presenting a protagonist and a founding principle that at least counters one the central tenets of the studio’s usual output. Tiana certainly has her dream in mind -- vindicating her father’s belief in and hopes for her by opening her own New Orleans restaurant. It prompts the film’s best sequence, “Almost There”, a musical interlude that shifts to an art deco style and emphasizes both how hard Tiana’s worked for this moment, and how tantalizing it is to be so near to her dream coming true.
But what every friend, acquaintance, and talking animal sidekick emphasizes about Tiana is how devoted she is to putting in the hard work to make that dream happen. That is admirable in and of itself, especially as an example for the young men and women who cue the film up. This being a story, however, Tiana has to learn a lesson, something a little odd given how laudable her perspective is in the first place, but a practical necessity for any main character to have a meaningful arc that adds weight and purpose to a film’s narrative.
The frustrating thing about the movie is how it hints and grazes two ways to subvert or recontextualize that perspective that would both have been better than the one it ultimately went with. The first is generic, but on-brand “sometimes you need to let a little more magic into your life” message. One of the more affecting and (literally and figuratively) magical moments in the film comes when Ray the Firefly sacrifices himself to save his friends, and despite all skepticism to the contrary, seemingly joins his beloved “Evangeline” as a star in the sky. There’s a notion, one a little reinforced by Tiana’s father’s last on-screen words, that hard work is important, but that a sense of belief and hope, even one that others consider foolish, can keep you going and see you through to even your pie-in-the-sky (fly-in-the-sky?) dreams.
The second is a much more subversive and resonant idea that sometimes you can do everything right, and it just isn’t enough for reasons that are beyond your control. The plot of the film is spurred by voodoo villain Dr. Facilier (the inimitable Keith David) who steals the show with his crackling and colorful “Friends on the Other Side” number and playful but sinister shadow. But his most striking moment in the film comes at the end, when he uses his powers to tempt Tiana with a vision of her dream come true, enticing her to give in, let her friends suffer, and go along with his magical mischief in order to get along.
It’s noteworthy that Tiana is Disney’s first African American princess. While the significance of that is mostly reserved for subtext, that vision sequence is the closest The Princess and the Frog comes to acknowledging the idea that people who look like Tiana and her father can work themselves to the bone but be denied what they’ve earned because of their “background.” It’s a potent and challenging theme, one that the film discards almost as soon as it raises in favor of a warmed over romance.
It’s probably too much to ask for a Disney film to engage on that level with the complicated baggage of race (though Zootopia suggests the studio’s willing to do it through a lens of abstraction), but pretty much anything would be better than what The Princess and the Frog actually gave us. Tiana’s big lesson is that work isn’t enough; she needs love and joy in her life.
Even there, however trite the point may be, it’s not the worst notion in the world and has been the takeaway for any number of other, colorful family films full of crusty, workaholic parents who need to remember what’s important (see also: Elf). And what’s more, if the film fully anchored that realization is a broader familial love for Tiana -- the kind she’s experienced through family and friends -- it would be far more palatable.
Instead, the movie subjects us to a story of Tiana learning to love a douchey prince from a faraway land, with only the barest of efforts put into conveying how and why she would fall in love with a lazy, self-centered jerk like him and how and why he would ever change enough to be worthy of that love. Instead, the film hopes to be able to coast (nigh-literally) on the two getting turned into frogs together, cavorting through the bayou with Ray and Louis, the lovable horn-playing gator, and the fun of that little adventure while hand-waving those minor trifles like character arcs and believable romance.
Tiana’s love interest, Prince Naveem, is a spoiled layabout who never earns his transformation into a decent or loving guy. The Princess and the Frog is far from the first Disney film to suggest that a lacking love interest can, with the right help, turn into a worthy beau, but Naveem is much more like Gaston than the Beast, and unlike Tiana, the film never does the legwork of providing plausible explanations or committed dramatizations for how or why he would change.
Worse yet, it never earns the romance between him and Tiana. There’s more (justified) annoyance than chemistry between them, and the grand gestures, romantic epiphanies, and offered sacrifices between them practically come out of nowhere. That could be forgivable if the show focused Tiana on some larger goal and threw in a romance with Naveem as a bonus, but their shared love is the driving force of the film’s climax, and intended to spur Tiana’s grand realization that this is what’s missing in her life, and it utterly fails on both fronts.
The Princess and the Frog is still well-made. It had beautifully designed and animated sequences, fun songs, and the cast of bright and amusing characters Disney devotees have come to expect. But rather than capitalizing things that make the film distinctive, the movie somehow wastes too much of its time, and also not enough, on a limp, undercooked love story that undermines most of its other good work.
The story of Tiana is infinitely more interesting than the story of Tiana and Naveem, and the best you can say is that the films that followed, from both Disney and Clements & Musker, seem to have figured that out. But in the interim, The Princess and the Frog can’t help like feel like a film with boundless potential and promise, that squandered it on yet another stock, unengaging romance instead of vindicating its groundbreaking heroine on her own terms.
i really love how she's an independent bitch who knows her priorities despite her feelings, get em tiana.
You're welcome kids...now go to bed
I didn;t really appreciate this film the first time round, watching it again I suddenly realised what I had missed and really appreciated it. I love the songs from the film and the obvious plot twist. Charlotte is hilarious!
How do I play the movie?
Feels more like a Don Bluth film than Disney.
The end of the movie is so touching, I just love Ray and Evangeline. And Charlotte is a great character too, a nice change from the used mean blonde girl!
An epitome of a beautiful animation!
Favourite character is the old woman living in the swamp