My five year old daughter and I have been waiting for this weekend for some time now. The Princess and the Frog was officially released to the worldwide viewing audience and my daughter and I wanted to see the landmark Disney film opening weekend. My fifteen year old son got in on the action as well and joined us at the movies. He is a Disney buff and wants to be an actor or voiceover artist, so animation is right up his alley.
The hold out line was long but we were finally able to sit down with our refreshments and enjoy the show. After the countless commercials and previews, the movie started. And what a joy it was visually!
Set in 1920’s New Orleans, the movie centers around Tiana, a hardworking, diligent, and no nonsense young woman who’s father died before his dream of owning a restaurant became realized. Tiana was now driven to make ‘Tiana’s Place’ a reality by working several jobs and saving every penny she earned in order to put a down payment on a restaurant.
Things get a little sticky when the handsome Prince Naveen comes to New Orleans on a wing and a prayer. The Prince has been disowned and cut off by his family because of his rolling stone ways and finds in New Orleans the opportunity to realize his love of jazz music and living life without settling down. But he is broke, and the only way he could truly have the life he wants is by marrying Charlotte LaBouff, whose dad is the wealthiest man in Louisiana and is the childhood friend of Tiana, since Tiana’s mother was her seamstress.
While visiting the French Quarter, the Prince and his and his butler run into the Shadow Man and before you know it, a voodoo spell is cast and Prince Naveen is turned into a frog. The butler “becomes” the Prince by wearing a necklace with Naveen’s blood inside, but must marry Charlotte before the blood runs out.
During the ball, Prince Naveen, or Frog Naveen, meets Tiana who is stricken by the thought of losing the restaruant she put a down payment on, and coaxes her into kissing him thinking that it will break the spell. Instead, Tiana is turned into a frog too.
So they go on a quest to find someone to reverse the spell so they can be turned back into humans and have their dreams realized. On their journey, they meet a singing crocodile who also plays an instrument, a lightening bug named Raymond who is Creole and is in love with a star in the sky named Evangeline, and Mama Odie, a wise woman who tells them the only way they can reverse the spell is if Naveen kisses a Princess.
During their adventure, Tiana and Naveen fall in love. But there of course is more to the story and I won’t ruin it by telling how it ends for those of you who haven’t seen it.
The music is breathtaking. Composer Randy Newman outdid himself with the zydeco, jazz influenced soundtrack and score. The animation is crisp, vibrant, and the characters jump off the screen when you see them. The underlying theme of the movie is not about color or socio-economic status (which are in the movie but is not what the movie is about) but of being yourself and true to those that love you no matter the circumstances. When the choice had to be made, Tiana and Naveen decided to continue to be frogs because they were in love. Being human was no longer important to them.
The story transcends era as well. This story could be told modern day.
Disney outdid themselves with this movie and I am very pleased with the outcome. Little girls all over the world can see that beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors, a theme that is also in the movie.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend that you do. The theater was filled with all age groups, ethnicities, and there were just as many boys as there were girls which was something I noticed.
If you have a child under the age of five, there are a couple of scenes regarding voodoo that may scare your child. These scenes are brief and there is no violence.
Also, Tiana’s mother Eudora was voiced by Oprah Winfrey, and her father is voiced by Oscar nominee Terrance Howard. Mama Odie was voiced brilliantly by actress Jenifer Lewis. Of course, Tiana, is voiced by Dreamgirls star Anika Noni Rose, her plays her perfectly. Five stars!
Well done Disney!