Monday, December 28, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

Tiana is not a princess. She’s just a New Orleans girl who works hard for everything she has, and what she wants more than anything is to fulfill the dream she started with her father and open her very own restaurant in New Orleans. Just when it seems like Tiana will get her restaurant visiting Prince Naveen is turned into a frog and in a desperate hope of financial reward Tiana agrees to kiss him and turn him back into a human. However, the kiss does the opposite and when Tiana kisses Naveen she turns into a frog as well and together the two get lost in the bayou trying to outwit that Shadow Man and find a way to turn human again.

The Princess and the Frog is the first hand drawn Disney animation film in years and I personally was thrilled to see the beautiful images on screen. I think that Disney is hoping this film will do for their animation division what The Little Mermaid did for it years before, but even though The Princess & the Frog is stunning, I don’t think it’s the caliber of the Disney films from my childhood.

Besides the animation, what makes The Princess and the Frog unique is that it is a Disney film entirely affected by feminism. Tiana is a strong woman, independent and not looking for love – she’s a career woman. She works hard to get her restaurant and doesn’t like that Naveen hasn’t had to work for a thing and would rather kick back than put effort into something. What really works about Tianna is that she has to realize, like the modern feminist, that she needs to work hard, but she also needs to find time for the rest of the life she’s been ignoring. This is a feminist character that’s post-yuppie yet somehow ended up as an animated character in New Orleans in the early part of the twentieth century.

I have to say that my favorite character has to be Charlotte. She’s a spoiled little rich girl, but she is hysterical and as if her spunky yet spoiled attitude weren’t enough, her father is voiced by John Goodman and he is a fabulous doting father. I feel like I should be offended for white southerners because of Charlotte, but I just find her too adorable.

It was nice to see Disney return to hand drawn animation again and the visuals and music in The Princess & the Frog are stunning, but I don’t see Pixar or Dreamworks as being threatened. Those films are an entirely different form of animation from hand-drawn and just like stop-motion still exists, there will always be room for hand-drawn along with computer animation.

Directors: Ron Clements & John Musker
Writers: Ron Clements, John Musker & Rob Edwards
Tiana: Anika Noni Rose
Prince Naceen: Bruno Campos
Dr. Facilier: Keith David
Eudora: Oprah Winfrey
James: Terrence Howard
Big Daddy La Bouff: John Goodman

No comments: