Flashback movie review: The Princess and the Frog (2010)

January 24, 2023 4:38 pm96 commentsViews: 303

Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) dreams of opening a restaurant just like her father had always wanted. She’s been saving all her life working as a waitress, when one day she’s asked to cater for a dance hosted by high class and very wealthy Charlotte LeBouff (Jennifer Cody). The money from the job will give her what she needs for the down payment on a building. Meanwhile Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) is transformed into a frog by evil Dr. Facilier (Keith David) and needs the kiss of a Princess to transform him back. Mistaking Tiana for one, he persuades her to kiss him. Unfortunately this turns her into a frog and both have to see Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis), a practitioner of Voodoo, in order to transform back.

The Princess and the Frog

John Lassester Saves Both Disney and Animation

Recently Disney has undergone a major new change. Under the management of head of Pixar, John Lasseter, the 2D hand drawn animation department has been reopened and proper full length traditional animation is back. Based on the evidence of The Princess and the Frog, this can only be a good thing.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), The Princess and the Frog invokes the very best of Disney. Brilliant songs, great animation a witty script, produce something which can be enjoyed by both children and adults. While animation has gone of the way of the Shrek films, which are littered with separate jokes for the older audience that no child will understand, its refreshing to see old fashioned animation is still as exciting and imaginative as ever.

This is mostly down to the complete lack of irony and the embracing of traditional methods. The story is told in an unfussy manner, the songs are catchy and heartfelt and there’s no self aware winking at the audience. It’s simply a good story, well told. Tiana is also a great role model for children; she’s independent, good natured and refuses to give up on her dreams. It may sound corny but considering the lack of strong female characters coming out of Hollywood, it’s great to see this being counteracted in a children’s film.

The other characters more than hold their own as well, there’s a decent villain superbly voiced by Keith David, Prince Naveen is an engaging and likeable hero and the supporting characters such as Lewis the crocodile and Ray the firefly are good fun and predictably get most of the best jokes.

There’s also some suitably scary imagery as the shadow creatures lurk around, searching for the heroes. While not as terrifying as the woods in Snow White, they do provide the darker moments that all great Disney films need.

However The Princess and the Frog is Not Up there With the Best

If there’s a criticism to be made it’s that this probably won’t be remembered as a classic, more of a stepping stone to greater things. Not as awe inspiring as the very best of Disney such as Aladdin and The Lion King, The Princess and the Frog takes the safe route and ticks all the right boxes. However it’s difficult to see this as much of an issue because it feels like the filmmakers wanted to provide an easy and gentle reintroduction to what made the studio so great in the first place. While it won’t win any major awards, this does prove that hand drawn animation still has a place in the world of 3D and digital effects.

With Japan’s Studio Ghibli producing stunning work, stop motion still going strong with Wallace and Gromit and Coraline and Pixar creating an endless series of brilliant digital films, it seems animation is the most exciting and diverse genre in cinema at the moment. Long may this continue.

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