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God I hate when this happens.
See, here’s the thing. I already knew what I was going to say about Princess and the Frog months ago. I had my arguments prepared, I’d done my research, the only thing remaining to do was to sit down and watch it again before actually writing the review. And then, of course, my opinion of the movie changed pretty substantially and now I’m back to square one. Alright, a lot of you have been asking me my opinion on the Princess and the Frog, and until very, very recently it was this:
Don’t like it. Hugely disappointing. Major flaws. Disney screwed the pooch. To get traditional animation back in contention they needed a perfect ten and we got a five. Mouse not happy.
But then…yeah, I watched it again and it’s safe to say that my opinion has mellowed quite a bit. Not totally. The problems I thought were there are still there. What problems you ask? Three are the problems, and the number of the problems is three.
You know, given Disney’s sterling record of diversity it’s kind of amazing that it’s taken this long for us to have an African American princess.
“Ha! Good one!”
I’m actually not being sarcastic. Think about it, since Little Mermaid
in 1987, of the seventeen canon movies featuring humans we’ve had Arab protaganoists, Asian protagonists, Native American protagonists, gypsy protagonists, Hawaiian protagonists, Mayan protagonists and even that most reviled and loathed of all minorities…
So, why has it taken them this long? Well, seeing as you’re on the internet you probably aren’t aware of this, but race can be something of a sticky wicket. By which I mean, Disney knew that if they fucked up on this they would be eaten alive so it’s probably not surprising that they took this one nice and slow. And, in my opinion at least, they succeeded. There is nothing problematic about the character of Tiana. She is as positive and progressive a depiction of an African American woman as you could hope to find. On a possibly not unrelated note, she is also really, really, really, really, really boring. Who do I blame for that? The writers? The animators? Voice actor Anika Noni Rose? No. At the risk of being unpopular, I place the blame solely on…
Yes you, people on the internet.
This movie came under an insane amount of scrutiny long, long, before it was even released, with Disney making many changes in response to every new backlash and charge of racism. Now, some of the criticism may have been fair, but honestly some of it just strikes me as petty. For example, the heroine’s name was originally “Maddy” which was changed to Tiana because “Maddy” rhymes with “Mammy”. So, yeah, I know right? Wasn’t that a bullet narrowly dodged? Now I, for one, was unaware that names that happen coincidentally to rhyme with racist slurs are racist by association but I’ll certainly keep that in mind in fut…OH MY GOD!!!
GET HIM THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!!
So, it’s understandable that the script for this thing feels like it was written by someone walking on eggshells. And yes, obviously writers have to treat the issue of race carefully and with sensitivity, but I think a certain degree of good faith is required on behalf of the audience as well. It’s just the problem with living in a world where any blowhard can get on his virtual soap box and complain about a movie that hasn’t even been released yet and why are you all looking at me like that? But there is another problem with Tiana that goes beyond all of that. Alright, the simplest, most basic story you can tell goes like this. Character A (the protagonist), wants something, and we want to see him get that thing. Character B (the antagonist) wants something that is mutually exclusive to what character A wants, and we don’t want to see him get that. The characters struggle against each other, and from this we get conflict, drama and finally resolution. Now, you can alter and flip and rearrange and deconstruct or just flat out ignore this model in literally an infinite number of different ways but most of the time that’s what it boils down to. The central conflict is the heart of the story. And Tiana exists almost entirely outside the central conflict. She’s essentially an onlooker in her own story. The conflict is between Naveen and Facilier. You could conceivably have a movie just about those two. What is the relationship between Tiana and Facilier? What’s the personal stake? As the old lady once said, where’s the beef?
- The Script
Not bad, but really needed to be funnier. And from Clements and Musker we had a right to expect better.
- Randy Goddamn Newman
Fine in small doses, don’t get me wrong. But to write a musical you need versatility almost as much as you need raw songwriting talent. Your songs need to be versatile enough to convey an entire emotional spectrum and Newman just can’t do that. There’s an unmistakeable saminess to his songs that make them less emotional beats in the story set to music, and more mere musical intervals (with the exception of Friends on the Other Side, which is awesome.) This is the single biggest problem with the movie in my opinion. There’s enough good in the rest of the movie that a Howard Ashman or Sherman Brothers or Kristen Anderson Lopez could have lifted this up to the realm of the all-time greats.
Well okay, enough about what they got wrong. Let’s take a look at what they got right.
Okay, so the movie begins with a young Tiana and her friend Lottie listening to Tiana’s mother tell them the story of the Princess and the Frog.
Now I’ve already mentioned that I don’t find Tiana to be a particularly interesting character. Lottie though? I could write a frickin’ dissertation on Lottie. Lottie is basically Disney creating an avatar of all the little girls who have been raised on their movies since the thirties, looking at her and saying “Oh Jesus Christ what have we done?”
She is essentially the pink aisle made manifest, constantly begging her indulgent father for more dresses, puppies, parties, whatever and her dream in life is to marry a prince. She is very obviously supposed to be a stand in for pretty much every pre-Renaissance Disney princess which is why I find the way the movie depicts her to be absolutely fascinating. The movie is obviously trying to contrast Lottie and Tiana as Old Disney versus New Disney. Lottie wishes on a star for a prince to come and marry her, and while Tiana wishes too, her father tells her that wishing will only get you so far and that you have to work hard for what you want. Tiana takes this very much to heart and makes this outlook her own, and the movie is clearly trying to show that this is a better philsophy for living than Lottie’s. And yet, the movie makes very clear that while Lottie might be a little bit spoiled and misguided, she’s not a bad person. In fact, she is a very, very good person. There’s a scene later in the movie where Lottie has hired Tiana to cook some pastries for a party that she’s throwing with the hope of snagging Prince Naveen’s hand in marriage (aka her entire reason for existing). Tiana ends up getting pushed against the table, causing the pastries to go everywhere and I was so sure that the movie was going to have Lottie arrive and throw a big “How could you do this to me!? You ruined the most important night of my life?! WAAAAAAH” tantrum but instead Lottie is concerned about her, helps Tiana up, asks if she’s alright, lends her a gorgeous ball gown to wear and basically acts like a true friend. Lottie, for me, is Disney coming to terms with its own past. Those movies weren’t bad, and there’s nothing wrong with you for liking them. They were essentially decent with their heart in the right place, they were just wrong on a few things. Lottie’s father, Eli “Big Daddy” La Bouff (John Goodman) arrives and orders another dress off Tiana’s mother Eudora (Oprah Winfrey) and then Eudora and Tiana head home through the New Orleans night.
No words…should have sent a poet…
So yeah, this is a gorgeous movie. Clements and Musker have said that the visual style they were going for was Lady and the Tramp,
with all those soft curves and rich lush colours and I can absolutely see that. It’s just beautiful.
They go home and Tiana and her father James (Terrence Howard) cook some gumbo together that turns out so well that they end up sharing it with the whole neighbourhood. It’s kind of a pity that we only get this one scene between James and Tiana because their relationship is pretty crucial to her motivation. Also, because this is a movie with a black man who’s a loving father and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more movies with DINOSAURS than have shown that.
The movie jumps ahead and Tiana has grown up and James has died offscreen in the first world war. Tiana is determined to fulfill his dream of owning a restaurant and has been working two jobs to save up the money to buy a building (as opposed to modern times, when Americans work two jobs to afford milk.) We now get our first song, Down in New Orleans written by Randy Newman and performed by Dr. John.
There we go.
Look, none of the songs in this are bad taken in a vacuum, but neither are they spectacular and they’re almost all very, very samey. Down in New Orleans is one of the better ones though, and it does a good job of introducing us to most of the main players. Apart from Tiana, Big Daddy and Lottie we also see Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) and his manservant Lawrence (Peter Bartlett) arrive in the Big Easy. We also see our villain, Doctor Facilier (Keith Motherfucking David), a voodoo witch doctor who’s introduced to us selling a potion to a bald man that causes him to grow hair. Everywhere.
Oh how awful. If only there was a a device that could remove hair from a man’s face.
Alright, so Lottie and Big Daddy drop by the restaurant where Tiana is waitressing and tell her that Prince Naveen is going to be attending a party at their place and that Lottie wants around a thousand beignets (Ah Google. Faithful, stalwart Google.) to drug him into a sugar coma so that he can’t escape. Lottie throws a wad of cash at Tiana to cover the cost and this finally gives Tiana enough money to buy the restaurant so ‘sall good.
This takes us into Almost There, where Tiana and Eudora fix up the mill that’s going to be her restaurant. Eudora wants Tiana to find a man and start with the baby making, while Tiana wants to focus on work. The song was nominated for the Academy award (so you know it’s good) and again, it’s fine. Although I will say Anika Noni Rose has an absolutely beautiful voice and the fantasy sequence where Tiana is strutting through her restaurant is done in a gorgeous Art Deco style.
No one has nostrils.
That’s how you know it’s Art Deco.
Meanwhile Naveen and Lawrence are schlepping about New Orleans and we learn that while he may be a prince, Naveen is flat broke and is actually in America hoping to find a wealthy heiress to marry. They then get waylaid by Doctor Facilier and…umph…
You know how much I love good villain designs, right? The good doctor is a mashup of Cruella DeVille, Captain Hook, Baron Samedi and a little bit of Michael Jackson all topped off with a typically awesome vocal performance by Keith David. Facilier lures the gullible Naveen into his magic shop despite Lawrence trying to warn the prince that Facilier is clearly bad news (I mean, look at that character design!) and that pisses off Facilier no end.
“Sorry. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I’m Keith Motherfucking David.”
This leads us into Friends on the Other Side, hands down the best song in this film and, if you can believe it, the first villain song in the canon since frickin’ Hellfire. In the song, Facilier reads Naveen’s tarot, seeing that he needs to get married but that he doesn’t want to, and that he wants to “hop from place to place” and that he “needs the green”. Much as I love this song, and the imagery and David’ performance, I do have a problem with this scenario. See, this is clearly being set up as a Faustian bargain, Facilier is offering to turn Naveen into a frog, but couched in language to make it seem like he’s offering him financial independence. The problem with this Faustian bargain is…Naveen never accepts. Oh sure, he looks intrigued, but he never actually signs on the dotted line or even says “yes” or nods. Facilier just asks him to shake his hand and then POOF! The whole point of a Faustian bargain is that the person making the bargain has to enter into it of his own free will. Essentially, a Faustian bargain happens like this; A demon offers a mark something that he wants, power, money, knowledge, love, immortality, choose your poison. The mark is blinded by his own avarice and accepts the deal and while the demon may couch his offer in misleading language, he can never flat out lie about the terms of the deal. From here, we basically have three possible resolutions:
1) The mark simply loses their soul, end of story (Faust, for example). Most of the older Faustian stories end like this, the intended moral being: if you’re planning on selling your soul to the devil just fucking don’t.
2) The mark temporarily loses their soul, but the demon gets greedy and accepts a second offer and ends up biting off more than they can chew. Ariel is a good example of this. Ursula is able to claim her after she fails to kiss Eric on the third day and if she had just quit then she could have kept her forever and Triton wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. But then, she trades Ariel’s freedom for Triton’s and we all know how that ended.
3) The mark is able to trick the demon into being released from the terms of their deal through their own quick wits and escapes, hopefully now wiser to their own flaws that led to them accepting the deal in the first place. Irish folklore, where the devil is usually more of a trickster and less of an all powerful avatar of evil, has a lot of these kinds of stories. Like, a man wishes for a chair that will trap anyone who sits there forever unless the man says a magic word. Then the devil shows up to collect his soul and the man says “Sure, I’ll be with you in a minute, just take a seat.” That kind of thing.
What happens with Facilier and Naveen though is not any of these. Naveen isn’t turned into a frog because of his own greed or some other flaw. He’s just mugged!
Later at the party, Naveen shows up and begins dancing with an ecstatic Lottie while Tiana is told by the realtors she bought the building from that someone else has made a better offer and that unless she can meet it in three days she won’t get the restaurant. One of the realtors tells her that someone of “your background” is better off where she is. This is in fact the only reference to race that actually appears in this movie. I’ve gone back and forth on this. On the one hand, this movie takes place during what is known as “the nadir”, the post civil war period when race relations in America were as bad as they ever got. Now, hand on my heart, I don’t actually think a Disney movie should aim for an accurate depiction of what life would have been like for an African American woman living in that period because frankly I want my daughter to be able to sleep at night. On the other hand, if you have a Disney movie set during an extremely racist period of American history that makes absolutely no reference to that and tries to pretend that relations between blacks and whites were just tickedy boo…well, we’ve already seen that movie, haven’t we? So this line is hugely important because it’s the movie’s way of at least acknowledging this issue even if it can’t be the movie that actually addresses it given the limitations of an animated movie made for children. So then we get the bit with Tiana knocking over the table and Lottie loaning her the dress and oh my God this is a gorgeous movie.
I mean LOOK at this.
Tiana goes out on the balcony and sings a sad reprise of Almost There. Out of options, she makes a wish on a star and looks down to see a frog giving her the eye.
“Hello my baby. Hello my honey.”
She sarcastically asks the frog if he wants a kiss and he says “Well, if you’re offering?” and Tiana freaks out. The frog explains that he’s actually Naveen and Tiana asks that if he’s Naveen then who’s dancing with Lottie downstairs? Naveen can’t answer that but when he sees the storybook of the Princess and the Frog he hits on the idea of Tiana kissing him to turn him back. Tiana, however, absolutely refuses, saying that she doesn’t kiss cold blooded, aquatic animals.
“Oh I’m sorry Tiana, is it lonely up there on YOUR PEDASTAL!?”
Naveen says that as well as being handsome he’s fabulously wealthy and that if she kisses him he can definitely make it worth her while and helloooooooooo awful, awful subtext! Tiana finally agrees (Sweetie, no. I know the money makes it feel like it’s worth it but it’ll never be enough and before you know it you’re pleasuring the entire Costa Rican football team for just one cube of Gouda and damn it I’m not on trial here!!!) but instead of changing Naveen into a human, the spell transforms Tiana into a frog.
Tiana and Naveen end up getting knocked out of a window and into the party. They cause a ruckus and the two frogs end up riding a bunch of party balloons out into the swamp while a furious Doctor Facilier looks on. Facilier confronts “Naveen”, who is actually Lawrence in disguise, wearing a charm filled with Naveen’s blood to make him look like the prince. Facililer, you see, is using Lawrence to pose as Naveen and marry Lottie, thus gaining access to the La Bouff family fortune (After which they presumably throw Papa in Law and the Little Woman. Off. A cliff.)
“Wait just a damn minute!”
Sigh. What is it Nit?
“Why does Facilier need Lawrence? Why doesn’t he just impersonate Naveen himself?”
Good question. Doctor?
“Fun fact about voodoo. Can’t conjure a thing for myself.”
“Well…okay. But I’m watching you!”
So we now get a scene between Naveen and Tiana in the swamp where he tells her about Facilier and she scolds him for “messin’ with the Shadow Man.” And again…not really! He shook his hand when he offered! That’s less “consorting with demonic powers” and more “just being polite”. Tiana reveals that she’s not actually a princess and Naveen is furious, saying that of course the spell wouldn’t break if he kissed “just a waitress”. He then reveals that he was never going to pay her because he’s flat broke and that’s why we get money up front, Tiana, always get money up front. Rule 1.
They get attacked by some big lipped alligators, which is to be expected in a swamp and is not in the least incongruous with the rest of the story. Tiana saves Naveen’s life after he promises that once he marries Lottie he’ll give her the money for her restaurant. Hmm…so I guess the moral of the story is “When you wish upon a star, exert leverage to extort what you need.”
I’ve heard worse. They hide inside a tree and Naveen tries to get handsy and Tiana says “Get your slimy hands off me!” to which Naveen responds “It’s not slime! It’s mucus!”
The next day, Tiana builds a raft and they make for home. While Tiana rows, Naveen makes himself a banjo out of some twigs and starts playing, which attracts the attention of Louis (Michael Leon Wooley), a jazz loving alligator with a trumpet who dreams of playing in front of human audience. Louis and Naveen hit it off instantly and Tiana explains that they’re actually humans who’ve been transformed by voodoo. Louis tells them about Mada Odie, a voodoo priestess who lives deep in the darkest part of the bayou. Louis at first refuses to take them because it’s too dangerous, but Naveen subtly plants the idea that she could
give him the brain he’s always wanted transform him into a human so that he could play jazz on the riverboats and he tags along. This brings us to When I’m a Human Being, where Louis, Tiana and Naveen all sing about what they’re going to do when they’re human again/for the first time. It’s not a great song, frankly, in fact Randy Newman is straining so hard for rhymes in this one I’m kinda worried he’ll pull something. The animation is fuckin’ smurges though.
Meanwhile Naveen/Lawrence is courting Lottie. It’s going swimmingly until suddenly the blood charm stops working and “Naveen” starts transforming into a fat old bald man which unfortunately happens to all of us but not this quickly, usually. With some quick thinking he manages to propose to Lottie before she realises what’s up and she runs off excitedly saying they’ll be married on Mardi Gras. Lawrence, now completely transformed back, asks Facilier what they’re going to do and the Shadow Man says that he’s going to have to ask for help from his friends on the other side (he’s got friends on the other siiiiiiiide.)
Meanwhile, in the swamp, an attempt at catching flies ends up with Naveen and Tiana literally tongue tied.
Aw…it’s like the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. Only, y’know, gross.
Louis runs off to fetch a stick to pry them loose and the two frogs are discovered by Raymond, a firefly voiced by Jim Cummings who’s probably the most popular character in this thing outside of Facilier and with good reason. Jim Cummings is having a blast here, and is apparently on record as saying that Ray is one of his favourite characters to play. Which is saying a lot when you consider his filmography borders on the Welkerian. Ray frees the two frogs and Naveen quizzes him on his accent, and Ray explains that he’s a Cajun.
Right. So he’s descended from the French fireflies who were expelled from Canada by the British fireflies and ended up settling in Louisiana…
“Ne jamais oublier l’expulsion!”
Ray tells them that Louis’ been taking them in the wrong direction and sets them on the right path to Mama Odie’s. Ray also talks about his girlfriend, Evangeline, who he’s madly in love with. They reach a thorn bush and Naveen and Tiana go on ahead. Louis, however, gets pricked by a thorn and freaks out while Ray makes the exact same expression I did when I wrote a post saying that Ireland was a great place to live and that one guy said I deserved the death penalty.
Alright, so after a run it with some hunters that’s pretty funny but basically filler, Tiana cooks some gumbo for the gang (while giving Naveen a long overdue cooking lesson) and then Ray suddenly says “There she is! The sweetest firefly in all creation!” and Tiana, Naveen and Louis all clamour to get a look at Evangeline…who it turns out is actually the evening star who Ray believes is just an unusually shy firefly. Ray then sings Ma Belle Evangeline,
a pretty sweet love song to his beloved, who just happens to be a giant ball of gas burning billions of miles away.
“I’m gonna tell him.”
“Don’t you dare!”
Naveen teaches Tiana how to dance, which she’s never done before, and it’s clear that they’re growing closer, but then they get attacked by shadow demons that Facilier has called on to find Naveen. Naveen almost gets dragged away but he’s rescued by the timely arrival of Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis). Mama gives them a big song and dance number called Dig a Little Deeper, explaining to Naveen that no one cares how rich he is and that it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of dull, so instead watch It Doesn’t Matter with Wyclef Jean and the Rock. It’s basically the same thing.
Mama Odie finishes by telling them that they need to figure out what they really need as opposed to what they want, and tells them that the only way to reverse the spell is for Naveen to kiss Lottie (since her father is the king of Mardi Gras that makes her technically a princess. Sort of. If you squint.) Wait a minute, so kissing Lottie will turn Naveen back, but how is Tiana supposed to become human again…
Seeing as they don’t have much time, Louis suggests that they hitch a ride on a riverboat. As it’s Mardi Gras, everyone’s in costume meaning that Louis finally gets to play jazz. Naveen has realised that he’s in love with Tiana, and treats her to a romantic dinner. Naveen is just about to propose to Tiana, when the boat passes the mill and she starts talking about how she’s going to finally realise her dream as long as he makes good on his promise to get her the money once he marries Lottie. Crestfallen, Naveen puts the ring away and decides that the only honorable thing to do is to marry a woman he doesn’t love so that he can give his new wife’s fortune to the girl he has the hots for.
And they say chivalry is dead.
The boat weighs anchor andNaveen goes toround up Ray and Louis. Tiana, who is now falling in love withNaveen, sorrowfully looks up to the night sky and asks Evangeline for advice.
“Hmmmm…have you tried converting hydrogen into helium over the course of several billion years?”
Raymond lets slip to Tiana that Naveen wants to propose and she’s overjoyed, but starts to worry when she can’t find him on the boat. Naveen has actually been snatched by Facilier’s shadows who bring him to the good doctor who then extracts his blood to power Lawrence’s talisman.
Tiana, Ray and Louis search the Mardi Gras parade looking for Naveen which is already in full swing complete with stilt-walkers and floats.
But then Tiana sees “Naveen” marrying Lottie on the float and runs off heartbroken to the cemetery. Ray tries to comfort her, saying that Evangeline always says…but Tiana cuts him off, saying that Evangeline is “Just a star, Ray! A big ball of hot air a million miles away!”
Ray goes back to the float and sees that the real Naveen is still a frog and has been locked in a box and forced to watch as Lawrence marries Lottie in his body (it ain’t easy being green). Ray busts him out and they knock Lawrence off the float and Ray manages to get the blood talisman and escape with it. Facilier, who’s been waiting with a voodoo doll to kill Big Daddy the second the marriage is declared legal, chases after Ray with his army of demon shadows.
Ray gets the talisman to Tiana in the cemetery and tells her to run while he holds off the shadows. He fights them off but Facilier smacks him to the ground and then crushes him under his heel.
Yeah. You don’t see any blood or anything but the sound effects alone…Jesus Christ it’s brutal. It’s also, I’m pretty sure, a first for the canon. Characters have died before, of course. But they’re usually either parents or villains. Comedy relief sidekicks though? Those guys are supposed to be untouchable. I mean sure, the deaths of Bambi’s mother and Mufasa are hard going, but can you imagine how much worse it would have been if they’d killed off Thumper or Pumbaa? Even The Black Cauldron,
the darkest movie in the canon, didn’t have the balls to let Gurgi’s death be permanent.
Sorry, did I say “balls”? I meant “basic common human decency.”
Facilier corners Tiana, and when she threatens to destroy the talisman he turns her back into a human and sucks her into a dream world where she sees the restaurant she’s always wanted.
This could be an awesome scene, it really could. Facilier goes all Gospel of Matthew and offers Tiana everything she ever wanted if she’ll just surrender the talisman. But the problem is…this is literally the first time these two characters have met. There is no relationship between them. There are no real personal stakes. If, I dunno, it turned out that Facilier was responsible for Tiana’s father’s death, or that he once cut her in line at the post office or…something. Something so that these two characters are not in two completely different stories and just happen to bump into each other. Well anyway, Facilier tempts Tiana, and Tiana says that she is a Jedi like her father before her and throws the talisman on the ground but it gets snatched up by Facilier’s shadow before it breaks. Facilier transforms Tiana back into a frog and sneers: “You should have taken my deal. Now you’ll spend the rest of your life as a slimy little frog.”
Tiana replies “It’s not slime. It’s mucus!”
“And the Oscar, for worst action one-liner goes to…”
Using her tongue, Tiana grabs the talisman and smashes it. Now that he’s got no way to repay his debt, Facilier’s “friends” decide it’s time to collect and drag his deadbeat ass to hell, even going so far as to leave a custom made headstone for him.
I’d say “Rest in Peace” but…yeesh.
Naveen explains the situation to Lottie and promises to marry her if she gives Tiana the money to buy her restaurant. Tiana stops him, telling him that her dream is worth nothing without him in it, and Lottie is so moved that she agrees to kiss Naveen anyway. But unfortunately it’s now past midnight and Lottie’s kiss fails to transform him back into a Prince.
But Tiana and Naveen decide it doesn’t matter as long as they’re together. Later, the two Frogs, Louis, and Raymond’s family of fireflies give the heroic little bug a funeral. They then watch in overjoyed amazement as a second star appears beside Evangeline in the night sky. Huh. So I guess in the Disney universe stars really are fireflies.
Tiana and Naveen are married by Mama Odie in the swamp and as soon as they kiss, they turn back into humans because Tiana is now a princess. Lottie gets Tiana the money, she buys the restaurant and they all live happily ever etc and so forth.
The Princess and the Frog
did well at the box office and got a lot of critical love, and it seemed for a while that we were all set for the triumphant return of traditional animation
at the Disney studio. Then Tangled
came along and was all “Hey. See this? This is all the money in the world. Go on. Take. It’s yours.” and that was that. As I said in the intro, I’ve had to reassess my opinion of this movie since watching it again. More significantly, I think I now have to reassess how I classify this movie. Those of you who follow the blog will know I’ve taken to calling the series of Disney canon movies from the turn of the Millennium onward “The Lost Era”. This was an era marked with radical experimentation and a sometimes unhinged search for a new direction for the company. I don’t look as unkindly on this era as a lot of Disney fans do but it’s definitely a mixed bag. And I was willing to consign Princess and the Frog
to the Lost Era, writing it off as another misstep on the road back to cultural relevancy. But now…there is something that Princess and the Frog
has in common with the other canon movies of this as yet unnamed modern era that we are now in. And it’s this: The modern crop of Disney movies are about recapturing the charm and magic of the old classics while openly acknowledging that some of the messages and themes and lessons of those movies were at best simplistic and at worst downright regressive. I see movies like Princess and the Frog, Frozen
and Wreck It Ralph
as part of a wider push by Disney to be more progressive, more inclusive and…well…better. To redress the more iffy parts of their legacy, while joyfully celebrating everything that made those movies great. Princess and the Frog
, while I don’t think it’s perfect, is very much in keeping with that spirit with its updating of an old Disney mantra: “When you wish upon a star, you still have to work hard to get what you want.” Which is why, for the purposes of this blog, I am formally declaring Bolt
to be the last movie of the Lost Era. With the Princess and the Frog
, we now enter:
The Redemption Era.
“The Redemption Era?”
“I hate it.”
Beautiful, and some really lovely character animation. One minor criticism, I thought the frog designs were a little generic.
Sorry, I just don’t find Tiana and Naveen that interesting.
Ah, now this is more like it. Great voice acting by Keith David, wonderful design and the first great villain song in thirteen frickin’ years oh Lordy it’s been rough.
Supporting Characters: 13/20
Ramon and Lottie are great, the rest are serviceable.
Friends on the Other Side is great but I just don’t care for all the other song. Yes. I said song. Singular.
FINAL SCORE: 66%
NEXT UPDATE: 31 July 2014
NEXT TIME: Who’s up for some more animé? Join the Mouse as he takes a look at the probably the most influential Japanese animation of all time.
Hint: It ain’t Sailor Moon.