Thursday, 01 October 2020
The Princess and the Frog
Saturday, 19 December 2009 10:08
princess-and-frog-posterI was disappointed when Disney took a bow a few years ago, swearing off traditional animation with claims that the future would be strictly CG. “Home on the Range” was hardly a suitable swan-song for the Disney dynasty that had cranked out one animated classic after another for decades. It’s good to see them reneging on that promise with “The Princess and the Frog” and reviving the art of hand drawn animation. Unfortunately, I found the results to be underwhelming.

My disappointment in the film is not a reflection on the animation itself. I really love traditional animation and scenes showing the streets and homes of New Orleans are especially inviting, and lush. In this way it brings to mind Disney’s early days.

The formulaic story centers on a young woman named Tiana (Anika Noni Rose). All her life she has been told by her parents that the only way to get what you want in life is hard work. Her lifelong dream is to own a restaurant and she is willing to work 24-7 to get it. When a handsome Prince comes to New Orleans she scoffs at the girls falling over themselves to be with him. But as luck would have it she ends up on an adventure through the swamps to lift a curse that has turned both she and the prince into frogs.

the-princess-and-the-frogThere is no question Disney has created a beauty to add to their collection of Princesses. Heralded for being the first African-American Disney princess, Tiana is lovely and drawn with care, at least in her human form. Beauty – check. Personality – zilch! She is a one-note working girl and preachy too! In playing it safe, Disney also created their first boring Princess.

The rest of the characters are lackluster and mostly unmemorable. Louis, a jazz-playing alligator, reminds me of a dumbed-down Baloo from The Jungle Book. A particularly unappealing firefly named Ray is supposed to be loveable but just kind of grossed me out. He sounds like Adam Sandler doing his bad Cajun accent. Even Disney can’t make me love a gap-toothed insect whose butt lights up.

princess-and-the-frog-0The male lead, Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) is rather un-charming. He’s a lazy, gold-digging womanizer, until he is changed by true love of course. I thought it odd that his terrible accent changes from vaguely Indian to French when he turns into a frog, making him sound like Pepe Le Pew.

To be honest nothing about this movie peeked my interest. It did not keep me entertained and I looked at my watch several times even though it’s only about 90 minutes long. The musical numbers are okay but not catchy enough for me to remember even one song. I certainly can’t say I’m a fan of Randy Newman’s jangly orchestrations, but I have to admit the Toy Story theme is an instant classic. Though his jazzy style suits the New Orleans setting, he missed the mark by a long shot on any hit singles.

The Princess and the Frog could have marked a triumphant return to roots for Disney, but instead it is a dull and unmoving effort that had me wishing I could hop out of the theatre.