Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is amazing. Need I say more? I suppose I should. Tiana is, of course, Disney’s first Black princess. She is also their first American (as in US citizen) princess, which I find just as interesting as her race, especially since the movie doesn’t focus on her race. There is one line in the movie that sort of refers to Tiana’s race: the real estate man says “a little woman of your… background,” when explaining why she shouldn’t have the building she wants for her restaurant. This line is repeated later on during her Facilier-induced nightmare. This could easily refer to her race or class, or probably both. The fact is, this movie is more about class than race. What race is Naveen? Maldonian. That’s all I can tell you. He has not particular race. But what’s important is his class: he is royalty. He comes from a fabulously wealthy family. This makes him part of Charlotte’s rich society, and this is what makes him so different from Tiana. But I don’t want this review to be about race; I am much more interested in the characters, romance, and relation to previous Disney movies.
Ok, so the characters in this story are so great that I simply don’t have words for it. Tiana is strong, independent, hard-working—everything people have been complaining Disney princesses are not. She has two jobs, and she has a dream other than get-the-prince or please-her-father. And she grows and changes during the story! Charlotte is more like the traditional Disney princess; sitting around, waiting for her prince, doesn’t have a job. And she is HILARIOUS. Yes, I used caps lock, because that’s how serious I am about this. You’re supposed to laugh at her intense desire to marry a prince and become a princess, no matter what else happens. Prince Naveen is truly outstanding. He has a personality! Say what? Since when do princes have personalities? Aladdin, Beast… that’s pretty much it. They also both have their names in the titles of their movies. Eric kind of had a personality, maybe? He’s not very memorable. I guess Shang has a personality, but I have a problem with him, because his romance is just sort of there out of necessity, and he’s not as awesome as Mulan’s friends; of course, he is also not really a prince. I’m only mentioning him because Mulan is considered one of Disney’s princesses. Naveen has a personality, a past, and he matures and develops, like Aladdin and Beast. And he is Disney’s sexiest prince yet. No question.
Dr. Facilier is a great villain; I’d say he’s like a mix of Ursula and Scar. His magic is very reminiscent of Ursula (more on that later), but more charismatic, sort of like Scar. I am officially in love with Keith David. “Friends on the Other Side” is my current ringtone. I just love it. And don’t forget Ray, the Cajun firefly! He leads the song “Gonna Take You There” and has the solo “Ma Belle Evangeline.” In the previews, Ray seemed like the most problematic and downright annoying of all the characters, but in the movie, he is possibly the best. He’s so sweet and smart and wise, and I love him. Of course, this was just a brief overview of my favorite characters. There are plenty of other great characters, but I really don’t want to describe my love for everyone in this movie.
Naveen and Tiana’s romance was so great. It was definitely not love at first sight. When they first see each other, Tiana sighs and rolls her eyes, and Naveen just shrugs and walks off. For most of the movie, they plan on marrying Naveen to Charlotte. This was simply the best Disney romance yet. It was between two characters with real personalities. I guess you could compare it to Beauty and the Beast, but I was reminded more of Fox’s Anastasia. Two characters forced together, at first don’t like each other, but start to fall in love. Demetri uses Anya to escape Russia and get money, and Naveen plans on using Tiana to escape his frog form so he can marry rich and get money. The problem with comparing it to Beauty and the Beast is that Beast and Naveen are not similar. Yes, they are both pretty selfish, but that’s about it. And Beast is selfish in a mean way, while Naveen is selfish in a more unthinking way. He doesn’t try to hurt anyone; he just doesn’t always realize the consequences of his actions.
One of the greatest things about this movie is its relationship to previous Disney movies. This is Disney’s return to classic animation, and the movie contains references to other movies. As previously mentioned, Dr. Facilier is rather similar to Ursula; he keeps Naveen’s blood on a mask-thing on a necklace, rather like how Ursula traps Ariel’s voice in a shell-thing on a necklace. His plan is for Lawrence to marry Charlotte, who Naveen wants to marry, like how Ursula plans to marry Eric, Ariel’s love interest. Additionally, King Triton is on a Mardi Gras float. Charlotte’s dance with “Naveen” looks similar to the dance in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Tiana wishes upon a star (Pinnochio), and the star turns out to be Evangeline, who Ray eventually joins (The Lion King). In the book The Art of the Princess and the Frog, they describe how the artists watched old Disney movies, and took a lot of inspiration for the drawing style from Lady and the Tramp.
So, to sum up: this movie is totally awesome, and everyone should see it. And I want to visit New Orleans. And marry Prince Naveen. And open a restaurant. And own Charlotte’s wardrobe.
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Jim Cummings, Keith David, John Goodman, Oprah Winfrey