I've come to realize that I am an old school kind of gal. Anytime I watch one of those so-called new era of animated films (all CGI effects) it chills me to the bone. There is nothing warm or human about what is created. Yes, it looks technically great, but it is like seeing the world's most beautiful woman or handsome man then discovering that they have no soul.
Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" doesn't fall into the soulless category and while it is not the best film that Disney has every produced, its hand drawn animation gives it a huge leg up in my books. The film falls into the Disney category of classic, timeless fairy tales. No matter how many times you see this kind of film (Cinderella, Snow White, etc.) it never gets stale.
Stories about Disney created princes and princesses never go out of style. Generation after generation of little girls everywhere in the world remain obsessed with princesses. Many of the previous Disney animated fairy tales have only delved as deep as the true love side of the story, but "The Princess and the Frog" has a deeper storyline with
The young Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) lives in New Orleans with her father and mother. They don't have much money, but they are hard working. Her mother (Oprah Winfrey) works as a dressmaker for the richest people in town, including Big Daddy La Bouff (John Goodman) and his daughter Charlotte (Jennifer Cody). Her father has a labour job, but dreams of opening his own restaurant named "Tiana".
We skip forward many years to find out that Tiana's father has died and she is working as a waitress in a diner. All Tiana seems to do is work as she is saving her money in order to make her father's dream of opening a restaurant a reality. Tiana is all work and no fun.
Tiana, at a Mardi Gras party at the La Bouff's, discovers a talking frog who claims he is Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos). Naveen has been changed into a frog by the evil Dr. Facilier (Keith David). Believing that Tiana is a princess as she is wearing Charlotte's dress and tiara, Naveen tells Tiana that all she needs to do is kiss the frog to make him a prince again and Naveen promises to give her what she wishes for. The kiss backfires because she is not a princess and Tiana herself is now turned into a frog.
Escaping from Facilier by hopping off to the bayou, Naveen and Tiana with the help of Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), a jazz trumpet playing gator, and Ray (Jim Cummings), a Cajun firefly, race to get back to the city so they can get Charlotte to kiss Naveen to change him back into a prince and as a result he will give Tiana her restaurant. Along the way love makes everything more complicated.
The animation and songs are beautiful, the characters are engaging and developed, and the lesson to be learned is an important one. What might cause people to enjoy the film less is the fact that it is not huge in scale. The animation is smaller as is the story. While the characters are likable they are not larger-than-life. The story is a simple one. It is not filled with the pizzazz that films like "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin" were. We have to get out of the way of thinking that bigger is better and step back to realize that there is just as much value in a smaller film.
While this is not a film of the epic Disney variety it is still a solid film that will be appreciated by kids and parents for generations to come. "The Princess and the Frog" is a warm and highly enjoyable film. Welcome back, Disney!