The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

The Princess and the Frog is a 2009 animated musical film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. It is Disney’s 49th animated feature and one of their most pleasant outings.

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Like I told y’all, kissing a princess breaks the spell.

Once you became my wife, that made you…

A princess. You just kissed yourself a princess.

And… I’m about to do it again

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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This is it. This is the movie that signaled the arrival of the Disney Revival era. From here on, the films were much better in quality and major improvements over Disney Second Dark Age flicks. The Princess and the Frog ushered in this new era which is interesting as it contains both the modern and the old-fashioned elements to it and that mix did not hold it back, but it actually strengthened the movie and made it incredibly appealing.

So the modern is the princess herself who is the only Disney princess who works as she has a dream to open her own restaurant. That was great and important. Of course you have African Americans for the first time ever prominently in a Disney movie as the prince, princess and villain are all black. But you also have a very strong relationship at the center of the movie, the setting of New Orleans, the 1920s era and those are all unique things present just in this movie. And the greatest thing about it is that these things are just presented to us and the movie never gets preachy with them which was excellent.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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As for the traditional aspects to it, there are a lot of those as well honestly. So firstly, the technical aspects from the animation to the action to the humor are all very much done in that wonderful classic Disney style of yesteryear. The film looks and sounds like a Disney classic and the fact that we got it this late in the game, 2009, was just awesome. And the most important thing is that this is a princess movie and a musical. Disney went back to their roots here and created a wondrous film in the process.

So yes, The Princess and the Frog is historically very important on multiple fronts, but let’s talk about the story itself. I honestly found the first act a bit rushed for my taste and the movie has way too many characters in it. It is a testament to how strong the character development here is that most of them are memorable and great, but still I could have done with less characters. Those are some of the problems of the movie and why it is not great, but still very good.

The movie has a lot of the elements from other Disney films such as ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Cinderella‘ and especially ‘Snow White’ in its mix of dangerous and lightweight. It doesn’t do that shift as greatly as that classic does, but still I loved how innocent and carefree the movie felt and still it gave us one major death and a funeral which was great. The film has a very good plot overall, very detailed and filled with a lot of plot points which I really liked and it honestly flies by how engaging and lovable it is. And that prolonged ending is beautiful with its two weddings.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Tiana is truly a phenomenal Disney princess, probably one of my favorites after seeing the movie for the second time and so incredibly underrated. I loved her dream of owning a restaurant, but I liked how she had to learn how to live her life and be fun as well. She is very sweet and charming, so beautiful and just a wonderful princess overall.

Prince Naveen is an excellent Disney prince as well. He is spoiled and rich, but gets better and learns the benefits of work in the end. The clashes of their personalities and how each had to complement each other was a really clever choice that paid off tremendously as their relationship was truly terrific and so well established. They are a wonderful couple.

The movie has some charming sidekicks in it. Louis the alligator plays a trumpet and is just such a fun, lovable dude. I really liked him and he was sweet and caring. But of course Ray the firefly is probably the standout supporting character as he is the most heartwarming creature here. His death was tragic, but also simply beautiful and the entire Evangeline the star subplot was honestly poetic in quality. Some really moving stuff to be had here.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Mama Odie is a hilarious take on a Fairy Godmother persona. This old woman is blind and lives in a boat on a cottage with her pet snake. How fun is that?! Lawrence is the forgettable henchman, but Dr. Facilier is solid. His design, his song and his voodoo shtick are all great and unique. However, he was too silly, he rarely posed real threat and was disposed of pretty quickly by Tiana. He had the potential for greatness, but was ultimately a missed opportunity.

And the final character I want to talk about is Charlotte. She is a stereotypical Southern girl in search of a wealthy husband and she surprised me. At first I thought she was going to be just that stereotype, but turned out to not only be funny, but also a great, truly admirable friend to her Tia and the lack of any malice toward Tiana’s eventual marriage to Naveen just made me love her all the more. So the film has too many characters (those henchmen were forgettable and that entire frog hunting sequence was a fun detour, but detour nonetheless), but those that work are great and surprisingly well developed.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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The Princess and the Frog has gorgeous animation. This is the penultimate Disney hand-drawn feature which makes me so sad as here they showed how powerful that animation is. The mix of CGI in it with the lights mostly added that modern polish to it, but the animation overall is so wonderfully traditional with some beautiful painterly backgrounds and a truly accomplished character design. I loved how this film looked and although the frogs themselves were too simplistic, Ray, Facilier and the humans all looked fantastic and the attention to detail is overwhelming here. They recreated this decade and town so vividly and I loved the swamp setting as well.

Finally, let’s talk about the soundtrack. It is in my opinion one of the finest Disney soundtracks of all time. It doesn’t have the best Disney songs, but it has a lot of very good songs and thus is becomes a terrific soundtrack. And I loved that it is a jazz score and we’ve never really had jazz songs in a Disney flick at this capacity before. That made it unique.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Down in New Orleans is a fun tune, the kind of tune that introduces you to the movie’s setting and time period and it does that really well. I was not a fan of it before, but now I like it much more as it is catchy, fitting in style to the film and overall successful, if too short. When We’re Human is the weakest of the bunch as it is very forgettable and to me unnecessary even.

Ma Belle Evangeline isn’t something I would sing, but it works well in the context of Ray’s character. Friends on the Other Side is awesome! It is in fact one of the finest Disney villain songs ever as the imagery is superb here, it reminded me so wonderfully of Ursula’s scene and song in ‘The Little Mermaid’ and it is the finest moment for Doctor Facilier for sure. It has such a catchy, terrific finale.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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Gonna Take You There is the most entertaining song here for sure! It is a fun scene and the tune is endlessly catchy and you just can’t help but sing along with it. Dig a Little Deeper is a great moment for Mama Odie, again the descriptions and the message/motifs are so well incorporated into its lyrics and the song is not only so catchy and fun but also accompanied by gorgeous imagery.

And of course my favorite has to be Almost There. This jazz number is the perfect kind of “I wish” princess song but with the added twist of the wish being a job and not a prince. The entire scene is so well animated and I loved its different, simplistic style incorporated there, it has a great use of the mother’s character and the lyrics are great. It explains Tiana’s character superbly and is just all around incredibly well sung, immensely catchy and one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

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The Princess and the Frog Movie Review

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So it isn’t all that well paced, but the score is great, the film is fun and innocent but also dark at times and it has some great imagery, details and animation style. The voice acting is also top-notch across the board and the humor is quite solid. I really enjoyed this film despite some of its problems. It was a great start of a new era for the company and it truly is one of the most underrated Disney films recently.

With a terrific mix of traditional and modern in its storytelling and presentation, gorgeous hand-drawn animation, a plethora of lovable, charming characters and one of Disney’s greatest soundtracks with wonderful songs like Almost There, Friends on the Other Side, Gonna Take You There and Dig a Little Deeper, The Princess and the Frog has its pacing issues and a weaker villain, but it is the movie that signaled the arrival of Disney Revival period with an abundance of style, a standout princess and many beautiful scenes.

My Rating – 4

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Posted in 2000s, 2009, Adventure, Animated, Disney, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Musical and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

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