Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

The Princess and the Frog


Review by Mark David Campbell

I have been a fan of Disney since I was a child.  Some of my favorites include Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and, of course, The Lion King.  I’m all grown up and have kids of my own now, and these timeless classic are enjoyed by them as much as they were by me.

In this new millennium, which has seen quantum leaps in the art of computer animation, the very notion of putting something on the big screen that was done completely by hand almost seems like taking a step back.  Almost.  I would expect such a bold move from no other studio but Disney, who has the history and moxie to back up such boldness.  But the question is valid:  can today’s kids, who have been weaned on the latest classics offered by Pixar and DreamWorks, truly appreciate an old-school animated movie such as The Princess and the Frog?

The answer, I’m delighted to say, is an unqualified yes.

Set in Jazz Age New Orleans, a young girl named Tiana (Dreamgirls’ Anika Noni Rose) works as a waitress and is scrimping to try to open her own restaurant.  But her career plans take a left turn when she meets a dashing Old World prince named Naveen (Bruno Campos), who comes to town and makes an enemy in the Shadow Man, a voodoo man who changes him into a frog.

Naveen tries to persuade Tiana that a simple kiss will turn him back into a human again, and she obliges, but she is instead turned into a frog as well.  From there on out, the film is completely old-school Disney, as the unusual couple go on a series of adventures through bayou country, meeting a bevy of… unusual characters, including a trumpet-playing alligator named Louis, a mouthy Cajun firefly named Ray and a 200-year-old voodoo priestess named Mama Odie.

This is Disney, and rated G, so you just know the inevitable “happy ending” is coming, but though you’re expecting it, it makes the ride no less enjoyable.  Randy Newman’s score is first-rate, and there are several songs that are shoo-ins to be nominated for Best Song.  And for those of you who are STILL convinced that having a hand-drawn film means an automatic decrease in aesthetic quality, think again.  The visuals are as stunningly beautiful and detailed as just about anything Pixar has come up with, and that’s saying something.

Kids, adults and everyone in between will, and should, enjoy this film.  It will undoubtedly take its place alongside Cinderella, Fantasia, The Lion King and all the other classics in the pantheon of outstanding Disney films.  It was, in a word, flawless.

5 / 5 stars

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