This week, we take a look at one of the newest in Disney animated magic, The Princess and The Frog.
One of those unsung facts of life is that everyone has a secret. Something they want to keep hidden from the world.
Sometimes these secrets can be damaging, terrible things. Other times, these secrets can be guilty pleasures, something you enjoy but don’t talk about because it embarrasses you in some way.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I too have a guilty pleasure. One I satisfied so fully this week that I felt I needed to put my man card on the line to step out of the shadows and share it with you.
I love Disney movies.
Now, I’m not talking about some crummy pile of Tim Allen live action pig slop, but the animated movies from when I was growing up. Oh man, those were awesome. “Pinocchio,” “Alladin,” “The Lion King,” even more recent ones like “Mulan,” all outstanding symphonies of artistry, storytelling and musical achievement.
I was actually upset when I saw Disney move away from traditional hand-drawn animation and more into computer animation which, while good on its own merits, didn’t evoke the same sense of fantasy and wonder the old cartoon flicks gave me as a child.
So imagine my glee when I found that old animation legacy was still alive and kicking.
The Princess and The Frog
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Starring: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, John Goodman
A jazz-infused reimagining of the classic Brother’s Grimm fairy tale “The Frog Prince,” “Princess and the Frog” is set in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century, during the birth of jazz. Hard-working Tiana (Rose) is striving to open her own restaurant, believing that all you need to be happy in life is hard work.
Also in New Orleans is the carefree playboy Prince Naveen (Campos), a person for whom “hard work” is as alien a concept as Greedo shooting first. Cut off from the family riches for his lack of work ethic, Naveen is looking to marry rich so he can continue his lifestyle while sating his lust for jazz.
The two are swept up together in a plot by the insidious voodoo witch doctor Dr. Facilier (David), who is using Naveen to obtain the wealth of the benevolent Big Daddy La Bouff (Goodman).
I already spoke of Disney’s rich animation history, and the duo of Clements and Musker do not disappoint in bringing that style and look that can only come from ink on celluloid, even with modern computer help.
The voice performances were inspired all around, with transitions and interactions between characters as natural as if they were real people talking to each other in the room. Support performances from such stars as Oprah Winfrey, Emeril Lagasse and Kevin Michael Richardson all add to the superb voice work.
If I did have one complaint, it would be the musical soundtrack. While the songs were all catchy and entertaining, as Disney music should be, they felt somewhat shoehorned in. It was like someone decided the movie should be a musical about two-thirds of the way through production.
Anyone with fond memories of watching Disney animated movies as a child would be doing a disservice by not sitting down and watching this with their own kids. Even if you don’t have kids, still take the time to watch this engaging work. No matter your age, gender or background, everyone loves a good Disney flick.