Movie Review: The Princess and the Frog (2010)

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Comedy, Romance
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Tiana (Anika Nona Rose) is a girl with a dream.  She wants to open a restaurant in her native New Orleans, because her dad died before he could live his dream.  She works two jobs tirelessly, and saves every penny to buy and renovate an old building.  Her best friend Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) acts like a princess and hopes to marry a real prince someday.   A real prince happens to be in town, his name is Prince Naveen of Maldovia,  (Bruno Campos) Naveen is a playboy, and he has no money, because his parents have cut him off from his inheritance.  No matter, Naveen is in town to have fun and his butler, Lawrence (Peter Batlett) is there to carry the bags.  Naveen gets a tarot card reading from Dr. Facillier aka the Shadow Man (Keith David) Naveen gets a lot more than a tarot card reading, Shadow Man turns Naveen into a frog and Lawrence into an imposter Prince.  Lawrence plans his revenge by plotting to marry Charlotte, and Naveen is on the run.

Naveen finds his way to Tiana’s balcony, and even though he’s a frog and she hates frogs, she kisses him.  But instead of turning him back into a prince, Tiana gets turned into a frog too.  The escape the large ball thrown in Naveen’s honor, and head for the bayou marshlands.  There they meet a horn playing gator named Louis (Michael Leon Wooley)  Louis dreams of turning human himself, and playing jazz with  a real band.  Louis is going to take Naveen and Tana to meet Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) a gentle soul, who also is a voodoo practitioner.  But guess what, Louis is taking them the wrong way, it isn’t until they meet up with a lovesick firefly named Ray (Jim Cummings) that Naveen and Tiana meet Mama Odie.  Does Mama Odie help the pair of frogs help them realize not only what they want, but what also what they need?

Honestly this movie starts off slowly, and I know why.  Because Tiana is the first African American princess, the writers try too hard to make her perfect in every way.  She works two jobs and saves every penny, never goes to a dance with her friends.  She doesn’t splurge on any expensive gifts for herself or her mother or indulge in music, even though she can sing.  Her friend Charlotte is funny, she gets he dad to buy her things or chases after men.  The “playboy” prince does nothing more harmful than play with a Dixie band.  I understand this is a G rated movie, and the writers can’t show the Prince drinking or carousing with women, but come on, these characters start out dull.  It is only after Louis the Gator and Ray the firefly are introduced that this movie loosens up and has fun.  It is also Ray that gives the movie its heart, he is unquestionably the most romantic character in the movie, and adds some well needed pathos to the film.  It is undoubtedly the secondary characters that lift this movie above ordinary fare.  I also liked that the Prince and Tiana built a real relationship after they got to the swamp and really got to know each other, it wasn’t love at first sight, and that was refreshing.  There are elements of all the Disney classics here, Cinderella. Snow White, The Little Mermaid and it really starts to work in the second half of the movie.  Well worth a look.

The Princess and the Frog.  Warts and all, a nice fairy tale.

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