Nothing can beat the magic of Disney! Regardless of age, gender or language the studio's films have a certain universal appeal that is incomparable to any other cinematic experience. As Hollywood has grown and developed over the decades, Disney films have followed suit, adapting to the latest trends, inspirations and ideas that arise in the land of the motion picture. The film is directed by the pair who helped re-ignite Disney animation during what is often referred to as it's Renaissance period; John Musker and Ron Clements, whose previous outings include The Little Mermaid, Hercules and Aladdin.
A Classic Twist
In addition to this executive pedigree, The Princess and the Frog also showcases the vocal talents of Anika Noni Rose (best known as one of the Dreamgirls), Bruno Campos, Terrance Howard and chat show host Oprah Winfrey. Having already grossed over $90 million in the US, The Princess and the Frog looks likely to repeat its success when it is released in the UK on the 5th February.
The Princess and the Frog is loosely based on the Brother's Grimm fairytale The Frog Prince, but with a twist, as the tale deviates from the traditional story. In the original fairytale the princess kisses a frog in order to turn him into her prince. In Disney's version we have our prince and we haveell, a waitress. The Disney heroine and the titular princess is in fact Tiana, a struggling waitress juggling multiple jobs in order to fulfil her father's dream of opening his own restaurant.
In a case of mistaken identity Tiana is accidentally turned into a frog when Prince Naveen (in frog form himself, having been cursed by shadow man, voodoo practitioner and all round bad guy Dr. Facilier) requests a kiss in order to be returned to his human state. As a result the bickering pair must join forces in their quest to find Mama Odie, the voodoo queen of the bayou (and alternative fairy godmother), who they believe to be their only hope in returning to humanity.
Back to the Old School
The latest venture from the folks at Disney marks a return to form for the studio, and is the first hand drawn film since 2004's Home on the Range. Drawing on inspiration from previous Disney successes, the animation is clearly reminiscent of Lady and the Tramp and Bambi (particularly in the scenes based at the bayou), which is especially exciting for those who have grown up watching these classics.
Like all traditional Disney films, The Princess and the Frog boasts a memorable score composed by Randy Newman (whose previous credits include Toy Story and Toy Story 2) which mixes a collection of genres, including gospel, ragtime, and most notably jazz, to help create the Deep South infused mood of the movie.
As with all typical Disney films this features several show-stopping song and dance numbers - with highlights including Tiana's wistful 'Almost There' and the incredibly energetic 'When We're Human' (sung by Tiana, Prince Naveen and their alligator sidekick), a song refreshingly evocative of The Jungle Book's 'Bare Necessities'.
'Down in New Orleans'
The Princess and the Frog is surprisingly the first animation to be set in the United States, with the action taking place in Jazz inspired 1920s New Orleans, a theme which dominates the film in a variety of ways. From Tiana's gumbo-making skills inspiring her father's dream to open his own restaurant, to the obligatory animal companions who come in the shape of Ray the firefly and Louis the alligator with the dream to play in his own Jazz band (an honourable mention for the late, great Louis Armstrong). There's even a name-drop for famous Jazz soloist Sidney Bechet in the aforementioned 'When We're Human', which demonstrates the filmmaker's intention to make clear reference to the movie's roots.
Although slightly frightening at times for the younger members of the audience, The Princess and the Frog really is the perfect family film and manages to combine fresh ideas with the nostalgic feel of traditional Disney. Only one word can describe the experience: Magical!
Preview by: Anna 'Evangeline' Wilczek
Preview Published: 27.01.10