The movie opens with the evening star twinkling above New Orleans. A young Tiana and Charlotte La Bouff are listening to the story of The Frog Prince as told by Tiana’s mother. Charlotte is thrilled with the idea of finding a prince, while Tiana vows she will never need to. Instead she shares a dream with her father: to open a restaurant of their own.
Years pass and Tiana is now working as a waitress, skimping and saving, and seems to have let go of having fun in favor of her dream, as her father has now passed on. She finally makes the money and shows the plans for her restaurant to her mother, who insists that she needs to look at other parts of life and that even though her father never got what he wanted, he had what he needed: love.
Meanwhile, Prince Naveen arrives in the city with his butler Lawrence. The prince has been cut off by his parents for his play-boy lifestyle and either has to marry or get a job to support himself. He plans to wed Charlotte to gain her fortune. The two soon meet up with Dr. Facilier, who turns Naveen into a frog and gets Lawrence to join him in his plot to rule New Orleans.
At the La Bouff grand ball, Tiana learns that another client put down an offer on the building she wanted for her restaurant, and is now left with nothing unless she can top him by Wednesday. Having given up hope, she desperately wishes on a star, when frog Naveen appears. Thinking her a princess, he convinces her to kiss him, but the spell backfires and she becomes a frog as well.
The two are chased out as Lawrence uses a voodoo charm to impersonate the prince and win the heart of Charlotte. It requires Naveen’s blood however, so Facilier sends out his voodoo spirits to retrieve the prince, who has escaped to the bayou with Tiana. He plans to get Charlotte’s money, kill her father Big Daddy La Bouff, and take over New Orleans, feeding the souls of the citizens to his voodoo friends.
In the bayou, Tiana and Naveen encounter Louis, an alligator who wants to be a jazz musician, and Ray, a Cajun firefly who is in love with a star he has named Evangeline. They take them to see Mama Odie, the good voodoo priestess of the swamp. Along the way, Naveen falls in love with Tiana. They eventually reach Mama Odie, who insists they need to dig deeper to get what they want. Naveen realizes this means being with Tiana.
Mama Odie reveals that for the two to become human, Naveen must kiss Charlotte, who is the Mardi Gras Princess. Naveen plans on proposing to Tiana, but she shows more interest in her dream than in him and he thinks she doesn’t reciporate his feelings. He decides to marry Charlotte and give Tiana her money so Tiana can open her restaurant. However, he is kidnapped by the voodoo spirits, and as they search for him Ray reveals to Tiana that Naveen truly loves her.
Tiana rushes to the Mardi Gras parade to find Lawrence marrying Charlotte in the Naveen disguise, having re-fueled the voodoo charm. Broken hearted, she runs to the graveyard and tells Ray that Evangeline is just as star and he will never actually meet her. Ray rushes off and manages to free the real Prince Naveen and steal the charm, causing Lawrence to resume true form and become arrested. He gives it to Tiana just before Facilier crushes him.
Facilier offers Tiana her restaurant, as well as her human form back, but Tiana realizes that love and following your heart is more important than taking the easy way, like her mother had said. She shatters Facilier’s charm, releasing the voodoo spirits from within who proceed to drag a screaming Facilier into their world for failing them. Naveen offers Charlotte marriage, but Tiana confesses she’d rather have him as a frog than have her restaurant because she is in love with him. Charlotte offers to kiss him so he can marry Tiana, but it is too late. Mardi Gras is over and she is no longer a princess.
Louis finds Ray and rushes him to the pair. He gets to see them together and happy before he dies from his injuries. At Ray’s funeral, they look up and see that another star has appeared next to Evangeline.
Naveen and Tiana are married in the bayou by Mama Odie. Their kiss turns them back into humans because Tiana is now a princess married to royalty. The two go back home and get back the building by having Louis threaten the real estate agents. They work together and open Tiana’s restaurant, where Louis plays trumpet in his band. The movie ends with them kissing as the evening star, Evangeline, twinkles from above.
Remember the days when movies were hand drawn and in 2D? Well, if The Princess and th Frog is any indication, they may be coming back. I’ll admit, I’m a Disney freak, and have been looking forward to this film longer than just about any movie in my life, including both Transformers. After watching this afternoon, I can say with pride that it did not disappoint.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Tiana, is Disney’s first African-American princess. However, as you watch the movie, you don’t even notice, and why should you? Aside from the culture difference between her and her best friend, Charlotte, who appears to be the richest girl in New Orlans, you don’t even notice it. Such a shame that people are making such a big deal about the race of the newest princess, especially since they didn’t make a big deal about Ariel being the first redhead, or Mulan being the first Asian, or Aladdin being the first human male to get his own picture.
When you make a picture set in New Orleans, no matter what the genre, you must have jazz and food in it, and those are exactly two of the biggest driving forces in this picture, aside from the voodoo (another key New Orleans draw) and story. Set in the 1920s, the city sets the perfect backdrop for this story, and the animators and storyboarders captured the city to near perfection (it was a little clean for my taste, even for those days).
Tiana…what can I say about her. I’ve touched on her in previous entires, Defending the Disney Princesses and Who Should be a Princess, and now she has her time to shine.In the lexicon of Disney heroines, in years to come she will be remembered up there with the greatest. She works two jobs to scrimp and save in order to buy her own restaurant, something her father and she dreamed of. It is never said what happened to her father, but it appears he may have dies in WWI. Although this is her movie, she doesn’t hog the spotlight, just as her fellow princesses didn’t. I have to wonder when she was cast, if she sought out advice from the likes of Ariel, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, etc. Speaking of Belle, she bears a slight resemblance to her and the actress who gives her a voice, Anika Noni Rose. Anika’s vocals do this character justice, but it is her singing that really sets her apart. While not the strongest in the world, they are solid. For goodness sakes, Tiana isn’t an opera or Broadway star. Rose allegedly beat out the likes of Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Jennifer Hudson, for the role. I think she was a perfect choice.
Prince Naveen…this guy comes off as your typical cocky prince when we first meet him. He’s carefree, but when you have no money and have been cut off, you have to find some way to get that out of your head, right. Naveen falls prey to the Shadow man,and spends the majority of the film trying to decide what it is he wants, true happiness or love…not to mention the constant berating be Tiana he endures. I’m not exactly sure where this country he’s from, is, but his accent leads me to belive it’s somewhere near France or Spain, but I can’t pinpoint it. In terms of looks, he reminds me of Eric from The Little Mermaid, only with more, for lack of a better term, ethnic features.
Dr. Facilier…another in a great line of tremendous Disney villains, which include Jafar, the Wicked Queen, Ursala, Scar, the Horned King, Cruella de Ville, and Maleficent. When you talk about giving this guy a voice, no one is better than Keith David. This guy’s rumbling baritone vocals really resonated with the character and were downright creepy at times. I didn’t quite understand what is deal was with this “friends from the other side”, but that’s just one of those mysteries that may have been uncovered in the book, or is best left unknown. What I do know is that this guy’s song steals the show. It is such a shame he isn’t more in the film. Also, I do believe he is the first villain to no have some sort of sidekick. Even Maleficent and the Wicked Queen had crows. All he has is his shadow.
Mama Odie…I guess you can say she is the equivalent to the fairy godmother in the picture. Like Facilier, her song steals the show, and she also uses voodoo, but at least she doesn’t owe a debt to mysterious voodoo masks. This blind woman uses a pet snake as a walking stick, and like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, is a bit…shall we say…out there. It works for her, though, and makes for quite the enjoyable character.
Ray and Louis are the token sidekicks. Ray being a firefly they meet in the bayou (that’s a swamp for you non southern/Louisiana readers), and Louis is an alligator who years to play his trumpet for people. I don’t think I need to tell you who Louis is named after, do I? Both characters are there to add comic relief, but Ray, I have to say, does a better job. I warn you now, there is a moment of sadness near the end, involving one of these characters.
Charlotte, Tiana’s best friend, is a spoiled rich girl, who you just know she would want to keep the prince all to herself, but in a break from the norm, she actually is as nice (and airheaded) as can be. Bi Daddy LeBeouf and Tiana’s parents are some of the most caring people I’ve ever seen on film.
This film isn’t all rave review from me. The drawing seemed a bit off, as if they had either gotten artists straight out of high school or were rusty. I’ll chalk it up to the latter, since Disney has been obsessed with computer animation since Home on the Range. The beginning of the picture, where we meet Tiana seems to drag on. I mean we get the pciture…thisi s Tiana and Charlotte and New Orleans, blah, blah, blah, get on with it. Also, when Tiana first becomes a frog and she and Naveen are escaping the party, Charlotte’s dog apparently speaks to her, giving the audience the impression that the animals can hear her, but this is never touched on or talked about again. I’d say that this is how they hear Louis and RAy, except that the humans Louis plays with on the steamboat (they think he’s in a Mardi Gras costume) can hear him just fine. I guess that’s one of those mysteries like who all can hear Stewie from Family Guy.
I am so glad Disney decided to not only go back to 2D, but bring back the musicals. If they were smart, they go back and look at their most successful animated pictures (not counting the Pixar films), these would be the ones that are musicals, yet for some reason they abandoned the concept and eventually gave up on hand drawn animation. Often times musicals will leave you with songs that are just ho-hum and you won’t remember then 5 minutes after they’re done, let alone be singing them after the film is over, but this one had my toe tapping all the way through. Trust me, I will be adding this music to my collection. Randy Newman did an excellent job, and Ne-Yo’s song during the end credits just was the cherry on top.
As I was sitting in the theater, I was surprised at how excited everyone was to see this. Aside from your typical summer blockbuster, I have to say I have not seen a theater so packed. It was almost standing room only, and I went during the day!
Oh, one more thing, Tiana’s dream sequence…the animators captures that 20s style of art. It reminded me of the “RHapsody in Blue” segment from Fantasia 2000, and was just as good!
Disney has recaptured the magic with this one. No, it’s not as good as some others, but it is a major step in the right direction. Tiana hopefully won’t get mired down in controversy, as is sure to come her way from people who just want to be haters. This is a beautiful picture, and most importantly, is didn’t const $2.50 extra for what accounts to renting a pair of sunglasses to watch! I love this movie and even if I wasn’t a collector of Disney animated pictures, it still would be going in the collection. Let the countdown begin for the DVD! In the meantime, you should go see it, preferably more than once. Yes, it is that good!
5 out of 5 stars