Review: The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog | Ron Clements & John Musker, 2009

Unless you are a person who didn’t have a childhood, a heartless bastard, or one of those ignorant fools that think that animation is only for kids, you must have a soft spot for Disney animated movies. For me, no other animated movies grabbed my imagination as a child as much as Disney (with the exception of The Land Before Time). However, it was not hard to miss that as the years passed, the quality of their movies took a dive, and they hit rock bottom with Home on the Range and Treasure Planet. Since then I had hoped that there would be yet another Disney Animation Rainassance. The Pixar purchase was a huge step towards that direction, then Meet the Robinsons and Bolt showed that Disney still had what it took to tell a good story, but they still didn’t have the magic that the hand-drawn movies had. Because of this all eyes were on The Princess and the Frog, and it managed to meet my crazy high expectations.

The Princess and the Frog is a twist on the “Frog Prince” story. We still have the prince that becomes a frog and must kiss a princess to turn into a human again, but this time, he doesn’t kiss a princess, he kisses Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a waitress that dreams of owning her own restaurant. Because she is not a princess, she turns into a frog, and now they must travel through the swamps of Louisiana to find someone that might help them turn back into humans, while at the same time running away from the evil Dr. Facilement (Keith David), who wants to use Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) to achieve his evil plans.

This movie has almost all the thing that Disney classics do: A love story about mismatched people falling in love, the loveable sidekicks, the heartfelt moments(the two stars shining together made me get teary-eyed), the great music, and, most important, beautiful animation (the scenes with Mama Odin took my breath away). The only thing that is missing, and one of the most important things in a Disney classic, is the great villain. Every classic villain has a simple reason behind what they do, but this reason is so selfish that you can’t help but loving them. The queen in Snow White just wanted to be the fairest of them all, Maleficent was just pissed that she didn’t get invited, Ursula just wants it all, Gaston just wants the girl, Scar is just tired of being  number two, and they are not afraid to kill anyone to get their way. In this movie, Dr. Facilement want power just for the sake of having power, and in reality he is not really the bad guy, it is “his friends from the other side.” I was with him until I saw that he had to get permission from them to use magic to find the prince. Why the fuck would the bad guy would have to ask for permission to do bad stuff. With that said, Keith David saves the character, and maybe with time I’ll grow fond of him. Plus, he has one of the greatest, and darkest, villain death scenes in animation ever.

That is my only complaint about the movie, and that doesn’t really diminish my love for this film. The lack of a strong villain is the only thing that is keeping this from becoming an instant classic. But it is still my favorite animated movie of the year. Nothing beats a hand-drawn animated movie with a great story and passion behind it. I hope more of these will come soon.


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