Reviews, Reports + Comments

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review of film: “PRINCESS AND THE FROG”

2009, 12-05:

Review of film:  PRINCESS AND THE FROG 


Ron Clements
John Musker.


   Original story by =
Ron Clements
Greg Erb
John Musker
Jason Oremland.

Screenplay by

Ron Clements

Rob Edwards
John Musker.


Anika Noni Rose
Bruno Campos
Keith David
Michael-Leon Wooley
Jennifer Cody
Jim Cummings
Peter Bartlett
Jenifer Lewis
Oprah Winfrey
Terrence Howard
John Goodman
Elizabeth M. Dampier
Breanna Brooks.

MPAA Rating: 



" A bug's got to do what a bug's got to do! "

" A schemer, a conjurer and a sorcerer or sorts. ”
“ I love you, Evangeline! ” 
“ No more Mr. Pushover! ”
“ Keep your slimy self AWAY from me! ” 
“ Goin’ down the Bayou. ”


9 of 10 stars (per an advance screening of the 97–minute film scheduled for general release 12-11-09, tho it previously opened in NYC & L.A.).

                          You WON’T Rue that there’s VOODOO To Do!

On Friday December 4th, ABC TV (owned by DISNEY) had a special about the making of the soon-to-be released Disney film mentioned above.  It was actually quite WELL-done, having “recollection” interviews with people involved in previous animated films they’d made (such as Elton John & Whoopi Goldberg of “LION KING”), etc.

  Regarding this new movie, they spoke of how a number of songs were being done by RANDY NEWMAN, who’d contributed to a bunch of previous Disney films such as the “TOY STORY” computer-drawn series done by their Pixar division…

  One of the fascinating tidbits mentioned was, the new “Princess” film [inspired by the old Grimm fairy tale] is Disney’s first totally HAND-DRAWN (2-D) animated film since 2004’s “HOME ON THE RANGE” (& the 49th in their Animated Classics series);  they have announced they want a new film done that way every two years...

  The story in this new film is set in New Orleans during the “Jazz Age” around the 1920’s, & (as a “sign of the times”) highlights a mostly “COLORED” cast:  Eudora (voiced by OPRAH WINFREY) is a nanny for a rich girl named Charlotte La Bouff (BREANNA BROOKS as a child, & then JENNIFER CODY as the older version) & her dad Eli “Big Daddy” (JOHN GOODMAN)…

  To play with Charlotte, she brings her daughter Tiana (ELIZABETH DAMPIER as a child, & then ANIKA NONI ROSE as the older version), and the girls remain friends thruout their lives…

  Tiana grows up in a loving family, including her Mom (who teaches her how to cook) & her dad James (TERRENCE HOWARD) who’s always supportive of Tiana’s goal to someday open her OWN restaurant… 

  Tiana and Charlotte both fall in love with a visitor to town, Prince Naveen of Maldonia (voiced by BRUNO CAMPOS) --  but he chances to meet up with a VOODOO man Doctor Facilier (KEITH DAVID), who turns him into a FROG to try to get his wealth (with the help of the prince’s valet Lawrence, voiced by PETER BARTLETT)…

  Operating on typically-bad “commonplace” advice, Tiana at one point KISSES frog Naveen, hoping to turn him back into a Prince— but instead, that turns HER into a frog… 

  They venture together thru a swamp to try to seek help at turning back into humans.  Along the way, they meet a helpful Cajun firefly named Ray (JIM CUMMINGS)...

...  and they meet a friendly alligator named Louis (MICHAEL-LEON WOOLEY) who loves to play the trumpet…

  Ray encourages the group to seek out the “Fairy Godmother” of this story, in the form of blind Voodoo priestess Mama Odie (JENIFER LEWIS), who’s a spry 179+ years old & happily sings & cavorts around with her pet snake Ju-Ju as she strives to help the involuntary amphibians…

  The movie is suffused with a fine series of MUSICAL numbers [released as a soundtrack in late  November], in jazz, zydeco and other styles.  You can watch the characters happily bopping around to these: 

  “Down In New Orleans” (by Dr. John & later by Anika Noni Rose), “Almost There” (by Anika), “Friends On the Other Side” (Keith David), the hopeful “When We’re Human” (Michael-Leon Wooley, Bruno Campos and Anika), “Gonna Take You There” & "Ma Belle Evangeline" (by Jim Cummings), and "Dig a Little Deeper" (by Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie).  The movie closes with "Never Knew I Needed" by Ne-Yo and Cassandra Steen…

  Will the frog-ified people (& others) become HUMAN as they hope?…  Will there ever be a restaurant called “Tiana’s Place”?…  I don’t think I’m “giving way” too much by saying, it’s apropos that the movie has a line about “dreams do come true in New Orleans”…

  The film has a bunch of typically FINE Disney characterizations, with Tiana (ANIKA) confident & optimistic, Voodoo-man Dr. Facilier (KEITH DAVID) as suitably slimy and evil, and the animal roles encouraging and lovable… 

  The audience (mostly young kids) applauded happily and enthusiastically at the end, and the adults (especially from comments made to me) clearly had special appreciation for the unexpectedly-good MUSICAL numbers .  As one guy commented to me, it’s almost certain to quickly be considered a CLASSIC

( An aside:  the drawn character of blind Mama Odie [see below] very much reminded me of the look of actress IRMA P HALL in her award-winning 1996 role as the blind Aunt T with Robert Duvall & James Earl Jones in A FAMILY THING  [as in the photo below]!… ) 

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