THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
A Modern Twist on an Old Fairy Tale
Release Date: November 25, 2009
Audience: Older children and adults
Runtime: 95 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Company
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO
The Walt Disney Company
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax Films, and Buena Vista Distribution)
Rich Ross, Chairman
Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
Set in New Orleans, this traditionally animated musical comedy opens with Tiana, a beautiful girl with her heart set on becoming a chef someday and running her own restaurant with her father. Sadly, her father passes away. As Tiana grows up, she is forced to pursue her dreams by working hard, morning until night, on her own.
Enter Prince Naveen, a charming, gregarious, and irresponsible playboy whose parents have cut him off from their money due to his gallivanting ways. Naveen is always looking for the easy way out of a situation as a means of avoiding doing any actual work.
Prince Naveen’s desire to have riches again to finance his lavish lifestyle makes him the perfect target for Doctor Facilier, a horribly greedy voodoo witchdoctor bent on using whatever means necessary to get what he wants. Enticed by the witchdoctor’s visions of his future, Naveen strikes a deal with him, only realizing too late that he has been tricked, and being transformed into a frog.
Remembering the old fairytale that his parents used to read to him as a child, Naveen knows that he must kiss a princess in order to become human again. When he meets Tiana through a series of happenstances, believing her to be a princess, he persuades her to kiss him, only to inadvertently turn her into a frog as well.
This unfortunate turn of events forces the two of them to take a trip down the Louisiana bayou in search of Mama Odie, a “good” voodoo practicing, fairy godmother of sorts who can help turn them back into humans. Along their journey, they make two friends, a trumpet-playing, jazz-loving alligator named Louis, and a lovesick, Cajun firefly named Ray who always looks on the “bright” side of the situation and is irrevocably in love with a star in the sky whom he calls Evangeline, a name that means “good news” in Greek.
On their quest to become human again, without spilling too many details, Tiana and Naveen soon fall in love and come to realize that what they thought they wanted out of life was never really what they needed. Tiana learns she has been missing out on love all the time she has been focused on working hard to achieve her dreams. Naveen discovers that work has worthwhile results and is even more rewarding when it’s done for someone you love.
In regards to its production elements, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG succeeds in its attempt to use traditional animation. Though some aspects of the story are unique, a lot of the comedy gags and some scene sequences seem borrowed from past Disney movies. Also, the plot seems rushed in the end, as if the filmmakers are trying to fit in too many details to make the story come together.
The movie has intentionally been set in New Orleans where there is a strong voodoo influence. This causes a few problematic elements.
For example, the bad guy, Doctor Facilier, is a voodoo witchdoctor who communicates with the dead (possibly the devil), conjures up demonic, shadow figures, and tries to tempt the main characters into making a deal with him by showing them the futures that they desire. He also engages in spells and occult practices such as tarot cards, charms, potions, and a talisman. His character also seems very frightening for children. Although Doctor Facilier gets his comeuppance in the end, he does succeed in getting Prince Naveen to strike a deal with him, but the consequences of Naveen’s decision result in him being turned into a frog. Thus, Naveen comes to regret his actions.
One of the problematic elements out of this is that when Prince Naveen and Tiana are seeking help to be turned back into humans, they turn to a “good” voodoo practitioner/fairy godmother of sorts, Mama Odie, to help them. It is unclear what her exact occupation is, but it seems that what she does counteracts the voodoo witchdoctor’s power. For example, when the main characters are attacked by the demon shadows, the light-force she fires at them seems to kill them. The magic aspect to her character is also seen when she shows Naveen and Tiana a vision in her gumbo-filled bathtub on how they can be turned back in to humans.
Aside from these problematic elements, there are many good, moral themes that viewers can take away from the movie. For instance, the movie teaches viewers that there is no easy way to achieve your dreams. It also teaches that hard work and sacrifice are worth it in the end. In addition, the main characters grow to love each other to the point of being willing to make personal sacrifices. Furthermore, a secondary character gives up his life for his friends.
Also, the theme of marriage is extolled in the end. One insect character is in love with a star whom he calls Evangeline, which means “good news” in Greek and could be a reference to Christ and heaven, especially considering that this character is the most loving and optimistic of them all. Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on the dangers of greed and riches and that no amount of money can make a person happy.
Overall, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG due to its voodoo material, animated action violence, and brief alcohol use.
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is entertaining and often funny. The traditional animation is excellent, but parts seem borrowed from past Disney movies. Also, the movie is deliberately set in New Orleans with references to voodoo. The scary villain practices voodoo, but the heroes also turn to a “good” voodoo practitioner/fairy godmother of sorts. Aside from these problems, the movie has many moral messages. It extols hard work, sacrifice, love, and marriage, and warns about the dangers of greed. The movie’s scary voodoo elements require caution.