"A Modern Twist on an Old Fairy Tale"
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is a fairly entertaining, and, at times, funny modern day twist on an old fairytale story about a prince who gets himself turned into a frog. As the frog, the prince unknowingly kisses an ordinary, working girl, believing her to be a princess, but this inadvertently turns her into a frog as well.
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.
(Pa, H, OO, BB, C, V, A, M) Light pagan, mixed worldview with light humanist element where characters believe in working hard and relying only on themselves to achieve their dreams, along with strong occult elements where voodoo witchdoctor communicates with the dead (possibly the devil), conjures up scary, demon shadowy figures (who seem to be able to be killed by light, which could have biblical connotations), tries to tempt main characters into making a deal with him by showing them the futures that they desire, and also engages in spells and occult practices such as tarot cards, charms, potions, a talisman, etc., also, one main character makes a deal with the voodoo witchdoctor because he wants to achieve his goals the “easy” way but there are consequences to his actions, and, instead of turning to God for help, the main characters wish on a star and ask for help from Mama Odie (a “good” voodoo practitioner/fairy godmother of sorts, but does not use it for personal gain) who fights off the demons with her light and shows the main characters in a vision in her gumbo-filled bathtub how they can turn themselves back into humans, plus some strong moral, light redemptive elements include the message there is no easy way to achieve your dreams and that hard work and sacrifice are worth it in the end, characters love each other to the point of being willing to make personal sacrifices, one character gives up his life for his friends, character sings song about how “there’s been trials and tribulations, but we’ve climbed mountains,” marriage is extolled in the end, one character is in love with a star whom he calls Evangeline (which means “good news”) and this character is the most loving and optimistic of the them all, and there is an emphasis concerning the dangers of greed and riches and that no amount of money can make a person happy; no foul language; some animated, comic violence includes frog gets squashed by a book two times, human characters accidentally hit each other with sticks in an effort to squash the frogs, frogs get chased by hungry crocodiles, firefly gets stepped on by bad character, voodoo witchdoctor takes blood from main character, gunshots are fired but nobody is injured, firefly gets spewed out of man’s nose and is covered in snot, crocodile character gets himself stuck with a bunch of briars on his lower backside, characters are chased and apprehended by scary, demon-looking shadows; no sex scenes but frogs get tangled up together with their long tongues, firefly character makes some light humorous comments about his lower backside, character kisses her snake, and main characters share kiss at the end of the movie; no nudity but animated women characters wear dresses with revealing cleavage; characters drink wine at a masquerade ball; no smoking or drug use; and, characters initially lie to each other to get what they want but this is resolved, white female character is presented as being a bit of a flighty and spoiled girl, prince character starts out as a selfish playboy cut off from his parents’ fortune for leeching off of them and is always looking for the easy way out so he won’t have to do any real work and his philosophy of life is that we are on this earth to have some fun but this changes in the end, bad character is very greedy for money and tries to tempt other characters so he can get what he wants, voodoo character says that “real power isn’t magic, it’s money,” characters get their futures told to them by voodoo witchdoctor and strike a deal with him but there are bad consequences to their decision, character makes the statement that “what you give is what you get,” and Mama Odie points out that what a person wants is different than what they need and that riches don’t make a person happy because it has no soul or heart, and a firefly turns into a star when he dies.
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG is a modern day twist on an old fairytale story. A villainous voodoo witchdoctor tricks a prince named Naveen and changes him into a frog. The prince kisses a working girl, Tiana, believing her to be a princess, but inadvertently turns her into a frog too. This sets them on a journey through the Louisiana bayou. On their quest to become human again, Tiana and Naveen fall in love. Aided by their new friends, a jazz-loving alligator and a lovesick firefly, they find themselves battling the evil witchdoctor, who will stop at nothing to satisfy his greed.
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.