Movie Review – The Princess and the Frog

My daughter and I went to see The Princess and the Frog (IMDB page) yesterday. She loved it, but I came away slightly more critical.

The plot is fairly complicated for a Disney Princess movie. Face it, they tend to be straightforward. Anyway, Tiana is a black waitress in New Orleans who dreams of converting an old warehouse to the restaurant that her deceased father always dreamed of opening. She grew up alongside a white rich girl named Charlotte, whose father was always commissioning dresses from Tiana’s seamstress mother. Now that they are grown, Charlotte has marriage on her mind and since Prince Naveen has just arrived into town, she knows just who the lucky man should be.

Except Prince Naveen has a few character flaws, which allows him to fall into the clutches of the evil witch doctor Doctor Facilier. Who turns Naveen into a frog to get him out of the way while he uses Naveen’s blood to disguise the prince’s not-so-trusty sidekick as the prince.

In the meantime, Charlotte hires Tiana to make pastries for her masquerade, where Charlotte intends to ensnare the Prince. The amount Charlotte pays, combined with Tiana’s savings, is enough for Tiana to put a down payment on her dream warehouse. However . . . well, there’s too many to mention.

The prelude of The Princess and the Frog is touching, gentle, and visually stunning. The problem is, the rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to its own opening scenes. It takes a long time before the movie reaches the point where the princess kisses the frog, and the action really doesn’t get going until that point. Unfortunately, once it does get to that point, it gets to be a bit much. There’s this long sequence where Tiana and Naveen are traveling through the swamp to get the help of Mama Odie, who practices her own magic. It was loud, frenetic, and that trumpet got to be downright annoying. My daughter and I were able to take a bathroom break without feeling like we missed anything. There’s a series of scenes where a group of hicks are after the frogs to have frog legs for dinner. Not only did it go on too long and was entirely too loud and annoying, but it was completely unnecessary to the plot. There were already birds trying to capture them, plus evil spirits sent by Doctor Facilier, so the hillbilly scene was just overdoing it.

I think all that time could have been better spent developing Prince Naveen’s character. He has a turnaround in his character, but does not ever really reach a low point that is usually necessary in order to make such a turnaround. In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast had a great low point, in which he was willing to let Belle go because he loved her. Naveen just (small spoiler!) decides he loves Tiana. And then he loses most of his selfishness.

I really wish they hadn’t made Mama Odie so ugly. I mean, yikes. What is with all the ugliness in animation? Old ladies can be attractive too, you know. I know she doesn’t look too ugly in this picture, but she was. On the other hand, some of the scenes in the swamp were as beautiful as the forest scenes in Sleeping Beauty.

Once they are out of the swamp, it’s a relief. The music calms down and the plot picks up. Facilier meets his end in Disney’s usual so-evil-he-does-himself-in way, Charlotte shows great kindness, and Naveen does the right thing. The ending is clever and touching.

I liked all the princess movies, and this one is no exception. However, I think Disney tried too hard to appeal to boys as well as girls. Here is how I’d rank all the movies:

  1. Beauty and the Beast
  2. Mulan
  3. Aladdin
  4. Pocahontas
  5. The Little Mermaid
  6. Cinderella
  7. The Princess and the Frog
  8. Sleeping Beauty
  9. Snow White

Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella all suffered from a lack of plot, which they filled in with cute animal scenes or cavorting fairies. The Princess and the Frog had rather too much plot. As you can see, I tend to like the more modern Princess movies the best, even ones like Pocahontas that didn’t earn great critical acclaim (although the kiss scene was slightly too wanton for a Princess movie).

I can safely recommend it as a worthy movie to add to your Disney collection. I liked it, and I’ll probably watch it again when it comes out on DVD, but I just didn’t love it.

14 Thoughts to “Movie Review – The Princess and the Frog”

  1. Thanks for the review! I’ve been wanting to take my daughter to see it, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    I’m pretty much in agreement with your ranking, though I’d reverse Pocahantas and The Little Mermaid. I love The Little Mermaid. And Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite Disney princess movie. And I loved Mulan as well.

    Something I’ve noticed which I find interesting is that even small children find the movies with a good balance of plot more appealing than ones without. I know that the writers put the cute animals and fairies and irrelevant scenes in because they think kids will enjoy them…but my daughter hardly ever asks to watch Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or Cinderella. Even at a young age, story is what hooks viewers.

  2. Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favorite movies — ever. And overall, I just like the fairy tale itself. I want to write my own version of it someday.

    I also really liked Mulan because she was such a smart, capable character. I’m kind of meh about the rest of the movies. They’re okay, but not nearly as good as BATB.

    Although it’s not a princess movie, I also really like the Disney animated version of Robin Hood.

    1. Ooh, Robin Hood! It’s one of my favorite Disney movies.

      1. Tia Nevitt

        Now I need to see it.

  3. Re: The Little Mermaid – I just found Ariel slightly vapid. Loved Eric, the prince, though. He’s one of the better Disney princes.

    I haven’t seen Robin Hood. I also liked Hercules and I’m not sure why Megara, the female love interest there, didn’t end up on the Princess roster. After all, she became a goddess. And what about Esmeralda from Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I haven’t seen)? She wasn’t any more a princess than Mulan was. Plus, it would have been nice to have a Rom princess. (Or was she presented as Rom in the movie?)

    Maybe how well they do at the box offices governs their eventual princess status.

    1. Well, yes. She was kind of vapid. I think part of the reason I love The Little Mermaid is because I was about my daughter’s age when it came out, so it’s kind of a nostalgia thing for me.

      I’ve only seen bits and pieces of Hercules, so I can’t really say why Megara never became a Disney Princess. Not sure about why Esmerelda never made the list. I enjoyed The Hunchback of Notre Dame for the most part, though it does cast a somewhat negative light on the Church, which bothered me even before I became Catholic. But it was a well-put together movie.

      At any rate, I never did understand why Mulan became a Disney Princess. I absolutely loved Mulan, but she wasn’t a princess. Yeah, Arial and Cinderella weren’t, either, but they married princes in the end and thus became princesses. I guess with Mulan, it was eluded to that she would marry the general’s son, which is sort of like the equivalent of a prince, but it’s a stretch.

      1. Tia Nevitt

        I rented it when it came out in VHS in the 80s. Yeah, I’m old as dirt. Well, almost. Anyway, I loved it then but it wears on me a bit now. I think Mulan became a princess because the movie was so successful. Kind of like Aladdin, which really wasn’t a princess movie at all. They had no choice but to include Jasmine in their princess lineup.

        And yes, Hunchback has an evil priest. In the book, it doesn’t make the whole church evil. History is rife with corrupt clergy of all faiths. I should rent the movie so I know what you are taking about.

        The scene in Mulan where she grabs the arrow sends chills down my back every time.

        1. I did read the book long, long ago, and I do remember that it didn’t reflect badly on the Church. And yes, you’re right; history is full of bad clergy. I don’t think that’s a fact we should ignore. I guess what bothered me about Disney’s Hunchback was that the only priest figure in the book is such a terrible person; it only shows the bad leadership in the Church, never the good.

          It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen that one. I’ll have to watch it again. I loved those talking gargoyles.

  4. Raven

    Sounds like they picked a cool setting. I might watch this just for that (probably on DVD). I’ve always liked this fairy tale anyway, so I’d been kind of debating whether to see the movie or not.

    Speaking as someone who saw Beauty & the Beast probably ten times with my lil sis way back when, I have to say it never got old. On every viewing we discovered something new.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      My daughter learned how to say No from Beauty and the Beast, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. It is a wonderful movie. Gaston is the best villain ever. I named my angelfish after him. He was beautiful but he treated his woman (another fish) badly and we had to take the poor thing back to the fish store. We kept Gaston because he was so gorgeous and he now has the 55 gallon tank to himself.

      Once, as a protest, I wrote Gaston and LaFou’s little interchange on my whiteboard at work:

      Gaston: LaFou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking.
      LaFou: A dangerous pastime.
      Gaston: I know.

      Now that I think about it, it’s a wonder I didn’t get fired.

      1. Raven

        LOL! Yes, it is! I’d completely forgotten about that exchange until you posted it, but that is a good one, and so relevant at work. 🙂

  5. Chicory

    I’m another one who would put `Little Mermaid’ higher on the list mostly because I love her relationship with her dad. I always thought the bit where he takes her place in Ursula’s garden is deeply allegorical, and the end makes me choke up.
    The father/daughter relationship is my favorite part of `Mulan,’ too. I think Disney movies are much stronger when they present actually COMPETENT parents who aren’t dead. Wish they’d do it more often.

    Thanks for the review on `Princess and the Frog,’ by the way. I’ve been seeing the adds around everywhere.


    I tried and couldn’t find your personal, writing blog. Did you delete it? If not, you should link it more prominently, methinks.

  7. Tia Nevitt

    No, I didn’t delete it. I’ll link to it; thanks for the suggestion. In the meantime, I’m still over at blogspot:

    Tia’s Writing Blog

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