Week 49: The Princess and the Frog

You Gotta Dig a Little Deeper, Disney

princess and the frog

Originally Released: 2009

Watching The Princess and the Frog again during this project was a very interesting experience for me. I had the fondest of memories of this film from when it first came out in 2009. Back then, the hype for Disney’s triumphant return to 2D hand-drawn animation was in full swing, and as a result, watching the film was an obvious opening-night event for me.

My thoughts back then can be approximated as follows:

-2D animation!

-The return of musical numbers!

-It’s a princess! Those are always good movies!

-2D animation!

-Based on a Grimm’s fairy tale!

-Ron Clements and John Musker!

-The return of 2D animation!!!

Tiana waitress

“One Breakfast Special with some special Disney Kool-Aid and a shot of Tabasco sauce, coming your way!”

Yes, Disney had brewed some powerful Kool-Aid, and I was lapping it up gleefully. This could have been a movie the quality of the second Transformers film, and I wouldn’t have cared one bit. I was excited, and I was going to enjoy it. And that’s exactly what happened. I left that theater thoroughly satisfied with the experience.

But life goes on, and I didn’t watch The Princess and the Frog again ever since opening night in December 2009. And time has a funny way of changing perceptions when it comes to film. My viewing during the project let me examine the film in more of an unbiased way and see the movie for what it is. No, this isn’t “The Best Disney Movie Since The Lion King” as is plastered on the front of my blu-ray copy. If the filmmakers just had “dug a little deeper”, they might have had a true masterpiece on their hands. Or maybe you could say The Princess and the Frog is “Almost There.” But at any rate, while it’s not the masterpiece it was hyped to be, it is still pretty good overall.

A couple of of positive thoughts I had during my second viewing of the film did mirror my reaction in 2009. I love the little references to Disney magic of times past, such as the following two gems:

homage to a great scene

I absolutely love this reference! Its so perfect!

jiminy cricket he is not

“They’re fireflies…fireflies that, uh, got stuck up in that big blue-ish black thing.”

Another nice nod to the Disney past is at the masquerade ball where people are in costume as Ariel, Aladdin and Jasmine (kinda), and others.

One other thing I appreciate still is…the 2D animation! And why not? The Princess and the Frog has a sharp look to it and is visually quite impressive.

However, a couple of things did bother me a bit this second time around. The pacing is a little iffy, and I found myself feeling a bored from time to time. Not all the characters were that entertaining, and some of the situations they got involved in felt like tired, overused scenarios.

the prince

Maldova is code for Brazil, maybe? Maybe not, but that’s where actor Bruno Campos, who voiced the fun-loving Prince, is from. There’s some Disney trivia 101 that I didn’t know before.

The music by Randy Newman (sadly, I’ll never look at him the same ever since I saw that “Family Guy” clip…) was often toe-tappingly fun, but was just as often very forgettable.

One thing I entirely overlooked my first viewing, but that really stuck out this second time around is the fact that Disney opted for a Satanic voodoo villain, complete with devilish minions. That’s some seriously dark stuff, and how they approved it for a film geared towards small kids is beyond me.

And what’s with the portrayal of Cajuns in this film? Are we not past the age of ugly stereotypes? I can’t help but wonder why it is that, much like a 30-year-old white male is the only unprotected class left in the workplace, the Cajun population seems to be one of the few groups that is fair game for blatant mocking in today’s culture. It is stereotyping at its worst right here. Kudos to Disney for the strong portrayal of one under-appreciated group of people (Tiana is a hard-working great example for anybody). Shame on Disney for knocking another group in the process, though.

why are cajuns fair game still?

The thing I love about Disney animation is that just about every movie is going to be enjoyable, and depending on who you ask, it may even be his or her favorite. The Princess and the Frog is good enough that it may just be some people’s favorite film. After watching it with a fresh set of eyes, I would say that while I still like it, I have to sing “I’m gonna take ya down, gonna take ya down, I’m gonna take ya down” a few spots on my Disney rankings. But at least it shows Disney still has what it takes to tackle 2D animation.

family. isnt it about time

too evil


happily ever after


8 thoughts on “Week 49: The Princess and the Frog

  1. […] What a breath of fresh air Meet the Robinsons must have been to those Disney loyalists who actually watched it at the time of its release in 2007. I think by this time, the general idea is that most people had pretty much left Disney animation for dead and had moved on to the bigger and better things coming from Pixar, Dreamworks, and others. Such was certainly the case for me. While I never missed a Pixar film opening weekend, I had skipped the Disney releases from 2004 all the way up to 2009 when The Princess and the Frog hyped me up with a promise of the return to tradition (and how did that go? Click right here!). […]

  2. This movie has problems for me, but there’s one reason why I would watch it over and over again: the gorgeous 2D animation! Up until this film was released, I never made up my mind on whether I preferred 2D or CGI animation. Once I saw this movie, I knew 2D animation was the winner!

    And I don’t feel it’s portraying the Cajuns per se as so much it portrays “hillbilly”-type people. And even so, I don’t feel anything was shown to portray them in a quite negative light, i.e. in a light where people would be offended. I feel everyone loved the Cajun fireflies and thought they were awesome.

    • John says:

      Maybe what bothers me is that it treats cajuns as nothing but “hillbilly” type fools with limited intelligence. Maybe it was my stint in the south that makes me a bit more defensive, but I thought they could have done a better job on that front.

      Maybe until Hollywood portray a southerner or Cajun as a brilliant engineer (of which there are many down there), I won’t be satisfied. Maybe they already have, but I don’t know about it. Who knows. That’s just what I thought as I watched the movie, though.

  3. smilingldsgirl says:

    Fun review! I agree it is a mixed bag. I love the look of it and some of the characters like Charlotte and Tiana is one of my favorite princesses. I love that her dream involves goal setting and hard work not a man.
    However, the film feels a little convoluted and cluttered to me. And I felt like it was shouting at me a lot. I also didn’t like the villain and other focus on the occult the film has. As a Christian I would have issues introducing those things to my children. I know why they did it with it being a part of New Orleans culture but still makes me a little uncomfortable.
    But what I like, I like a lot!

    • John says:

      Thanks for reading! Yeah, the music is very bombastic overall. Pretty much the only quiet tune is the ‘Evangeline’ tune.

      And yep, I hear ya about the voodoo nonsense. It’s quite uncomfortable to me, as well.

  4. smilingldsgirl says:

    I also am not a big fan of Naveen. I don’t feel like he is worthy of Tiana.

    • John says:

      Good point, haha. I guess that’s the beauty of these animated films. Flip a light switch, throw in a little montage, and POW! Brand new person! The ending clip showed Naveen really helping out with the restaurant and being a much better person. We just don’t see that change much at all throughout the movie, until the very end. And even then, you have to really be paying attention.

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