Starring: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Running Time: 97 mins
The Princess And The Frog is an American film about a young woman in New Orleans with dreams of setting up her own restaurant whose life is turned upside down when she kisses a frog, turning her into one as well and forcing her to go on a journey to be turned back to normal.
As what seems to be the last ever traditionally-animated Disney film, The Princess And The Frog is an important changing of the guard, representing the modern Disney taking over from the traditional formula that has been so beloved for decades. With that said, the film itself doesn’t really live up to its potential, getting a little too mixed up in combining classic and modern fairytale tropes, all the while failing to provide a genuinely engaging adventure story, even though it does impress with its fairly unique atmosphere throughout.
Let’s start on the bright side, with the fact that The Princess And The Frog goes to some interesting places that we’ve never really seen from Disney before. Above all, its opening act is most impressive with its historical setting, in early 20th Century New Orleans, and the fact that it manages to carry out the normal Disney opening act (young girl has ambitions and dreams, meanwhile a parent dies) in a far more convincing and realistic way.
Of course, you shouldn’t be turning to a Disney Princess movie for realism, but I was intrigued to see the fact that the film was handling topics such as race relations in America at the turn of the century, as well as bringing a unique vibe to the film with jazz music and typical New Orleans fare throughout.
As a result, the soundtrack is heavily dominated with jazz-style songs, completely different from the majority of Disney’s classic hits, whilst we get one excellent animated sequence that takes on a brilliant Art Deco graphic style, bringing even more flair to the film’s opening act.
Unfortunately, that’s where the positives begin to end, and the film’s following story, centring around the two frogs trying to becomes humans again, just isn’t as engaging or even entertaining. Although it reverses the stereotype of the classic fairytale, the story for the majority of the film is fairly plain, consisting of the two characters wading their way through the Louisiana swamps to find a witch that can allegedly bring them back.
Throughout, the film tries to inject some heartwarming messages about accepting who you are, as well as the idea that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, no matter what your background is, however none of them really come off in that properly magical Disney style, and that’s where the film really struggles to justify itself as a traditional-styled Disney movie instead of a fully modern one.
Yes, the traditional animation is absolutely beautiful, and is far more fitting of the film’s premise, but you can tell that its heart and head is now firmly in the 21st Century, and there’s something that just doesn’t feel right about a more modern film being styled in such a way, and that’s why I’m giving The Princess And The Frog a 7.0.