The Princess And The Frog | Retro Review
Disney used the final 2D animated film in their canon to introduce the first Black Disney princess in “The Princess and the Frog.” It takes the fairytale of “The Frog Prince” and flips it on its head. Tiana is a waitress in New Orleans who dreams of owning her own restaurant. Naveen is a carefree prince who has been turned into a frog and now needs a princess to kiss him. When Tiana kisses him, it turns her into a frog because she’s not a princess. They grow and learn and eventually get married as frogs, leading to them kissing at their wedding and becoming human again.
It’s a nice way to pay tribute to the type of story that launched Disney while transitioning out of the traditional form of animation. The Disney company became the empire it is today by taking classic fairytales and giving them a little Disney magic. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Cinderella,” and “Sleeping Beauty” are all shining examples of that form of storytelling. After Walt Disney died, the company kind of got away from the fairytales. They still tried to infuse Disney magic into previous stories, but most of them were not fairytales. And, with the animation shift of the 2000s, 2D animation was on its way out the door. Still, Disney found a way to make a 2d animated film based on a fairytale work in 2009.
One of the best aspects of this film is the friendship between Tiana and Charlotte. Charlotte’s father was named King of Mardi Gras, so she is a princess who thinks she’s going to marry Prince Naveen. But, as soon as she learns the real Prince Naveen is a frog who is in love with Tiana, she immediately moves out of the way. She still offers to give him the kiss that is supposed to turn Naveen and Tiana both human again, with no strings attached. She just wants her friend to be happy. That’s special. Charlotte is a ride-or-die friend for Tiana, and we all need one of those.
We can’t look at “The Princess and the Frog” without discussing the elephant in the room. The Walt Disney Company has had issues with proper representation of minorities. But, with this film, they did a solid job of trying to present something for little Black girls to look up to. They have a princess of their own. And they do it, in the film, without hitting you over the head with it. Her race isn’t important to the story, she’s just a waitress who becomes a princess. Unfortunately, I remember the marketing from this timeframe and that was very much “in your face.” Disney overcompensated in marketing and that may have led to some backlash against the film. But they did an excellent job with the film itself.
This is considered the first film of the Disney Revival and it’s a worthy entry. The music is spectacular. I’ve been to New Orleans, and it felt very much like the music you still hear in the city to this day. The story is a bit simple at times but is still excellently told. Keith David shines as the charming, yet evil Dr Facilier. We see Tiana and Naveen truly grow to love each other. For my money, it’s not only a better Princess film, but a better film, in general, than “Frozen.” This was a lot of fun.
Rating: 4.5 stars
What did you think of “The Princess and the Frog?”