Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker Cast: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Jennifer Cody, Keith David Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: G Due Out: March 16, 2010 BUY ON AMAZON: The Princess and The Frog
PLOT: A young woman in New Orleans works hard to attain her dream of owning a restaurant. Unfortunately, she gets sidetracked by a layabout Prince in the form of a frog. Soon they’re looking for a way to turn back human with a horn-playing gator and a lovelorn firefly.
WHO'S IT FOR? The whole family. No, I'm not a Disney salesman.
If I had to pick just one character as my favorite in this animated film, I'm going to cheat. I'm picking New Orleans. It's the perfect setting for this tale of hard work and potential love. This has "classic Disney" written all over it, and I expect this film to be remembered fondly over the years, even if it didn't make as much money at the box office as it's computer animated counterparts. Tiana is a role model for all kids. She puts in long hours to try and make her dreams come true. Her lessons come in the form of learning how to let go, and an alligator and firefly are the perfect ones to show her how. Yes, the handsome Prince helps too. It was surprising to realize there hadn't been an African American princess in the Disney family yet. But then you realize Tiana makes eight. She's a good fit, and so is this movie to the Disney legacy.
MOVIE SCORE: 8/10
Deleted Scenes: This is pretty raw. They call it scratch dialogue, so it's not the actors voicing these parts. The scenes are also in sketch form. It's impressive and a must watch for anyone wanting to be a future animator. All the cuts make sense. The Return to Hand Drawn Animation: The passion that these animators have is reason enough to make sure Disney continues hand-drawn 2D animation. This is short, but sweet. Music & More: This was a little misleading. It's the music video for "Never Know I Needed You" by Ne-Yo. Not a bad video, but with all the music in this film, I really thought this extra would actually have "more." Magic in the Bayou - The Making of a Princess: The Bayou and New Orleans are just as importance a character as Tiana. Plus, there is more hand drawn animation talk. We go back and look at what has been Disney animation. The Little Mermaid, Snow White, everything is given a nod in this feature, and there's surprisingly little overlap here with the "Return to Hand Drawn" feature. My favorite part though? The test drawings with the frogs, including a real-life frog posing while animators sketch away. There's only a minute given to the African-American influence.
Audio Commentary: co-writers/directors John Musker & Ron Clements, and producer Peter Del Vecho Bringing Life to Animation The Disney Legacy Disney's Newest Princess The Princess and the Animator Conjuring the Villain A Return to the Animated Musical Art Galleries What Do You See: Princess Portraits Disney Parks Movie Trailers: Genuine Treasure: Tinker Bell, Toy Story 3, and more
EXTRAS SCORE: 9/10
Similar to Kathryn Bigelow winning a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, having Tiana added to the Disney family just feels right. It was an insanely strong year for animated. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline and Up continues to push animation forward. It's good to see old-school hand drawn Disney still has a place at the table. Much like the city of New Orleans, there needs to be some cheerleaders for this film. Luckily, The Princess and the Frog makes it easy to root for.
The extras make this film an easy purchasing choice. Keep in mind the extras are mainly for adults, or kids with a passion for drawing. Plus, you get the convenience of the digital copy so the kids can watch this over and over again in the car.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10