Saturday, December 22, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *The Princess And The Frog

Disney has gone back to its 2-D roots with this fresh take on the story of The Frog Prince. This might be because they wanted to get some additional income from potential younger viewers who just wanna see a good story instead of a whole digital eye-orgy from Pixar.

Set in early 20th Century New Orleans, the hardworking young lady Tiana is planning to one day own her own restaraunt, and it seems like it might finally happen to when her debutante friend Charlotte hires her to help cater her big Mardi Gras reception for a visiting prince. Prince Naveen is from a made-up European country(he's not black, BTW!)who has been cut off from his family, and came to New Orleans to find a wealthy girl to marry. However, a voodoo dude named Dr. Facilier tricks Naveen into accepting a deal with him. He turns Naveen into a frog, and gives his disgruntled valet Lawrence the ability to take on the form of Naveen to try and marry Charlotte. Naveen now as a frog mistakes Tiana for an actual princess in a dress Charlotte gives her, and convinces her to kiss him to break the spell. Instead of him turning back into a human, Tiana is also transformed into a frog, mainly because she's not a "real" princess. The two of them get cast out into the swamp, and befriend an alligator(a not-so-big-lipped one)called Louis who longs to play trumpet in a jazz band, and later on the bayou firefly Ray that believes that a wishing star is his old girlfriend. They take Naveen and Tiana to the good witch doctress, Mama Odie. She tells them that they can reverse the spell if Naveen can kiss Charlotte before the end of Mardi Gras since she's considered a princess during it while her father won the title of King of Mardi Gras. Our heroes make their way back to New Orleans via riverboat, and Naveen and Tiana start to realize their inevitable feelings for each other. While this is going on, Facilier's plan to have Lawrence gain Charlotte's fortune is in trouble because the charm used to disguise his true form has run out of Naveen's blood, so they need find him to complete their scheme. During the chase, Ray gets squashed, and Facilier is dragged to the underworld by his voodoo overlords. Naveen's chance to kiss Charlotte passes, but he and Tiana seem content to remain as frogs. They have a "wedding" in the swamp help by Mama Odie, and then become human again when they kissed since Tiana became a princess when she married Naveen. The two of them manage to open Tiana's dream restaurant with Naveen and Louis playing jazz in it.

This movie was tantalizing in every single way. It's nice to see Disney back in the saddle on that, although I thought from time to time during some of the non-musical scenes was a little lacking in standard Disney-quality. Speaking of the music, Keith David who does the shadowy Dr. Facilier totally kicks singing in his big number. Aside from a few story flaws involving the bylaws of the frog curse, and the tacked on usage of having talking animal sidekicks in a Disney flick, I had a great time watching it. This is probably the best original 2-D animated film to hit theatres in years, and will hopefully push the envelope to do more feature-length like this, despite how "cool" 3-D cartoons are.

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