12/15/2009

Movie Review: The Princess & the Frog

I've been excited about this show since I saw the trailer :)

After the FEStKUM 2009 Acoustic Competition, me & the girls headed out to Bukit Raja Mall to watch the show (the guys slept in...their loss! :p), so here's my take on Disney's return to 2D animation! :)

The Plot
Tiana is a young girl whose mother makes dresses for Charlotte, the daughter of James La Bouff, a wealthy man in New Orleans. Her mother tells the story of the Frog Prince: Charlotte dreams about having a prince sweep her off her feet, while Tiana is determined to rely on no prince to get where she wants. Tiana & her father shares a dream to open a restaurant one day.


The film fast-forwards to the future where Tiana works 2 jobs to get enough money for the downpayment of an old sugar mill. A talented chef, she intends to transform the sugar mill into the restaurant she & her (now) late father dreamed of. Her mother & friends claim she works too hard but Tiana is determined to make her father's dreams come true.
Prince Naveen from Maldonia & his assistant Lawrence arrived in New Orleans & they are expected to come to the La Bouff's estate for a ball. Prince Naveen's parents cut off his inheritance until he weds a suitable lady, but he's not willing to settle down; he's more interested in playing music & having fun, irritating Lawrence with his carelessness. He is tricked by Doctor Facilier (referred to as the Shadow Man) who transforms the prince into a frog & Lawrence assumes the prince's human form. Lawrence is given an amulet containing the prince's blood; it's fragile & if broken, Doctor Facilier will lose his deal to his "friends from the other side". The Shadow Man plots for Lawrence to marry Charlotte so that he can gain access to James & control New Orleans.
Tiana attends the ball & is told that someone else has already beaten her offer for the old sugar mill unless she can bring up enough money in a few days' time. She meets Prince Naveen (in froggy form) who promises her money if she would kiss him to help him return to his human form. The kiss instead transforms Tiana into a frog & the two of them travel deep into the bayou where they meet Louis, an aspiring trumpeter & Ray, an aged firefly. Together they searched for Mama Odie for help to reverse the spell. The group had to evade poachers with guns, "friends" sent by the Shadow Man & to learn the difference between what they want & what they need. The ending is not so predictable & it was full of lovely twists.
The Cast
I love the voice of Tiana, by Anika Noni Rose; the smooth creamy accent is a dream! Bruno Campos made Prince Naveen sound incredibly charming & fun; Keith David is awesome as the evil Doctor Facilier: his voice dripped with cunning & evil :p The other cast were amazing: Jim Cummings pulled off the Cajun accent for Ray & the comical Louis was voiced by Michael-Leon Wooley. Jenifer Lewis provided the voice for Mama Odie, the blind voodoo priestess who is the film's Fairy Godmother :) I'm just crazy about the New Orleans accent; who could resist that magnolia tune?

The Music
The music is certainly amazing; Randy Newman cast his magic for all the songs from the movie, except for Never Knew I Needed, which was produced by Ne-Yo. The songs are a wonderful mix of jazz, R&B, blues & gospel sounds; I especially love the trumpet solos played by the character Louis! The singers were mostly the voice actors for the film & it was certainly a musical treat :)

Conclusion
It's silly that some people question that Tiana is the 1st Disney African-American princess...does that matter at all? I love the costumes & the setting in the film: very authentic! The story was unpredictable, there were many funny parts & sweet moments; I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried towards the end, partly because of the story & because the film brought back the Disney feeling. I certainly think the movie is great fun for everyone from everywhere & I can't wait for Rapunzel & Prince of Elves coming out next yr! :)

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