Ratatouille. Cars. Monsters, Inc. Up. All classic Disney/Pixar movies, but they just weren’t the same as what Disney used to produce: traditional, hand drawn 2D animation. Surprisingly, the last one was in 2004; Home On The Range.Princess and the Frog sees traditional animation return on blistering form.
I am not a massive Disney fan. I’ve seen a lot of them, (with the notable exception of The Lion King, a fact which usually gets the response of ‘GTFO my house’) and they are entertaining, but none are firm personal favourites. Well, weren’t. Along comes this gem of a film (criminally under viewed in the States; partly due to opening on the same week as Avatar. Not the greatest business move Mr Disney) and smashes into my top 10 films of all time.
Set in the height of the Roaring Twenties New Orleans, the story follows Tiana, a workaholic, headstrong New Orleanian (that probably isn’t the correct phrase) and Prince Naveen. He is a “cardboard” Prince though; his extravagant lifestyle has left him penniless and his parents disown him. He travels to New Orleans in the hope of finding a job or marrying into a rich family. Naturally, he chooses to try and find a rich girl. However, he runs into the local voodoo doctor, as you do, who turns him into a frog.
Meanwhile, Tiana is desperately trying to save money to open a restaurant, a dream of her father and her. Just as she gets enough for the deposit on the perfect place, an abandoned sugarmill, another offer is put on the table: the full asking price in cash. Defeated, she wishes upon the brightest evening star (Evangelon). And whadda ya know! Naveen the Frog appears on the balcony.
As the story goes, for the frog to become human again, he must receive a kiss from a princess. Coincidentally, when Tiara wished on the star, it was at a costume party… where she dressed as a princess. Naveen mistakes her for a real one, and coaxes a kiss from her. Things do not go to plan however, and Tiara is turned into a frog too.
And that is allIi’m going to say about the plot. You really have to see this for yourself; it is such a positive and upbeat motion picture, with jazz oriented songs and dance numbers that blend perfectly with the New Orleans backdrop. The array of characters throughout the film are infectiously likeable: my personal favourites being Ray, the hillbilly firefly and Louis, the jazz addicted alligator.
This film also holds the title for “First tearjearker of 2010” for me. I know I said it’s positive and upbeat, but it tugs at the heartstrings, only to make you go “Awww!” immediately after. I genuinely have never experienced that emotion before; one minute being close to tears (or letting a few roll down your cheek, like me) and the next feeling sad and happy at the same time.
The Princess and the Frog is simple storytelling at its finest. CGI is all well and good, but there is a certain charm to Disney’s drawings that no computer will ever recreate.