A Cajun Tale of Frogs and Princesses
|"The Princess and the Frog" (2009) (UK Poster).|
Ironically, it took the influence of the new Pixar people, John Lasseter in particular, to reverse this decision and hire back the skilled animators. The first result of this backtracking was "The Princess and the Frog" (2009), directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the team that brought Disney some of its greatest successes with "The Great Mouse Detective," "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin" and "Hercules." If you find anybody who has directed four better-animated films in a row than those, well, let us know, because we can't think of anyone.
|Tiana, reaching for the stars|
The two directors were given carte blanche, and they used it in several different ways, including ignoring critics who argued that setting a fairy tale in New Orleans was an affront to Hurricane Katrina victims. This was one of those situations where getting the right old pros at the right time worked to perfection, because "The Princess and the Frog" indeed reversed the fortunes of Walt Disney Animation Studios to the upside, turning a profit and currying much favor in the Black community.
|Big Daddy, Eudora, and Charlotte.|
|Tiana and the Frog.|
|Keith David, who does a great job, and his character.|
|The DVD is very attractive, as usual with Disney.|
Among many other things, "The Princess and the Frog" is a return to the days when voice actors weren't just celebrities brought on board as a marketing gimmick. None of the voice actors of "The Princess and the Frog" became major stars as a result (Noni Ross had been in "Dreamgirls," but she is no Jennifer Hudson), so their contributions are relatively unique to the film and make their characters distinctive.
|Kissing the frog.|
|The film poster is one of Disney's best.|
|Prince Naveen and Tiana.|
Critics can no longer slam Disney as not having any Black princesses, and the fact that the script is clever and witty helps make "The Princess and the Frog" an enjoyable experience for everyone. However, there was one major marketing problem with the film that Disney was careful never to repeat: the use of the word "Princess" in the title. When the story of Rapunzel came around, it turned into "Tangled," and "The Ice Queen" became "Frozen." Those films did better, and the odds of "Princess" or something similar appearing in another Disney title any time soon is between slim and none.
|Louis and the happy couple.|