Princess and the Frog (review)
I haven't done a review in a while, and I just finished watching this Disney film for the first time--so I thought, let's go for it.
First of all, I'll explain why I procrastinated for so long against watching this movie. The teasers and trailers did initially turn me off, mostly because I wasn't a huge fan of this style of animation. The setting also didn't intrigue me, despite New Orleans' popularity in the film industry (I'm looking at you, Vampire Diaries).
Regardless, I love Disney and "judging a book by its cover" is, and always will be, pretty ignorant. Especially since I didn't know this movie was based off of a book series I own! I fell in love with E.D. Baker from a pretty early age, and I was thrilled to find out it was the inspiration for this film.
Now, as far as how the film stands alone, there's a lot of elements that I really enjoyed and a few that I didn't. For example, I wasn't a huge fan of the soundtrack--however, Ms. Rose definitely did slay her solos and duet. It makes me wonder what a live action remake would look like, given Rose's voice acting and singing talents paired with her stunning princess-esque looks. This film was definitely well cast, which helped balance the mediocre song writing.
I'm still not a fan of the animation, aside from every scene that included "The Shadow Man," Dr. Facilier. Too many screen writers ignore the essential value of the villain, and what they bring to the story line, character chemistry and dynamics. Every great story begins with a colorful villain, and the killing off of The Shadow Man hurt me more than Lassie did.
First of all, this guy had a dope ass shadow (duh), that literally gave him extra depth and dimension. Secondly, his wizard/charlatan powers are super cool, colorful, culturally-infused and pretty damn creative. Got a problem with someone? Turn them into an amphibian.
Third, the way his death was written made the character very relatable. Once that amulet was smashed, the audience could see the fear seep into Facilier. His ego and image instantly disappeared, leaving a response that was--human. And, the doctor had to face his consequences from a higher power than his own. That is a rare thing, given society's obsession with mistaking a good villain as someone who is all-powerful, or the biggest, baddest bad guy around. Yawn (I think I've created play-doh creatures that contained more depth than Thanos).
There were a few discrepancies to make note of. Prince Naveen, with his 180 turn into a 'good guy' within a day. The age old plot filler of proposing...after knowing Tiana for a day (mostly as a frog!). Boring, dull, cliche elements. I actually did like Naveen as a character before all of that, when his role consisted of testing Tiana's beliefs. He was pretty fricken' funny for a frog, and even in his immature state--he still came across as pretty good-natured towards others and likable. Even with his 'waitress' comments (I prefer to be called a server).
The alligator was unnecessary.
The lightning bug was kind of creepy looking, but held an endearing personality. I was surprised that Disney stuck to his death instead of going with the age old Lazarus effect (I'm sorry, I'm really not trying to always rag on the Avengers, but...). That was a great element to include, giving the film more realism and emotional impact. It's one thing to kill off Dad, without explaining anything and throw in a couple old photos and flashbacks. It's a whole new ballgame when a character, one who has fallen in love with a star and named her Evangeline, is crushed to death underneath a boot--and they included the sound effect!! Damn Disney, who's your next princess going to be--Anne Frank? Anyways, well done and kudos to you.
Which brings us to Lottie, or Charlotte LaBouff. This chick was ready to marry Prince Naveen before the guy even got off the boat. She did not have a mere crush on him, she was the stalker, the hunter--and he was her prey. When my German Shepherd sees a squirrel--it is OVER. Period. Unless, her best friend wants to marry the guy, so now she's content with giving him up? Just like that? There is a code among friends: it is never acceptable to double dip into your best friend's exes, crushes or I don't know, fiancee? Charlotte couldn't understand the concept of patience throughout the entire movie, but by the end she's content to wait for a six year old to grow up. First of all, that whole premise is pretty creepy, especially placed in a children's movie. Secondly, we're talking at least twelve years here, at least I hope so. The consistency of Lottie's character development is all over the place. And that hot mess is pretty in line with Naveen's plot filler personality.
So let's break down Tiana. She's an independent, strong and responsible woman who is also very feminine, which is key. Don't get me wrong, I adore Tamora Pierce's Alanna, and Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies. But it would be a bit of an oxymoron if feminine characters were only strong when they literally disguised themselves as men. Enter in Elsa, Moana and Tiana. All very feminine, all badasses.
Final review: I'm going to give "The Princess and The Frog" a solid B. Most of the points come from its awesome villain, Dr. Facilier. Most points deducted were for the lackluster soundtrack, messy plot and dodgy character development.