S2S goes to the movies: ‘The Princess and the Frog’

    Princess Tiana makes her royal debut in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which hits theaters nationwide today.


     

     

     

     

     

     

    Princess Tiana makes her royal debut in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, which hits theaters nationwide today.
     
    Finally, Disney has a Black princess! We’ve been waiting to see this movie for decades, and in our opinion it was well worth the wait. We think Black girls of all ages will agree.
     
    This is by far Disney’s most modern fairytale, and it features contemporary themes and values that are important for kids living in this time to learn. But just because it’s Disney, doesn’t mean there aren’t a few splashes of harsh reality. In the film, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) is met with sly racism while trying to buy a venue for the restaurant she and her father had always dreamed of opening.
     
    On the upside, we love that Disney made it a point to show that Tiana had a fully functioning family, complete with a caring father dedicated to raising his little girl right. Only a few princesses have featured a complete family; so far most of their 2-D fairytales feature single parents.
     
    You can tell James (played by Terrence Howard) loves his little girl, and he encourages her to reach for the stars she’s wishing on with hard work.
     
    “That star can only take you part of the way,” he said before reminding Tiana that her wishes need a little nudge if they’re going to come true. That’s a recurring message she takes to heart, becoming something of workaholic in her pursuit of that restaurant.
     
    Tiana’s mother, Eudora (Oprah Winfrey lent her voice for this one), warns her baby girl that being so single-minded isn’t always good when it means missing out on the things needed to make life worth living. But Tiana is so busy fixing up her dream restaurant space that she can’t hear her mom’s words of wisdom.
     
    The movies’ first musical number is a wonderfully illustrated introduction of Disney’s New Orleans that’s whimsically punctuated by the characters. The most impressive music break, though, was Tiana’s theme, “Almost There.” For this piece, Disney actually switched the animation style so that audiences can see Tiana’s vision springing to life the same way that she does. While it seemed to be an even flatter version of 2-D it was still artfully done.
     
    While Tiana’s working hard, the audience meets Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos), who is in all ways her exact opposite. Where Tiana is hardworking, if a bit stuffy, Naveen is a lazy, carefree, jazz-loving royal. While it seems that he has everything he could possibly want, he’s actually come to the states seeking a rich bride because his parents (the king and queen of Maldonia) have cut him off and kicked him out. Basically, he’s looking for a sugar mama.
     
    In his search for easy money, Naveen is tricked by voodoo villain Dr. Facilier, who turns him into a frog during a larger-than-life presentation complete with singing masks, fireworks and dancing dolls. As a warning: This part mught be a little much for kids, so you have to know what your child can handle. If autonimous shadows and spirits don’t freak them out, then it should be it okay.
     
    Yet again seeking a quick fix, Naveen convinces Tiana to kiss him in hopes that a smooch will make him human again. Problem is, the peck turns her into a frog too. And so, the two head off through the bayou to find a way to solve their amphibious dilemma. What this does for the movie is (temporarily) eliminate the issue of race because they’re both green. The prince’s ethnicity has been greatly scrutinized ever since the public found out he wouldn’t be Black. Although, it’s not clear what he is, we think he might be from a Mediterranean country–just a guess.
     
    Along the way, their personalities clash: He thinks she’s a “stick-in-the-mud,” and she sees him as a gold-digging good-for-nothing. In this case, neither of them is exactly wrong. However, by adding a trumpet playing aligator named Louie and a love-struck firefly named Ray to the mix, they manage not to kill each other.
     
    Eventually, they go to good witch of the bayou Mama Odie, an energetic, 200-year-old blind lady. Although unlike most fairy godmothers, she wasn’t about to just grant them their wish. Mama Odie deals more in giving visitors what they need as opposed to what they want. So, she tells Tiana and Naveen they have to “dig a little deeper” to find out what it is they need in order to solve their own problems. That’s something you wouldn’t expect in Sleeping Beauty! The Princess and the Frog is teaching little girls that you shouldn’t wait around for someone to give you what you want, you’ve got to put in some effort too.
     
    In this instance what Tiana and Naveen needed was each other in order to find a balance. By working together, and coincidentally falling in love, they were able to make their own wishes come true. All of them! And in the end, through hard work, they didn’t just get what they wanted, they got what they needed.
     
    We loved this movie as much for the rich scenery, enchanting story line and engaging characters as we did for the lessons it instilled. Beyond that, it gave us that feeling we remember having when our parents read us fairy tales before bedtime.
     
    While this wasn’t The Lion King (that one’s hard to top), this is still one of our favorite Disney fairy tales—even beating out Mulan, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. Overall, we give The Princess and the Frog an A!

     

     

    – Sonya Eskridge

     

     

     

     

    Here’s more:

    Disney offers peek at ‘Princess’
    Princess Tiana gets her swirl on
    Disney unveils dolls for The Princess and the Frog
    Sneak Peek: ‘Princess’ puckers up
    ‘Princess’ products popular with consumers

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