Monday, December 21, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

The Film: The Princess and the Frog

The Voices: Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, John Goodman, Oprah Winfrey, Keith David, etc.

The Dealio: In Disney's latest addition to the princess folio, we travel back to '30s New Orleans, with a combo of newfangled art and old school primitive. The princess of the title is Tiana, the daughter of hard-working, working class workers-mom is a seamstress who 'does for' a rich-rich-rich family in the Vieux Carree, concocting luscious confections in pink for the 'princess' of a daughter. The daughter's apparent sole goal in life being to marry a prince, Tiana is a more hard-headed type. The sort of Molly Brown, pull myself up by the bootstraps heroine we all love: hardworking, unaffected, generous and self-starting. Her dream? To open a restaurant with her Pa. Fast forward a few years to see whose dreams have travelled closer to fulfillment (Tiana's, and all through her own sweat and toil), and, wouldn't you know it? A real, live (although stone-poor) prince appears on the scene just in the nick of...well, you know. He is looking for a princess with wads of moolah- and may have found her in the bubble brained Charlotte. Wait just a minute, though: this is a Disney flim, and the path need be littered with broken prmises, broken dreams and broken down characters who rise to the occasion. Splendidly.
And, really what would a Disney flick be without treachery, betrayal, some snappy-sappy tunes, a wish- or several- upon a star, a popular character meeting an untimely death to advance the plot? For me, the movie began to lose traction as we went along, detouring into areas of discrimination, deceit and pernicious envy. So- when this movie was good, it was very, very much so. But there were bushels of cliches, mixed in with so many 'dark aspects', (including some hard line black magic stuff that had the kiddies in the theatre fretting: spectres rising from the grave and one character being eaten whole by a scary, animated evil mask). At other times, I found the story draggy and the music very trite and forced. And have you ever noticed how the loss of one or both parents has become a mandatory for Disney movies? Supwiddat?

The Grading Session: 3.71 pengies out of 5. If you are going to bring me down, I will return the favor. Oh, and don't be in such a rush to slap on a 'happy ending' just to finish up in 90 minutes. As Tim Gunn would say, 'OK, people, you have a lot to do here; make it work!' Genius, that man. Tim- go speak with the filmies in Anaheim. Pronto.

Lessons Learned: Kissing a frog is no guarantee you're gonna wind up with a prince. Also, wishing upon a star is nice, if traditional. Falling in love with a star: heart-wringingly moving.

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