It’s a holiday tradition. Come Christmas time, Hollywood rolls out the feel-good family movie to take advantage of the “mommy crowd” eager to spend big money on a movie date and the corresponding merchandising. This year, it’s Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.
But this is no dainty princess: Tiana has dreams of her own — she’s not waiting for anyone to sweep her off her feet. Girls will like the spunky heroine, and possibly the songs. Because, oh, there are many songs. Disney went overboard with the soundtrack, which kind of slows down the story, though the variety is applaudable. Influences run from gospel to Broadway, though it’s not of the same caliber (in terms of catchiness) as Little Mermaid or Aladdin. The plot pacing is also a bit off: too much happens, too soon. Pity, because the characters are interesting. It’s cool how Disney has modernized the traditional princess, in response to a new generation of young girls who need more than a handsome prince to find a “happily ever after.”
Dr. Facilier is a cool villain and the voodoo world taps from the rich New Orleans culture. We only wish there were more of the Evil Doc. Unlike other Disney bad guys like Jafar or Mufasa, who hold their own against the hero, he doesn’t quite get the adequate air time.
The animation won’t win any awards for special effects: it’s classic 90’s Disney, and marks the studio’s nostalgic return to 2D animation — and the foolproof formula of a lovable heroine + a catchy song.