Having watched more than my fair share of Barbie DVD’s about princesses and fairies I was not sure what to expect from The Princess and the Frog, but I was wonderfully surprised. Disney has reverted to their classic hand-drawn style and produced a visual feast of a tale with engaging characters and memorable side- kicks.
This is a modern day fairy tale in which the ‘princess’ – Tiana – is really a hard working young girl from the wrong side of the tracks who wants nothing more than to own a restaurant and cook food for everyone. Prince Naveen is a spoilt but well-meaning young ‘eurotrash’ who arrives in New Orleans looking to have fun while hopefully snagging himself a trust fund princess to pay for his way of life. Throw in the menacing magician cum voodoo man, Dr Facilier and Tiana and the Prince get turned into frogs sending them on a wild adventure deep into the Bayou (swamps) to find the good medicine woman who will return them to their human forms. Along the way they learn about love, friendship, and wishing upon a star.
The spirit of 1920’s New Orleans with its mix of jazz, blues and gospel inspires a foot tapping soundtrack and the hand drawn and painted animation has a warmth and richness that we’ve really missed with the digital age. Do children care about all this? Well, maybe not, but it stirs their imagination and is culturally entertaining. Did they notice that all the main characters were black or Hispanic? My daughter and her friend didn’t mention it, even though this has been both hailed and deplored in the US where it’s seen as being either ‘about time’ or too PC. I think its just part of the story and helps to level the surplus of white princes and princesses out there.
I was glad I left my five year old at home. The age restriction is 10, and my 9 year old and her friend were happy watching it. The restriction is for the scare factor and I do wonder why Disney has to go quite so dark in enacting the Voodoo shadows and masked figures. Yes, it is artistically done, but it’s scary! Having said that a few of my daughter’s friends apparently felt the movie was boring. In the age of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar – it is refreshingly simple and ‘old-fashioned’.
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