Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Princess and the Frog |
Single Disc Blu-ray
Actors: Bruno Campos, Jennifer Cody, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis, Jim Cummings
Director: Ron Clements;John Musker
Genres: Kids & Family, Animation
Disney celebrates a modern-day classic from the directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Discover what really happened after the princess kissed the frog in an inspired twist on the world's most famous kiss. This hilar... more »
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Wish upon a star. Then get to work!
Julie Neal | Sanibel Island, Fla. | 12/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bam! It's appropriate that Emeril Lagasse plays a (bit) character in The Princess and the Frog, voicing Marlon the `gator. This film proves that Disney's once-vaunted hand-drawn animation is back with a vengeance.
The film has gorgeous visuals, engaging characters, a palpably evil villain and gags galore. Randy Newman's New Orleans-influenced score perfectly complements the story. It is laugh-out-loud funny. The romance between leads Tiana and Prince Naveen is touching and believable. The film's strong, down-to-earth message: You can't just wish upon a star for your dreams to come true. You'll have to work. Hard.
Folks looking for a quality, old-school Disney film will not be disappointed. Like all the best Disney classics, The Princess and the Frog adapts a classic fairy tale and adds twists and wit. This story of hardworking Tiana, aspiring New Orleans restauranteur, and her froggy adventures will engage children and charm their parents. It's a movie that both kids and adults will enjoy.
The supporting characters nearly steal the show. Tiana's friend Charlotte is a hoot: "I'm sweating like a sinner in church!" as she sops up the armpits of her Cinderella-esque ballgown. A trumpet-playing alligator, a jowly old lady steeped in hoo-doo, and, especially, a cajun firefly named Ray are originals. Ray's fantasy girlfriend: Evangeline, the evening star.
The visuals have such power. One shot of dandelions covered with droplets of dew is as sumptuous as anything in Disney's Fantasia from 1940. Psychedelic scenes with villain Dr. Facilier rival the bizarre scenes in 1944's The Three Caballeros or 1941's Dumbo. A silent funeral in a swamp has a misty, magical beauty.
As the first major Disney movie with African-American lead characters since 1946's The Song of the South, the film doesn't sidestep the race and class issue. At the beginning of the movie, young Tiana and her seamstress mother leave the opulent home of Big Daddy La Bouff to travel to their tiny tract home. Tiana's daddy has to work multiple jobs to support his family; as does the grown-up Tiana, trying to save up enough money to realize her dream of opening a restaurant. Later bankers tell Tiana that a girl of her "background" may be better off not having such a dream.
Where have these gifted Disney animators been all these years? It seems they've picked up right where they left off, adding another thoroughbred to the stable of modern-day Disney classics such as 1989's The Little Mermaid, 1991's Beauty and the Beast and 1994's The Lion King. Maybe it's producer John Lasseter's influence, with his insistence on excellence, especially with story and visuals. Whatever the reason, Walt Disney himself must be smiling in the heavens. Right next to Evangeline.
-- Julie Neal, author of The Complete Walt Disney World 2010."
The Disney Magic is Back!
thornhillatthemovies.com | Venice, CA United States | 02/02/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I don't understand why people complain about the lack of good family fair and then shy away from going to see "The Princess and the Frog", the new traditionally animated film from Disney. This is a good film and the lack of business it is creating may cause Disney to rethink their current change in course.
A few years ago, John Lasseter, the force behind all of the Pixar hits, was promoted to oversee many different aspects of Disney. He did something I don't think a lot of people expected. He restarted production of traditionally animated, hand drawn feature films, a type of filmmaking all but abandoned (due to cost; computer animation is a lot cheaper) at a studio now making digital animation. He hired the team behind "The Little Mermaid" and they chose to make "The Princess and the Frog", the first Disney film featuring an African American heroine.
New Orleans, the 20s. Tiana (Anika Nani Rose, "Dreamgirls", "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency") is a practical girl. As a child, she accompanies her mom (Oprah Winfrey) when she goes to Big Daddy's House (John Goodman) to make a dress for his daughter, Charlotte. Tiana and Charlotte are best friends and listen enraptured as Tiana's mom tells them the story of "The Frog Prince". Charlotte immediately announces she will kiss every frog and find her prince, but Tiana can't stomach the thought of kissing a frog. Tiana also shares her hard working dad's (Terrence Howard) dream of opening a restaurant. Flash forward ten years and we rejoin Tiana as she works multiple jobs trying to save enough money to open her first restaurant. She wants to keep her dad's dream alive and has found a spot she knows will be perfect, an abandoned waterfront warehouse. Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos, lots of parts on TV shows), the prince of Moldavia, arrives in town with his aide, Lawrence. Naveen wants to play jazz and has all but given up his ties to the throne of his country. A witch doctor, Dr. Facilier (Keith David) spots an opportunity. If he gets Charlotte to marry a fake Prince Naveen, he can take over Big Daddy's fortune. But first, he has to turn the prince into a frog and find a replacement to play Prince Naveen. Charlotte hears of the prince's arrival and gets her dad to throw a costume ball during Mardi Gras. Big Daddy is only too happy to oblige for two reasons; he has been chosen the King of Mardi Gras again and anything his Charlotte wants, she gets. Throw in Louis, an alligator who also wants to play jazz and Ray, a wise Cajun firefly and everything starts to get complicated.
Written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the team behind "The Little Mermaid", "The Princess and the Frog" bnngs the same sort of magic and beauty back to the silver screen.
There are a lot of things to like and celebrate about "The Princess and the Frog". The animation style seems almost romantic, in a way, perhaps because it has been so long since we have seen this type of animation used to any great extent. It also allows the film to look softer, almost as though it is glowing, which helps evoke the rose colored portrait of New Orleans the film puts forth. Everything about the film helps to give a romanticized vision of the great city and it is nice to see this celebrated.
One of the best and most consistent things about Disney animation is the music. In a time when there were virtually no other musicals being created, Disney Animated features continued the legacy, allowing some of the best and brightest performers, composers and writers to work, to continue their craft. In the last few years, live action musicals have started to enjoy a small renaissance at a time when animated features began to cycle away from using music. In "Princess", each song seems to celebrate a different kind of music which is fitting and a great idea as New Orleans is also a melting pot of music. In this way, the filmmakers celebrate and pay tribute to all of the different musical influences of this city, zydeco, ragtime, jazz, Cajun and more.
The characters are all funny, memorable and interesting. A few years ago, someone in the Disney Marketing Machine came up with the idea of marketing all of the "Princesses" from the different films plastering their pictures on every conceivable piece of merchandise. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, Belle, Snow White and the Little Mermaid are extremely popular so putting them all together is an even bigger draw for the millions of little girls who snap up their merchandise. So, any new animated film with a Princess is going to be considered a boon to the ongoing marketing machine that is Disney. Add Tiana to the group and everything can be redesigned, remade and resold. But Tiana is also the first African-American princess providing even more attractive marketing possibilities. She is a great marketing tool. When you become a fan of Disney, you quickly realize that everything in the kingdom is about marketing: if a film is a success, the characters go on to live in television, theme park rides & attractions, video games, clothing, DVDs, costumes and so much more. When you realize this, you can quickly move on and allow the films to create memories and magic. And Tiana is a very good addition to the Disney family.
Tiana is head strong, independent, goal-oriented and very busy. From her early days, listening to her dad talk about his dreams of opening a restaurant, she quickly adopted the same dreams. Now that he has gone on, she continues to press forward, working two jobs, saving every penny for a down payment. Only when the two men who promised to sell her an abandoned warehouse for her restaurant threaten to pull out, does she become desperate and start to look for some more money. Early on, Tiana brings her mom to the space and they sing a song about what the restaurant will become. Throughout this number, there are references to the sacrifices the young woman has made and it becomes a celebration but also a poignant illustration of this character's strong will.
Anika Nani Rose is very good as the voice of Tiana, giving her a lot of energy, a lot of pluck and a lot of intelligence. When Tiana meets the Frog Prince at Charlotte's house, she is reluctant to believe the talking frog, but her need for financial help gives her the little push she needs. She reluctantly bends down to give him a smooch
Bruno Campos is good as Naveen, providing a soft accent for his character. But he is unremarkable. So many others could have done the role, his performance isn't distinctive enough.
Keith David is fantastic as the voice of Dr. Facilier, the witch doctor who hatches a plan to steal Big Daddy's fortune. His big musical number helps to illustrate his connection to the dark arts of voodoo. His character brings to mind some of the elements of Jafar from "Aladdin" and his number brings back memories of Oogie Boogie in "The Nightmare Before Christmas".
As "Frog" is a Disney animated film, there are talking animals. When Naveen is turned into a frog, he talks and Tiana understands him. Later, they meet Louis, an alligator who just wants to play music for people. Voiced by Michael Leon-Wooley, the character is funny and fun to watch, especially every time he tries to sneak into a jazz band and begin to play, trying to remain unnoticed.
Ray, a Cajun firefly, has been dubbed the Cajun Jiminy Cricket. I guess there is a little truth to that. Ray is the guide for Tiana, Naveen and Louis, helping them navigate their way out of the swamp and back to New Orleans. Voiced by Jim Cummings, Ray is funny and touching.
While in the swamp, the team decides to try to get Mama Odie to help them. Odie is a Cajun woman who lives in the heart of the Bayou with her pet python and is basically the good counterpart to Doctor Facilier. Voiced by Jennifer Lewis (the original "Dreamgirls"), she provides a couple of funny moments and even some sage advice.
John Goodman is also very good as Big Daddy. A New Orleans native, he clearly understands and has met people similar to Big Daddy.
I am only touching the barebones of the story. There are a number of twists and turns that should even keep the adults entertained. In fact, it might be a little too complicated for most kids. And because there is a lot of story, it seems slightly rushed at times, like they are trying to get too much story into a running time of 100 minutes.
But these are small complaints for a film that is this much fun to watch, to listen to, to experience."
My girls say as good as Beauty and the Beast
Marian Nagle | Kansas City | 12/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I took my 4-year-old and 7-year-old girls to see this at the theater. It is great that the movie teaches that you can't get what you want from just wishing on a star. The movie has outstanding visuals, too, and many funny moments. IMO, however, many of the songs are just so-so. Both of my daughters absolutely loved it, more than Enchanted, more than Sleeping Beauty and more than Snow White. For my kids it ranks up there with Beauty and the Beast."
Much more than just a fairy tale
Dunyazad | New York, NY | 02/11/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being in my mid-twenties, I think I'm much older than the intended audience for this movie, but I have fond childhood memories of Disney, so the rave reviews for this one led me to see it in the theatre. And I absolutely loved it! It had everything I wanted in a Disney movie: fun songs, a creepy villain, and a touching plot that made me cry at least once but ultimately left me fully satisfied.
The best part for me, though, was the rich historical setting--1912 New Orleans. Disney has been praised for taking a bold step with a black heroine, but even more important for me was the fact that her station in life was portrayed realistically. Rather than trying to hide historical injustices, The Princess and the Frog faces them head on and shows that it's possible to achieve happiness despite all difficulties.
Tiana is not only black but poor, working multiple jobs in the hopes of one day saving enough money to start her own business. The ditzy white Charlotte, on the other hand, has plenty of money and gets everything she wants from her indulgent father. We see at the very beginning that white people lived in fancy mansions, while black people lived in tiny shacks. And yet we also see that Tiana's childhood was a happy one, with a loving family and a close-knit community. There are some powerful messages throughout the movie about how hard work is important, but a loving family is more important by far.
I don't want to spend too much time summarizing the plot; suffice it to say that one character's greedy attempt to use voodoo for personal gain results in both Tiana and a foreign prince being turned into frogs. The majority of the movie consists of their travels through the bayou, searching for a voodoo priestess to turn them back. Of course, they encounter all sorts of interesting creatures in their travels--the firefly Ray was possibly my favourite character in the movie--and learn some valuable lessons about themselves on the way.
I was really intrigued by the whole voodoo aspect; it's a belief system that I don't know anything about, but just being aware that the magic system of the movie had a whole history behind it gave the story a satisfying sense of depth. I came away from the movie wanting to learn more about both voodoo and the general history of race relations in the American south (and have, in fact, purchased books about both topics since then). This, to me, is the mark of a good story: The Princess and the Frog not only is rewarding in its own right, but leaves the viewer inspired to explore related areas. I'll definitely be purchasing this movie once it becomes available, because I know it's one that I'll want to see again."