Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 51
 
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

A KISS ON THE LIPS LEADS TO A LIFETIME OF BLISS: Unbeknownst to the frog, who is really Prince Naveen (voice by Bruno Campos), the “princess,” (voice by Anika Noni Rose) whom he has talked into kissing him, is really a waitress and therefore is incapable of reversing the spell that has turned the prince into a frog. Instead, the tables are turned and the waitress is turned into a frog. To find out how they get out of this predicament, see the movie.

The Princess and the Frog: Prince Woos Waitress in Disney Animated Adventure

Kam Williams

As a child, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) dreamed about one day having her own restaurant in New Orleans where she could make gumbo alongside her father (Terrence Howard) who was an aspiring chef. But he passed away while serving overseas in the military during World War I, leaving his widow, Eudora (Oprah Winfrey), to raise their daughter alone on her meager seamstress’ salary. Consequently, Tiana ended up having to work overtime as a waitress in order to save enough money to purchase the abandoned warehouse that she wanted to convert into a restaurant.

However, Tiana’s plan goes horribly awry when she is asked for a kiss by a frog while she is attending a costume party in which she is dressed as a princess. The frog is actually Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), who has been turned into a frog by a voodoo witch doctor (Keith David). However, because Tiana isn’t a real princess, her kiss fails to break the spell and she is instantly transformed into a frog, leaving the two of them a terrible predicament.

Thus unfolds The Princess and the Frog, an animated version of The Frog Princess, the popular children’s novel by E.D. Baker. The enchanting fairy tale movie, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, makes history as the first of Disney’s 49 full-length cartoons to star a black princess. However, to its credit, Disney has featured Asian (Mulan), Native American (Pocahontas), and Arab (Aladdin) heroes in recent years.

Visually, the picture is a bit of a throwback, because it relies on hand-painted cells rather than the computer-generated imagery which has become state-of-the-art technology. Nonetheless, in the Disney tradition, the movie is a magical blend of romance and song.

En route to their re-humanization and a syrupy “happily-ever-after” sendoff into the proverbial sunset, our frustrated frogs enlist the assistance of a menagerie of colorful characters who intervene on their behalf, most notably, a firefly (Ray Cummings), an alligator (Michael Leon-Wooley), and a benign high priestess (Jenifer Lewis). Between the jazz/blues/zydeco soundtrack (featuring, among others, Randy Newman and Doctor John) and a stellar voice cast topped by Anika Noni Rose, Keith David, and John Goodman, The Princess and the Frog adds up to a satisfying, cinematic treat.

True, the tale feels a tad old-fashioned because of its reliance on a variation of the frog-into-a-prince plot, but that familiarity doesn’t diminish the experience one iota. What we have here is an instant animated classic that is destined to delight kids of all ages for generations to come!

Excellent (4 stars). Rated G. Running time: 97 minutes. Studio: Walt Disney.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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