Disney adds 8th princess in new movie

Disney has been shilling out box office hits since 1937, when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Almost 73 years later, Disney has produced over 80 movies, amassing millions of dollars and ultimately making it the best animation studio in the business. Although it has already proven to be a ground breaking studio, the newly released The Princess and the Frog has elevated Disney to a new height. Set in 1920’s New Orleans, The Princess and the Frog tells a story of the jazz-loving Prince Naveen who is turned into a frog by the evil Doctor Facilier. In hopes of turning back into a human, Prince Naveen kisses a waitress named Tiana who he mistook for a princess. Unfortunately, the kiss does not cure the prince. In a bizarre twist, the kiss turns Tiana into a frog as well. The duo must then go on an adventure through the Louisiana bayous to turn themselves back into humans. Although less flashy than its 3D competitors, the 2D animated The Princess and the Frog dazzles with its hand drawn characters and settings. Written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, directors of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules, the film is reminiscent of the 90s era (my personal favorite decade of Disney movie-making). The directors were actually aiming for the movie’s style to be similar to that of The Lady and the Tramp, or what they believe was the pinnacle of classic Disney animation. In that sense, The Princess and the Frog is exactly what the directors wanted it to be. The animation isn’t revolutionary, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s simple and sweet (two characteristics that made Disney into the great animation studios it is today). As in the earlier Disney movies, the plot and characters will be what hooks the viewers. Delving even deeper into its roots, Disney decided to make The Princess and the Frog into a musical. Randy Newman, the film composer for Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Cars, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band composed ten original songs and seven instrumental pieces. Ne-Yo even made a song exclusively for the movie, which is entitled, "Never Knew I Needed." A perfect mixture of jazz, blues, and zydeco, the soundtrack for The Princess and the Frog encompasses the laid back style of the French Quarter. Although the music is impressive, the strongest aspect of The Princess and the Frog is its characters. There has been a lot of discussion over the ethnicity of the movie’s main character. Tiana is the first black princess to enter the Disney Princess Franchise, joining Cinderella, Snow White, Princess Aurora, Jasmine, Ariel, Pocahontas, and Mulan. I don’t entirely understand why there has been so much hoopla over Tiana’s race. Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan are all of non-European descent. I believe that the reason why people are paying so much attention to Tiana’s ethnicity is because the princess in the written version of the story is usually portrayed as a white woman. In the movie version, the writers made the choice to portray the princess as an African-American in order to demonstrate the idea equality. Tiana is a strong and independent young woman who successfully shows that a princess can be of any nationality. Disney is pushing the barriers on the "typical" look of a princess. This is yet one more reason why Disney is so much better than all of its adversaries. As I said before, the characters are what make this movie so entertaining. Prince Naveen is a smooth-talking rich boy who, shockingly, bickers with the working-class realist Tiana throughout the course of the movie. Their arguing does provide for a few good chuckles, but the real laughs come from the minor characters. For instance, the two frogs meet a firefly who loves a star that he believes is another firefly. The duo also meets a comical, albeit slightly dumb, alligator who dreams about being in a jazz band. Mama Odie is a jolly 197 year old voodoo priestess who ultimately shows Tiana the importance of love (What did you expect? It’s a Disney movie). The villain Doctor Facilier is probably my favorite character, however. A perfect mixture of evil and hilarity, Doctor Facilier is the ideal Disney villain. Although I won’t give away the ending, I will say that The Princess and the Frog ends very much like most Disney movies. While the ending is somewhat cliche, I left the theatre on that cold December evening fulfilled and happy. The Princess and the Frog is a heartwarming tale that will cause the most solemn person to leave the theatre humming the songs and idealistically dreaming about true love.