The Princess and the Frog
I didnít watch The Princess and the Frog
at the cinemas, but after having watched it on DVD Iím certainly kicking
myself for not seeing it on the big screen.
Itís the first Disney feature in six years
to feature traditional hand-drawn animation and it looks absolutely
fantastic, a fact which comes as no great surprise considering the film
is directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, the duo previously
responsible for such Disney classics as Aladdin, Hercules
and The Little Mermaid.
The story centres around a poverty-stricken
young waitress named Tiana who dreams of nothing more than opening a
restaurant in her home town of New Orleans. Her wealthy friend
Charlotte LaBouff, meanwhile, is besotted with the visiting Prince
Naveen of Maldonia, who is to attend a sumptuous banquet at the LaBouff
family mansion. Before he can make it however he is turned into a frog
by a conniving voodoo magician named Dr Facilier, who replaces Naveen
with an imposter who will serve his selfish and rather dastardly ends.
The real Naveen escapes, and encounters Tiana. Although taken aback to
be confronted with the sight of a talking frog, Tiana canít resist the
enticement to become a princess herself by granting the little green
fellow the most cursory of kisses.
Needless the say the plan goes thoroughly
awry, and the next hour of music, magic, escapism and high jinks is
amongst the most whimsical and entertaining Disney have produced in
years. Taking inspiration for the look of the film from Lady and the
Tramp, which both Musker and Clements view as the pinnacle of
Disneyís animated output, the film looks sensational. Itís picturesque,
painterly backgrounds are near-unparalleled and its character designs
echo Aladdin, whilst the songs are fun, frenetic and highly
accomplished affairs. The characters themselves are well-drawn in every
possible sense and voiced to perfection by a strong cast of lesser-known
but inordinately talented actors. Jennifer Cody deserves particular
praise for vividly bringing to life Charlotte, the breathily excitable
Southern Belle whose lines constitute some of the funniest in the film.
On the audio front the film features a
score composed by Disney stalwart Randy Newman, and the orchestral
arrangements, jazzy improvisations and original songs constituting the
soundtrack all sound superb in a 5.1 DD surround. Video quality
likewise never falters, and further incentive comes in the form of an
audio commentary with the two directors, four deleted scenes with
optional introductions, a music video and more.
The Princess and the Frog harks back
to Disneyís Golden Age and is a joyous celebration for those of all
ages, with an abundance of wit and charm, resplendent visuals and a cast
of Louisiana natives combining to make a modern-day fairytale of