The Princess and the Frog

Release Date: November 25, 2009
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Wide Release 12/11/09
Limited release

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
9/82 Kelly Metz Old-time Disney - on par with The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. The songs were catchy and the story was heartwarming.
71/169 Max Braden There's nothing wrong with this movie, it just lacks the spark of homeruns like The Little Mermaid. Two days after watching it I can't recall any of the songs.

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Disney dips its toe back into the pond of traditional 2-D animation with The Princess and the Frog, and clearly is hoping that the novelty of the format will pay off. It has a lot going for it, too, so even if people have largely turned their backs on these "old-timey" animated movies, it might prove to be a breath of fresh air in theaters that are relying on the gimmick of 3-D to sell tickets.

The story itself is loosely based on a novel by E.D. Baker and the classic fairy tale by the Grimm brothers. It's set in the French Quarter of New Orleans, which should allow for some magnificent backgrounds and set pieces, as well as some incredibly unique characters. When the Prince of Maldonia visits the city, he makes a deal with a shady voodoo doctor and is turned into a frog. He hopes that a kiss from a beautiful girl will turn him human again, but when a waitress named Tiana kisses him, something...unexpected happens.

John Musker and Ron Clements direct the film, and they have plenty of prior experience with traditionally animated movies. Previous projects for the duo have included Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Great Mouse Detective. The songs and score are from the great Randy Newman, the guy responsible for such great movie music as Toy Story (and its sequel), Monsters, Inc and Ragtime. He's given sneak performances of tunes from the film with such New Orleans stalwarts as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, so you can be sure that the sound will be fitting for the movie's setting.

The voice performers are strong enough to sell the film, too. The cast includes Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard and John Goodman. You might notice a very influential woman's name amongst that group, and it's all but certain that she'll push the show with her television audience, thereby garnering increased support.

For our part, we can't wait for the hot New Orleans jazz and a story that subverts expectations. Can Disney turn the tide so that audience support goes back toward traditional animation? We hope so. The CGI flicks from Pixar, DreamWorks and their brethren is fun and innovative, but there's just something smooth, flowing and otherworldly about 2-D animation that makes it special. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Princess and the Frog
Main Cast Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, John Goodman
Supporting Cast Keith David, Jim Cummings, Jennifer Lewis, Oprah Winfrey
Director Ron Clements, John Musker
Screenwriter Ron Clements, John Musker
Distributor Walt Disney Pictures
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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