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In the city of New Orleans, Eli is a wealthy sugar baron and the most powerful man in the city. With great authority and charisma, Eli is well-respected amongst the townsfolk, and is shown to be incredibly generous with his wealth, as well as friendly, overall; going as far as happily paying a young newspaper boy with a far higher amount than the local papers are actually worth.
Because of his friendly nature, he can also be a pushover, specifically with his daughter, Charlotte, who constantly exploits her father's riches for her own obsessions, such as lavish dresses and gowns. Even so, like her father, Charlotte is far from cruel or selfish, despite her privileged lifestyle, showing she takes after her father, in some respects.
Additionally, Eli is also good friends with Tiana and her family, as her mother, Eudora, runs an esteemed seamstress business, which is notable for supplying Charlotte a majority of her fairytale-esque outfits.
Role in the film
Eli is first seen at the beginning of the film after Eudora reads the story of "The Frog Prince". He notices the new dress the seamstress made for Charlotte and claims he would "expect nothin' less from the finest seamstress in New Orleans". However, Charlotte notices the dress from her storybook and begins to beg her father that a replica is made for her. Though he attempts to refuse, Eli quickly gives in to his daughter's pleas and asks Eudora if she can whip something up, and she agrees, telling him "anything for my best customer" (while motioning to other numerous dresses Charlotte owns).
As Tiana and Eudora leave, Mr. La Bouff tells Charlotte that while she will receive the dress, he will no longer be "Mr. Pushover", seconds before giving her a new pet puppy.
Years later, while Tiana is planning to open her restaurant, he starts hosting a masquerade ball for Mardi Gras. He has invited Prince Naveen to stay at his home as an honored guest. Charlotte hires Tiana to cater for the ball, which gives her enough money to finally buy an old sugar mill that she wants to convert into her restaurant.
That evening, Mr. La Bouff is hosting the masquerade ball when the guest of honor, Prince Naveen (actually, Naveen's valet Lawrence in disguise) arrives and dances with his daughter, Charlotte. The dance, however, ends in a mess when two frogs (a transformed Naveen and Tiana) land on his daughter's dress, frightening her, and he orders his dog, Stella, to chase them.
Despite the mess, 'Prince Naveen' proposes to his daughter the next day, and the La Bouffs decide to use the wedding as part of the Mardi Gras Parade that evening. Unbeknownst to the La Bouffs, the marriage plan was part of a big scheme by the voodoo master, Doctor Facilier, in which the latter plots to murder Big Daddy once the wedding vows are completed, in hopes of stealing his fortune and taking over the city.
Fortunately, Eli La Bouff's life was saved when the real Naveen (who was captured and put in a box) manages to escape and distract the fake Naveen, causing the latter to retreat into a church. The fake Naveen was afterward exposed, and an angry Mr. La Bouff ordered the imposter arrested.
At the end of the movie, Mr. La Bouff, and his daughter attended Naveen and Tiana's wedding as well as the opening of Tiana's restaurant.
- Despite apparently spoiling his daughter and not being good on disciplining her, he does show some ability to control her, even if slightly, as he once stuffed a beignet in her mouth to stop her from continually interfering with his talking.
- He is not just voiced by John Goodman; he resembles him as well.
- His wife has never been revealed, which has made some assume that he is a widower.
- In Kinect Disneyland Adventures, Eli is briefly mentioned by Tiana; "We just told Big Daddy La Bouff the news. He's King of the Mardi Gras parade... again."
- Eli's nickname, Big Daddy, is possibly derived from the character of the same name from Tennessee Williams' The Cat on the Hot Tin Roof.
- When he calls for Stella, he screams, "Hey, STELLA!" just like Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar named Desire.