|The Princess and the Frog|
Poster for the theatrical release.
|Directed by:|| Ron Clements |
|Produced by:|| Peter Del Vecho|
|Written by:|| Ron Clements|
|Music by:||Randy Newman|
|Editing by:||Jeff Draheim|
|Studio:||Walt Disney Animation Studios|
|Distributed by:||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Release Date(s):|| November 25, 2009 |
(Los Angeles and New York limited release)
December 11, 2009
|Running time:||97 min|
The Princess and the Frog is a 2009 American animated film based on E. D. Baker's novel The Frog Princess, which was in turn inspired by the Grimm brothers' fairy tale "The Frog Prince". The film opened in limited release in New York and Los Angeles on November 25, 2009, and released in wide on December 11, 2009. It is the 49th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics line, and the first of these films to be traditionally (2D) animated since 2005's Pooh's Heffalump Movie. The film was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, directors of The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, and Treasure Planet, with songs and score composed by Randy Orton and featuring the voices of Anika Noni Rose, Oprah Winfrey, Keith David, Jim Cummings, John Goodman, Jenifer Lewis, Bruno Campos, Michael-Leon Wooley, Peter Bartlett and Terrence Howard. Tiana, the main character, is also notable as Disney's first black princess.
The film, which began production under the working title The Frog Princess, is an American fairy tale, Broadway-style musical set in, and around, New Orleans at the height of the Roaring Twenties. On February 2, 2010, the film received three Academy Award nominations: one for Best Animated Feature and two for Best Original Song.
The movie opens with a bright star shining in the Louisiana sky. We hear the voice of Tiana singing, telling us that anything is possible if you wish upon the evening star. We are then taken to the very pink and frilly bedroom of young Charlotte Le Bouff, who is sitting beside a young Tiana as they listen to Tiana’s seamstress mother, Eudora tell the story of the Frog Prince as she puts the finishing touches on a dress for Charlotte. Charlotte is entranced by the story while Tiana is clearly disgusted and vows never to kiss a frog. Charlotte’s father, “Big Daddy” Le Bouff arrives home with a new puppy for his spoiled daughter while Eudora and Tiana head home.
We quickly learn that Tiana and her friend Charlotte are definitely from two different worlds as the young girl and her mother head home to their tiny shack where Tiana’s father, James waits for them. Tiana and her father laugh together as they whip up a batch of his famous gumbo and talk about their shared dream of one day opening a restaurant. Little Tiana makes a wish on the evening star that their dream will one day come true. Tiana’s father reminds her that wishing can only take you so far, and you have to get the rest of the way yourself. He makes her promise that she’ll never lose sight of what’s really important in life. We then flash forward several years. Tiana is now a beautiful young woman, working two waitressing jobs and saving up all her tips in a bedroom drawer, hoping to earn enough money to open the restaurant she and her father had always dreamed of. Before heading off to her second job, she plants a quick kiss on a photo of her father (it is implied that he was killed in WWI), telling him that they’re “almost there”.
As Tiana heads off to work, we get a quick glimpse of the hustle and bustle of New Orleans as it was in the 1920s – full of life and culture. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Tiana is much too focused on her job to really take part in any of it. She’s seen turning down invitations from her friends in favor of working extra shifts. It’s clear that she’s a determined and hard-working young woman.
While waiting tables, Charlotte arrives with exciting news – Prince Naveen from the far away country of Maldonia has arrived to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. He will be staying with the Le Bouffs, and “Big Daddy” hopes that Naveen and Charlotte will hit it off so the two can wed. Charlotte is thrilled at the thought of marrying a Prince and pays Tiana an immense quantity of money to whip up some “man-catching beignets” for the Prince’s welcome party in order to impress him. After accepting the payment, Tiana finally has enough money for a down-payment on the run-down factory she plans on turning into her restaurant.
Meanwhile, Prince Naveen and his butler, Lawrence arrive in New Orleans. It’s clear that Naveen is entranced by the New Orleans music and culture (…and women). He definitely lives a playboy lifestyle. We quickly learn that, though he is royalty, Naveen’s parents have cut him off financially and that his only choice is to marry a rich woman or get a job. Of course, Naveen would never dream of lifting a finger himself, and instead hopes to marry Charlotte and inherit some of her fortune.
As Naveen and Lawrence wander the streets, they run into the shady Dr. Facilier (Keith David), who invites them to his voodoo shop, where they learn about his powers and his “friends on the other side”. Jealous of the Le Bouff fortune, Facilier takes advantage of the Prince’s gullibility and Lawrence’s resentment of his master to help in his plot to take over New Orleans. He turns Naveen into a frog and, using a magical talisman, turns Lawrence into an exact copy of Prince Naveen. The plan is for Lawrence (as Naveen) to marry Charlotte, get her money, and share it with Facilier (who plans on killing Charlotte’s father and using his fortune to control the city).
That night, at the Masquerade party, “Naveen” arrives and immediately sweeps Charlotte off her feet. She is clearly enraptured by the idea of marrying a prince. Meanwhile, Tiana learns that someone has outbid her on the old building. If she can’t get the money in three days, she’ll lose any hope of achieving her and her father’s dream. Feeling hopeless, Tiana goes out onto the balcony and makes another wish upon the evening star. It is here, under the stars, that she runs into a talking frog, who turns out to be the real Prince Naveen.
Naveen mistakes her for a princess (due to her masquerade costume) and tells her that, if she kisses him, he will turn back into a human give anything she wants in return. Thinking of her beloved restaurant, Tiana reluctantly kisses Naveen, only to have the spell backfire. She’s become a frog herself! Furious, she and Naveen begin to argue when they fall off the balcony and down into the party. Chaos ensues as they are chased away into the Bayou by Charlotte’s dog and several disgruntled party guests.
Tiana and Naveen have a rough first night as frogs, as they are nearly killed by a group of alligators and forced into hiding in an old tree trunk (arguing the entire time, of course). Her hardworking, no-nonsense personality and his lazy and carefree nature do not mesh well. The next day, Tiana builds a tiny raft, telling Naveen that they’re going to go back to New Orleans, track down Dr. Facilier, and get the spell reversed.
On the way, they run into another enormous gator. At first they fear he will eat them, but soon learn that Louis is a gentle giant who loves jazz music and dreams of playing the trumpet in a jazz band, but can't due to his habit of scaring people. When they explain their situation to Louis, he tells them they should go visit Mama Odie, the voodoo queen of the bayou. At first, he’s reluctant to show them the way, but Naveen cleverly convinces him to come, implying that Mama Odie may be able to turn Louis human and help his dreams come true.
As they journey through the bayou, the three meet up with Ray, a Cajun firefly, who helps save Naveen and Tiana when they are captured by a group of hillbillies looking for a frog-leg dinner. As they eat some “swamp gumbo” whipped up by Tiana and celebrate their escape from the humans, Ray reveals that he is in love with a beautiful firefly named Evangeline, who shines brightly in the sky every night. The others quickly realize that Evangeline is actually not a firefly at all, but is really the “evening star” that shines in the sky. None of them have the heart to tell Ray the truth as he sings a beautiful love song for his Evangeline. As Ray serenades the star, Naveen asks Tiana to dance and it quickly becomes clear that the two are falling for one another.
Back in New Orleans, the imposter Naveen (Lawrence) has finally proposed to Charlotte, who is positively delighted. She proclaims that the two will be married that night at the big Mardi Gras parade and runs off to make wedding plans. While she is gone, the spell that makes Lawrence look like Naveen begins to wear off. Facilier explains that the magic talisman is out of Naveen’s blood. They need to bring him back and get more of his blood for the spell to keep working. Facilier has no choice but to call on his “friends on the other side” (who, it turns out, are frightening shadow demons). He sends them out into the bayou to find Naveen and bring him back alive.
Early that morning, back in the bayou, Naveen, Tiana, Ray, and Louis finally find the very old and very blind Mama Odie. Though she seems to be somewhat senile at first, she gives them all good advice – they must “dig a little deeper” to find out what’s really important. They explain that they want to be human again, but she insists that it’s not what they want, it’s what they need that matters. Naveen sees that what he needs is to be with Tiana. Tiana, on the other hand, is too blinded by her desire to live out her dream to see that there is something more important right in front of her.
Mama Odie explains that the only way for the two of them to become human again is for Naveen to kiss a princess. They quickly realize that this means Charlotte (whose father had been crowned as King of Mardi Gras, making her the “princess”). The plan is for Naveen to kiss Charlotte before midnight (when she is no longer a princess), marry her, and buy Tiana her restaurant, just as he promised her when she first gave him a kiss.
Thanking Mama Odie profusely, the four friends head out to the river to find their way back to New Orleans. They hitch a ride aboard a paddle boat (everyone thinks Louis is wearing a very realistic alligator costume for Mardi Gras and invite him to join the band) and Naveen quickly confides in Ray his plan to propose to Tiana that very night, before the Mardi Gras parade. He proudly proclaims that he’ll give up his lazy lifestyle and get “two jobs, maybe three” to help keep his promise to Tiana and get her restaurant.
He sets up a beautiful candle-lit dinner (one really big candle, since they’re still frog-sized) and makes several feeble attempts to express his feelings for her, but is clearly nervous and flustered. Before he can get the words out, the boat passes the old factory Tiana plans to turn into her restaurant, distracting her. She starts talking once again about her dream, and Naveen feels that she really cares more about her restaurant than about him. He knows that he will never be able to give her the money for her restaurant unless he marries Charlotte, so he gives up his plan to propose and instead sets his mind on getting back to Charlotte so he can help make Tiana’s dream come true.
Before they arrive in New Orleans, Naveen is captured by Facilier’s voodoo “friends”, unbeknownst to his companions. After he is gone, when they finally arrive at Mardi Gras, Ray reveals to Tiana that Naveen truly loves her and was planning on proposing. Tiana realizes that this is what she truly wants as well and rushes off into the crowd to find him. When she reaches the parade however, she sees Charlotte standing beside the fake Naveen (wearing the newly-replenished talisman), preparing to marry him. Tiana misunderstands, thinking he has already kissed her and become human, and runs off to the graveyard, alone.
Ray follows her and tries to console her, but Tiana angrily replies by telling Ray that Evangeline is just a star, millions of miles away from him and that he needs to open his eyes to the truth before he gets hurt like she did. Still not convinced, Ray rushes back to the parade and frees frog-Naveen, who stops the wedding by jumping onto the imposter and knocking him off the float. Lawrence loses the talisman and is returned to his true form. Now that he has been revealed as a fraud, the bumbling Lawrence is quickly carted away by the police. Realizing its significance, Ray steals the voodoo talisman and flies away with it. Furious, Facilier chases Ray all the way to the graveyard.
Ray finally meets up with Tiana and gives her the talisman, making her promise to keep it out of Facilier’s possession. She hops away with it as Facilier knocks Ray to the ground and coldly crushes him without a second thought.
Facilier finally corners Tiana, offering to make her a deal. He tells her that if she gives him the talisman, he’ll turn her back into a human and he’ll give her everything she’s ever dreamed of – everything she and her father always wanted. She hesitates a moment, but her eyes light up in realization. Tiana explains that, while it’s true her father never got everything he wanted, he had what he needed – love. And that’s what she needs too. Tiana throws the talisman to the ground, shattering it into pieces. This greatly angers the voodoo spirits, who come out of the talisman and drag Dr. Facilier away into the underworld as punishment for failing them.
Tiana rushes back to the parade, where she sees Naveen talking to Charlotte. He explains to Charlotte what has happened and that, if she kisses him by midnight (which is mere minutes away), he will become human again and he will marry her. Naveen’s only condition is that Charlotte promise to give Tiana the money she needs for her restaurant. “She is my Evangeline,” he explains. Deeply touched, Tiana hops out of the shadows and confesses her love for Naveen, telling him she’d rather be a frog forever and stay with him than have her restaurant without him. Naveen confesses that he loves her too and the two embrace. Charlotte is moved to tears that her friend is finally living out the fairytale she herself has always dreamed of, and agrees to kiss Naveen for Tiana, so they can both be human again and marry each other.
She holds Naveen in her hand and leans in for the kiss – but it’s too late. Midnight has come and, though she kisses him again and again, nothing happens. Charlotte is no longer a princess. Before anything else can be said, Louis rushes in, holding a dying Ray in his hand. They lay Ray on the ground, and Naveen and Tiana tearfully tell him that everything is alright and the two of them will be together, thanks, in part, to him. Ray gives a weak smile, saying that makes him happy, and it makes Evangeline happy too. His eyes close, his light flickers out, and he’s gone.
His three friends tearfully bring him back to the bayou for a funeral with the rest of his firefly family. As they place his tiny body in a leaf and push it out to the water, everyone starts to gasp and point up at the sky. Another, new star has appeared beside Evangeline, shining just as brightly. Everyone starts to cry because they can see that Ray finally got his wish – he’s with Evangeline at last.
The funeral party then fades away to a celebration as the entire bayou gather together to see Mama Odie perform Naveen and Tiana’s wedding ceremony. As she pronounces them “frog and wife”, they share a kiss and are shocked to find that they’ve turned back into humans. Mama Odie laughs as the two figure out that, in becoming Naveen’s wife, Tiana became a princess. By kissing her, Naveen broke the spell!
The two head back to New Orleans where they buy the old building back from the Real Estate agents and work together, fixing it up and eventually turning it into “Tiana’s Palace”, a very successful, up-scale restaurant. We see Tiana and Naveen happily serving tables as Louis the gator entertains the guests on his trumpet. Tiana and Naveen climb up to the roof where they dance together and share a kiss beneath the stars. Ray and Evangeline shine above as Tiana sings that “dreams do come true in New Orleans!”
- Anika Noni Rose as Tiana/ "Tia", a 19 year old waitress and aspiring chef who dreams of owning her own restaurant one day. She is viewed as a smart, hard working, and independent woman. She is the protagonist of the film and is notable as Disney's first black princess. Originally, Tiana was supposed to be called "Maddy."
- Elizabeth Dampier voices Tiana as a child.
- Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen, the 20-year-old prince of Maldonia who comes to the French Quarter for the jazz scene and with whom Tiana and Charlotte both fall in love. He is the deuteragonist of the film.
- Jennifer Cody as Charlotte "Lottie" La Bouff, a southern débutante and Tiana's childhood friend. Her father is extremely wealthy so she mostly gets everything she wants. She is very loyal to her friend Tiana and will help her when she needs to, even letting Tiana have Naveen since she can tell that Tiana and Naveen belong with each other.
- Breanna Brooks voices Charlotte as a child.
- Keith David as Doctor Facilier, aka "The Shadow Man", the main antagonist of the film. Supervising Animator Bruce W. Smith cited Facilier as the lovechild of his two favorite Disney Villains; Captain Hook from Peter Pan, and Cruella De Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
- Jenifer Lewis as Mama Odie, a blind voodoo priestess who serves as the film's Fairy Godmother.
- Jim Cummings as Ray, a lovesick Cajun firefly who knows Mama Odie and offers to help the frogs get to her. He is later killed in the film when Facilier hits him to the ground and then crushes him. He was reunited with Evangeline at the end and turned into a second evening star.
- Michael-Leon Wooley as Louis, a trumpet-playing alligator whose dream is to become human so he can join a jazz band.
- Emeril Lagasse as Marlon, an alligator.
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Ian, an alligator.
- Peter Bartlet as Lawrence, Prince Naveen's valet, who is turned into Dr. Facilier's henchman.
- John Goodman as Eli "Big Daddy" La Bouff, a wealthy Southern sugar mill owner and father of Charlotte La Bouff.
- Oprah Winfrey as Eudora, Tiana's mother.
- Terrence Howard as James, Tiana's late father, who instills work ethics in Tiana.
- Don Hall as Darnell, a frog hunter.
- Jerry Kernion as Mr. Henry Fenner
- Corey Burton as Mr. Harvey Fenner
- Randy Newman (who also composed the songs and score) as Cousin Randy
Disney had once announced that Home on the Range would be the studio's last 2D animated film entry to their animated features canon, but after the company's acquisition of Pixar in early 2006, it was reported that Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, new leaders of the animation department, had decided to re-open the door to Disney's tradition of handdrawn animation. Many animators who had either been fired or had left the studio after the 2004 closure were located and re-hired for the project.
The Princess and the Frog was written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, whose earlier works included The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules. The story for the film was developed by merging two other projects in development at the time. One of the projects was based on E. D. Baker's The Frog Princess, in which the story's heroine kisses a frog in hopes of becoming a princess, only to become a frog herself.
The film returns to the Broadway-style musical in the style of the successful Disney films like Walt's classics, and the Disney Renaissance of the late-1980s and all of the 1990s. Rhett Wickham also reported that John Lasseter had personally asked Ron Clements and John Musker to direct and write the film, and had let them choose in what form (either traditional animation or CGI) they wanted the film to be made. Toon Boom Animation's Toon Boom Harmony software was used in the digital processing of the film, as the old CAPS system Disney developed with Pixar in the 1980s is now outdated.
While the Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater experimented with paperless animation, the artists on The Princess and the Frog used traditional pencil and paper that is scanned into the computers. Although a new pipeline for hand-drawn animation using Toon Boom Harmony has been developed at the studio, the actual animation process remains the same. The visual effects, as well as many of the backgrounds, were created digitally using tools such as Wacom Cintiq tablet displays. Marlon West, one of Disney's veteran animation visual effects supervisors, says about the production; “Those guys had this bright idea to bring back hand-drawn animation, but everything had to be started again from the ground up. One of the first things we did was focus on producing shorts, to help us re-introduce the 2D pipeline. I worked as vfx supervisor on the Goofy short, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater. It was a real plus for the effects department, so we went paperless for The Princess and the Frog.”
The former trend in Disney's hand-drawn features where the characters were influenced by a CGI-look has been abandoned. Andreas Deja, a veteran Disney animator who supervised the character of Mama Odie in Princess and the Frog, says "I always thought that maybe we should distinguish ourselves to go back to what 2D is good at, which is focusing on what the line can do rather than volume, which is a CG kind of thing. So we are doing less extravagant Treasure Planet kind of treatments. You have to create a world but [we're doing it more simply]. What we're trying to do with Princess and the Frog is hook up with things that the old guys did earlier. It's not going to be graphic...". He also mentions that Lasseter is aiming for the Disney sculptural and dimensional look of the 1950s. He quoted "all those things that were non graphic, which means go easy on the straight lines and have one volume flow into the other -- an organic feel to the drawing."
Clements and Musker had agreed from very early on that the style they were aiming for was primarily that of Lady and the Tramp, a film which they and John Lasseter feel represents the "peak of a certain kind of animation of the classic Disney animation style". Lady and the Tramp also heavily informed the style of the New Orleans scenes, while Bambi, The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound served as the template for the bayou scenes.
On November 15, 2006, it was revealed that Randy Newman, who is responsible for the music of five Pixar films, would be in charge of the music in the film instead of Alan Menken and his new lyricist Glenn Slater. This change was due to John Lasseter not wanting the public to feel Disney being repetitive, as Menken was also working on another Disney fairy tale film, Enchanted.
During the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting in March 2007, Randy Newman and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performed a song from the film called "Down in New Orleans", while slides of pre-production art from the film played on a screen. Other songs include "Almost There" (a solo for Tiana), "Dig a Little Deeper" (a song for Mama Odie), "When We're Human" (a song for Louis, Tiana and Naveen [as frogs]), "Friends on the Other Side" (a solo for Doctor Facilier), and "Gonna Take You There" and "Ma Belle Evangeline" (two solos for Ray). An end credit song called "Never Knew I Needed" written (and performed) by Ne-Yo.
On December 1, 2006, a detailed casting call was announced for the film at the Manhattan Theatre Source forum. The casting call states the film as being an American fairy tale musical set in New Orleans during the 1920s Jazz Age, and provides a detailed list of the film's major characters, including the leading character, who at that point was to be called Maddy. Disney later officially confirmed this.
In February 2007, it was reported that Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose were top contenders for the voice of the princess, and that Alicia Keys directly contacted Disney's studio chief Dick Cook, telling him that she wanted the role very much. It was later reported that Tyra Banks was considered for the role as well. On April 19, 2007, it was confirmed that Anika Noni Rose would be voicing Princess Tiana. On July 5, 2007, it was reported that Keith David would be doing the voice of Dr. Facilier, the villain of the film.
Promotion and release
On April 20, 2007, E! reported that the title of the film could possibly be changed from The Frog Princess to The Princess and the Frog, and that the lead character Maddy may be getting a name change as well. On May 4, 2007, USA Today published an article that referred to the film as The Princess and the Frog, and to the lead character as "Tiana" rather than Maddy, supporting the earlier reported name-change possibilities. Four days later, BET and other online sites reported that Disney spokeswoman Heidi Trotta stated that some of the original release information was incorrect, and confirmed the USA Today names "Princess Tiana" and The Princess and the Frog to be correct. Trotta stated "Princess Tiana will be a heroine in the great tradition of Disney’s rich animated fairy tale legacy, and all other characters and aspects of the story will be treated with the greatest respect and sensitivity."
The film premiered in theaters with a limited run in New York and Los Angeles beginning on November 25, 2009, followed by wide release on December 11, 2009. The film was originally set for release on Christmas Day 2009, but its release date was changed due to the competitive nature of the family film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, scheduled for release the same day.
On its limited day release, the film grossed $263,890 at only two theaters and grossed $786,190 its opening weekend. It went on to gross $24,208,916 over the opening weekend averaging $7,050 per theater, marking it the highest-grossing start to date for an animated movie in December, while being less auspicious than the animated movies from Walt Disney Pictures' 1990s traditional animation heyday. It also opened at #1 at the box office, but would lose nearly half its gross the second weekend.The film fell just under its budget, grossing $104,400,899 in the US and Canada alone out of its' $105 million budget. However, it had successfully grossed an additional $165 million overseas for a total of over $270 million, making it a success at the box office.
The Princess and the Frog was released in North America on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on March 16, 2010. The film is available in DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray combo-pack editions; the combo pack includes DVD and digital copies of the film, along with the Blu-ray Disc version. The film is was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia on 16 June 2010.
In Disneyland Resort, actors in New Orleans Square parading to the Rivers of America and boarding the park's steamboat. From there, the cast, starring Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Louis the alligator, and Doctor Facilier, would sing songs from the movie, such as "Down in New Orleans," "Almost There," "When We're Human," "Friends on the Other Side," "Dig a Little Deeper," and "Gonna Take You There" following a short storyline taking place after the events of the film. The Disneyland version's actors actually partook in singing, while the Walt Disney World rendition incorporated lip-syncing.
The Walt Disney World Resort's "Tiana's Showboat Jubilee!" ran until January 3, 2010, while the Rivers of America were drained as the tracks were replaced and the Mark Twain riverboat's deck was being refurbished. The show was replaced by an alternative, land-based event, called "Princess Tiana's Mardi Gras Celebration," which features Princess Tiana along with five of the original presentation's "Mardi Gras dancers" and the park's "Jambalaya Jazz Band" as they sing/play/dance to "Down in New Orleans," "Almost There," "When We're Human," "My Belle Evangeline," "Dig a Little Deeper," and "Gonna Take You There". Tiana was also due to appear in Disneyland Paris' New Generation Festival. The song Down in New Orleans was recently added to the audio track on the Mark Twain Riverboat when the boat passes New Orleans Square.
The film has received largely positive reviews by critics and viewers alike. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 85% of 144 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.3 out of 10. Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 81%, based on a sample of 31 reviews and amongst the Rotten Tomatoes' community, the film holds an overall approval rating of 89%, based on a sample of 964 reviews. Saint Bryan of the NBC-TV Seattle went so far calling the film "The Best Disney Movie Since The Lion King". The site's general consensus is that "The warmth of traditional Disney animation makes this occasionally lightweight fairy-tale update a lively and captivating confection for the holidays." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 0–100 from film critics, has a rating score of 73 based on 29 reviews.
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A" and wrote in her review that "the creative team behind The Princess and the Frog upholds the great tradition of classic Disney animation." Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter wrote in his review that "The narrative behind The Princess and the Frog is that Walt Disney Animation has rediscovered its traditional hand-drawn animation, which has been supplanted by computer-generated cartoons." Honeycutt also praised the film for "a thing called story."
David Germain of the Associated Press wrote that "Princess and the Frog isn't the second coming of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King. It's just plain pleasant, an old-fashioned little charmer that's not straining to be the next glib animated compendium of pop-culture flotsam." Justin Chang of Variety being less receptive of the film stating "this long-anticipated throwback to a venerable house style never comes within kissing distance of the studio's former glory."
Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film 3/5 stars claimed "The Princess and the Frog breaks the color barrier for Disney princesses, but is a throwback to traditional animation and her story is a retread." Village Voice’s Scott Foundas’s response towards the film is that "the movie as a whole never approaches the wit, cleverness, and storytelling brio of the studio's early-1990s animation renaissance (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame) or pretty much anything by Pixar." Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review claiming "With The Princess and the Frog they've gotten just about everything right. The dialogue is fresh-prince clever, the themes are ageless, the rhythms are riotous and the return to a primal animation style is beautifully executed." Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, giving the film three out of four stars, highly praised the film admiring Disney's step back to traditional animation saying, "This is what classic animation once was like!" and, in his print review wrote, "No 3-D! No glasses! No extra ticket charge! No frantic frenzies of meaningless action! And...good gravy! A story! Characters! A plot!" The financial and critical success of The Princess and the Frog has persuaded Disney to greenlight at least one new hand-drawn animated feature to be released every two years.
The film's soundtrack album, The Princess and the Frog: Original Songs and Score, contains ten original songs and seven instrumental pieces. The music, a mixture of jazz, zydeco, blues and gospel sounds, was composed, conducted and arranged by Pixar composer Randy Newman. R&B recording artist and producer Ne-Yo made a song exclusively for the film called Never Knew I Needed, an R&B love song referring to the romance between the film's two main characters (Tiana and Naveen). The soundtrack was released on November 23, 2009, the day before the limited release of the film in New York and Los Angeles. The songs are performed by various artists, most of whom lend their voices to the characters in the movie.
The Princess and the Frog was supported by a wide array of merchandise leading up to and following the film's release. Although Disney's main marketing push was not set to begin until November 2009, positive word-of-mouth promotion created demand for merchandise well in advance of the film. Princess Tiana costumes were selling out prior to Halloween 2009, and a gift set of Tiana-themed hair care products from Carol's Daughter sold out in seven hours on the company's website. Other planned merchandise includes a cookbook for children and even a wedding gown. Princess Tiana was also featured a few months before the release in the Disney on Ice: Celebrations show.
Awards and nominations
The film has been nominated for eight Annie Awards. The results were announced at the 37th Annie Awards Ceremony on February 6, 2010 and the film won three of them. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to the fellow Disney film (with Pixar) Up. Two of the film's songs "Almost There" and "Down in New Orleans" were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost to "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart.
|2009 Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media||The Princess and the Frog||Nominated|
|Best Original Song||Randy Newman|
("Down in New Orleans")
|2009 Producers Guild of America Awards||Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures||Peter Del Vecho|
|2009 Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Animated Feature||The Princess and the Frog|
|67th Golden Globe Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||The Princess and the Frog|
|2009 Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||The Princess and the Frog|
|2009 Critics Choice Award||Best Picture||The Princess and the Frog|
|Best Animated Feature||The Princess and the Frog|
|Best Score||Randy Newman|
|Black Reel Awards||Best Film||The Princess and the Frog||Nominated|
|Best Song, Original or Adapted||Ne-Yo|
("Never Knew I Needed")
|Anika Noni Rose|
|Anika Noni Rose|
("Down in New Orleans")
|Best Voice Performance||Keith David||Nominated|
|Anika Noni Rose||Won|
|Best Ensemble||The Princess and the Frog||Nominated|
|37th Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature||The Princess and the Frog||Nominated|
|Animated Effects||James DeValera Mansfield||Won|
|Production Design in a Feature Production||Ian Gooding||Nominated|
|Character Animation in a Feature Production||Andreas Deja||Nominated|
|Bruce W. Smith||Nominated|
|Voice Acting in a Feature Production||Jennifer Cody ("Charlotte")||Won|
|Jenifer Lewis ("Mama Odie")||Nominated|
|82nd Academy Awards|
|Best Animated Feature||Ron Clements and John Musker|
|Best Song||Randy Newman ("Almost There")|
|Randy Newman ("Down in New Orleans")|
- During the song "Dig a Little Deeper", Mama Odie throws a bunch of magic objects including Genie's Lamp.
- Magic Carpet makes a cameo as an actual rug at the beginning of the film.
- King Triton appears as a parade float during the Mardi Gras Parade.
- As Tiana is seen in Charlotte's room, a prince doll that resembles Prince Charming wearing his outfit from Cinderella II: Dreams Come True is seen on the toy shelf.
- Several dolls on Charlotte's shelf look like the Disney Princesses before Tiana.
- During the credits, the riverside shack from the Disneyland version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride appears.
Disney announced on June 4, 2009, that they would release a video game inspired by the film and it was released on November 2009 exclusively for Wii and Nintendo DS platforms. It has been officially described an "adventure through the exciting world of New Orleans in a family-oriented video game," featuring favorite moments from the film and challenges for Princess Tiana.
<videogallery id="0"> The Princess and the Frog Movie Video - "Disneys Newest Princess" Featurette </videogallery>
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