The Princess And The Frog - Blu-ray Review

'whilst the quality of the CGI-Pixar films is hard to fault there's something incredibly joyous in Disney's hand-drawn efforts that extends beyond mere reminiscence'

Disney's first hand-drawn animation since 2004 flop Home On The Range, The Princess And The Frog sees the re-teaming of Ron Clements and John Musker, the writing and directing double act behind two of the studio's most popular films; Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. What a shame they don't return to their roots more often. Whilst the quality of the CGI-Pixar films is hard to fault there's something incredibly joyous in Disney's hand-drawn efforts that extends beyond mere reminiscence. Princess exudes a joie de vivre that few films feel comfortable wearing so proudly on their sleeves. It's something that's stored in the Disney magic; the magic of Snow White and Peter Pan and yes, of Clements' and Musker's Aladdin.

It's to Aladdin that Princess initially looks. There's plenty of similar themes as ideas of class and appearance circle around some wonderful musical numbers. The two main characters - Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a waitress and Naveen (Bruno Campos), a prince - are world's apart and quickly at odds with one another despite a pleasant start. Do you think that they might perhaps come to be closer as the plot machinations grind forwards? If this air of inevitability ruins the film for you then you were never going to enjoy it in the first place although, the initial scripting forays into phrases which all seem to highlight that it's 'what's in here that counts' as someone stabs at their chest are both hackneyed and slightly annoying.

Oddly, the film's strongest segment (a middle third spent almost entirely in the Louisiana Bayous) also prevents you from experiencing one of its main assets: the city of New Orleans which, in full party mode and with a nefarious, voodoo villain in Keith David's Dr. Facilier, is a perfect fit for Disney's song and dance combos. Not that The Bayou doesn't have its moments either. In Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), a giant trumpet-playing alligator, the film finds its Baloo, Wooley having a ball as the fun-loving performer of the group trapped in an inconvenient skin. It also plays host to one of the film's best musical moments; the infectious refrain of 'goin' down The Bayou' from Gonna Take You There.

Having said that, Keith David does a great job with Facilier's own musical number, Friends On The Other Side, and like many Disney villains before him (Jonathan Freeman's Jafar in particular) he threatens to steal the show with perfect character design and committed vocalising. In something this sweet though, it's difficult to take anything away from Noni Rose and Tiana. Despite wishes to the contrary, this and Tangled may be the last time we see Disney focus on Princesses for a while and with no plans for more hand-drawn work immediately forthcoming, Clement's and Musker's latest may hold the title of 'last great old-style Disney animation' for some years to come.

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'a wonderful reminder of how beautiful this now-unfashionable animated technique can be' - Phil on Film


  1. I really feel like this one is underrated, and very superior to Tangled which I'm not fond of at all. Imperfect, but completely charming.

  2. Yeah, I agree. I'm surprised I didn't see more four and five star reviews for it when it first came out, I thought it really captured the old Disney magic that I remember from being a kid. Glad you like it too.

  3. I agree Film Intel that it captured the "essence" of the old traditional Disney magic, but I thought the movie lacked the humor and riveting plot that I am used to. Where's the suspense? They were so charming as frogs I didn't care if they ever became humans again. I watched with my daughter on our DISH Network system. Since I'm an employee I get to hear about the newest offers and when I found out we were offering HD Free For Life to new and existing customers that qualify I couldn't wait to jump on that band wagon. DISH offers it on all of their top packages like at120, 200 and 250.