The classic form of Disney animation is back, baby! Hey, don't get me wrong… I love Pixar and all their wonderful computer-generated 3D movies, but nothing can really hold a candle to classic hand-drawn animation. Disney's The Princess and the Frog proves that this is an art form that will always be appreciated, as long as the story behind it is a good one. Since the story in this film is only loosely based on the original Frog Princess fairy tale, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it, but I'm happy to say that yes, I did! Oh yeah, and kids will love it too.
The Princess and the Frog
The story begins with a young girl named Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) who together with her father (Terrence Howard) has a dream to one day open her own restaurant called Tiana's Place. Time passes and Tiana is now a young woman who works hard (at more than one job) and is still pursuing the dream that she and her Dad (who has passed away) had all those years ago. Meanwhile, royalty has come to town in the form of a handsome, young man named Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos). The Prince falls under the spell of the local dark voodoo practitioner, Dr. Facilier (Keith David) who turns the Prince into a frog.
Tiana meets the Prince (who is now a frog) at a masquerade ball, where she is dressed as a princess. Naturally, both the Prince and Tiana have heard of the Frog Princess fairy tale so they kiss, but things don't go quite as planned. Instead of turning the Prince back into a man, Tiana is turned into a frog herself. Now she and the Prince must find a way to reverse the spell before it becomes permanent and they have to live the rest of their lives as frogs.
With the help of Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), a Jazz trumpet playing alligator and Ray (Jim Cummings), a firefly, they race through the swamps of the New Orlean's bayou in search of Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis). They hope that she can somehow reverse the spell, but it's not that easy… the Prince must kiss a real Princess in order to reverse the spell. Can they find a real Princess in time? You'll have to watch the movie to find out, but believe me, you'll be surprised at how it ends.
The Princess and the Frog on Blu-ray
If you're still one of those consumers who hasn’t converted from DVD to Blu-ray, this title will push you over the edge. The picture and sound on this Blu-ray disc are literally perfect – one of the best examples of Blu-ray quality that I've seen and heard. The MPEG-4 AVC 1080p (aspect ratio 1.78:1) picture is a thing of beauty. The colors are vibrant and I couldn't find any visual flaws whatsoever. Disney has truly outdone themselves with this picture.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound is nothing short of splendid and turns this title into a complete immersive experience. The dialog is crystal clear, the sound effects and surround tracks fill out the soundscape perfectly. But the music… oh, the music! Bringing in Randy Newman to do both the soundtrack and the songs was a thing of pure genius. As a matter of fact, in addition to the Blu-ray, you'll probably want to purchase the soundtrack. The songs are excellent and will have you wanting to watch the title again, just for the music alone.
The Princess and the Frog Bonus Features
This title comes with a nice selection of supplements, starting with the Audio Commentary with directors John Musker and Ron Clements as well as producer Peter Del Vecho. They do a great job of talking about the film's development and production. There are also four Deleted Scenes that are definitely worth watching: "Advice from Mama," "Stop and Smell the Roses," "Alternate Louis Introduction," and "Naveen Confided in Ray." A sure to be favorite for the kids is The Princess Portraits Game in which Ray and the other fireflies show silhouettes of the various Disney princesses to be matched with their real portraits.
A favorite for adults and all animation enthusiasts is the Work-in-Progress Version of the film. During the entire film there appears a picture-in-picture (in the upper-right corner of the screen) showing storyboard or rough animation of the current scene. Bringing Animation to Life provides an 8-minute featurette of how dancers and actors were used as references for the animators. Magic in the Bayou: Making of a Princess is a really interesting 22-minute look at the production of the film. Art Galleries provides a huge collection of artwork that was created during the conception of the film.
In addition, there are six mini-featurettes that cover character development and other topics: "The Return to Hand Drawn Animation," "The Disney Legacy," "Disney's Newest Princess," "Princess and the Animator," "Conjuring the Villain," and "Return to the Animated Musical." They are all worth watching. The only thing you can definitely skip in the supplements is the Music Video by Ne-Yo. It's junk, has nothing to do with the movie, and is just a bad song that is definitely not worthy of being included on this title.
The Princess and the Frog – Another Disney Classic!
This title has it all… wonderful story, beautiful sights, immersive sounds, and fantastic songs. Both kids and parents (as well as adults who are still kids at heart) will love it. Disney's return to classic hand-drawn animation is nothing short of breathtaking and all animation enthusiasts should see it. Although a twist on the classic Frog Prince fairy tale, The Princess and the Frog is sure to become a classic in and of itself.
For more information:
* The Princess and the Frog on Blu-ray and DVD
* The Princess and the Frog (Original Songs and Soundtrack)