« 'Invictus': It's got game, needs more Mandela | Main | 'Young Vic' intriguing, but not memorable »


Your 'Frog' prince has come; hop to it

With all due respect to recent giant leaps in computer animation technology, "The Princess and the Frog" churns up a singing, dancing, eye-popping musical fairy tale gumbo the old fashioned way and with great success.

Welcome back, traditional hand-drawn animation.  I never thought I'd be glad to see an animated comic-romance where everything stops so the ingenue or the handsome leading man or, in this case, a trumpet-blowing alligator or a 197-year-old magic queen of the bayou could wail a tune.

It happens quite often in Disney's retooling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "The Frog Prince."  Co-directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, who called the shots on "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin" and more, this laugh-filled tale hops to with rousing jazz, blues and gospel music from Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman ("Toy Story," "Cars").

You probably don't need to be told that at some point a princess will kiss a frog in hopes of the frog turning into a handsome, and quite human, prince.  This story, written by the directors and Rob Edwards, varies the theme to include a wild trip through the swamps around Roaring '20s New Orleans.

Although the 95 minute running time might challenge the attention span of little tykes (I might cut out one or two tunes), there's no lack of forward story movement, pulsating music and shadowy voodoo, which they do and might be a little much for very young kids.

Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose "Caroline, or Change") pumps determined life into Tiana, a rich (in family love) poor girl with a big dream.  She wants to open a restaurant that her Daddy (Terrence Howard) also dreamed of but never accomplished.

It's not as simple as kissing a frog to make it happen in this well-constructed romantic-comedy, however.  There are more obstacles than Tiana can shake a gumbo spoon at.  For one thing, the slimy frog claiming to be Prince Naveen of far-off Maldonia might just be a frog.

All the voices are right on the money.  John Goodman bellows as Big Daddy.  Keith David, whose animated form looks a lot like they had Samuel L. Jackson in mind, fills the screen with frightening voodoo menace as Dr. Facilier and  Broadway vet Jenifer Lewis ("Eubie," "Hairspray") stops the show as a backwater bayou voodoo-doo queen encouraging two frogs and an oversized alligator to "Dig a Little Deeper" if they want to be human.

Gather up the kids, in fact the entire family and head to the theater knowing that "The Princess and the Frog" is a tremendous success at recreating the nearly lost art of hand-drawn enchantment.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Your 'Frog' prince has come; hop to it:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.