Welcome to the Disney Revival Rundown! This week, we at Rotoscopers are analyzing some of the most recent Disney animated films and looking at what makes each one so great. At the end of the series we will have a fan vote to determine which film is the best of them all!
With the Disney Revival brought about by CG films
in 2009. This was Disney’s first fully 2D animated film since
(2004). This film brought to Disney the first African-American princess, who became one of the four non-Caucasian Disney princesses and the second American princess.
A contemporary retelling of “The Frog Prince”, set in 1920s New Orleans, finds the paths of hardworking waitress Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) and arrogant, carefree Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) crossed; Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by the scheming voodoo man, Dr. Facilier (Keith David), and accidently puts Tiana into the same situation when he believes her to be a princess whose kiss will break his spell. With some help from a trumpet-playing alligator, a Cajun firefly, and an old blind lady who lives in a boat in a tree, Tiana and Naveen must race against time and shadow magic to break the spell and realize their dreams. The introduction of Tiana jumpstarted a new line of Disney princesses – followed by
– and returned to the notion brought on by such self-saving princesses as Pocahontas and Mulan.
In addition to bringing back to the forefront the Disney princess line after 11 years and 6 related sequels, Disney returned to the tried-and-true tradition of a theatrical musical based on a fairytale. With classic music by Randy Newman inspired by jazz, zydeco, blues, and gospel – including a princess solo, a villain solo, a group number, and a love number – the film was a clear echo of the formulaic films of the Disney Renaissance. However, the music was hardly alone in reminiscing about the good old days; the animation itself, inspired by
, aimed for the Disney sculptural and dimensional look of the 1950s. This return to traditional animation began with a new production line of 2D animation – using Toon Boom Animation’s Toon Boom Harmony software as the main software package – to replace the outdated CAPS system of the 1980s. The financial and critical success of
even persuaded Disney to green-light at least one new hand-drawn film every two years; unfortunately, after
in 2011, Disney has yet to return to hand-drawn 2D animation in a full feature film.
Tiana carried on the concept of self-sufficient women. Building on the stories of the previous princesses,
focuses on the idea of a woman who doesn’t have to be independent yet chooses to be anyway. Tiana is in control of herself financially, holding down multiple paying jobs and being realistic when it comes to buying or owning property. This is a woman making her own choices. Tiana is affected by the story, but she moves herself. Lottie, Tiana’s wealthy best friend, is another important step forward for the depth of Disney characters. Lottie is not merely a spoiled rich girl. While she may be somewhat self-absorbed, she shows moments of kindness and thoughtfulness. Lottie displays from the start the truth that
will not be about a perfect person. Each and every character written in this film has both flaws and virtues.
By bringing the fairytale closer to the modern day, Tiana, and other characters, are instilled with more modern lives. Tiana is not isolated in a tower or castle, she is involved in and contributes to the world around her. In doing so, she finds herself so absorbed in getting what she wants that she forgets what she needs – to live, to have fun, to experience relationships – becoming a Disney princess who is hard-working but takes her work to an extreme. The film then introduces an equally extreme complement for Tiana: Prince Naveen. Although not a memorable prince, Naveen provides the opposite end of the spectrum from Tiana; he is charming, conceited, and barely motivated, but his path is incredibly similar to Tiana’s. Naveen, too, is focused on what he wants – a party life with plenty of money and women – and is oblivious to what he actually needs. By forcing each character into an external change by becoming frogs, the characters are forced through an internal change in their pursuit of a return to their normal lives.
is, in many ways, a return to the traditional animated princess film so familiar to the Disney Renaissance period; however, this film is significantly more developed than previous princess films and paved the way for
, the internal conflicts of the characters takes precedence over the external conflicts, creating a change of perception. The main goal is not love or marriage and, despite the marriage that occurs, Tiana’s original dream is never sacrificed. Tiana and Naveen work together to build up her dream from the bottom, and she achieves her original goal: opening her restaurant.
brought back princesses, traditional animation, and a continuing sense of female empowerment. Disney brought the audience a world closer to home, a woman with both career and love, and the idea that faith is just as important as hard work.
boasts an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, three stars out of four from the Chicago Sun-Times, and Roger Ebert wrote in admiration, “No 3-D! No glasses! No extra ticket charge! No frantic frenzies of meaningless action! And…good gravy! A story! Characters! A plot! This is what classic animation once was like!”
? Where would you rank it in our Disney Revival Rundown?
I personally find this film a very average one, but there’s one reason why I would watch it again and again: the animation!
Before this film came out, I never picked a side to the debate on whether I liked traditional animation better or CG animation. But, when I saw this film and the traditional Disney animation that we last saw in ‘Home on the Range’, it just felt so magical and I immediately joined the people who like traditional animation better!
I saw this film in middle school band class and wow, was it great. Though one thing that erked me was that on the Box it had a quote saying “Best Disney film since the Lion King”. My friends were having a discussion about it and one of them had that same quote on the Lilo and Stitch box as well.
Well, if Disney’s marketing division can find a critic who said that, then they’ll use it. Wouldn’t you, in their place?
Gosh I was so excited when this movie came out and couldn’t wait to get to the theater to watch it. However, something about the movie just fell flat for me. I thought the animation was some of the best I’d ever seen for a 2D animated film and the story was fine, but something just didn’t grab me the way past animated features had.
I think for me, it was the music. The songs just didn’t really move me. Now granted, they were perfectly fine, but when compared to other Disney classics, they just weren’t on the same level. I did find the song, “Dig a Little Deeper” to be quite catchy and inspirational and out of all the songs, the one that moved me most.
Although not a complete failure, The Princess and the Frog was “Almost There,” but not quite. In my opinion, Disney nailed it with their next feature “Tangled.”
I too remember being thrilled to see this opening night, only to be a little unsettled about the emptiness of the theater. It was hyped so much that I think everyone, including me, hoped/expected it to be not just a revival of classic Disney, but an immediate revival. All in good time, I suppose, as PATF is an excellent film and paves the way nicely for the storytelling that followed it.
I have to somewhat mirror the comment below mine – this came out in my junior year of high school, and I remember also being really excited to finally see another hand-drawn film from Disney in theaters. Yet my impression after seeing it was: “well, it’s fine… not great.” (I remember wishing they would bring back the 90s blue castle logo at the beginning, but, eh, didn’t really make a difference). I think what my biggest issue was that first time was the story being a little convoluted. I think maybe one of the side characters (perhaps Louis) could have been cut to keep it from feeling as cluttered. That, and the music, while I admire it for evoking the culture of the setting (I really liked how it was set in New Orleans), as opposed to feeling somewhat generic-showtune like the music in Tangled and (don’t kill me, just my opinion) most of the songs in Frozen, was mostly forgettable. Overall, it’s fine, just not the best.
Okay, so this may sound a little crazy but the Princess and the Frog is my favorite out of all revival movies.
This movie has so many of my favorites in all of animation in it! For starters, Tiana and Naveen are my favorite Disney couple. In real life a good couple usually are both equals and help the other become a better person. Tiana is a hard worker (a quality I value greatly) but it gets to the point that she doesn’t have time to enjoy life while Naveen spends too much time trying to have some fun without considering others (which causes his downfall when his family cuts him off and Lawrence turns against him) but when Tiana meets Naveen he teaches her to stop and smell the roses while Tiana teaches Naveen to stop and consider others. They balance each other out and ultimately save each other. A lot of people these days argue over whether the prince should be saving the princess or whether the princess should save the prince but I say “They should be saving each other,” and this movie along with Tangled is a perfect example of this.
We’re both left handed, have a dislike of frogs, dream big and value hard work and I don’t know what it is but I’ve always loved watching people cook and Tiana is no exception to this. Naveen also comes off as a prototype for Flynn Rider in the sense that they’re both selfish people who become better as a result of their partnership with the heroine that they initially don’t like.
A lot of people also feel that the story is a little cluttered but I think that you just have to look closely to understand each character’s individual story line. For example, Louis wants to play the trumpet with “the big boys” and he thinks in order to do that he wants to be human. But Mama Odie teaches us that there’s a difference between what we need and what we want. Louis dreams to play the trumpet and he thinks he needs to be human in order to do so but he doesn’t and ends up fulfilling his dream without it.
It’s so great that you relate to Tiana so much. She really is such a great role model.
I was in near tears when I saw this movie in theaters. I had such high hopes for the grand return of 2D animation at Disney. DX And then they stopped after Winnie the Pooh and Frozen became a CG movie instead. How long will it be until Disney makes the promise again only to squash it a second time, huh?
What I remember most about this movie’s release was the tremendous promotion Disney put into it. It seemed Disney hadn’t been this proud of a film in a long time, and that made me so excited to see it. With every film before it, the synergy had been limited to a small meet & greet in the parks. With PATF came a whole riverboat show at DLR -and- WDW, and Tiana and Naveen were in Disney On Ice that year even before the film debuted. The overall buzz of the return of hand-drawn animation was also exciting to live through. Tiana even got a welcome from the other classic characters in front of Cinderella Castle. They were thrilled to welcome her to the family, and that was neat to see.
The end result (in terms of success) may have been a bit underwhelming to what was expected, to me, at least, but the film itself is beautiful.
I think that The Princess and the Frog is the best of the revival films (that I’ve seen) and Its really the only one comparable to the many great films of the Disney Renaissance. Aside from the return to the “Princess” movie, this film is a bit more adult friendly (in an appropriate way) than many of the other revival films have turned out to be. For example, no cheesy/cheap jokes put in just for the younger viewers. Which sounds kind of dumb to say, considering that is the targeted audience, but there are clearly better ways to get children to laugh.
I LOVE TPATF! It’s AMAZING! When I first watched it, it felt like I was revisiting my childhood and all the Disney magic.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate the voodoo elements in this movie, and passionately wish that they had never included it. However, this movie, in other ways, is so cool. It’s not very typical of a Disney movie. You have the other girl, who isn’t evil, antagonistic, or just plain annoying (Think of Vanessa from The Little Mermaid, The Bimbettes from BaTB, The evil stepsisters from Cinderella, Tiger Lilly from Peter Pan) In fact Charlotte destroys the stereotype of her character by being a true friend to Tiana, and treating her like a person, rather than just an extended slave (I’m not saying that is what African-American’s are, but rather what they we’re treated as.) I love the twist on The Frog Prince story (which actually had no kiss to start with.) and the fact that this is set in the south is awesome. We need another one. I love the characters (Once again, other than Dr. Facillie as well as Mama Odie because of her voodooism). Tiana is awesome, and she doesn’t feel like a in-your-face feminist. She’s just a girl with a dream. The sidekick characters are fun, memorable, and not annoying. They are a southern Timon and Pumbaa or Mushu. My favorite is Louis the Alligator, although I will always have a special place for Ray, as well. While the music isn’t perfect, Almost There and Dig A Little Deeper are fun, and worthy of any Disney playlist. This movie definitely has some of my characters, and I hope they make a good sequel (without the voodoo) If you don’t agree with me about the voodoo, I apologize if I was being to harsh.
I remember just so obsessed with it since it was one of the first Disney Princess movies that came out when I was alive! And I got the soundtrack and always sang along with it and I just love this movie so much!!! Now I might watch it again thanks to this article!
I like how Randy Newman wrote the songs but did not perform them. I know he is a great song writer, but he can’t sing.
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