Doug (vo): For a while, the 2D Disney Animation Studio was shut down. This is because the last few movies that were made were not huge financial successes. Half of them weren't even critical successes.
[Clips from The Princess and the Frog are shown. The song "Almost There" plays throughout]
Doug (vo): So after a long time away, Disney decided to finally return to its roots, go back to the fairy tales, go back to the happily ever afters, go back to the magical stuff. This is where The Princess and the Frog comes in. Let me tell you, I was excited to see an animated 2D Disney film on the big screen again, and not just a satire one, I mean a real one. And personally, in my opinion, it didn’t disappoint. Okay, story.
Doug (vo): You got a young woman named Tiana. She has a dream of opening her own restaurant. After her father passes away...I guess some Disney traditions never do truly die...she works her butt off to save as much money as she can. While that’s going on, a prince from a faraway land named Prince Naveen comes into town. His parents cut off his finances because he’s too much of a party animal. But then he comes across the Shadow Man. He tricks Naveen into having him agree to have his soul be put into a frog, while his assistant would take on the appearance of the prince and also work for the Shadow Man. At a costume party, Naveen confuses Tiana for a princess and asks her to kiss him. She agrees, hoping that his riches would help keep her restaurant open. But, seeing how she wasn’t a true princess, she gets turned into a frog, too. And the rest of the movie is them trying to figure out how to lift the curse and how to stop the evil Shadow Man.
Doug (vo): Let’s look at our characters. Tiana is probably the best female lead since Belle. She’s a fast-thinker, she’s positive, and she’s a workaholic. God, never thought you’d see that in a Disney Princess, would you? The prince is also a lot of fun. He’s full of himself, but he’s also got a lot of innocence to him. Tiana’s best friend is fucking hilarious. I haven’t seen a Disney character this funny in a long time.
Eli "Big Daddy" La Bouff: Prince Naveen...
Charlotte La Bouff: Prince Naveen of Maldonia is coming to New Orleans! [Shrieks in delight] Oh, isn't he the bee's knees?! Tell her what you did, Big Daddy! TELL HER!
Doug (vo): Every second she is onscreen, she just cracks me up. The villain is also a lot of fun. The fact that he’s into voodoo allows for a lot of creative visuals and a lot of great possibilities, and they take advantage of them all. And the rest of the side characters are also very memorable. You got an alligator who wants to be a musician, a Redneck* firefly who thinks he’s in love with a star in the sky, and a witch doctor who always has the answer to every question.
- [Actually, Ray's Cajun, not a Redneck]
Doug (vo): So, okay, this film sounds about as good as the classic traditional great Disney movies. What could possibly go wrong with it? Well, there’s only one problem with the movie and, sadly, it’s kind of a big one: the story. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just...a little too complicated. I mean, okay, I told you the basics, but I didn’t even tell you about the fact that the Shadow Man has a deal with the underworld so that he can take control of the town. But in order to take control of the town, he has to have the guy who looks like the prince marry the daughter of the mayor of the town. But in order to do that, they constantly need the blood of the frog prince to constantly give to that guy or else his disguise will fade away. But it turns out the prince has to be kissed by the daughter of the mayor because the mayor always appoints himself the king of the parade, which technically makes her a princess, but that has to be done before midnight on the certain day. But on top of that, you also have to have the two main characters fall in love with each other while they're discovering how to fix their own faults as well as each other’s. Oh, and did I mention that there’s also a totally unnecessary death and a totally goofy, silly funeral scene that’ll either make you laugh or cry or both?! Oh, my God, it’s too much. I always said that this should’ve been called "Loophole: The Movie", because that’s what it always seems like. Every second, they’re trying to look for a new loophole to get around something. Now is it a major problem? I guess not, because you’re constantly guessing what’s going to happen. But one of the charms of movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and so forth is that the stories were always very flowing. They knew exactly how much to give to the characters and exactly how much to give to the details. This movie has way too many details going on, but like I said, it’s not that bad, it’s just not as good as the other Disney flicks had it put together.
[Several song sequences are shown]
Doug (vo): Yes, the songs are Randy Newman songs, and to be fair, two of them are pretty good. "Friends on the Other Side" is a great villain song, and "Almost There" actually has a very memorable nice beat to it. The others, I don’t remember them, and again, I guess that is a problem with the movie. But again, to the movie’s credit, it does take place in New Orleans, and at least the musical style does match, even if it’s not all memorable.
[Several scenes of Tiana are shown]
Doug (vo): I guess before I wrap up, I should talk about some of the controversy that surrounded this movie. Of course Tiana was the first black princess and there was a lot of talk about the fact that originally she was supposed to be a chambermaid. They changed it and made her a waitress, but that caused a lot of uproar, too. "Oh, it’s changing history! Oh, it’s changing the way things were back then!" Well, you know what? There’s a fucking talking frog. I think we’ll live. Yeah, it’s changing things, but you know what? We’re always gonna have reminders of how things really work. This is a fairy tale. Let the kids have their fairy tale. On top of that, there’s also controversy about why the film didn’t do as well as Disney was hoping. Now, it didn’t bomb, let me clarify that, but it wasn’t the gigantic hit they were hoping for. Was it racism? Was the world just not ready for a black princess yet? I guess it could be, but I have my own theory. I think it is a prejudice, but it’s not against black people, it’s against hand-drawn films. It’s been a while since one has been marketed to both adults and kids, and, let’s be honest, this is still a family picture. And the majority of family pictures coming out nowadays are either live-action or 3D. Personally, I think a lot of adults still see hand-drawn films as kid stuff. Now it could get people in the seats if it was really doing something new like The Little Mermaid or just did it spectacularly like Beauty and the Beast. And to be fair, even though I like this film, it really didn’t. It updated the fairy tale very nicely and very cleverly, but the problems with the story do hold it back from being anything spectacular. And like I said before, only a few of the Randy Newman songs are memorable, there’s no "Be Our Guest" in there, so that’s my theory. But, to be honest, it still made money. I’d be more concerned if nobody saw it, but you know what? People did. Was there a ton of them? No. But at the same time, a lot of the past Disney 2D animated films didn’t have a ton of people looking at them and nobody screamed racism at that. But I don’t know all the people in the world, so it’s anybody’s guess. It’s just a theory.
Doug (vo): On the whole, though, I really enjoyed this one. I felt just like I was seeing Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast again. It was great to see it on the big screen, it was great to see these characters, and I had a lot of fun watching it. The animation's great, the colors are great, the characters are great. I enjoyed watching it, and I know I’ll be seeing it a few more times in the future.
[The final scene of the film, showing Tiana and Naveen dancing on the roof of Tiana's new restaurant, is shown as the song "Almost There" ends]