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Friday, December 11, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW
The Princess And The Frog

A Disney Classic, With A Visual Feast Of Color


Princess or soon to be princess: Tiana, voiced by Anika Noni Rose looks at the prince not of her dreams in "The Princess And The Frog" from Disney, directed by Ron Musker and John Clements, which opened wide today across the U.S. and Canada.  Disney Enterprises

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Friday, December 11, 2009

Who would have thought that Clint Eastwood's "Invictus" would be the film that I would be panning on this day?  Fully expecting "The Princess And The Frog" to be an absolute nightmare I was pleasantly surprised to see that Disney's first African-American animated (or real-life) princess -- despite about 40 minutes spent enduring a frog's life -- was otherwise treated with great respect and class.  That in itself is a triumph (given the long history of Hollywood's racist stereotypes), as is the remarkable vision of Ron Musker and John Clements, who direct this bold new chapter in Disney history.

Mr. Musker and Mr. Clements and their team of animators bring to life a most visually enthralling and gloriously beautiful adventure of Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose of "Dreamgirls"), who looks to fulfill her dreams of opening her own restaurant in the Golden Jazz age down in New Orleans.  Her parents (voiced by Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard) always encourage her to follow her heart.

Of course in a Disney film following the heart will not be an easy proposition, especially when the conniving witchdoctor Facilier (voiced with sublime wickedness by Keith David) concocts a scheme to turn Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) into a frog, while an imposter dons the prince's role.  There have been some complaints about the prince being an Arabian and not being black.  It's not a trivial complaint.  After all, if Disney can finally after 75 proud years of generating classic and legendary animated tales raise a black woman and exalt her in a film that may just become the masterpiece classic it surely is, then why not have a black prince by her side?

In any event there's lots of music, some of it loud, most of it very good, supplementing the incredible bursts of color and classic hand-drawn imagery that flickers vibrantly across the big screen.  "The Princess And The Frog" would have been even more impressive than it already is if it were in IMAX 3D -- there are a few scary visions that would have popped intensely, right off the eight-stories high screen -- but would have been too frightening for children.  As it stands, the film seems far less a vehicle for children than it does for 'tweeners and above.

There are many memorable characters in this funny and lively frog tale, including Ray, Louis and Mama Odie and a host of others that audiences would love to spend time with.  Let the music festival and dance of light begin!

Note: Keith David also voiced the Cat in "Coraline", released earlier this year.
 
With the voices of: Michael-Leon Woolley, Jim Cummings, Jennifer Cody, Peter Bartlett, Jenifer Lewis, John Goodman, Elizabeth M. Dampier, Breanna Brooks, Ritchie Montgomery and Don Hall.

"The Princess And The Frog" is rated G by the Motion Picture Association Of America for general audiences, but contains some scary images that may make some kids jump.  Or at least the kid inside you.  The film's running time is one hour and 37 minutes.       


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Read more movie reviews and stories from Omar here.
   

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