The Princess and the Frog reviews have a lot to talk about before getting to the actual movie. In each Princess and the Frog review, there’s a lot to be said on how this is Disney’s hand-drawn comeback, and the first African-American themed animated movie. On that second front, there’s a lot of criticism, since the ground breaking African American princess spends most of the film as a frog. But many Princess and the Frog reviews are swept away by the rest, as Disney may still have a future with pencils and paper after all.
Disney’s only animated hits lately belong to Pixar, as their own recent 2D and CGI films have been mixed. Even Enchanted doesn’t count, since that only had animated characters coming to the real world. But The Princess and the Frog is a hand-drawn animated film much like the old days – to a point.
Like the best Disney films, this is an adaptation of a classic fairy tale, with a twist or two. The story of the frog prince is turned into a wild ride through old time New Orleans, with the princess recast as a poor but hard working black girl named Tiana. But after kissing a frog prince, she becomes an amphibian too, and they must battle the swamps, bayous, and an evil witch doctor to change back.
Princess and the Frog reviews are quick to praise the animation, both for being stunning and a chance of pace from CGI. Disney even borrowed Randy Newman from Pixar to provide the New Orleans music. If this was made in Disney’s hand-drawn heyday, it might be thought of as the same old, same old, and it may be. But enough time has gone by, with enough recent failures, to make critics glad to see the old Disney formula work again.
Of course, having an African-American princess in Tiana allows Princess and the Frog to look like Obama-era Disney. However, the two black leads are frogs for more than half of the movie, and Tiana is more like a Reagan-era “pull up by the bootstraps” figure than a traditional princess. To that effect, the New York Times and other negative critics say it “strenuously avoids” race after all.
But Princess and the Frog reviews are still very strong, in spite of this contradiction. Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 84% positive, hailing that “The warmth of traditional Disney animation makes this occasionally lightweight fairy-tale update a lively and captivating confection for the holidays.” There might even be room for Best Animated Feature Oscar attention, if the CGI and stop motion films of 2009 have room.
With reviews praising the return of the old Disney, The Princess and the Frog should have a box office gumbo this weekend. However, it only has one weekend to make it big before Avatar changes cinema forever. But judging by the buzz, it may have long enough frog legs to survive the Avatar and Christmas onslaught.
Rotten Tomatoes- “The Princess and the Frog”
Metacritic- “Princess & the Frog reviews”