Disney’s Back

My dad and I took my 4 year old daughter to see Disney’s the “Princess and the Frog” yesterday. This was her first Disney movie in the theater. In truth, I think I enjoyed it more than she did. I was a big fan of Disney in the late 80s and early 90s. But I’ve never been able to get into the Pixar stuff and I thought “Hercules” was one of the lowest points in Disney feature film animation. It was fun to see Disney animation get back to what they do best. And, “The Princess and the Frog” owns a place among “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin.” It’s a fun family friendly movie with good music and a great message.

My favorite aspect about this particular film was the overall message of the story. The lead characters are foils of each other each showing opposite extremes that many of us in the United States fall into. On one hand, you have Nazeen the lazy no-account prince looking for a rich wife to support him since his parents have cut him off financially. On the other hand, you have the workaholic Tiana who’s only focus is her dream of opening a restaurant to the point of neglecting everything else, especially relationships. A representation, in my opinion, of the root of these negative traits is the evil Dr. Facilier (materialism incarnate) who promises to give you all that you dream. Yet, Facilier’s dreams all turn into nightmares. The counter-balance to Facilier is Mama Odie who teaches Nazeen and Tiana that true fulfillment is not getting what you want, but digging deeper and learning to get what you need. What both Nazeen and Tiana realize they need is love, a relationship with someone they love who loves them in return. This they find in each other. In true fairy tale fashion once they sacrifice their wants for what they truly need they receive what they want as well, and live happily ever after.

The music in this film was a lot of fun, especially if you like jazz. The popular jazz was an apt background for a film set in early twentieth century New Orleans. Although Randy Newman did a very good job he’s no Alan Menken. While the animation and storyline hearken back to some of the great Disney animated features, the music of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman is still the high water mark of Disney music and “The Princess and the Frog” does not quite reach that high.

For all you parents out there, my daughter found certain parts of the movie a little frightening. Probably no more so than the scenes with Ursula the Sea Witch in “The Little Mermaid” or Scar in “The Lion King” but that is something to consider when taking young children. There were, however, no nightmares and overall she had a positive experience.

OK, this post is way too long already, but since most of my readers are Christian I should address the issue of voodoo in the movie. Voodoo is an important device in the plot of the movie. It is how the villain is able to gain the upper hand and create the initial conflict and it is how Mama Odie is supposed to be able to help the lead characters get out of their predicament. Obviously voodoo is a negative aspect of Cajun and Caribbean culture that should not be condoned or promoted by followers of Christ. With that said, this is a movie. It’s an animated feature. It’s a fictional story. It’s not real. (OK, I can’t think of another way to say it, if I could I’d add it here.) The use of voodoo in this move is no more pernicious or evil than the use of magic in “Snow White” or “The Little Mermaid” or the power of Genies in “Aladdin.” Moreover, the fact that the villain does bad things is a good teaching point and voodoo is merely a tool to move the plot forward and should not overshadow the positive aspects of this excellent film.

OK, I promise my next post won’t be so long, but if you’ve seen “The Princess and the Frog,” I’d love for you to post your review here. And if you disagree with something I said today, feel free to tell me and let’s talk about it.