by Jane Louise Boursaw
Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: G
Released in Theaters: Dec. 11, 2009
Genre: Family, Musical, Animated
Runtime: 97 minutes
Directed by: Ron Clements
Cast: Anika Noni Rose, Jennifer Cody, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jenifer Lewis, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jim Cummings
SYNOPSIS: Set in New Orleans during the jazz age, this animated fairy tale centers on a young girl named Tiana and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again.
Sex/Nudity: Some innocent flirting and one kiss. Prince Naveen is a ladies’ man, but it’s mainly shown through mild flirting.
Violence/Gore: The voodoo magician and his shadow figures who do his dirty work are a little scary, but not overly so. A brief scene features hunters who shoot at a bayou character. A major character is injured and dies (not from the shooting, though), but the funeral scene is handled really well for a kids’ movie, and the outcome is amazingly upbeat.
Which Kids Will Like It? Kids and adults of all ages who like old-fashioned, animated fairy tales with a happy ending.
Will Parents Like It? Yes, it’s a beautiful story with very little questionable content.
REVIEW: Just when you think there aren’t any good family movies being made anymore, along comes a gem like “The Princess and the Frog” It’s got everything going for it, including a cast of colorful characters, a sweet old-fashioned story, snazzy musical numbers, and a cool Deep South setting.
The story, which is a modern-day retelling of the classic story “The Frog Prince,” begins in New Orleans during the Jazz Age. Young Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) tags along with her mother, a seamstress at a wealthy man’s mansion. Tiana and the man’s daughter, Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), are close friends, even though they’re in very different classes in the Old South.
At home, Tiana and her parents (Oprah Winfrey and Terrence Howard) live a poor life, but one that’s rich in friends and family, as they gather for a bowl of her dad’s famous gumbo on the porch. Tiana, too, is a wonderful cook, and she dreams of opening a classy restaurant some day.
Fast-forward about 20 years and Tiana is still holding fast to that dream, working several jobs and saving pennies to buy an old building she hopes to fix up for her restaurant.
But things go horribly awry when the arrogant, carefree Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) comes to town. He’s transformed into a frog by the evil voodoo magician Dr. Facilier (Keith David), but when the frog gets Tiana to kiss him (thinking she’s a princess who will turn him human again), she herself turns into a frog! The two embark on a journey through the bayou in search of an old woman named Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) who lives in a tree and might be able to reverse the spell.
Along the way, the pair cross paths with a trumpet-playing alligator named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) — I kept thinking about Baloo the Bear from “The Jungle Book” — a Cajun firefly (Jim Cummings), and several other fun characters.
What they don’t know, however, is that the Prince’s servant is back in the city working with the magician to marry Charlotte and inherit her father’s wealth.
It’s not often that I come across a family movie that I truly want to see again, but I would see “The Princess and the Frog” again in a heartbeat. It’s a fresh breeze of good, old-fashioned hand-drawn animation and human stories that motor along at just the right pace. It’s not 3D, which I appreciate, and it’s delightfully free of fast-paced car crashes and gross-out humor.
“The Princess and the Frog” is really just a sweet movie that both kids and adults will love.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.