27 June 2016 | Vartiainen
Neat but hollow
Disney returns to hand-drawn princess fairy tale animation after a stint of Pixar-esque computer animated films. This time the inspiration being the classic tale of The Frog Prince by Brothers Grimm. But, being Disney, they throw their own spin on it. The story takes place in 1920s New Orleans and features Disney's first African-American princess in Tiana.
I really like the setting a lot. New Orleans is a fantastic setup for this particular story, with its African-American culture, voodoo, bayou environment and all the music it inspires. Tiana and Dr. Facilier, the villain, are both fantastic characters and fully fleshed-out by the film. Dr. Facilier especially is very memorable and has one of the better villain songs in the entire canon. Charlotte, Tiana's childhood rich kid friend, is also absolutely hilarious.
Unfortunately, the story isn't quite that good. It feels more like Disney going through motions than it feels a proper fairy tale. We have the setup, the twist, the journey, the final battle, but you can practically see the story boards being switched behind the scenes. You don't buy the illusion. Plus, the songs are not that hot. The villain song is very good, and Almost There is not half bad either, but the rest are garbage. Especially Dig a Little Deeper, which is so painfully Oscar-crappy that you can't help but cringe.
All in all The Princess and the Frog is a mixed package. Its heart is in the right place and I love that we had this one final traditionally animated princess film, but it could have been a lot better, if we're being completely honest. Objectively a fine film, but not up to Disney's usual standards.