so make a wish and hold on tight.
There’s magic in the air tonight,
and anything can happen …”
This simple lyric is the “once upon a time” that begins Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. More than just the revival of traditional animation or the debut of their first African American princess, this is Disney’s return to magical, musical storytelling as only they can do.
A Southern-flavored take on the classic fairy tale "The Frog Prince", The Princess and the Frog immerses the viewer in a colorful, tune-filled fantasy world where alligators play musical instruments, fireflies speak in Cajun accents and there’s a happily ever after (if you work hard enough) around every bend in the bayou.
Our heroine is the strong-willed Tiana (voiced by Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose, best known as one of the movies’ Dreamgirls), an independent young woman and master chef who dreams of owning her own restaurant “down on the river” in New Orleans. That dream is sidetracked though when she meets a handsome prince … yet she doesn’t know it at first as he’s been turned into (you guessed it) a frog.
See, the Prince charming-yet-frivolous Naveen (Bruno Campos, of Nip/Tuck 's penisless bisexual serial killer fame) has run afoul of the neighborhood voodoo “shadow man”, Dr. Facilier (voiced by Keith David; a character reminiscent of Sammy Davis Jr.’s Sportin’ Life from Porgy and Bess mixed with Geoffrey Holder’s Baron Samedi from Live and Let Die).
In a devilish plot to get his hands on the riches of the local “Big Daddy”, La Bouff (John Goodman), Facilier facilitates the prince’s amphibian transformation and recruits his put-upon valet Lawrence (Peter Bartlett, best known as the put-upon butler Nigel on the ABC soap One Life to Live) to masquerade as his master. This allows the faux prince a chance to cozy up to La Bouff’s eligible-yet-shallow daughter Charlotte (Broadway babe Jennifer Cody) at her masquerade party.
And this is where the frog-ified Naveen finds Tiana, fatefully attired in a princess costume. Borrowing a page from the fairy tale, Naveen naturally asks the “princess” to kiss him to break the spell … except (as we know) she’s not a princess and the smooch results in Tiana’s own transformation into a frog as well. Talk about “one froggy evening” …
UPDATE: The Princess and the Frog is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com.
Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of The Princess and the Frog on LaughingPlace.com.