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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Princess and the Frog (spoilers are marked)

   
Author Topic: Princess and the Frog (spoilers are marked)
Shanna
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So my mother and I went and saw the "Princess and the Frog" tonight along with a full house of Louisiana locals.

In short: I really enjoyed it!

I had some doubts going in. I REALLY dislike Randy Newman but the soundtrack was amazing. He really made an attempt to capture all the sounds of New Orleans music from jazz to zydeco to gospel, etc. And I gotta say he was hugely successful. There's one slow song that Ray sings that doesn't have the impact it needs for the scene and it sounds very "Newman-ish," but its the only musical low point for me.

Other good news, Ray the Cajun Firefly is not nearly as disgusting as I was expecting. All the fart/butt jokes we saw in the trailer and previews...those are pretty much all of them. For most of the film, he's actually quite adorable and charming. Not the horrible stereotype that had quite a few people I know worried.

But the cast of characters is great. I loved Louis the Jazz-Playing Gator, Mama Odie the Voodoo Godmother, and Dr. Facillier the Voodoo Shadowman. Anika Noni Rose is great as Tiana and Naveen was REALLY funny. He has all these great little one-liners.

I would absolutely recommend seeing it on the big screen. The scenery and the colors...WOW! Gorgeous!

I have to say that you can tell the writers and animators did their research. Everything was spot on from the accents (excellent!) to each and every view of the city. The detail was stunning from the mansions on St. Charles to Tiana's shotgun house. In one of my favorite moments, Tiana sets a table for a mother complete with salt, pepper and Tabasco. And there is a line from Ray that had our audience dying! People will be quoting it for awhile. It probably won't have the same impact for people not familiar with the area, but we loved it. The personal touches were just done so sincerely.

Negatives: Tiana and Naveen spend ALOT of the movie as frogs. They made such a big deal of her being the African-American princess, but then she's green for a huge chunk of time. It works for Naveen because he's so over the top, and the emotion reads well no matter what face he has. Tiana as a frog just looks weird and it didn't work for me.

In the end, its NOT the best Disney hand-drawn film ever made. I'll have to see it a few more times to see where it ranks on my personal list. But I WANT to see it again and again, so that's a great sign.

Our whole theater applauded at the end (think what you will movie applause) so obviously its a movie that appealed to adults and kids, most who sat quietly and absolutely rapt during the whole thing.

[ December 12, 2009, 01:35 AM: Message edited by: Shanna ]

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PSI Teleport
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Question(s): Are there any/many big scare moments? Heart-stoppers? How scary is it?
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Shanna
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I wouldn't say it was very scary. Dr. Facillier wasn't too bad (there's lots of bright colors involved in his scenes, as odd as that sounds.) And I don't remember any "shock moments."

There is one sensitive moment towards the end that had a few of the kids confused. Not crying or anything, just asking their parents to explain. But its handled well and all the kids in my theater left very happy and giddy.

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Raymond Arnold
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This was good to hear. I wanted to be excited about seeing this, but hadn't had any really solid "man it was amazing" reviews yet. A lot of people focused on the fact that she's a frog so much of the time, and while I think it's fair to wish otherwise, frankly I don't think that makes it a bad movie. Everything I've seen suggests that the movie provides black children with plenty of positive role models and messages. But that's been what so many reviews have been focusing on it was hard to get a review of what the movie actually was, as opposed to what people wanted it to be.
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sarcasticmuppet
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I thought it was great! Good music, and a very engaging story. I found myself highly invested in the characters, especially when...

...

SPOILER ALERT! (sorry to bust the perfect record)

...

...When Ray was crushed, I gasped. It was so surprising, especially for a Disney movie. His death made the conflict very real and dangerous to me. The payoff at his funeral was very satisfying (I cried a little).

..

...

END SPOILER!!!

I also like that they really tried to address the race and class issues without being too in your face (it was, rightfully, secondary to the fantastical plot). The two realtors were condescending to Tiana because of her "background" (their chosen euphemism, I guess) but one guy pointed out that Disney even went so far as to dress the guy up as a horse's rear end to deliver that particular bit of dialogue.

Ultimately, the moral was very refreshing and frankly pretty much opposite of the other Disney princesses in the past. There was never a moment when I was bored or in pain, and there were some great one-liners all around.

Disney could do a lot worse than if they made a whole lot more films like this one.

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Shanna
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I think the expectations are going to doom it for quite a few critics. But it simply can't be everything to everyone.

Please recognize that I'm alittle biased being such a hometown fangirl. Even the briefest mention of po-boys had me squealing.

The message is good, and multi-layered which is different, and we're all glad to see Disney back on its game. Just don't expecting the GREATEST THING EVER!!!1!1! [Smile]

If you're looking for some eye candy, a good story, and a fun time then you're in for a treat with a healthy dose of nostalgia.

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Ginol_Enam
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Compared to more recent Disney movies, I was just as happy coming out of the movie as if it were THE GREATEST THING EVER!

It may not quite as high as the super-classic Disney movies, but its loads better than everything for the past decade or so. I just hope Disney is able to stay in this frame of mind. Rapunzel (their next film) is looking like a solid "return to form" film as well. Its not hand-drawn, but the concept art (viewable on IMDB) looks fantastic. I look forward to what might hopefully be the new animation renaissance in the '10s.

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PSI Teleport
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Spoilers
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Gosh dangit. Is it too much to ask for a family movie where a sympathetic character doesn't die? Not for my kids' sake, but for mine. It killed Up! for me. There seems to be this new trend of trying to make cartoons more realistic or relevant or whatever, and I can't say I like it. I'd love a decently-made movie that's just light and fun, but apparently they don't make those anymore.

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TomDavidson
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I wouldn't say it's a "new trend" for Disney to kill off sympathetic characters.
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sarcasticmuppet
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Spoilers...


I disagree. Villians aren't actually dangerous unless the characters are in danger. I thought that moment was necessary for really understanding the risk Ray took in taking the amulet, and understanding just what kind of character Facilier was. And If Ray had lived after being stepped on, it would have cheapened the sacrifice he made for his friends, and he would never have gotten to be with Angeline.

Of course, I also thought Wash's death in Serenity was similarly justified.

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PSI Teleport
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sarmup: I know what you're saying, and I agree to an extent. But I don't think any Disney movies up 'til now have had to kill off a protagonist, and I didn't think any of those were less interesting or believable or powerful.

(Actually, there was Bambi. I hated that movie.)

I can remember being gripped with fear over Snow White and her encounter with the witch, and Ariel with Ursula, etc. No one had to die. The ending didn't have to be bittersweet. That's all I'm saying. Occasionally I'd like something a little more lighthearted, but films like that are getting harder and harder to find.

Tom: Neither would I. I didn't say it was a Disney trend, but it's definitely something I'm seeing more and more often in family-oriented films. More darkness in the light. More sadness. Don't get me wrong, I think that has its place, and I enjoy it from time to time. But not always.

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MidnightBlue
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I thought it was really good. There is a spot that might have been a bit scary for me when I was little, but it passed quickly and I've always had a really low tolerance for tension. (And I would say that it was probably more tense than scary.)

And it's Evangeline, not Angeline.

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Philosofickle
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I absolutely loved this movie. At the beginning I felt out of place. While watching it I felt like either I should be able to quote every line already or that I should be ten years old again. That's how well they captured the spirit of the early nineties disney movies.

I ablsolutely loved Dr. Facielier SP? and the system of magic with the shadows was one of the coolest/creepiest things I have seen in a while.

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sarcasticmuppet
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PSI: *shrug*, it's kind of a product of our times, I think. But I wouldn't want to go back to having such passive heroines like Snow White or Ariel. Or Phillip in Sleeping Beauty who didn't actually do anything for himself (the godmothers were basically doing everything) but got the girl and the credit anyway. It never seemed like there was any real risk. The poisoned apple only made you fall asleep, and if things got really tough, there was a fairy godmother somewhere to sort it all out for you. Not to say that those films weren't good, but they are definitely products of their time, and pretty well sugar coated any fairy tales they were based on (Grimms brothers, anyone?). I like stories with a little more meat to them.
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scholarette
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I just watched Princess and the Frog for the second time (three year old daughter) and while on the first viewing I was like, it was ok, on the second, it was pretty awesome. I will probably buy it for my collection (again, three year old daughter)- which on first viewing I thought, we'll see how much little girl begs. Of course, I have vacationed in New Orleans and being in Texas, we know a lot of people from that area. My husband would occasionally nudge me and say Ray is so like Bob at work, or that gator reminds me of Joe, etc. I wonder how much it works for people who have not eaten beignets or watched the jazz players on the street, etc.

The other interesting thing, I was thinking, wow, how did this movie get so much better this time and before I said anything my husband asked me that same question. So, it wasn't just me.

I also find it interesting that for my daughter, the whole black princess doesn't mean anything. She has black friends and black dolls and this is just one more princess toy she needs to collect.

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Sterling
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I actually saw this a little more than a week ago, but I felt a little silly starting a thread about it.

My daughter (6) is pretty sensitive, but I have to warn that she found it kind of scary and upsetting. Ultimately, she enjoyed it, but at the time she was cringing a lot. And her friend, who we brought with us, I think found it more upsetting than fun.

As for me, I thought it was really quite good. I definitely appreciated that it featured some thoughtful themes without beating the audience to death with them. Aside from the light touch on racism, I like the contrast between the evil Dr. Facilier, who gives people what they want (or think they want) and twists it, and the good Mama Odie who focuses on giving people what they need.

Ray was kind of surprising. It would have been so easy to make the Cajun character a likable hick, but perhaps his most noteworthy characteristic is his extreme competence. A pleasant surprise.

The music was kind of "eh" to me. I like Randy Newman, and none of the score is remotely bad, but it doesn't exactly team with standouts that you'll be humming on the way out. "Almost There" was probably as close as it came.

By and large, I felt it was a very enjoyable movie. I hope it marks a return to traditional Disney animation, and they can keep up such displays of talent, thoughtful storytelling, and class in an era with an overabundance of cheap, fart-joke-laden CGI affairs.

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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
Spoilers
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Gosh dangit. Is it too much to ask for a family movie where a sympathetic character doesn't die?

If you can in your area, go see Ponyo. It will do your spirits a world of good.
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