Friday, March 19, 2010

Must-Watch Friday - Disney's The Princess and the Frog

Modern Heat author Heidi Rice gets all dewy eyed about the wonder of Disney's latest animated feature. A funky new take on the old Frog Prince fairytale complete with Jazz Age New Orleans settings, music by Randy Newman and the House of Mouse's first African-American princess. 'bout time too fellas!

Now not a lot of people know this, but a few years back some bright spark at Disney Studios decided they should stop making films featuring drawn animation! I know, what a plonker. 

Well, the good news is, after they made the atrocious Chicken Little and it tanked, that particular bright spark got the boot. Then the even better news is that they rehired the team behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (yeah, that's right, they had fired those guys, DUH!) and they got to work on what to my mind may end up being one of Disney's best-ever drawn animation films. I loved this movie. It's bright, witty, funny, glorious to look at, has great songs from Randy Newman and features not only Disney's first African American princess but also one with a career!!
Needless to say the animation in The Princess and the Frog is simply superb — a feast for the eye of expressive, richly drawn characters, intricately detailed backgrounds - which draw on the elaborate and unique architectural splendor of Jazz Age New Orleans and the moody magic of the Bayou - and put together with the bold lines, vibrant colours and fluid style that Disney are famous for.
The story itself, based on the classic Frog Prince fairytale, boasts some highly original twists and turns and a cast of vividly-drawn characters: A penniless foreign prince in dire need of finance to pay for his wastrel lifestyle, a waitress with a dream that doesn’t at first involve true love, a really scary voodoo villain called The Shadow Man, a hilarious frog kissing sequence that doesn’t quite turn out as planned and lots of snappy rom-com dialogue as our mismatched hero and heroine fall in love while struggling to return to human form and make their dreams come true.
Added to that are some terrific supporting characters - including a love-struck firefly and an alligator who has delusions of being a jazz musician. And the fact that the story gets maximum mileage out of its exotic New Orleans setting.
Now, Tiana our princess being black is pretty cool, partly because it’s been such a long time coming, but our heroine’s skin colour would be nothing more than a token if it weren’t for the fact that she’s such a wonderful character. Feisty, independent, determined and surely the first Disney Princess with a career goal, Tiana is a strong role model for any little girl whatever her colour. Voiced by Dreamgirl Anika Noni Rose, Tiana also has a knock-your-socks off singing voice (like any Disney Princess worth her salt), which brings us to the movie’s songs by veteran songwriter Randy Newman.
Newman, who was born in N’Awlins and provided songs for Toy Story 1 & 2 and Cars, has excelled himself here, bringing the Crescent City’s many musical influences - Jazz, Soul, Cajun, Gospel, etc - to bear on his play list.
And last but not least we have the moral of our story: That you can dream big but you have to work hard to make it happen. And knowing what you want isn’t the same as knowing what you need.
Pretty darn deep, eh? For a Disney movie. And something that should ring a chord with those of us who like our romance to have heart and soul (as well as hunky guys).
Heidi is currently celebrating her new status as a USA Today Bestselling author with her March Harlequin Presents release Public, Affair, Secretly Expecting hitting the 100 spot! Cue snoopy dance!

She also has a sneak peek of her next Modern Heat release, Unfinished Business with the Duke, up on her website which is due out at the end of May in the UK.

Come have a natter on her blog, or on Facebook, or you can contact her through her website


  1. My 3 yr dd and I have had this movie on constant playing loop since Tuesday.

    This is a great romance and Disney has finally gotten back on track!

    No kids? Doesn't matter - see it anyway!!! I can't say enough nice things about this movie.

  2. I've wanted to see that one. I've seen most all the Disney films though I admit Aladdin and Beauty and The Beast are my favorites.

  3. Glad to see you guys like a good Disney flick, checking in from the wonderful city of Atlanta today... And had a trip to the swamp last week, which reminded me of this fab movie. Definitely see it, with kids or just for the kid in you!

    Heidi x