First, this movie is a great twist on the old fairy tale of the Frog Prince. Instead of a kiss from a princess turning a frog into a prince, the princess is turned into a frog. I love it. More than that, it sets up the story with a bigger adventure, of turning both Prince Naveen and Tiana back into humans.
The art style and the storyline (even the scary bits) are just like old school Disney. The voodoo man, Doctor Facillier, and his dark magic reminds me of the Queen in Snow White and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. The shadow creatures, too, remind me of these. Without his magic, Facillier could be a human version of Scar, almost. Possessed by his greed for power, eventually brought down by the people he thought to be on his side, and is not afraid to kill to get what he wants. And when he does it will absolutely break. your. heart.
I love Tiana, she's a breath of fresh air after years of princesses wanting nothing more than a prince. This is a smart, responsible girl who works towards her dreams. This girl is not satisfied to sit around and wait for the "someday" when her prince will come. She's got bigger plans. And the family angle, just wanting to live up to the goal that she and her dad set for themselves, is also really interesting. Of course, there's the obvious point of her race, which I think is fantastic. It's about time we got some diversity, Disney! (Although that's not to say we haven't before, remember Jasmine & Mulan!) Now this is a princess that little girls can aspire to be: reasonable, intelligent, determined, talented (I wish I could cook like her!), and still get the prince.
Prince Naveen is fantastic as well. Something I love about this movie that we don't see very often is that the guy falls in love first, and I think that is best done in this movie than in previous Disney ones. Yes, it has happened before, think of Aladdin or Sleeping Beauty. The difference between them, though, is that in The Princess and the Frog, Naveen & Tiana don't have a "love at first sight" situation. Nope, they don't like each other like that at the beginning, and then slowly Naveen starts to realize that money and women are great, but that he really loves Tiana, and that just warms my heart. Even better, Tiana doesn't immediately realize that she loves him back, because she's too distracted by her dreams. She has to "dig a little deeper" to find out what she needs. Eventually, they both realize that what they once wanted--money, success, to be human--isn't what they need, that love is more important. Now that's true Disney.
Continuing with the fantastic cast of characters here, let's not forget the secondary ones, for they really steal the show at some point! First we are introduced to Charlotte "Lottie" Lebouff, who is that little girl fed fairytales and spoiled all her life. Like a great foil should be, she is the dreamer to Tiana's hard worker. What I love about Lottie is her constant excitement, and that she could be the stereotypical spoiled rich girl, but instead she gives up her chance at marrying a prince, for her friend Tiana. She could have been a secondary villain, but instead she's a caring friend, and that's wonderful. Also, her interactions with her dad crack me up. The "What just happened?" line makes me laugh every time.
Next up we have Louis, the alligator who wants to be a jazz star. This movie is filled with dreamers, and Louis is no exception. He's also good for comic relief, paired up with the ever-amusing Ray, a firefly from the bayou. I like Louis, but I think Ray is the more important character in this plot, as he leads Naveen & Tiana to Mama Odee, but also he shows them true love, by speaking of his Evangeline, the night star. And even when he's killed, trying to save his friends, he still gets what he deserves, by being united in the night sky with Evangeline. That's also very Disney, and cheesy, but in a good way.
While the characters are the best part of this film, it would be horrible of me not to mention the music. The great Randy Newman lives up to his legacy by providing us with a great soundtrack that mirrors the Jazz Age in which this movie is set. The lyrics are also fantastic and the music will make you want to get up out of your chair and dance along. It's fantastic. Also, setting the story in the Jazz Age was really interesting, and works with the "dream" theme we see throughout the rest of the film, and also brings some beautiful designs for the clothing. I simply love Tiana's yellow uniform for work, with her cute little hat.
So, yeah, I am in love with this movie, if you couldn't tell. And upon watching it again, I felt the need to write up a post about it. That is how much I liked it. My cousin teases me about it, because when we saw it for the first time on Christmas and the lights came up in the theatre, I was sitting there with a grin plastered across my face, giggling and swinging my feet like the five-year-old I really am. This movie was one I could really relate to, and I highly recommend seeing it.