Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Princess and the Frog DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: 1st Disney Cartoon to Feature African-American Princess Arrives on DVD

All Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) ever dreamed about as a child was of one day opening her own restaurant where she could make gumbo alongside her father (Terrence Howard), an aspiring chef. But he passed away while serving in the military during World War I, leaving it to his widow (Oprah Winfrey) to raise their daughter alone in New Orleans on a meager seamstress’ salary. Consequently, Tiana ended up having to work as a waitress in order to save enough money to purchase the abandoned warehouse she wants to convert into an eatery.

However, the blossoming beauty’s plan goes horribly awry when she is asked for a kiss by a frog while attending a costume party dressed as a princess. For the frog is actually Prince Naveen (Bruce Campos) who had been turned into a frog by a voodoo-practicing, diabolical witch doctor (Keith David). But because Tiana isn’t a real princess, a smooch from her fails to break the spell. Worse, she is also instantly transformed into a frog, leaving the two of them stuck in quite a terrible predicament.

Thus unfolds The Princess and the Frog, an enchanting fairy tale which is making history as the first of Disney’s 49 full-length cartoons to revolve around an African-American princess. Visually, the picture is a bit of a throwback, as it relies on hand-painted cells rather than the computer-generated imagery which has become generally embraced as the state-of-the-art. Nonetheless, in the Disney tradition, the movie proves to be a magical blend of romance and song.

En route to their re-humanization and a syrupy-sweet “happily-ever-after” sendoff into the proverbial sunset, our frustrated frogs enlist the assistance of a menagerie of colorful characters who intervene on their behalf, most notably, a firefly (Ray Cummings), an alligator (Michael Leon-Wooley) and a benign high priestess (Jenifer Lewis). Between its jaunty jazz/blues/zydeco soundtrack (ranging from Randy Newman to Doctor John) and a stellar voice cast topped by Anika Noni Rose, Keith David and John Goodman, The Princess and the Frog adds up to a satisfying, cinematic treat.

An instant animated classic destined to delight kids of all ages for generations to come!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated G
Running time: 98 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
3-Disc Combo Pack Extras: Deleted scenes, audio commentary by the filmmakers, a Ne-Yo music video, the Princess Portraits Game, “The Making of” and 7 other featurettes.

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