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  1.  (7422.1)


    http://andrenavarro.wordpress.com

    "Look, a black princess!" says Disney, proud of itself for being so stunningly ahead of its time, like we're all supposed to let our jaws drop and applaud pretending it isn't a marketing strategy, but a genuine attempt to show the world that it doesn't matter whether you're black or white -- which paradoxically defeats the purpose of this film, since if it doesn't matter, why the fuck should I care whether the princess is black, white, albino or vomit-green? I thought the whole idea of this "no racism" thing is, you know, not taking skin color into account?

    And okay, Disney, if you really must act like a little kid seeking mom's approval, at least do it by giving your film the same thing your older classics used to have: a heart. "The Princess And The Frog" is one of the blandest animations ever made by the studio, so irritatingly happy, artificial and unimaginative that the mostly well-done 2D animation stops mattering. This from someone who grew up on Disney movies.

    The story is set in Jazz-era New Orleans and it's about Tiana, a black waitress with no flaws whatsoever who is a darling to everyone and comes from a equally perfect family, therefore establishing herself as a painfully dull character. Dreaming to have her own restaurant, she finds herself in a desperate situation and, suffering from a lack of mental faculties like everyone else in this film, she keeps asking a star to help her out. Eventually, a talking frog shows up and asks her to kiss him so he'll go back to being the prince he was a few minutes ago before being cursed. But when she kisses the frog, she becomes a frog herself and they'll meet several characters in their journey to blah blah blah insert artificial love story and monologues about the importance of dreaming here yawn fuck off.

    Of course that, for the entire film, you don't see the slightest bit of racism. Proving that their "look, a black princess!" bravado was just as shallow as this film, the most Disney risks is portraying class differences, but never showing a single black character being noticed as such, despite this happening in a time when racism was much more blatant. In fact, in an overcompensatory fashion, there are no good WHITE characters in this film. Tiana's white millionaire friend (yes, Tiana has a millionaire white girl as her best friend, I'm completely serious) is the closest we get to one, and she's a vain idiot. And the black villain, Facilier, divides his evil deeds with the prince's aide, an evil white fat guy who looks quite a lot like poor Timothy Spall.

    And of course, Facilier is the ONLY black villain in the entire movie (and the only character, save the hunters, who is even slightly interesting, ironically). Every other black character in the film is nothing short of an angel (the arrogant prince is from another country and his skin color is kind of mid-term, so I'm not counting him) proving that while the filmmakers wants us to believe they understand racial differences, they completely fail to understand people.

    And that's the film's main flaw: it tries to make a big deal out of its supposedly important "breakthrough", but making a film about skin color in such an era and failing to address how it truly was like is far more offensive, mainly to the portion of the audience who likes using their brain every now and again. Black people, white people, people who use piercings, religious people, gay people, they're all PEOPLE and as such, you're going to meet many who suck regardless of sexuality, fashion preferences, beliefs and skin pigmentation in any time period you care to name.

    Of course people eat this shit up. They want to take Disney's hand toward a future where there is no racism, but Disney's notion of morality is way back into the past. I've had people, including friends, make racist comments to me in this day and age. Making a big deal out of a black princess won't achieve a thing -- you're still setting black people apart from a different direction, and announcing this loudly and proudly helps absolutely no-one but the filmmakers themselves.

    Having a black princess go through the same motions of every other Disney film will only mean marketing and money for the studio. The least I expected was for Disney to have some balls, instead I was treated to a pretentious film that tries its hardest to end on the happiest note it possibly can -- even a character's death is compensated by retarded symbolism.

    To make things worse, "The Princess And The Frog" is painfully badly-written, with bland dialogue and uninspired characters. It takes only a few hours for the frog prince and the frog princess to go from hating each other to wanting to marry each other, and the new friends they make in their journey, an idiotic jazz-playing crocodile and an idiotic firefly, are written in such a jolly way they kept reminding me of the adorable Happy Tree Friends, with the exception neither of them dies in hilariously gruesome ways (which is the reason the Happy Tree Friends are so adorable: they die horribly).

    Only the three hunters who show up halfway through the film are truly interesting and funny, being hillbillies depicted in a relentlessly stereotypical fashion -- and their participation lasts no longer than five entertaining minutes, after which we're back to the frog prince falling in love with the frog princess and the supporting characters trying to be adorable and only managing to be retarded.

    And here's the film's idea of a good one-liner to be said in a moment of triumph over the villain: "It's not slime, it's mucus!"

    (continued in comments)
  2.  (7422.2)
    The musical numbers fare slightly better, failing to be memorable to the ear but the eye is treated to some inventive animations (especially during Facilier's turn). However, some notes on the first song reminded me strongly of "You've Got A Friend In Me" from "Toy Story", and the composer of both films is Randy Newman, so I think it's a fair guess that the guy was simply out of inspiration and not willing to try any harder. As for the cast, I saw the version with Brazilian voiceovers, so I can't form an opinion on the original actors.

    As for the visuals, I caught some bad animations here and there (depictions of characters walking, mainly), but overall it lives up to Disney's standard of fluidity and energy, and there's some good visual jokes (like a couple dancing very exageratedly, and it's a shame the camera barely gives them two seconds of screen time).

    So yes, the studio most definitely should go back to 2D animation -- it was stupid they ever gave it up to begin with. But next time the usually ingenious John Lasseter should remember to attach a good story to it, and try and make that the film's highlight rather than the amount of melanin in the protagonist's skin.
  3.  (7422.3)
    I saw this today and must write an opposing review, as I enjoyed the film.

    Few arguments:
    John Goodman plays the millionaire girl's Dad and is not evil.
    The crocodile and firefly are awesome and represent Jazz fans and Cajuns, respectively.
    There is at least an inkling of racism, as the moneylenders for Tiana's business say "It would be hard for someone from your background."
    The star is an homage to older Disney movies, such as Pinocchio, and fits well within the story.
    The story avoids modern pop culture references and tropes unlike most of Dreamwork's spew.

    All in all, The Princess and Frog is at least as good as some of the stuff in Disney's Renaissance era (Mermaid-Hunchback).
  4.  (7422.4)
    John Goodman plays the millionaire girl's Dad and is not evil.


    Never said he is, and I didn't say she was either. Both are presented as counterpoints to the protagonist's perfect personality, as they're incredibly vain.

    The crocodile and firefly are awesome and represent Jazz fans and Cajuns, respectively.


    To me they were simply irritating, with the writers going out of their way to endear them to the audience, resulting in a "jolly" characterization that's dull and unidimensional.

    There is at least an inkling of racism, as the moneylenders for Tiana's business say "It would be hard for someone from your background."


    "It would be hard for a poor waitress," basically. The moneylenders seem much more concerned about her poor history and lack of experience, not whether or not she's black.

    The star is an homage to older Disney movies, such as Pinocchio, and fits well within the story.


    It's an integral part of the story here and used in a constant and annoying attempt to make the audience cry.

    The story avoids modern pop culture references and tropes unlike most of Dreamwork's spew.


    Pop culture references are not a bad thing when used wisely, their major problem being that they shorten the lifespan of a movie if used excessively due to the reference losing its meaning over time. But movies that know how to use them can preserve the humor eternally. "The Princess And The Frog" has no pop culture references, no, but the film's humor is, regardless, terrible most of the time.

    All in all, The Princess and Frog is at least as good as some of the stuff in Disney's Renaissance era (Mermaid-Hunchback).


    While I barely remember Mermaid, I consider "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" to be miles cleverer than this film and it has that heart I mentioned in the beginning of the review.
  5.  (7422.5)
    We must duke it out over Friday Night Skype, because Hunchback was a giant piece of crap with no heart but money.
  6.  (7422.6)
    At least it didn't have a line like "It's not slime, it's mucus!"
    •  
      CommentAuthoragentarsenic
    • CommentTimeDec 14th 2009 edited
     (7422.7)
    I think one of the main appeals of the movie, at least for Americans, are the depictions of 1920s Nawlins and it's residents. The firefly has an awesome Cajun accent.

    At least Princess and the Frog doesn't lamely sing half the lines like Hunchback does.

    Like I said, Friday, at the Skype, we will battle.

    Also: James Cameron's Avatar is going to suck. Big time.
    •  
      CommentAuthormister86
    • CommentTimeDec 16th 2009 edited
     (7422.8)
    Andre, see, I never thought of the Disney not wanting to be seen as racist line of intent with Princess and the Frog. Instead, I see the movie's real reason having to do with the following picture.

    Disney Princesses

    See that? That's Disney's most lucrative money maker at the moment. The Disney Princesses line up. The addition of Tiana, in my opinion, was mostly based less on not appearing racist and more direct racial marketing.

    EDIT: Also, Andre and Agent? I formally move that your discussion be in the form of a rap battle.
  7.  (7422.9)
    Yes, I know. Hence:

    "Look, a black princess!" says Disney, proud of itself for being so stunningly ahead of its time, like we're all supposed to let our jaws drop and applaud pretending it isn't a marketing strategy, but a genuine attempt to show the world that it doesn't matter whether you're black or white (...)"

    "Having a black princess go through the same motions of every other Disney film will only mean marketing and money for the studio."

    It gives the company money along with a "nice" reputation. Seems likely they wanted both.