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The Princess & The Frog

The Princess & The Frog

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE Princess & The Frog marks Disney’s first hand-drawn animated film since 2004’s Home On The Range.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ The Frog Prince and overseen by Pixar’s John Lasseter (now Disney’s animation chief), it’s a terrific throwback to classic Disney that should bring joy to all the family.

A fairytale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans of the 1920s, the film follows the fortunes of a young girl named Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) who dreams of opening her own restaurant, and who is working as a waitress in order to raise the funds necessary.

A fateful encounter with a frog, however, changes her life forever as the frog in question was formerly the carefree Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), who has, in turn, been transformed into an amphibian by a conniving voodoo magician (Keith David).

When Tiana kisses him, she is also turned into a frog, forcing both to enter a race against time to break the spell and reclaim their positions using the help of a trumpet-playing alligator, a Cajun firefly and an old blind lady who lives in a boat in a tree.

Co-directed by Disney veterans Ron Clements and John Musker (of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid fame), The Princess & The Frog is an enchanting throwback to the Disney classics of yesteryear that has plenty to recommend it.

The nods to Disney’s back catalogue are numerous (from The Jungle Book‘s song and dance routines to the unlikely romance of Lady & The Tramp), while the contemporary feel of Lasseter’s Pixar films is also in abundance.

Fans of Chuck Jones’ and Tex Avery’s Warner Bros animation may also spot some of the more slapstick nods too!

Musically, the songs are catchy and memorable, while the New Orleans setting provides a visually stunning backdrop that Musker and Clements enjoy making the most of – there’s an arresting beauty to several of the sequences.

The involving story, meanwhile, expertly mixes laugh-out-loud humour with moments that genuinely touch the heart and bring a tear to the eye.

At a time when digital animation continues to set new standards and break new boundaries in what can be achieved (especially in 3D), The Princess & The Frog offers a nice (and even welcome) reminder of its origins.

It’s a charming musical adventure that should win over the kids, while sending adults on a wonderful nostalgia trip of their own.

Certificate: U
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD and Blu-ray Release: June 21, 2010