Ahead of Beauty And The Beast's cinematic re-issue in 3D (and 2D in selected cinemas), I thought I'd take a look at another Disney movie- to be honest, I wasn't chomping at the bit to see The Princess And The Frog at the cinema but, to my surprise, it is well worth a look.
Set in Jazz Age New Orleans, hard-working waitress Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) is striving to open her own restaurant against all the naysayers who don't believe she is capable of it. The whole town is awash with excitement as the handsome Prince Naveen of Maldonia (voiced by Bruno Campos) breezes into town. However, an encounter with the sinister voodoo man Doctor Facilier (voiced by Keith David) leaves Naveen in a bit of a state- he's been turned into a frog! He meets Tiana at a costume ball and, believing her to be a princess, asks for a kiss. However, this complicates matters even more... It's a sumptously styled film, full of Cajun style jazz and several impressive set-pieces of action.
As is customary for a Disney film, there are some talking animals thrown in the mix- a jazz-loving alligator named Louis and a Cajun firefly named Ray. Kids will fall in love with both but crucially neither are unbearable from an adult point of view; Ray's 'relationship' with Evangeline is a rather touching addition. There's a lot of good humour and the script is quite tightly plotted- Tiana and Naveen's set-to's as Tiana learns to relax a little and Naveen realises his own worth away from his privileged lifestyle (think of it as a reverse Aladdin) are fun as Rose and Campos' vocal performances really spark off one another. The songs are woven in very nicely and they don't jar against the talking, which is a big plus in a musical.
The scenes with Doctor Facilier and his 'friends on the other side' (basically nasty-looking voodoo sprites akin to the shadow creatures in Ghost) are quite freaky and younger kids may be a little scared of him; as is usual with Disney films, the good triumph and the bad are punished - Facilier's punishment is one of the nastier dispatches of a villain in the Disney canon but entirely fitting.
All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and consistently surprising movie.