If you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for animated movies from 2009; there were a lot of great ones. In honor of Mardis Gras being this past Tuesday, let’s talk about The Princess and the Frog.
The Princess and the Frog was released on December 11, 2009. With directors Ron Clements and John Musker behind the wheel, Disney set out to produce another “BlockBuster.”
With a budget of approximately $105,000,000, and stars such as Anika Noni Rose, Jenifer Lewis, and even Oprah Winfrey (full cast), The Princess and the Frog was made for award season. This reinvented story went on to be nominated for three Oscars, take home twelve awards, and was nominated for another thirty-nine. Now, the really interesting thing about The Princess and the Frog is what it meant for Disney. Part of the Disney Renaissance, The Princess and the Frog marked a return to the traditional style of animation, such as that of the animation seen in movies like The Little Mermaid, Home on the Range, and Aladdin.
Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is a retelling ofthe classic fairytale The Frog Prince; this time, focussing on the life of the “princess.” The soon to be frog, Naveen, Prince of Maldonia, finds himself in the city of New Orleans to find himself a princess. However, when he makes the mistake of getting involved with a voodoo man, he finds himself turned into a frog while his “loyal” companion and handler takes on the role of Prince Naveen and locks Naveen in cage in order to take the fortune of Charlotte La Bouff, princess of Mardi Gras. Meanwhile, Tiana is a hardworking girl living in New Orleans, working round the clock to save every penny she can in order to open her own restaurant, in honor of her father who passed away when she was a young girl. Tiana is working at her friend Charlotte’s Mardi Gras ball, serving her famous beignets, when a dog comes and knocks over the beignets and has to change out of her messy clothes. When she changes into a new dress, Tiana and Naveen’s paths cross. And of course, Naveen tries to convice Tiana to kiss him and she gives the reaction most girls now a days would give, a very certain “heck no.”
But Tiana is persuaded when Naveen offers to buy Tiana her restaurant. Rather than Naveen turning back into a prince, Tiana turns into a frog. The pair are chased to the bayou where they must try to survive. With the help of a trumpet-playing alligator and a firefly, they make their way to Mama Odie, a good voodoo lady, who they hope will help them turn back into humans. Mama Odie seems like a goofy, old, blind woman, but in reality she is a wise woman who encourages them to “dig a little deeper” to find what they truly need. This is the pivotal moment where the moral of the story is revealed.
Mama Odie’s wisdom reveals what matters in life. While, yes it is good for Tiana to be ambitious, the restaurant is not what is important. An initial look at Mama Odie’s advice may suggest that Tiana should stop being ambitious and follow love, however a second analysis made me realize what Mama Odie really meant. Tiana and Naveen balance each other out. Tiana has worked so hard, her entire life, to try to get a restaurant for her father; she has completely ignored any fun thing that comes up and refuses to partake in fun things with her friends because she feels like it would be betraying her father if she doesn’t get her restaurant. Naveen, on the other hand, loves to have fun, relax, and take the easy way, as he has been able to do so growing up with a silver spoon. Naveen does not know what it means to work hard for what you want. This is how the two balance each other out. This is what Mama Odie encourages them to dig deeper for: to find that special person who balances you out while still encouraging and helping you persue your dreams. The Princess and the Frog encourages you to work hard for what you want, but don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.
Whichever you feel is most important, I still highly encourage you to watch the trailer, rent the movie, pop some popcorn, and enjoy!