This has cropped up because the DVD and Blu Ray (Bluuu Raaaay) discs were released this week, reminding me that it’s been almost exactly six months since I saw this on holiday in Florida just before Christmas. I took notes while i was there, fully intending to blog about it way back then but, well, here I am. My excuse for seing it at all at the cinema is that there was a major storm coming to Orlando, and we’d already seen James’ Cameron’s Dances With Smurfs on Imax/3D/headache inducing vision. Time, we thought, for a return to safely 2D Disney – especially as we’d spent the day before hanging out at the Disney Florida Park, being brainwashed into seeing it by a trumpet playing alligator dancing on a riverboat.
The alligator turns up later in the story. Bascially, the ‘Princess’ isn’t really a Princess at all. at first. She’s a hard working New Orleans girl with big dreams and a dippy but rich blonde best friend with more father issues than Tiana herself. Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) is working and saving like crazy to open a chic restaurant decorated with cool art deco jazz designs where she can sell her Daddyy’s special gumbo. But, before she can do that, she has to put on a big welcome meal for a foreign prince who’s visiting the city. Before anyone can meet the music-loving prince, he runs afoul of the evil voodoo-loving Doctor Facilier (Keith David from the Thing and Coraline!) and gets cursed into the shape of….well, you can guess by this point! His pth crosses Tiana’s after he mistakes her for a princess, and wacky adventures through the Bayou begin, complete with plenty of singing and dancing and, yes, the bloody trumpet playing alligators!
The songs are great, the animation didn’t seem quite smooth or pretty enough, but it had lots of energy. I remember it as being colourful, inch-deep fun. I’m afraid my experience of it was somewhat marred as the projectionist kept failing to get the whole picture on the screen, which took them so long to correct I almost walked out. But I stuck with it and it didn’t entirely disappoint. I think I was hoping for the Little Mermaid part 2. Well, safe to say it wasn’t that. But this retelling of the famous fable, parodied by Shrek 2 and beyond, is a decent enough interpretation and has – OMG – a black Disney princess! Well, 30 Rock puts it best (sorry it’s pretty quiet…):
Insightful un-PC jokes aside, I’d also like to point out that SPOILERS Tiana spends the majority of this film stuck in the shape of a frog. So, go figure. The standout character was actually the sweet little Cajun firefly, Ray (Jim Cummings) who’s in love with the moon. He doesn’t make it. Sniffle. While not the most fabulous tale Disney has ever told, the 2D was a nice change, and the songs were more interesting than most Disney music – although it reminds me how grateful I am to Pixar for NEVER having songs in their films. Ever. But overall, as a Disney film that doesn’t suck, it rates pretty high.
Now, waiting for Toy Story 3….!