On Saturday, December 12, 2009 I decided to do a “Sorors’ Day Out” (in the pouring rain) and catch this movie. I wanted to support it because the princess is Black (bout time!). Learning that the story took place in New Orleans was icing on the cake. Who doesn’t like a relatable story!? Anyway, I’ll try to summarize the movie’s plot without dropping any spoilers. The story is set in the early to mid 1900s. It is so beautifully drawn. That’s right, back to 2-D baby! I could really hang up some stills around my home. It’s centered around a young woman with a dream (her father’s as well) of owning and operating her own restaurant/nightclub. She works hard and she doesn’t play (literally) and saves everything she has to bring to her dream to fruition. In contrast, the Prince (of Maldonia), is a partying playboy who has never worked a day in his life and has been cut loose by his parents. He sets sail for New Orleans to marry into a rich family to continue living his lavish lifestyle. Of course, he gets mixed up with the Shadow Man with the help of his (the prince’s) attendant and is then turned into a frog. He meets Tiana, who has just heard disheartening news about her restaurant. Thinking Tiana is a princess, he convinces her to kiss him to change him back to human. From there they journey about balance, self, love and all that Disney jazz. So here are my thoughts on the movie and other reviews I’ve seen online.
1. The music was good BUT it was missing those beautiful ballads, like “A Whole New World”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Colors of the Wind”. The movie opened with Tiana singing a New Orleans intro shortly followed by her “Almost There” song. I felt like something was missing from her first full song, but it was short, sweet and ended on a high note. I kept waiting for any character to sing the song I would want to go home and find the lyrics to. The soundtrack is so New Orleans though, so go cop that!
2. Almost all Disney princess movies has “magic” or “mystique” in them. How many princesses were poisoned/tricked by little old lady/witches? Wasn’t the Genie sprouted from a magic lamp? Wasn’t Jafar a sorcerer? One should not take issue that the “magic” in this movie is based on Voodoo. It IS set in New Orleans, which most people ignorantly associate with voodoo. Yeah, there’s deep history, but voodoo was not born here nor is it or ever was a primary practice here.
3. Who cares what race the prince is? New Orleans is the melting pot of the South. I don’t know why anyone would be surprised by a character of Creole culture in a movie set in NEW ORLEANS. I think it was a great idea to leave him racially ambiguous, he can be whatever race you want him to be. He could be Black with Spanish ancestry but he can be white in shining armor to someone else. He’s got a tan and curly hair! LOL
4. I would have liked to see more of “Tiana” though. You’ll know what I’m referring to after you’ve seen the movie.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. I’d add it to my collection and watch it regularly. Given the fairy tale nature of this movie, the cultural depiction seems to be as accurate as it could be. The accents by some the characters are so strong, it’s funny and creepy. I don’t really talk like that, do I? This movie seemed to lack the “Disney magic” as beautifully drawn as it was, it wasn’t “glittery”. Though the premise is fanciful, I guess that’s the price you pay for having such a movie (young Black woman, independent, working to secure her own). Bottom line: great movie, go see it, IN THEATERS!