I finally got a chance to see The Princess & the Frog this weekend, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In debuting its first black princess, Disney got a lot right. Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. The message was very timely and audience-conscience. You can have a career and a man–you don’t have to choose. I read several pre-release critiques about the movie and how we shouldn’t care about or promote little black girls being swept off her feet by a man. Well… little girls and not-so-little girls like me need to see that they don’t have to think of romance as an either-or venture. Many of my peers work so hard and worry about their present and future family life–they (we) worry about whether they’re even capable of the balance needed. It’s refreshing to see the princess get it all. And to see her man support her in her career dreams.
2. The animation was spectacular. Period.
3. Disney did a good job featuring the good and evil in the spiritual world. I was worried that the traditional negative connotation of the voodoo culture would be overwhelming, but I think Disney did a good job of showing both sides. The spirits were really creepy–but in my opinion, they’re reality. And I’m glad Disney showed what can happen when you start dabbling in the dark side. And while it was subtle, I’m glad that the movie shows that good isn’t necessarily in your face–God’s timing is what it is and if we’re diligent in doing what we’re supposed to be doing, He will work it out in the end.
4. Princess Tiana was beautiful, inside and out. She’s gorgeous and she worked her butt off. Of course, she had to learn that life isn’t all about working hard–it’s for our enjoyment. I loved that she was so committed to her dream, like so many black women are. It made me sad to see her not even taking a night off to hang out with her friends–I can relate. That’s the beauty of the princess movies–Disney does a wonderful job of making movies that all age groups can enjoy. There were little girls giggling throughout the movie, and so was I. It’s important to remember that they weren’t analyzing the movie like I was. They are able to enjoy it now with innocent, untainted minds, and then as they get older, they will be able to find new meanings every time they watch it.
5. Prince Naveen was a hottie and immature like many young guys, and I’m glad he had to step his game up before Princess Tiana paid him any mind. Ok, he was “other”–from some random country, but he was colored and that’s enough for me. And I loved that ALLLLLL the girls thought he was gorgeous. Not just the black girls, not just the white girls. He was an international hottie, and he ended up learning from and falling in love with Tiana. :)
6. I peeped Disney’s game. Although the main antagonist was indeed a black man (and the first black Disney villain), there were a couple of other minor antagonists in the movie. And they were white. The prince’s shady assistant was white (which was interesting in itself). And there were some dirty rednecks in the bayou. So I think critics need to look at the big picture here. All that was bad was not black, and I appreciate that.
7. Family was an important theme. Tiana’s parents were a major part of who she was. And they showed her dad as a strong black man (a king in his own right) breaking his back to take care of his family and still making the sacrifice to be there emotionally for his wife and child. I’m happy that Princess Tiana’s connection to her parents helped her to make the right decision at the turning point of the movie. And at the very end when the prince and princess get together, all parents were there to support, even Naveen’s who had disowned him. They were smiling that Tiana had made such a positive impact on him. And that’s how it should be. Men and women are supposed to be interdependent on each other–and we should make each other better.
8. I love love love that old timey New Orleans was the setting, especially post-Katrina. I’ve had an infatuation with New Orleans since I was little, so the setting was perfect for a child at heart like me. I would have loved to see a second line when one of the characters passed away, but there was still some celebration. And the music was good. Not as great as I expected, but it was still really good. And I love that jazz was highlighted. Especially in Tiana’s dream scene.
9. I’m now wishing on Evangeline. I think the storyline about the start threaded through the movie was stellar. And we all need a little hope, yanno?
10. I can’t wait to get this movie on DVD. I think it’s a grand addition to the Disney princess empire. And I’m hoping in a couple of years we may get another black princess (and maybe it can be set in the Caribbean or something–that would be fun!).