Synopsis: A fairy tale centered on a young girl named Tiana who lives in New Orleans during the Jazz Age.
Release Date: December 11, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Animation, Children and Family
Everyone meet Tiana. She is not a Princess. She comes from a working class family and currently holds two jobs in order to save up to open her own restaurant. She is also Black, in case you were not aware. By being the first Black Disney (soon to be) Princess she has broken a long standing mold at Disney Studios and by also being a strong independent woman who does not need a man (or Prince) to make all her dreams come true she excels as the most modern of their heroines to date. Now meet Prince Naveen. He is a Prince who has spent his entire life being pampered. He is also a Playboy. Most importantly though is that he is broke. His parents have cut him off and he has not a dime to his name. Now that changes the usual dynamic quite a bit. When he and Tiana meet it is anything but love at first sight and so ensues the witty banter, the casual flirtations and blatant brush offs and the makings of a screwball comedy romance that will have you laughing out loud. Tiana and Prince Naveen are two very different characters but with the help of each other, and some colorful friends along the way, they both grow and change and come to realize once you learn who you are you discover exactly what you need. Which is not always what you expected or imagined. The film shows us that life may not be a perfect fairytale but it is what you make of it, and perfection is relative.
If it takes 3 writers to create such a progressive film from Disney then that needs to become the new standard for every film from the studio in the future. They even went so far as to make the film very much a screwball comedy. Even more so they threw in an inter-racial coupling. Gasp! Then they never even mention it or question whether it is socially acceptable. Astonished?! I was. After I closed my gaping mouth I realized that a change has come and it is about time. I would have given the screenplay a perfect 4 but it still does have some of the common mishaps of many an animated film. Such as stereotyping and an overzealous amount of romanticizing when it comes to Princess Tiana and Naveen. The Cajun bayou native Ray, whom children are surely going to fall in love with nonetheless, is missing plenty of teeth after all. Looking past any of that the screenplay is still a triumph.
Taking its queue from the sounds of New Orleans the music in the film is inspired by jazz, blues, gospel, and even some zydeco influences. It is a rambunctious treat to hear the melody’s in your ear and its vibrant nature awaken your senses. The best song, and this is saying a lot as they are all great, would have to be “Almost There” performed by Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana. This song is about making it on your own and not letting anything get in the way of your dreams. It is beautiful and uplifting and really sets the mood for the entire film. I have a smile on my face just remembering it and the pleasure I felt listening to it in the theatre. The most playful tune comes from Jenifer Lewis, as Mama Odie, entitled “Dig A Little Deeper”. Focusing on the need to see past what you think will make you happy it is powerful enough to resonate deep into anyone and make you re-think your priorities. Each and every original song is sure to become a Disney classic and offer up hours of entertainment long after you leave the theatre if you grab the soundtrack.
The ethereal quality of the animation is something that cannot be achieved with computer generated images. So with that I profess: Welcome back hand drawn animation! We have missed you! After many years Disney has returned to its roots in animation and proven their animators still have the magic. The colors are softer and more subdued. The characters more positioned with the backgrounds then set away from them. Everything appears in focus when it should but not so crisp and clear as to look overly perfect or poised. It is a hand drawn fairytale world, where the magic comes in the subtle quality of the creation.
They should allow dancing and singing in the aisles of movie theatres. Ok. I know that sounds ridiculous but if you are not moved to get up out of your seat and dance along you have no soul. That may be a tad harsh. It is just overly intoxicating. When thinking on the formula side of placing musical numbers in films it is spot on for the most part. A couple songs feel rushed in terms of their placement in the story but it does not take away from the experience. The music is done so well and the characters so much fun to watch you do not care one bit that its not exactly perfect. Just sit back and enjoy. Better yet, sit in the back row. That way if you feel the need to get up and dance along you will not block anyone else’s view. There is always a solution.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Ron Clements
- Producer(s): Ron ClementsRob EdwardsJohn Musker
- Screenwriter(s): Ron ClementsJohn MuskerJason Oremland
- Story: Anika Noni Rose (voice of Tiana)
- Cast: Bruno Campos (voice of Prince Naveen)John Goodman (voice of Eli ‘Big Daddy’ LaBouff)Keith David (voice of Facilier) Terrence Howard (voice of James)Oprah Winfrey (voice of Eudora)Jenifer Lewis (voice of Mama Odie)
- Editor(s): Jeff Draheim
- Cinematographer: Jen Rudin
- Production Designer(s): Randy Newman
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA