Film Review Review – The Princess and the Frog

I thought long and hard about weighing in on this one.  Mostly because I don’t want to be just another talking-cyber-head yapping away idiotically into the wind of cyberspace.  But the potential from idiocy has never deterred me before, so what the heck?

There’s no point in me actually reviewing the film.  I’m an unabashed Disney fan and there was only the most remote chance of me not liking this film.  I loved it.  I thought the animation was beautiful, the characters nicely developed, the songs as good as can be expected from Randy Newman.  I’m a Disney fan, but not a big fan of Randy Newman.  I had a great time.  All hail John Lasseter.

And guess what… that’s the point of the movie.  Having a good time.  I’ve been reading reviews of this film today.  Why?  Because apparently I like to read things that irritate me.  And often times, reading bad user submitted reviews is like visiting People Of Walmart.  They’re a train wreck.  You just can’t figure out how these people can manage to even turn a computer on let alone type the actual words that don’t make any sense anyway.

But I knew there would be discussion about this film so I was curious.

It wouldn’t have mattered what the character went through in this film, someone would bitch about it.  Disney’s first black leading lady becomes a frog.  One reviewer, and I’ll link to his blog just because it’s the right thing to do, wrote this: “Intentional or not, what kind of message does it send out that the studio’s first African-American princess has to be relegated for the vast majority of screen time to the form of an amphibian?”

What?  Basically… ‘Why the black girl gotta be a frog?”

Well, let’s see… If we put a black girl in some of Disney’s other classics…

Why the black girl gotta shack up with seven little men?
Why the black girl gotta have a big nose and lie all the time?
Why the black girl gotta have big ears and get drunk “accidentally”?
Why the black girl gotta be a cleaning girl who needs help from a fairy godmother?
Why the black girl gotta live in the jungle with a bear and a tiger?
See my point?

It wouldn’t have mattered what Disney first used a black leading lady in.  Because what people forget is that the lead character needs to have some sort of conflict or it’s not a story.  Writing 101, my friends.

Many people are saying that Disney glossed over the racial separations in the south at the time the film is set in.  Yes, they did.  And you know why?  Because it’s a Disney film.  And that wasn’t the point of the story.  The point of the story was that you can accomplish what you want if you work for it.  And sometimes you might need some help from friends.  Wow, what a terrible message.

If I wanted to see a dissertation on black rights in the south, I’d watch Roots again.  Disney wasn’t attempting to tackle that issue, and very intelligently stayed away from it because it wouldn’t matter what they did, it would have raised even more ire among the yapping idiots.

And yes, the plot and message is typical Disney.  First off, it’s a good message.  One that every generation needs to hear.  Just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean it’s not valid.  Plus Disney deals in modern fairy tales.  And if you read a fairy tale there is but one lesson to be learned from it.  It’s a fable, a parable.

Maybe they’d like to bitch that some of the stories in the bible have a simplistic message too?  Simple gets the point across.

This film has a purpose… entertainment and a positive message.  And it accomplishes that wonderfully.  It’s not supposed to be deeply intellectual or a commentary on society past and present.  Plenty of other movies for that.

The other thing that made my eyes roll are the writers that said the side characters were to “exaggerated” or “stereotypical”.  Newsflash… COMEDY IS SUPPOSED TO BE EXAGGERATED.  Inspector Clouseau wasn’t exaggerated all all, hmm?  Or Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp?  Or anything that ever came out of Robin Williams’s mouth?

And you’re going to tell me that regional accents are bad because they’re stereotypical?  People actually talk like that!  That’s realism!  If nobody had an accent, people would have complained that it was inauthentic.  Stereotypes (true ones) are used as a touchstone of realism for the setting.  Is Roots or The Color Purple an evil film because of the use of dialect?

It was bad that the villian voodoo practitioner was a black man?  How many white voodoo practitioners do you know?  If we don’t use stereotypes in storytelling, everything gets white washed.  Literally and figuratively.  But it seems people only get mad when it’s used for comic effect.

Remember this… especially if you ever come to see me perform.  Nothing is sacred.  Because if you can’t laugh at the most important things in your life, you’re taking yourself too seriously.

So, if you’re thinking about seeing this film, of wondering if it will damage your children or whatever, just go see it.  Enjoy it.  Stop thinking so damn much.

Phil Johnson

PS… I’m not completely uncritical about Disney.  I have a broadly exaggerated (uh oh!) song about Disneyland as part of the 8 free songs you can get from me at

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