The Reel Review
Disney’s first movie to feature a black princess stars Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) as Tiana, a New Orleans waitress whose dream of having her own Cajun restaurant is dashed when her attempt to help a prince turned into a frog by a voodoo witch doctor backfires.
This clever, modern take on the classic Grimm fairytale The Frog Prince, from the Disney directing duo of Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) features a wonderful message of self-realization underscored by an equally wonderful palate of delightfully entertaining characters – Keith David (Platoon, The Thing), as the evil voodoo witch doctor, Michael-Leon Wooley (Dreamgirls) as Louis, the toothy, Jazz trumpet-playing alligator, Jim Cummings as Ray-Ray the hysterical Cajun firefly, and Jenifer Lewis (What’s Love Got to Do With It, The Preacher’s Wife) as the bayou-dwelling, voodoo priestess, Mama Odie.
Everything about this film fires on all cylinders – the writing, the animation and Randy Newman’s rousing score, complete with jazz, blues, zydeco and gospel tunes. It is a fun, joyful homage to South Louisiana’s rich cultural heritage – and one of Disney’s great soundtracks.
The Princess and the Frog is available for streaming on both Netflix and Disney +, and for DVD purchase on Amazon.
• The Princess and the Frog was Disney’s last hand-drawn animated film.
• The Princess and the Frog was the first Disney musical since 1991’s Beauty and the Beast in which all of the voice actors do both the speaking and singing.
• Anika Noni Rose auditioned three times to win the role of Tiana over fellow Dreamgirls co-stars Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé (who lost out after she refused to audition for the part), Alicia Keys, and Tyra Banks.