My family went to see a screening of The Princess and the Frog tonight. To my pleasant surprise, each one of us enjoyed the film immensely. I wasn’t surprised that I would love the movie. Rather, I wasn’t sure if my husband and two sons would like it. The results:
–Sean (almost 3) primarily just laughed at Mama Odie.
–Michael (almost 6) was especially fond of the parts when Tiana turned into a frog and when she turned into a princess. He also really liked Mama Odie. That was especially interesting, because before the movie, he was scared of Mama Odie’s voice. It actually took a week for us to convince him to see the movie, because he thought Mama Odie was going to be scary. Anyway, he gave it an A+++ AND he wanted me to put a sticker on my review of it (?!)
–Reggie (my husband) especially cared for three parts. He laughed when the frogs were fighting the frog catchers. It reminded him of the Three Stooges type of comedy. He also agreed with the theme of how what we need is not always what we want. He was also impressed by another part which I am not going to share because it would spoil a portion of the movie. (It involves the firefly Raymond.)
-As for me, I respected the whole twist on the damsel waiting for her prince to come. Rather, Tiana was following her father’s advice and working hard towards making her own dreams come true. Working through obstacles with the prince (while they were both frogs) together is what made them fall in love. I also liked how the focus was on love being more important than other things that we think are most important (i.e. money and careers). What I loved the most though was that when Tiana and Prince Naveen focused on what was most important (what they needed!), everything else (their wants) fell into place when coupled with hard work.
Both my husband and I gave the movie an A-. When I asked my husband what his minus was for, he responded, “Because no movie is perfect”. In other words, he didn’t have a real reason until after I told mine. Then, he agreed with me. My reason for the minus is that the movie has some dark parts when it deals with voodoo / shadows from the dead that has the potential to scare young kids. I was surprised that it didn’t scare my kids. My husband said that was probably because they watch Scooby-Doo cartoons. (It’s that type of dark/ghost type imagery through some of the movie.)
The last thing that I want to write about this movie involves the question that I have been asked the most (from moms of all races) since previews of the movie started showing…how do you feel about the fact that the prince is not Black? It’s interesting. Going into the movie, I felt as if Disney had missed a great opportunity to show Black love in an animated way. As a Black woman (happily) married to a Black man with two little Black sons, I did not love that Disney felt the need to make up a nationality for the prince. (Prince Naveen is from Maldonia, which does not exist. They made it up, so it’s not even really an interracial story.) Here’s the thing. I don’t have issues with interracial relationships. I say, “to each her own road to love and happiness”. Rather, I thought that it was sad that it took Disney 72 years to have their first Black (and American) princess in a feature-length animated film just to match her with a non-Black prince. (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first film in 1937.) What does that say to little Black girls who want to grow up one day and find a “prince” that looks similar to their fathers or brothers or cousins? That he doesn’t exist? In my mind, it would have been different if past Disney princes and princesses were from different racial/ethnic backgrounds than one another, but they were not (except for Pocahontas, which was loosely based on a true story).
I must write that after seeing the movie, my opinion changed somewhat. I still think that it would have been nice for Prince Naveen to have been Black. However, the characters are green frogs for most of the movie. While viewing it, you really don’t have time to think about the race thing. In the end, the movie is really about the true foundations of love. It’s not a white or black issue this time. Rather, it’s a green one. (Besides, we don’t rely on the media to raise our kids. Our sons don’t have to go to a movie to see an example of a Black woman and a Black man’s dream of love coming true. They can just look at their own mother and father!)
In any event, I highly recommend this movie. It begins exclusively at the Walt Disney Studios Theater in Burbank and Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on November 25th and arrives in theaters nationwide on December 11th. If you go to see it, please come back and let me know what you thought of it. I always love to hear different perspectives.
Thanks to Disney for the movie screening passes.