Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Feb 13th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

She's All That Jazz

filmKissTheFrogBig fun on the bayou in ‘The Princess And The Frog'

It's taken the folks at Walt Disney more than seven decades to create their first African-American cartoon heroine. And when they finally do, she spends most of the movie green when a fairy tale kiss goes awry in The Princess And The Frog. But the movie is so much fun, and—for Disney—culturally rich, with its New Orleans/Louisiana bayou setting, there's not much else to quibble about. Terrific voice performances, lively songs by Randy Newman, and gorgeous hand-drawn cel animation make this one of the most entertaining Disney cartoon features since The Lion King.

Veteran Disney directors John Musker and Ron Clements (who share story and script credits with a fleet of writers) set the tale in the fertile, loamy milieu of New Orleans in the Jazz Age 1920s. Ever since she was a little girl, Tiana (the lovely voice of Tony Award-winning musical actress Anika Noni Rose) has wanted to open her own restaurant, working day and night shifts as a waitress to save up the money. At a  party thrown by her rich childhood friend, Charlotte (a very funny Jennifer Cody), Tiana is wearing a borrowed gown, complete with tiara, when a talking frog on the balcony mistakes her for a princess and asks for a kiss to regain his humanity. When Tiana reluctantly agrees, she, too, becomes a frog.

The male frog was once Prince Naveen of "Maldovia" (a suitably nebulous Euro-Latino name for a fictional province). With a voice provided by Bruno Campos, oozing charm, wit, and joie de vivre, Naveen is one of the funniest, most appealing heroes ever to appear in a "Disney princess" movie; a carefree layabout who's been cut off by his royal parents until he learns the value of a dollar. In Nawlins to soak up the jazz and cut a swath through the adoring female population, he runs afoul of slinky voodoo witch doctor, the Shadow Man (marvelously voiced by Keith David) who curses Naveen to froghood, replacing him with a long-suffering servant through whom the doc plans to rule the town.

Naveen and Tiana's amphibious adventures in the bayou include a trumpet-playing 'gator, a courtly Cajun firefly (swarming fireflies are among the most haunting and lovely of the movie's effects), and a rambunctious, blind, 70-year-old voodoo priestess (the wonderful Jenifer Lewis). Voodoo effects are spooky, especially the doctor's menacing shadow demons. And while there's no racism, of course, the film acknowledges that Tiana and her seamstress mom live in a poor (yet warm, loving) shantytown a tram-ride away from Charlotte's rich, white neighborhood. Best of all, the sparring froggy adversaries grow to love and deserve each other in this high-spirited, Dixieland romance.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG ★★★1/2 (out of four)

With the voices of Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos and Keith David. Written by John Musker, Ron Clements and Rob Edwards. Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. A Walt Disney release. Rated G. 97 minutes.
Watch movie trailer >>>

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster