Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jan 27th
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

 

Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

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

 

Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.