Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: The Princess and the Frog

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 49th feature film.


My opinion right after watching film

My opinion of the film is that it is a great way to end a lackluster at best era (I do not think this film is in the Revival Era, and I will explain why later). There are still some issues with this film, with certain things coming off as rushed, and with the movie seeming like it was being made off of a formula checklist, but they tell the message they are trying to give us well, and there is a lot of charm and heart into this film. You could definitely see some of Pixar’s influence in this film, and I like that there is a more subtle gender equality between the two characters.


Production for this film started in Early 2006 (soon after the acquisition with WDAS and Pixar becoming finalized), as apparently both WDAS and Pixar were planning on making films based off The Frog Prince (probably around the time that both were planing to split from one another), and one of the pitches inspired by the 2002 book called The Frog Prince. This is the very first film to have its entire production start after the acquisition, as Bolt was in the beginning stages when it happened, Tangled (called Rapunzel then) was struggling to come off the ground, and Meet the Robinsons was already starting to animate and write.

John Musker and Ron Clements were brought back to the studio by John Lasseter himself, as they know how to make a magnificent Disney film, and told them that it is their choice, whether the film is going to be in traditional animation, or in CGI, with the directors choosing the former. A lot of the animators that were fired in 2003 (after Brother Bear and Home on the Range were finished production) were hired back to help out with this film.

They also decided to make the film take place in New Orleans since it has magical qualities, and it is Lasseter’s favorite city. It was announced to the public in 2006, and when they had a shareholders meeting in March 2007, many in the African American community were not pleased with the main story, and things were changed.

Apparently, they wanted to base the animation off of a style from Lady and the Tramp, and a lot more stylized, Instead of the CAPS system (which was out of date), they got a new animation system called Toon Boom’s Harmony Software. For the music, Alan Menken was initially handle the soundtrack, but Lasseter took him off, because he has been used many times, and it would be repetitive, and he replaced him with Randy Newman (who handled many soundtracks from Pixar’s films; incorporating something from Pixar into WDAS).


So the film starts in 1912 in the LaBoeff house, with a little Tiana (Elizabeth Dampier and Anika Noni Rose) and a little Charlotte (Breanna Brooks and Jennifer Cody) being read The Frog Pirncess by Tiana’s mother Eudora (Oprah Winfrey), who is there to finish making a dress for Charlotte. I have to say, just from this scene with the two girls and their parents, it is so realistic that a black woman would be a seamstress for a rich family like the LaBoefas, but I like how Big Daddy LaBoeuf (John Goodman) treats Eudora and Tiana with actual respect.

Tiana and Eudora go home to her father James (Terrence Howard), and Tiana helps him make some gumbo, which they feed the entire neighborhood. I like that he says he likes to cook because it brings people together. He tells Tiana to not lose sight of what is important, and you have to work hard as well to wish to get where you want. This is good because they are not saying to the older films “Fuck You” (like some of its successors), but still acknowledges some of those lessons.

The Princess and the Frog
Down In New Orleans is a very good song. We get to see our deuteragonist Naveen (Bruno Campos), his valet Lawrence (Peter Bartlett), our villain Doctor. Facilier (Keith David), and we get to see theirs (and the Laboeff’s) personalities, and we get really invested into the world of New Orleans, and how everyday life is over there. I forgot to mention that Tiana’s dad dies in the war, and we skip 14 years into 1926.

Tiana literally goes from her night waitress job, to her morning waitress job, which she rejects her friend’s offer to go out to a club (which they knew sh would not come), and the LaBoeuffs show up to tell them that Prince Naveen is in New Orleans, and is gonna stay with them, so Naveen and Charlotte can “jump the broom”, and that she will need Tiana to make her beignets at the masquerade party. She pays Tiana the money, and it is enough money for Tiana to purchase her restaurant, which excites her. She goes with her mother to the place where she is planning to build her restaurant, and sings Almost There, which shows her passion for her restaurant, and she went through a lot of trials and tribulations to get there. It really shows her character.

The Princess and the Frog
Prince Naveen has been running away from Lawrence, so he can jam, and dance with the people of new Orleans, and so he can flirt with the ladies. Lawrence reminds him that he is broke, and that they need to get to the LaBoeuff’s ASAP, but Naveen bumps into Facilier, and is impressed by his palm reading. He takes them into his area, to make a deal in the form of Friends On The Other Side, which is clearly the best song in the movie. We see Facilier’s charisma, that Lawrence is sick of being pushed around, and Naveen’s parents cut him off because of his recklessness, and he thinks that Facilier is offering him money, but is shocked when he is turned into a frog.

It is time for the Masquerade party at the LaBoeff’s home, and Tiana is serving the food, and when the Realtors Mr. Fenner, and Mr Fenner (Corey Burton) come by, she says she is ready to sign the papers new (because they said they would earlier), but they tell her that they already sold the place to someone that outbid her, and that someone her “background” would have been too overwhelmed. They do tell her that she has Wednesday to outbid the person or she loses the place forever. That is literally the only mention of race in this film, and I appreciate that they added this line, because if they pretended like there was NO segregation, that would be an issue, but they cannot show how it really was in 1920s’ New Orleans with that.

Tiana is sad (and food is all over her), so Charlotte stops dancing with “Naveen” to change Tiana and to somewhat cheer her up in her room. When Charlotte, Tiana is sad that her dream went right out of her hands, and wishes on a star in disbelief, but a frog shows up. She sarcastically asks if he wants a kiss, which it replies absolutely. She freaks out on him, and tumbles on a bookshelf, throwing a bunch of things at her. He sees that she has the Frog Prince book, and realizes that she needs to kiss him in order for him to turn human. He tells her that he is the real Prince Naveen and that Doctor Facilier tricked him. He says that he will give her money if she kisses him…..

The Princess and the Frog
Yeah……..I did not realize this when I watched it in theaters 5 years ago, but this is technically prostitution. Kissing is a sexual act, and him saying he will pay her to kiss him (a sexual act) is technically prostitution, which is performing a sexual favor for money. It does suck that for the rest of the film, that they are frogs though.

Facilier rushes to the fake Naveen (who is really a disguised Lawrence) and is and at him for letting the lid open, and that as long as the blood of Naveen is in the talisman he is wearing, than they can go on with his plan. I will discuss Facilier’s relationships with the others in the film as being an issue.

So the frogs Naveen and Tiana escape from the party, an are floating on balloons, where they are arguing about why the kiss did not work, Tiana not being a princes,s and Naveen being broke, but they don’t have the time, as a bunch of larger animals are willing to eat them. After they land in a safe area, Naveen tries to sleep with her, but she refuses.

The next morning, Tiana makes a raft to get them back to New Orleans, and is annoyed with Naveen being completely useless. Soon enough, a crocodile named Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) approaches them because of the tune Naveen is playing, and he is soon told that they are humans, and are going to find a way to be humans again, with Louis telling them that he knows how they can be human. We get the next song When We’re Human, which is complete filler. We already know what Tiana and Naveen wants, and what Louis wants is not important to the plot at all, and did not need to be warranted into a song.

The Princess and the Frog
Is it bad that I…..kind….of….ship Lawrence/Charlotte? This picture captures the goofiness that is the both of them. Anyways, he proposes to Charlotte (as he is turning from Naveen back into his normal shape), and Charlotte accepts. She leaves before she sees Lawrence’s true form. Facilier tells him that they need to go after Naveen and capture him to use his blood. I also forgot to mention that Lawrence initially refuses to help Facilier, as he does not see why he needs to be in the middle of all of this, but Facilier tells him that it is not allowed for someone to use Voodoo on themselves.

It is night time, and the three of them are still wandering around. Naveen is trying to catch a fly, and Tiana’s instincts try to catch one, but she refuses to eat a frog and eat a bug on the same day (they were actually on different days Tiana). Naveen and Tiana accidentally kiss again, and their tongues are stuck in a knot, which Louis makes worse when eh tries to untangle them. We are introduced to Ray (Jim Cummings) the firefly, and he ends up untangling them. They tell him that they are heading for Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis), but Ray tells them they are heading the wrong way. So he gets his firefly family to show them the way, and they sing some Bayou song.

After that ends, Ray tells them all about his lover Evangeline, and Naveel tells him to not settle for one so quickly. Tiana and Naveen decide to get some food, and he tells her that he figured out her issue; she cannot have fun and is a stick in the mud, while she tells him that she figured out his problem; he is a lazy philanderer. Naveen is taken by frog catchers, where Tiana saves him. Tiana then gets trapped, and Naveen saves her.

The Princess and the Frog
Tiana and Naveen start to get along and break the ice after they mess with these frog catchers, and he admits that she can be fun with her snark.

Tiana plans to make them some swamp gumbo, and Naveen tells her that he will wait for the good meal, but she tells him that he is going to mince the mushrooms (but not in an angry or a sarcastic tone, but a soothing one). He does not know how to mince mushrooms, and she takes over, where he is impressed. As he minces, he tells her that he realized after he got cut off, that he does not know how to do anything, and she feels bad for him. When these two are joking around with their banter, they are very fun to watch. Everyone is having a good time, and Naveen tells her that she has a gift, causing her to blush.

Ray sees his “girlfriend in the sky”, and starts to sing Evangeline, which is an eh song. Naveen wants to dance with her, but she pulls away, embarrassed that she never knew how to dance. He pulls her in, and they start to dance romantically, almost kissing. She pulls away and says that Charlotte is going to have a lucky husband. Honestly, the relationship with Tiana and Naveen is a bit rushed. A few scenes ago, they were arguing, and now they are having sexual tension? It is a bit too sudden.

Facilier’s spirits (which he got from the other side, and told them that when he takes out the LaBoeff’s, he will give all of the spirits the bodies of the living people in New Orleans) kidnap Naveen for a bit, but is saved by Mama Odie. She takes them to her hut, and gets ready to tell them what they need to do to be human, but they need to figure out what they need, leading up to Dig A Little Deeper. This is a pretty good song, and they actually tell us what they need. A bit preachy, and not as good as the first 3 songs, but it still holds up.  You can really see how in this song, Naveen likes Tiana. Odie tells Naveen that he needs self control and that money did not make him happy before, so it won’t do anything now, and that Tiana needs to learn how to fucking chillax.

The Princess and the Frog
Well we get this new plot twist of Big Daddy always appointing himself as King of Mardi Gras, making Charlotte a princess, and that Naveen has to kiss Charlotte by midnight, so they both can turn into frogs. How will that turn them both back when Tiana can’t kiss her? Anyways, there is an often complaint about this story being too complicated, and while I do agree that it is complicated, I don’t think it is that big of an issue. It definitely would have been better if they only focused on a few things though.

They sneak onto a boat the next morning, and Louis is thrilled that he can live his dream (as everyone thinks that he is wearing a costume). Naveen decides to catch up with them later, as he has plans for Tiana. He tells Evangeline that he is worried about his love for Tiana, and Ray almost freaks out on him, but he tells him that he loves Tiana, and that he is planning to propose to her. Naveen takes her out on a date  in their evenings, and she giggles at his nervousness, thinking it is cute. Right as he is about to propose to her, she runs to the edge of the boat as she sees her restaurant. She rambles on about her restaurant, and he confuses “us” for him and her, but she was speaking about her father. Naveen thinks she does not love him , so he decides to marry Charlotte, so she can get her dream, and Naveen is soon kidnapped by the spirits.

It is Mardi Gras, and Charlotte is about to marry the disguised Naveen. Tiana has a dumb moment and thinks that he turned into a human and ditched her, which causes her to get mad and to tell Ray that Evangeline is a star. He goes to Naveen, realizing that this is not right, and finds that he is still a frog and trapped. He rescues him, and right as Facilier is about to kill Big Daddy with a voodoo doll, Naveel causes Lawrence to fall, and the tallisman is stolen and given to Ray. Ray gives it to Tiana, before he is killed by Facilier, which is really sad.

The Princess and the Frog
This is literally the only time the protagonist and the antagonist interact. How do they connect to one another? How is he antagonist when he never interacts with her? He is antagonizing Naveen. Maybe Naveen should have been the protagonist to be honest. Most of the story revolves around him. This film suffers from the same issue that The Hunchback of Notre Dame did, meaning that the story at a point becomes Naveen’s story instead of Tiana’s. They should have thought about this better.

So after Facilier fails to tempt Tiana into giving him the talisman for her to get her restaurant, he dies by the spirits dragging him to hell because he could not pay the debt that he owed them. Tiana finally learns her lesson, and that love is important too, which her father was trying to tell her all those years ago.

Charlotte speaks to Naveen the frog, and he tells her everything, from the curse, to Tiana needing her restaurant, and that he will marry her to make Tiana happy, and it is a lot for Charlotte to absorb. As soon as Charlotte and Naveen are about to kiss, Tiana interrupts and tells him not to do it because her dream is not complete, and Charlotte realizes that Tiana is in love, and she calls off the wedding, but she will kiss Naveen for her friend, but it is too late. Why the hell did Charlotte not turn into a frog? It happened to Tiana. Charlotte is not a princess anymore, but did not turn into a frog. Not a big deal.

So Ray dies after they tell him they are staying frogs, Naveen and Tiana get married and turns into humans again (which is what Mama Odie tried to tell them), they get the restaurant thanks to Louis scaring the Fenners’ they single handedly build the restaurant, and their restaurant is a success, and they dance on their balcony.

The Princess and the Frog
This film depicted African Americans really well, the world of New Orleans is brilliant, and I do like how Tiana did not need to constantly be saved, and be all like “I don’t need to be saved”, and rub in feminism in our faces. Now about the actual movie, it is fun. I like it, it is the first WDAS movie I have watched in theaters in over a decade at that point, and it recaptured my interest into WDAS. Yes the story is a bit too complicated at times, and it does seem like they were going down a checklist for things. The lack of interaction between protagonist and antagonist REALLY hurts the film, and Naveen and Tiana’s relationship is a bit rushed. But there is always something happening in the story, and it is very engaging, with some very strong characters. They needed to work a few things out with this film, but it did help establish that Disney was on their way back. I will always like this flawed film.


The characters in this film are actually very strong.They each have big personalities, the main characters actually gain character development (unlike its many predecessors), and they are all very enjoyable and likable. I am not annoyed with any character in this film, and that says a lot.

Some people say that she is not that adventurous, and…….that is the point of her character. She has to learn o let loose, and to not focus on one thing all of the time, and ignoring all of the other aspects of her life. I like that she is smart, sensible, and though she is a bit of a stick in the mud, she is still warm hearted. Her humor is more sarcastic, but that is how I like it. I appreciate her being different, and I relate to the fact that she feels like the odds are against her. She knows what she wants, gets it, thinks things through before she does them, and is a very empowering woman. She is a cool chick. I am proud Disney made a character like her, and I like that she develops without losing her personality.
Prince Naveen is sure something. He is cocky, arrogant guy who wants to have fun, but he is never out of his way to hurt anyone, and wants everyone to have fun. It is nice to see a Prince who is not all dashing and heroic at first. He has to learn self control, and that you cannot keep on moving around acting careless in his life. While I would have liked his development to have been a bit more gradual, it is still fine enough. He does have an innocence and a naivety to him because while he has chased chambermaids, he does not know much about the world.
Doctor Facilier
He si a very charismatic, enjoyable villain to watch. He can be funny, and intimidating at the same time, which is apparently more hard than you may think with villains. It was really interesting to see him with his voodoo and in his element. Despite all of his strengths, he should have been incorporated in the story better though, which is an issue.
Louis is an alligator who wants to jam with the humans, and to play instruments with them. He is not an obnoxious character, and his cluelessness is kind of funny to watch. He is a good side character.
Raymond’s death is a very sad thing, and it is a heart tugger because he never comes back, which is so rare. His love for a star is decent enough, but I think ti was supposed to set the mood for Tiana and Naveen’s romance. He was not overly obnoxious either.
Charlotte is hilarious. Her dialogue is sheer brilliance. Though she is a bit bratty, she is a good persona t heart, and is willing to help her friends, which is so reassuring to see a spoiled girl who is not a bitch. She is the representation of the old lessons and thoughts of the older fairytales, but no one is really saying that Charlotte is wrong, and that she is a bad character for thinking the way she does.
Lawrence never learned his lesson. He has been pushed around by everyone in his life, and was pushed around by Facilier as well (though his reasoning for being an evil sidekick does make sense). He is eh though.


The animation in this film is very good. There is a lot of detail in the backgrounds, and a lot of vibrant colors. There is a big scale, and they really incorporated New Orleans in animation form, and how they really brought it to life. While it is sad that this film does have a part of the non existence of traditional animation in North America, and in many other places in the world, but this film captured it beautifully.


The music is…….good at best, and forgettable at worst. The first few songs are pretty good, and explain what it wants to explain well, but the later ones are just……eh. The score is not bad either, but it is not memorable either. I was expecting a bit more from the score and the jazz theme, but……it is there. Can be good, but can be eh.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on December 11, 2009, it opened at #1 in the box office, but slowly started to diminish under competition like Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and Avatar, causing this film to make $104,400,899 domestically, and $167,000,000 everywhere else, causing a total amount of $267,045,765. While that is more than a lot of the other films in this era, it was not close to the amount of money that was made in the early 90s (though it did gross more than The Little Mermaid). The box office was seen as a disappointment, and they backed out of the idea of a traditional animation film every 2 years, and caused Frozen to be put back on the shelf for a while, and causing Tangled to completely change its marketing.

It did a lot better critically though. Many liked it for bringing the spirit and the heart of a good Disney movie, and many saw this as a new Golden Age for Walt Disney Animation Studios. They liked the characters, story, so on and so on. While there were a few people that felt like it was a complete rehash, and it was a dumb idea for a story, there was a lot more positive than negative, getting over 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Like many films before it, the Pixar counterpart of the year (This years being Up) completely dominated in the accolades, winning all of the rewards, while Princess and the Frog was nominated. It did win some awards amongst African American awards shows though.

Reception Today

Now that it has been 5 years since this film has been released, I have to say that it is not really that talked about. Many people know it exists, and it does have a decent fanbase, but its successors completely outshined this film, as WDAS was only going up. There is a lot of controversy as to whether this film is the final film of the Post Renaissance Era, or is it the very first film of this new Revival Era we are currently in. Princess Tiana is also in the Dinsey Princess lineup, and many consider this film to be the first good film in many years.

Final Score

Story: 7/10

Characters: 8/10

Animation: 8.5/10

Music: 6.5/10

= 30/40 = 75%

Next Time…

Review: November 24th, 2014.

28 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: The Princess and the Frog

  1. Good review! I agree that there are flaws with this movie, such as the story, that could have been handled better. But I still enjoy it nonetheless.

    I loved Dr. Facilier and I wished there was more of him. Maybe have him play a role in Tiana’s father’s death or something? I don’t know. I also liked the fact that he was into voodoo and they took advantage of the creative possibilities that come from it, like that talisman. If he had a bigger role in the film, maybe we could have seen more of his skills with voodoo. And then there’s his death. When I first saw his death scene, I was like “…..DANG!” I mean, seeing him get literally dragged into hell? Harsh. I don’t think you see that in Disney movies. I could be wrong though.

    It’s really too bad this film got bad marketing and bad placement. I mean, I understand losing to Avatar, but losing to freaking Alvin and the Chipmunks??!! Uuuuugggghhhhh!! WHY??!! Then again, perhaps this film was doomed to fail from the start, because Up was released earlier and some other films I can’t think of right now. What do you think about all this?

    By the way, have you seen Big Hero 6 yet? If so, do you plan on reviewing it this year (not necessarily right after Frozen)? Or do you plan on reviewing it when it comes out on DVD? If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m sure you will soon. I saw it last week and I really enjoyed it. I think you will, too.

    1. I have always and will forever enjoy this film, flaws and all.

      I do wish that there was more to him as well, and that lack of connection with Tiana really hurt his character and antagonism. I know that many were not impressed with voodoo because of all the antagonists that is attached with it, instead of him just having normal magic, but it is a thing in 1920s New Orleans. I don’t recall seeing someone dragged to hell in a Disney film, but I have seen it in other films.

      Alvin and the Chipmunks was just a bit more appealing tot he audience. I do not know why they thought that releasing this film in December was a good thing, and it is a part of the reason why it did not do so well financially. Up was released months before The Princess and the Frog, and was out of theaters before this film even premiered, so I do not think that Up had any effect on this film.

      I am slowly writing my Big Hero 6 review, and will be published a week after my Frozen review, as the last installment to WDAS reviews.

    1. Yes, the animation is just brilliant all around. I always try to stay out of that hand drawn vs CGI debate. I remember you stating that this film was just okay, correct?

  2. This is one of my favorite reviews from you thus far. I never really thought about the lack of conflict between Tiana and Facilier being a story problem, but yes, I agree it could have been thought out more thoroughly. I too would not group PatF with the new revival period (which I officially believe in, now) just because of its 2D style (same goes for Winnie the Pooh, which did alright).

    1. Thank you so much. This was a favourite to write, and I enjoyed how I wrote things in the review, so it is one of my favourite reviews too. It kind of seems like Naveen’s movie with Facilier constantly talking about him, though Tiana had her arc too.

      It is not a revival film simply because of the money issue, it not reviving anything, and for it being a forgotten film now. I think people only say it is a Revival film because she is a Disney Princess.

  3. I think my main problem with the movie (aside from the convoluted plot, the boring and not particularly well used music, the countless characters which have no purpose at all and Naveen), is that Disney undermines its own message with it. For years they have told the audience that everyone can be a princess. It was always more a matter of acting like one than being born like one. But no, you have to marry to biggest douchebag on earth after all.

    It’s all in all a mediocre movie in my eyes. Not downright bad, but the only thing I truly enjoy from start to finish is Lottie.

    1. Is that really a bad thing though? Not everyone will be a princess, and not everyone wants to be a princess. And the only movies that directly said everyone can be a princess are those dreadful sequels. Tiana is never put in a position where she has to act like a princess.

      We have argued about this film so much for the past 2 years, now that I think about it.

      1. I guess I always saw being a princess more as an internal thing than some sort of title you get through birth or marriage. Perhaps I have read “litte princess Sara” too often, but to me Disney princesses were always about ideals more than titles. And it irks me a little bit that Tiana’s all hard work doesn’t bring her what she wants. Instead she has to marry first, in order to get the princess title and her human body. It’s just such a mess of mixed messages.

      2. I am a bit confused with the ending too. Some say that it was her money, and that the alligator scared the Fenners to take her money, but it also can be seen that she married Naveen, and the money his parents gave him got her restaurant. I agree with the mixed message there.

  4. Great review. I agree with your score on this one. The animation is gorgeous and I like that it tells an American fairytale set in an American city with American folklore. I like Almost There sequence and Down in New Orleans but the other songs are forgettable (cant even think of their names). It is a little cluttered with too many characters and the whole scheme of Dr Facilier is pretty convoluted. I also personally feel a little uncomfortable with it’s focus on the occult even though I know that is a part of New Orleans history. Naveen also doesn’t change enough for me to feel he is worthy of Tiana who I love.

    Tiana is special because she makes her own dreams come true, doesn’t just wish for them. I love that .The voice performances are very strong and I love Charlotte. So mixed bag for me but I still enjoyed it. I also gave it a C+ like you.

    1. American folklore. I like the sounds of that. I do agree that those two songs are definitely the best, and all of the others (outside of Friends on the Other Side), are not only forgettable, but unnecessary.

      I have definitely heard that the Voodoo aspect of the film is disturbing to many. I just think that they needed to pace Tiana and Naveen’s relationship better, but Tiana is really unique amongst the Disney girls. So is Charlotte.

      The grading system is different from the one that I grew up with. Where I live, a C+ is a 67-69. It is really weird. Thank you for your enjoyable comments as usual.

    2. It might be helpful for you to put the ruberic you grew up with somewhere on your site because I’m sure I’m not the only one that see’s 75 and thinks C. Just a suggestion

  5. Great review! I always thought that the money was Tiana’s in the end supported by the fact that she and Naveen seemed to build the restaurant themselves. But oh well. What kind of reviews can I expect after all of the Walt Disney Animation Studios ones?

    1. Thank you. I think the money is hers, because they are in those tin cans that she had in the beginning of the movie. I am doing Disneytoons next year after I finish WDAS.

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