December 14th, 2009

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Princess and the Frog" is New Orleans best PR in years

"The Princess and the Frog" is Walt Disney's return to hand drawn (2 dimensional) animation for the first time in five years. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and one is swept away by Randy Newman's musical score. The textures and tones fill the screen and one has the wish that this will be an animated classic along the lines of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin." "The Princess and the Frog" gets points for trying, but it does not quite scale the heights of the Disney Classics.

The major flaw with the "The Princess and the Frog" is the faltering climax. The story's plot points slow down and the characters are forced to restate the themes of the movie. The themes are worthy ones, but the delivery is heavy handed. Perhaps the creative team sensed this, because "The Princess and the Frog" closes with a montage of energy and New Orleans Jazz.

For children who have only seen New Orleans as a representation of the apocalypse, this film provides a fine introduction to the great American art form, Jazz. From Dr. John's opening ode to New Orleans to a clap in your seat gospel induced grand finale, the roots of Jazz are equally represented. The songs make the climax less ponderous.

Inspired by the European folktale "The Frog Prince," this modern adaptation focuses on a young woman, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) who dreams of opening her own restaurant. She believes in hard work.

Enter Prince Naveen (Bruce Campos), a nice guy who rather play jazz music than hold a real job. Envious of the Prince's lifestyle, the evil rotten Dr. Facilier (Keith David) calls on the shadow people to help him obtain the treasures of the prince.

A master manipulator, Dr. Facilier transforms Naveen into a frog. At Big Daddy's (John Goodman) grand cotillion for his daughter Charlotte (Jennifer Cody, Naveen the frog mistakes Tiana for a princess. Knowing their Hans Christian Andersen, Naveen convinces Tiana to kiss him. Instead of transforming Naveen into a human, Tiana turns into a frog.

The energy really pumps up at this point as Taina and Naveen must hop away into the swamp. The two meet scary alligators, but make many life long friends. At this point the Disney animators fill the screen with many references of their classical past. Besides a cameo appearance by Bambi, pay very close attention to the last shot before the credits. This last shot reveals the fate of Ray the firefly who has a romantic attachment to his Angelyne. The saga of Ray and Angelyne is far more touching than the fate of Prince and Taina.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" stays with you.

"Our Vines Have Tender Grapes" starring Edward G. Robinson, a nice Agnes Morehead and PBiFF Legend Margaret O'Brien. Released in September 1945, this film was written by Dalton Trumbo. Wow! Hollywood does not know how to make flicks like this any more, a real slice of life from a world gone by.