20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘The Princess and the Frog’

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Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, released in 2009, brought audiences back to an earlier era of Disney storytelling. After a series of more experimental films, the studio took a page out of their Renaissance book by returning to the Broadway-style musical that became the norm during the 1990’s.

Read: 20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘Bolt’

This was a great move for Disney because, not only did it spark a succession of highly praised films for Disney including Tangled and Frozen, but it brought back that Disney magic that so many people grew up with. This was notably one of the last Disney movies in the canon to feature hand drawn animation, the last being 2011’s Winnie the Pooh. Though the return to this form of animation was brief, it is always a pleasure to see on the big screen and this is no exception. This makes the film standout among other modern releases from the studio.

The Princess and the Frog is a new take on the classic story of The Frog Prince. Like many Disney princess films that came before it, it is not an exact retelling of the traditional story. Therefore, we get lots of surprises that keep the film feeling fresh and new. Of great significance is the lead character of Tiana who became the first (and up to this point, the only) African-American Disney princess.

Disney has continued to feature more diverse lead characters since Tiana including Moana and the upcoming Raya, who will be their first Southeast Asian princess. Still, I know the studio could go further in their representation and my hope is that they continue to do so in in years to come.

The setting of this film is New Orleans during the roaring twenties and Randy Newman’s score incorporates this beautifully, making it one of the more unique Disney musicals in recent years. Interestingly, The Princess and the Frog is also one of the few films Disney films lately to feature a definitive villain, which is always welcome- particularly because Newman gives him a great villain song here.

The Princess and the Frog became an instant classic upon its release. With great musical numbers, dynamic characters, and a fun story, it is a great film through and through that is worth revisiting.

Live-action remake: There is no live-action remake planned for The Princess and the Frog.

The Princess and the Frog in the theme parks: In June of 2020, The Walt Disney Company announced that they will be retheming the popular ride Splash Mountain to The Princess and the Frog film. This retheme, which had been rumored for some time, came due to controversies surrounding its original source, the 1946 film Song of the South. For more details on this retheme, check out our original report here.

Spin-off: During Disney Investor Day in December, it was announced that a spin-off of The Princess and the Frog, titled Tiana, will be debuting on Disney+. This television series is planned to arrive on the service in 2023. There is also potential for this project to tie-in to the upcoming retheme of Splash Mountain. With this original film being rendered in traditional hand-drawn animation, it is likely that this show will maintain that style.

The Princess and the Frog is available to stream on Disney+.

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