"It's a welcome return to 2D hand-drawn animation, which hardly gets a look in these days with all the good 3D adventures"
The Princess And The Frog is a return to the traditional hand-drawn animation and Broadway-style musicals of the Disney Renaissance of the late 80s and 90s but doesn't quite live up to their illustrious standards.
It tells the story of Tiana, a poor girl in 1920s New Orleans, who works all the hours of the day so she can buy her own restaurant. When Prince Naveen comes to town, her best friend Charlotte, a spoilt heiress, sees her chance to fulfill a childhood dream of marrying a real prince.
But when Naveen stumbles upon Doctor Facillier, a voodoo witch doctor and fraudster (who bears a strong resemblance to a Southern John Waters), he's conned and turned into a frog. Mistakenly thinking Tiana is a princess and longing to break the spell, Naveen convinces her to kiss him, only for her to turn into a frog too.
The pair escape into the Bayou where they meet Louis, a trumpet-playing alligator and Ray, a hopelessly romantic Cajun firefly who agree to take them to see Mama Odie, a witch who might be able to undo the spell. But can Naveen and Tiana make it back to civilization in time to break the spell?
It's a welcome return to 2D hand-drawn animation, which hardly gets a look in these days with all the good 3D adventures from Pixar (The brilliant Up released last year, Toy Story 3 this summer, the re-release of Toy Story 2 in 3D last week). However, The Princess And The Frog brings nothing new or consequential to the table.
Good Disney movies are often remembered for their villains - Scar from the Lion King, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Jafar from Aladdin - they had a sinister and palpable presence which made them alluring. The Princess And The Frog's Dr Facillier, who whilst admittedly evil, amounts to nothing but a small time conjurer - he's just not frightening or memorable enough.
Think of the best Disney movies and you'll immediately start humming one of the songs - I can sing four from Aladdin off the top of my head (notwithstanding Katie Price's abominable stab at A Whole New World). I couldn't think of one song from The Princess And The Frog that I was singing when I came out of the theatre, let alone weeks afterwards - Randy Newman's soundtrack, so suited to Toy Story fails to ignite any kind of spark.
While it's good to see that 2D animation is alive and well, it simply doesn't have the charm or inventiveness of its 3D contemporaries or the more enduring Disney classics.