Rental Review: Bemused And Befrogged

Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” is just the classic story told well, of girl meets frog, girl kisses frog, girl turns into frog.

Then both frogs try to find a voodoo priestess so they can be defrogged, while on the run from a terrifying shadow man.

I don’t remember that part of the classic “Frog Prince” fairy tale either, but as it turns out, Disney’s decision to loosely base the movie on a 2002 novel called “The Frog Princess” was a very good one. It adds twists and turns to a story that was once fairly straightforward and depended entirely on getting a pretty girl to pucker up.

And the music! Randy Newman wrote the music and lyrics for almost every song, and every bit of the New Orleans-inspired score shines.

Plenty of buzz hit the internet early on about Disney’s first black heroine, Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), who is clever, industrious and goal-oriented, working two jobs to save money to start her own restaurant. By contrast, Prince Naveen (Bruce Campos), who spends most of the movie as a long-legged green amphibian, is a jazz-loving fellow who’s never held a job in his life.

The beauty of the movie is that you know they’ll get together for a Disney-style happy ending, but the snappy dialogue, catchy tunes and stylish animation still offers plenty of surprises, even for adults.

At several points in the movie, Disney almost seems to parody itself, as Tiana’s wealthy and white friend Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) comes to the ball with Cinderella’s hair and Sleeping Beauty’s dress.

There’s even one of those gorgeous illuminated fairytale books that framed Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

And if what you want is wishing on a star, there’s plenty of that in “Princess and the Frog” too.

In this story, though, the frog turning into a prince is only part of the happy ending, and there is balance between simply wishing on a star and working hard to achieve your dreams. Just as they do in real life, hard work and dreams should go hand in hand in order to succeed.