As you all are probably aware, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog came out on the 10th. Or the 11th. Or…*not yet,* depending where you are. Here in Nowhere, MA and Nowhere, MN, we have yet to see the film, since the outside world doesn’t come in here often. But, we’ve been reading reviews, and preparing to see it on the 23rd, after which a review will go up.
Here’s the thing: I’m concerned about this film. I means it! Concerned. For one thing, I’m worried about gender and racial stereotyping. Tiana, for example, dreams of success…by owning a restaurant. Restaurant ownership is good. It’s also traditionally feminine: cooking, cleaning and sewing are OK things for women to do. Like Giselle in “Enchanted;” she opened her own business, to be sure, but it was a clothing store. Wassamatter, Disney? Don’t women become doctors, lawyers, actors and candlestick makers anymore?
Also, there’s the racial stereotypes to contend with. I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t judge, but isn’t it interestingthat a film which has been marketed as a breakthrough for having a Black princess actually has her spending most of the movie as a frog? Oh yeah, she gets turned into a frog. When she kisses Prince Naveen (he of the ambiguous ethnicity). Clip below
So what do we make of this? Is it OK that our heroine spends the almost entire time as a frog? Are Mama Odie and Doctor Facilier going to be 2D stereotypes? And what are the critics saying?
With “The Princess and the Frog” they’ve gotten just about everything right. The dialogue is fresh-prince clever, the themes are ageless, the rhythms are riotous and the return to a primal animation style is beautifully executed. So shake a stick at those Grimm Brothers, when it comes to princesses and frogs we now have a beautiful, boisterous sister in charge.
I might forgive the reviewer for dissing the Grimm Brothers…someday. But again, any concerns are swept under the rug. And that could very well be because the film leaves nothing to be concerned about. It could be that we’re dealing with a smart, fun, timeless and sensitive classic. But maybe we’re not. In any case, all reviewers seem more besotted with the film’s animation than with anything else. Heck, maybe this is a good thing, but Catie is the animation gal, not me. I’m the picky cultural studies person with an eye for trouble.
But in the meantime, the film remains at 83% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, and I’m in relatively high spirits. Who knows? Maybe the Princess and the Frog is the Disney film we’ve all been waiting for, here to revolutionize the genre.
But really, I have to have a sit-down with that LA Times reviewer. I mean really.