So here is some of that light-hearted content I was mentioning before. Don't get me wrong, I think The Princess and the Frog was a cute movie. But as the first serious attempt at a 2-D animated feature in about a decade, I had hopes that it would be a bit more, I don't know, magical or entertaining... The animation was GORGEOUS. I LOVED the animation. But the story got a little convoluted and the characters felt more like caricatures than well-rounded personalities with internal conflicts, desires and motivations. So if I were on the story team at Disney, here is what I would have recommended:
- Go the folk tale route- It was obvious they wanted to use a fairy tale for this debutante of an animated feature, and that was a very wise idea since it complements that Disney "magic" branding. And they also wanted to do something different by having a strong female protagonist and also having a black princess. This opened them up to some concerns about political correctness. (Originally, Tiana was named "Mattie" but out of concern that that might sound to close to the derogatory "Mammy" the name was changed. The name of the movie was also changed from "The Frog Princess"- which actually makes more sense based on the plot- to "The Princess and the Frog" so as to avoid sounding derogatory. It seemed that they were trying combine The Frog Prince and Cinderella and set it in jazz age New Orleans, but they were having a difficult time making all those elements work together. I would suggest that rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, they simply use an already existing wheel and should have done an animated feature of the African folktale Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. This would have given them a strong, African female protagonist, a king disguised as an cold-blooded critter, and a good combination of Cinderella and Frog Prince elements. Heck, they could have changed the king from a snake to a frog without sacrificing much of the identity of the folk tale, and maybe even have created a magic-wielding villain who changed the king into a frog/snake. It would have been delightful to see an animated feature that showcases the beauty of African culture as well. The songs could have included elements of African music like some awesome drums and other percussion and some cool dancing. And rather than being in search of a restaurant, the heroine would have been on a quest to show quest to be compassionate to those less fortunate than herself.