The Princess And The Frog: Laissez Les PC Temps Rouler!

Movie:The Princess And The Frog
Company:Walt Disney Animation Studios
Directors:Ron Clements
John Musker
Featuring:Anika Noni Rose
Bruno Campos
Keith David
Michael Leon-Wooley
Jim Cummings
Jennifer Cody

        With Gumbo and Tabasco, Jazz and Zydeco, Mardi Gras and Voodoo, Disney's new animated adaptation of the Brother's Grimm classic, “The Frog Prince”, comes to the screen. Set in the New Orleans of Huey Long's Louisiana, “The Princess and The Frog” is the first hand-drawn, full-length feature from Disney in over five years. However, the retro art and the vibrant culture fail to breathe life back into a story which the Disney studio itself smothered with its PC navel gazing. In fact, the studio's obsession with not offending the perpetually offended PC police seems to have trumped other considerations. The vibrant culture of New Orleans was reduced to a cliché of trimming and trappings which served only to carry the story. The impressiveness of the hand-drawn art was reduced to moments of glitter and flash. And, in the end, the PC police were still offended and so should be some of the intended audience.

        Anika Noni Rose voices for Tiana a poor woman living in pre-depression New Orleans and brought up with her father's optimism, work ethic, and dream of owning a restaurant. Tiana is the first Disney Princess of African descent. I point this out because there are many to whom this was an issue of importance. So much so that more attention was given to Tiana's race than to her more important qualities of hard word, focus, determination, thrift, and pluck. So much so that one movie reviewer actually stated that he felt racially cheated that Tiana spent much of the movie as a green frog rather than as a black person. So much so that another movie reviewer actually complained that Prince Naveen, voiced by Bruno Campos, appeared Brazilian and not African. So much so that the Disney Studios actually changed the name of the project from its original adaptation of the Grimm, “The Frog Princess”, for fear that the PC police might accuse them of implying that Tiana was an ugly frog. I'm serious.

        What made all of this ridiculous posturing even more so is the fact that American audiences love Disney Princess and Princes regardless of what “race” they are drawn as. Americans loved the Native American Disney Princess, Pocahontas. Americans loved the Arabian Disney Princess, Jasmine. Americans loved the Polynesian female lead, Lilo. Despite all this, Disney still bought into The Left's constant and offensive narrative of “Racist America” and changed the name of the movie.

        I suspect that Disney even went a couple of steps further than this name change to inoculate themselves from PC criticism. Conspicuously missing from the movie is a single “white” character with a redeeming feature. There was a group of vicious, buffoonish, toothless, gun-toting swamp rats. There was an effete, power craving toady and back stabber. There was a pair of racist, condescending, and paternalistic property owning business men who could only be reasoned with through threats of grievous violence. There was a trifling, gold digging, bimbo beauty queen. Finally, there was a pampered, corpulent, and corrupt boss politician. So, Disney, let me ask, were there no admirable working class or poor white people in pre-depression New Orleans? Were there none who would have been Tiana's friend? Were there none who disagreed with the racial injustice of the time? In Huey Long's Louisiana? Where the influence of The Klan was a heavily debated election issue? Really? OK.

        And to make all of these matters worse, “The Princess and The Frog” also suffers from the appearance of cynical market timing. However, it was in the works since at least the beginning of 2007, way before the ascension of “The One”. Unfortunately its release during the grotesque fawning over the “every breath is historic” Obama administration, makes it appear to be just another media feature on the propaganda bandwagon. With Disney so concerned over PC, they might have actually considered the current administration a bump for the movie. I would argue the opposite, it didn't need this apparent baggage too. Hey, at least it doesn't have Jiminy Cricket whistling “When you Hope and Change Upon a Star”.

        Consider that all of this baggage comes in a movie which features a heroine who champions self-reliance and a villain who foments class hatred against the “Fat Cats” and who advocates the easy but obviously wrong path. These characters and their qualities, who and which would have made a great movie, are lost amongst the trappings, the cliches, and the baggage. Tiana deserved better.

        So, see “The Princess and The Frog” if you are inclined, but expect to be underwhelmed and maybe even a little offended. And as a bit of advice, a little cooking tip for Disney, if you put navel lint in your gumbo, no matter how good the rest of its ingredients are, don't be surprised when your guests politely decline to eat it.

Hollywood, STFU Rating: 3.5 Hammer and Sickles