The big news on The Princess and the Frog's release was that its heroine was, for the first time in Disney's history, an African American. Tiana is a gutsy waitress in 1920s New Orleans who has dreams of owning her own restaurant. Meanwhile, a European prince has arrived in town with hopes of ensnaring a rich southern belle. Tiana is not, it seems, the girl for him. But thanks to some voodoo jiggery pokery gone wrong, the two soon find themselves floating off into the bayou as frogs and discovering what lies beneath the surface. More striking than Tiana's colour (she is still, in true Disney tradition, all enormous eyes and tiny waist), is the film's nostalgic feel. This is partly due to its use of hand-drawn frames, which lends the film a refreshing simplicity when compared with the realism of the studio's other recent travails, Bolt and Up. There is also a shamelessly brash repertoire of song-and-dance numbers of the type not seen since Hercules in 1997. The results are enchanting. The creole music and art deco Big Easy make for an evocative backdrop, complete with a camp pantomime baddy, the witch doctor Facilier. Despite featuring too many characters and briefly losing its way in the middle, the film manages to retain its charm. Don't expect lots of arch adult humour, though. This is good clean fun, packed with princess dresses and singing animals. Remember them?
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