Ron Clements, John Musker
Anika Noni Rose
Lasseter’s first move with THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG was a smart one: the hiring of THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN directors John Musker and Ron Clements. Probably the biggest compliment I can give this movie is that it truly feels like it belongs in the pantheon of classic Disney tales. Everything about it—the quality of animation, heartfelt story, memorably defined characters, message, humor and especially the music—is incredibly well-executed and feels like it would fit perfectly in the late 80s-early 90s Mouse House, which sets it apart in a great way from the pop-culture, gag-a-minute animated films of today.
We’re amazed at how realistic CG animation has evolved over the years, but there’s still something beautiful and equally impressive about hand drawn characters. And the animation in PRINCESS AND THE FROG is gorgeous—rich, colorful and vibrant with expressive movements and some great physical gags. There’s also some solid voice work that helps bring the artwork and the loveable cast of characters to life, including DREAMGIRLS’ Anika Noni Rose in the title role. But it’s the always reliable Keith David as Dr. Facilier who stands out as a surprisingly effective villain. The THEY LIVE star’s distinctive voice gives some gravitas to the role and makes the voodoo priest actually quite scary (thanks in part to some cool, shadowy animation) and one of the better Disney baddies.
But as a big fan of New Orleans jazz, my favorite part of the film is definitely the music. There’s the occasional standard show tune song, but the majority of the film boasts some great jazz tunes, from Randy Newman’s score to Dr. Facilier’s “Friends on the Other Side” to “When We’re Human” (featuring my favorite character, Louis the trumpet playing alligator). The music is an intrinsic part of the story and the setting of New Orleans, and not just shoe horned in to sell a soundtrack, which made me appreciate it that much more.
Commentary by directors John Musker and Ron Clement, and producer Peter Del Vecho: You can quickly garner a sense of how happy the filmmakers are to be back in the world of 2D animation. They go pretty much nonstop for the entire running time, with humorous tidbits, revealing aspects of the production, and a true love of the medium.
Deleted Scenes (11:43): You can view the storyboards for a few scenes, including more with Tiana’s mom and Louis the alligator, with helpful intros by the directors.
Bringing Animation to Life (8:08): A quick intro in to the basic of animation and the importance of basing the drawings on real life counterparts.
Magic in the Bayou: The Making of a Princess (22:11): A sizable feature about not only the making of the film, but its importance and position as the first new 2D animated movie in the new Disney era. Interviews with cast and crew make this a worthwhile watch.
The Return to Hand Drawn Animation (2:43): A quick but humorous bit with the directors about how excited they are to be back in 2D.
The Disney Legacy (2:31): Another short featurette with the directors, this time reminiscing about the old “classic” era of Disney animation.
Disney's Newest Princess (2:51): A look at Tiana as the first black Disney princess and her importance as a role model.
The Princess and the Animator (2:26): The supervising animator for Tiana talks about his work with the character, as well as the previous Disney princesses.
Conjuring the Villain (1:50): The supervising animator for Dr. Facilier and voice actor Keith David both discuss their roles in turning the villain in to a classic Disney bad guy. (They succeeded.)
A Return to the Animated Musical (3:13): A quick look at the music and the unique “genre” the Disney animated musical has become over the years, featuring chats with composer Randy Newman and various cast members.
"Never Knew I Needed" Music Video: A New Orleans style song and video from some guy named Ne-Yo who’s not Keanu Reeves.
Art Galleries: Choose from Character Design, Layouts and Backgrounds, and Storyboard Art.
You also get Previews, Trailers and a Guessing Game for the kids.
Extra Tidbit: Tiana’s mom is voiced by the Oprah Winfrey.