The Princess and the Frog

by Tony Phoenix, staff writer
The Princess and the Frog
(2009) | 98 min. | G | Reviewed by Tony Phoenix
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Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio 5 stars Video 5 stars
Goodies 4 stars Movie 3 stars
  Value 4 stars  

DVD Features

  • DVD Release Date: March 16, 2010
  • Original Theatrical Release: December 11, 2009
  • 1.78:1
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Blu-Ray: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • French and Spanish Language Tracks
  • Subtitles: Closed Captioned, English Descriptive Video Service
  • Suggested Retail Price: $29.99 / $44.99 Blu-Ray

The Movie

Five years after abandoning traditional, hand-drawn animation, Disney Feature Animation returns to it with the animated musical, The Princess and the Frog. Championed by John Lassiter, who took over the reins of Disney Animation in addition to his roles at Pixar, Disney returns to its roots in this new fairy tale release. In case you missed the movie while in theaters, you can read MousePlanet's review here.

The audio and video are crisp, clean and enjoyable. The colors (especially during Dr Facilier's Friends on the Other Side sequence) are beautifully rich and deep.

This release is available in multiple formats: DVD, Single Disc Blu-ray and the 3-disc Blu-Ray combo pack, that includes the Blu-ray disc, DVD disc and Digital Copy. The Blu-ray discs include a number of additional bonus features not available on the standard DVD

Image Copyright Walt Disney Studios

The Goodies

DVD & Blu-ray

Deleted Scenes

Deleted scenes are generally the most asked for bonus feature on DVD sets. Hand-animated movies pose a challenge for DVDs, in that rarely are scenes deleted after they are complete, given the immense amount of time and labor that go into producing them. The Princess and the Frog release includes story-boards of scenes that were considered, but never produced. The scenes include a discussion between Tiana and her mother, alternate introductions of alligator Louis, and selected others.

Audio Commentary

The audio commentary is a standard voice over with co-writers and directors John Musker and Ron Clements, and director Peter Del Vecho.

"Never Knew I Needed" - Music Video by Ne-Yo

The obligatory music video is performed by Walt Disney Records artist Ne-Yo. It may be that there are a few viewers who will enjoy the music video, but its inclusion has become a cliche - and a bad one at that. How about saving the space on the disk and doing a feature on how Jazz influenced the music in the film, instead of a flash-in-the-pan pop artist?

Do You See What I See: Princess Portraits Game

Image Copyright Walt Disney Studios

In this basic game, firefly Ray and his family form silhouettes of Disney princesses (and a few villains) and you try to match them to their real portrait. If you complete it successfully, then Mama Odie gives you a quick retelling of your choice of a princesses story. It is clever game with the fireflies slowly creating the picture, but has almost no repeatability.

Blu-ray Only

Magic in the Bayou: The Making of a Princess

A traditional Making Of feature, a 22-minute behind the scenes look at the making of the movie. It is an interesting look, but with one very serious complaint. They cut repeatedly to other classic Disney films to compare the movies and to discuss their similarities and differences. However, while most of the film is in high definition, the clips of older movies are in standard definition. And a very poor quality standard definition - it is something I would expect to see in a low quality Internet video. The picture quality is awful, jarring, and distracts horribly from what is an otherwise interesting clip. This is especially inexcusable, considering the studio has completed HD transfers of a number of these films.

Bringing Life to Animation

The directors share several clips of live-action reference footage that was shot prior to beginning animation. The footage is shown next to footage from the story boards and from the final film, while the directors explain how they use the footage to help the animators.

Image Copyright Walt Disney Studios

The Return to Hand Drawn Animation

Animation fans were thrilled that John Lassiter directed Feature Animation to return to using hand drawn animation. The directors, animators, writers, and others involved in the making of the movie share their reactions to the news, and why they feel hand drawn animation is so important. I especially got a kick out of animator Andreas Deja dancing to the news.

Additional Features

There are a number of short (2-3 minute) vignettes included in the bonus materials. The Disney Legacy features animators talk about how the legacy of Disney animation influences their work today. Disney's Newest Princess feels like a Disney Channel short that introduces the movie and it's basic premise to audiences. The Princess and the Animator features the animators talking about how they worked to bring a new princess to life. Conjuring the Villain is a look at the making of villain Dr. Facilier and how actor Keith David influenced the character's development. A Return to the Animated Musical looks at how The Princess and the Frog remains a musical, but differs so much from traditional Disney musical films. The Art Galleries show story board and concept art from the movie.

The Final Evaluation

If you enjoyed the movie originally, or if you have a young girl under the age of 13, then this is a definite pick-up. The same is true if you are a fan of traditional animation. But ultimately, the movie isn't for everyone.