The Princess And The Frog is a return to the House of Mouse's classic style, a fairytale-inspired narrative wrapped around big song and dance numbers and plenty of talking animals. It doesn't reach the heights of mid-'90s classics like Aladdin or The Lion King, but it's a nostalgic trip down memory lane. There is a particular appeal to hand-drawn animation - it can get away with being a little bit imperfect. With CG that's rarely the case, a computer churns out polished, pin-sharp images and lacks a rough-around-the-edges charm. That human touch sets Princess And The Frog apart from its slick, souped-up rivals.
Putting a neat twist on the well known tale, the story finds Tiana (Rose), daughter of seamstress Eudora (Oprah Winfrey) and job-juggling James (Terrence Howard), locking lips with a frog after her dream of opening a restaurant is shattered. Broke playboy Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) rolls into town (to the delight of Tiana's spoilt friend Charlotte) and quickly finds himself involved in a voodoo spell and transformed into a frog. When Tiana kisses the talking frog and becomes one herself, she sets off on a wild adventure through the swamps of New Orleans, encountering trumpet-playing alligator Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley), Cajun fly Ray (Jim Cummings) and ancient voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Lewis).
An elegant and touching journey, The Princess And The Frog is alive with jazz, vibrant colours and a collection of memorable and eccentric characters. Keith David's voodoo priest Dr Facilier is suitably sinister, his shadow twisting and coiling separately from his body as he slinks across the screen. He's countered by Louis, an eager ball of energy with a habit of terrifying jazz groups when he leaps in to jam with them. Tiana herself, though, is something of a blank slate - in adult form she lacks the fire of the young girl seen in the opening minutes, and as an amphibian her relationship with the frog prince is a conventional 'opposites attract' romance.
Composer Randy Newman's musical numbers aren't up to the standard of some of the Disney classics from yesteryear, with 'Almost There' being the best of the bunch (the less said about Ne-Yo's closing credits song the better). Yet despite these problems, Princess is a welcome throwback and a reminder of Disney's filmmaking legacy. The excellent craftsmanship, madcap supporting characters and unique backdrop will be refreshing to those who are all pixeled out by the never-ending onslaught of digital toons.
> What do you think of the movie? Share your views