From a young age, Tiana has learnt from her tireless father the meaning of working hard for your dreams. His dream was always to own a restaurant, but sadly, he died before his dream true. Spurred on by this, Tiana holds down two jobs to raise funds so she can build this restaurant in her dad's memory. Just as she has the exact amount she needs, on the eve of catering for a welcoming party held by her best friend Charlotte to welcome Prince Neevan, Prince Neevan goes and gets himself transformed into a frog by local voodoo man, and she, on the promise of riches if she does so, kisses him. However, this backfires and only goes to turn her into a frog. And being an amphibian is the least of her worries.
As you'd expect from a Disney movie, no matter how modern, there are catchy ditties aplenty in The Princess and the Frog. Fine vocal performances feature all round to make the songs truly unforgettable, my favourite songs being the poignant "I'm Almost There" and a very sweet "My Belle Evangeline", as sung by a hillbilly firefly. It shouldn't work, but it really does. As with Clements and Musker's previous collaboration Hercules (one of my top 100 films, in case you forgot), the songs truly embody the fun, fresh and feel-good flavour of the film, and it's terrific to watch all the characters take part so well.
Though Pixar animations has set the bar extremely high for all animated movies, The Princess and the Frog doesn't try to compete; instead, it stays true to the old-school style of Disney movies, and does so brilliantly. Whilst the pictures may lack the 3D style of Pixar, the rich colours and detail are a wild and wacky throwback to old fashioned Disney. Along with the drawing style, there's also the magic, the whimsy, the clearly painted villains and clearly painted heros too.
Core to the film is the play on the age old tale of The Frog Prince. The writers are far too clever to simply recreate the fairy tale as a cartoon, yet they retain the romantic core of the story in this film. As with all Disney films, there are messages aplenty not subtly slotted in the songs, but would you have it any other way? Tiana, Naveen, a crocodile and a firefly go on one of the most exhilirating rides in 2009, and you should be there with them.