Warning: Potential spoilers!
When I first started to watch The Princess and The Frog last Christmas (2009), I thought to myself, “Oh, here we go again, another movie about a girl abandoning love and marriage in pursuit of her dreams and a career.” Looking back, I am not quite sure how I could have thought that—about a Disney movie of all things! To be sure, I was completely wrong, and The Princess and The Frog did not disappoint.
It seems odd to write a review about a movie a year after it was released. But last year The Princess and The Frog helped me to make—and keep—my New Year’s Resolutions, and I wanted to share why.
The movie has some very powerful and beautiful messages. It is set in turn-of-the-century New Orleans. The heroine and princess of the story is Tiana, a young girl who wants to open her own restaurant called Tiana’s Place, a desire inspired in her by her father. She is very certain and unwavering in this singular goal of owning a restaurant. She works as a waitress, saving her pennies to make the down payment on a building for the restaurant. She turns down invitations to go dancing so she can work double shifts.
Along the way, she meets some naysayers. While working, a cook (Buford) tells her, “You talking about that dang restaurant again? … You ain't never gonna get enough for the down payment … You got as much chance of getting that restaurant as I do of winning the Kentucky Derby.” This comment from the cook suggests that achieving her dream is attributed to luck, not hard work.
Tiana lectures her good but misguided friend, Charlotte, who is the daughter of a wealthy businessman in New Orleans and only wants to marry a prince, that she “can’t just wish on a star,” while Charlotte wishes for her prince.
The enemy in the movie is Dr. Facilier, the “Shadow Man,” who promises fame, fortune, and dreams via voodoo, i.e., automatically and without effort and is usually a broken promise.
The prince of the movie is Prince Naveen, who is the parasitical son of wealthy parents, who have recently cut him off. Naveen gets involved with the Shadow Man for he wants to marry a rich woman. The Shadow Man tells Naveen that he sees green in his future. It turns out the green he saw was turning Prince Naveen into a frog.
Frog Naveen finds Tiana while she is wishing on a star. Tiana, upset after a setback to getting her restaurant, decides to try it. Frog Naveen convinces Tiana, who he thinks is a princess, to kiss him. In exchange, Naveen promises to give Tiana money for her restaurant. After kissing him, Tiana herself turns into a frog. Tiana and Naveen get entangled (at one point literally!) together as they go on a journey, as frogs, to become human again.
Now for how it helped me with my New Year’s Resolutions last year: While trying to become human, Naveen and Tiana search for Mama Odie, who, with magical powers, may be able to turn them human. Along the way they find an alligator whose dream is to play jazz with his trumpet in Mardi Gras. Naveen tells the alligator, in order to recruit his help, that maybe if he “weren’t so toothy,” he could play jazz without scaring humans. The alligator joins them as he wants to be human so he can play jazz music in Mardi Gras
After finding Mama Odie, she preaches to the alligator and others about what they want versus what they need. In short, the alligator doesn’t have to be human to play jazz. He just needs to play jazz!
Indeed, how many “But Firsts!” do we lay in front of ourselves before we go after what we actually want. You tell yourself you want to achieve some dream, but first you have to lose weight, do some unrelated project, fix your house, whatever else. The Princess and The Frog helped me with New Year’s Resolutions by focusing me on what I actually wanted without any of the “but firsts.”
Both Tiana and Naveen have something to learn. Naveen’s problem is he is a leech. Tiana’s problem is she doesn’t know how to have fun. After Mama Odie sings them the song about “digging a little deeper” and finding what you need not what you want, Tiana says, “I need to work even harder and get my restaurant,” much to the disappointment of everyone.
Tiana teaches Naveen how to mince vegetables, i.e., work. Naveen teaches Tiana how to dance, i.e., have fun. Most can see how Naveen is wrong (for being parasitical) but many seem to believe that a proper morality is all work and no play and don’t understand the folly of Tiana. But all work and no play makes Tiana a dull girl! Life should be fun, happy, and benevolent not constant drudgery.
Towards the end of the movie—and listen up guys!—the Prince is willing to give up marriage to Tiana so that she can pursue her dream. (To see how and why, I’ll let you watch the movie). Tiana, however, is willing to give up her dream to marry Naveen!
One final side note: I enjoyed the portrayal of Prince Naveen’s slightly aggressive sexuality. When asking Tiana to kiss him while a frog, he says, “You will enjoy it! I guarantee it!” She asks him, “Just one kiss?” He says, “Yes, unless you beg for more!” Towards the end when he kisses Princess Tiana, she comments on it, and he says, “Yes and I am about to do it again.”
I won’t give away the ending (there is a fun and interesting twist!) but it sets up what is an ideal for women: that their dreams and love can coexist and integrate beautifully together.
It is possible, given the genius of Disney, that this movie has set up for another attraction at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World is known for world class dining. How can a movie about a Princess opening a restaurant not turn into another restaurant at Walt Disney World?
I look forward to eating at Tiana’s Place.
Enjoy Amber’s vision for the ideal woman? See her book Objectivist Sexuality: An Outline for Happily Ever After which discusses men, women, love, romance, and more.
Amber is a techie by day and writer by night. Her topics of interest include dating/gender, national security, economics, and education. She is happily married.
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