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Atlanta counts down to Disney’s ‘Princess and the Frog’

princessfrog1

A prince-turned-frog puckers up to Tiana in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog."

With just a few days to go before Disney’s classically animated “The Princess and the Frog” opens, it seems like every little girl in Atlanta is counting down to showtime.

How do I know? Because dozens of parents told me, dead-panning that the countdown has been running since their little one saw the TV commercials/movie previews/Halloween costume/Tiana doll.

For those families, the moment had finally come at an early screening at Atlantic Station this weekend. (Check out these photos from the screening celebration here.) We’re not allowed to publish reviews of the film for a few more days, but I can say that the theater full of little girls, drunk on cupcake and glitter, were squealing at the end. As one mom put it, only now does she feel comfortable with Disney.

The Disney-fied version of 1920s New Orleans gets a lot of screen time, as does a romantic firefly, a musically gifted alligator and a wicked man who knows all the wrong things about voodoo. Nobody, though, gets more love than Tiana, a waitress mistaken for a princess with dreams that manage to suit both. She’s Disney’s first black princess — far too long in coming, but filling the roles here of princess and hero. Race is never explicitly addressed in the film, but the disparity between white and black New Orleans is sometimes clear, like when Tiana and her mother make a long journey home from the luxurious mansions where Eudora works to the village of shotgun homes where they live.

Tiana is a different kind of princess for everybody, though. I grew up post-Cinderella, but too early for Disney Princesses to be a term we capitalized. Ariel of “The Little Mermaid” was the animation standard. (I was extremely upset as a first grader to learn that “mermaid” wasn’t an actual career path outside of Florida.) I love her, but she didn’t do much but sing and rebel by brushing her hair with a fork.

Tiana rebels a little, like Ariel; she’s compassionate and creative, like Belle; she’s unimpressed by pretentious dudes, like Jasmine. But Tiana works. She holds down two or three jobs and keeps her eye on the prize — a restaurant of her own — and not because a wicked step-mother forced her into it. (In fact, this is the rare Disney film where the lead character’s childhood includes a stable, two-parent household.)

Just a few more days, parents. Just a few more days…

Will you go see “The Princess and the Frog?” What do you hope to see in the new film? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

Want to go? “The Princess and the Frog” opens in theaters in Atlanta on Dec. 11. Click here to find a theater near you.

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

6 comments Add your comment

jdoe@jdoe.org

December 12th, 2009
12:03 am

Oh, also agree with BiancaJ’s comment, the music in the movie, I think conducted or written by Randy Newnan, is superb.

jdoe@jdoe.org

December 12th, 2009
12:01 am

Took my 10-year-daughter and four of her friends tonight. The girls loved the movie. But no more than this 45-year-old dad. This is one of those Disney movies destined to be a classic. It has that charming, old-style Disney style that brought to mind the sincerity, charm, and simplicity of the old Disney movies of my youth. The morals inculcated in the script, the sweetness of the story line, and love-letter it is in many ways to New Orleans, instantly made this G-rated movie one of my all time favorites. The humor in the movie is the kind that both parent and child appreciate. Short of Oprah Winfrey and John Goodman, there are no mega-star stars as voices I recognized, but each character is cast perfectly. A few scenes may be a little scary for some kids under 6 or 7. But as a grown-up, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, appreciate it’s completely lack of innuendo, no dirty words or inferences, incorporation of the values of dreams and work, the romance. Overall, a very, very charming movie, worth the attention of all generations. A++.

Jamie Gumbrecht

December 11th, 2009
11:36 pm

Awww, happy birthday BiancaJ! I definitely got the feeling that there were a lot of moms and grandmas just as excited to see the film as there were little girls. You’re not alone. :)

Ayana

December 11th, 2009
10:09 pm

My mother, grandmother, daughter, son and I went and LOVED it. Disney did a great job!

BiancaJ

December 11th, 2009
7:16 pm

It’s my birthday and I took my 5 yr old daughter to see the Princess and The Frog, it was just a wonderful experience. The story line was great and I enjoyed Disney portraying an intake Black family, but the theme was universal to believe in oneself, dream big and what matters in life is often the small things that we overlook. I was probably more excited to see the movie than my daugher. I turned 41 yrs today and I’ve watched Disney since childhood and to see this historic event of a Black Princess on the “big screen” was terrific….something to see for everyone. Finally, the soundtrack of songs was great as well.

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