Two nights ago I finally got to see the latest Disney cartoon movie, “The Princess and the Frog.” I very much enjoyed this lively movie, set in the colorful city of New Orleans. The music was catchy and played to the authentic New Orleans setting, the characters could appeal to a wide variety of people, and the plot was easy to follow.
I was discussing this film with my brother who thought that every character in the movie however, was taken (at least in part) from a former Disney character or two. I can kind of see how this could be the point. The main characters are pretty easy to find the similarities. We found a similarities with Princess Tiana and Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) for her “good girl” nature and value of an education; Dr. Facilier and Jafar (from Aladdin) for his thin physique and work with the Dark Arts; Prince Naveen and Aladdin (from Aladdin) for his sense of adventure and positive outlook on life.
The supporting characters could also be taken from other Disney characters. I saw Ray as Flit (from Pocahantas or as a plot spoiler, this character); Mama Odie as Grandmother Willow (also from Pocahantas); Lawrence as the stout Wadsworth (from Beauty and the Beast); and then there’s Charlotte. Charlotte, Tiana’s childhood best friend is the cutesy, rich, Daddy’s girl who gets what she wants. My brother and I could only compare Charlotte to a number of minor characters through the Disney history, such as Ariel’s sisters (in The Little Mermaid) or the general swooning girls for Gaston (from Beauty and the Beast). But it seems like there is no real character to compare Charlotte to, because Disney doesn’t tend to emphasize that kind of character type.
And then there’s the character of Louis, the fun-loving, trumpet-playing alligator.
His character reminded my brother of the Mungo, the elephant (in Tarzan) or even Baloo (from The Jungle Book); but in my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about how similar Louis is to the musical alligator, King Gator in the Don Bluth movie, All Dogs Go To Heaven.
True, they may not look alike, but the similarities were abound. Both alligators’ main attribute is their obvious love for music. For Louis it’s his trumpet talent and for King Gator, it’s his operatic voice, like in his song, “Let’s Make Music Together.”
While I’m on the topic of musical alligators, I would also like to point out that Louis’ song, “When We’re Human” about animals wanting to be turned (back) into humans, has basically the same message as the song from The Jungle Book, “I Wanna Be Like You.” In the latter song, King Louie the ape sings about how he wants to be like Mogli the boy to be able to do human things like make a fire. One more music similarity I must point out between The Princess and the Frog and The Jungle Book is that the song, “The Bare Necessities” even uses a traditional New Orleans Jazz beat.
Aside from the gator and music similarities, let’s not forget that All Dogs Go To Heaven also took place in New Orleans. Many people may think that this setting for The Princess and the Frog is new, and maybe it is for Disney movies, but Don Bluth did it first. Speaking of New Orleans and the Disney corporation, at the Disney Land and Disney World theme park, there is even already a neighborhood of New Orleans Square. No doubt, they will soon be incorporating this newest movie into the parks.
So even though there are some definite similarities between Disney’s latest and greatest animated movie and a lot of other previous movies, I still loved The Princess and the Frog. Its infectious music has been in my head since I saw the movie and I would even venture to see it a second time in the movie theaters. For all of you out there who have yet to see it, I would definitely recommend it. Hopefully I didn’t spoil too much of the movie for you!