I know I'm late, but I rebelled against this movie for the past couple of years and just now decided I can't knock it 'till I tried it. As I watched this movie, I was caught between being extremely disappointed and pleasantly impressed. Here are my thoughts.
Disney continues their trend of creating strong female heroines for the female audience to connect with and strive to emulate. Tiana is smart, hard-working, and practical while still having her dreams and the belief that they will come true; she doesn't operate under the delusion that a man or magic will solve all of her problems, like some princesses have been known to do in the Disney universe. I also like her crazy friend Charlotte, who, despite being spoiled and diva-like, is a good friend to Tiana. Even though they both come from very different backgrounds, it's a beautiful thing that Charlotte remains close to Tiana and not letting society dictate who they should associate with (kudos to Charlotte's father for encouraging this relationship as well). Charlotte and Tiana are wonderful foils of each other without making the other look bad. I don't hate or dislike either of these two female characters, because this movie showcases the best of their characters. And thank Ra, Tiana's a legal adult in this movie; no more 16-year olds getting married.
I feel like this movie is a little Aladdin-like in the sense that it's more of a growing story for Prince Naveen than for Tiana. I guess Disney spoiled me with noble, decent male leads and now seeing one that's slightly conceited and prancing around as some lady-killer kind of puts me off. He definitely had to grow to be worthy for Tiana, and I'm used to both people deserving each other but having to fight for their love. And am I the only one who notices that this dude is a homie-hopper, jumping between Charlotte and Tiana? I know he was only interested in Charlotte for the money aspect (which is slimy in itself), but still. I'm not saying he's a complete tool, but he has more toolish qualities than I usually see in an animated Disney movie.
The bad guy (I forget his name) can't be put in the same category as most other awesome and fun Disney villains (Ursula, Scar, Jafar, Hades, etc.). He's interesting, but he barely scrapes past Gaston as being memorable. He should be barred from entering the Disney Villain Castle until he uses his powers better. Have you noticed that villains in debt aren't as cool as the ones who have almost everything and are just greedy?
I adore Mama Odie. This woman is nuts, but tough. She and Rafiki would be fun together. And the gator (I forget his name too) makes me laugh at almost every time he appears.
Am I the only one who thinks the plot is a little too complex? As a kid during the Disney Renaissance, I was able to catch on to the major plots pretty well, and the only thing being an adult has helped me in rewatching my childhood was getting some of the jokes, references, and character/story . During this one, there're so many sub-plots you almost have to be a pre-teen at least to get it. I don't know, it feels kind of much to me. I guess you have to give the creators props for trying out a new kind of adventure for the story, as this is definitely not the tried-and-true story formula from the golden era of Disney animation.
The whole "Charlotte is a princess" thing didn't completely make sense. I understand the logic, but even Naveen was like "Does that count?" That part seemed kind of thrown in just tie things together. And, once again (which is something I have a major problem with in most Disney films) Tiana and Naveen fell in love too fast and were "ready" to marry in a matter of days. *sigh*
There were definitely some beautiful parts of the movie. Naveen becomes really charming and the dance scene made my heart sigh dreamily. However, they had a Swan Princess moment when Naveen and Tiana got married, which is blasphemy on all levels. Those water effects belong to Odette, and to her only.
One of the few things this movie gets right is the music. Disney has always been memorable for having amazing soundtracks and this movie brings us fun and inspiring songs for anyone to enjoy.
I wouldn't put this movie in the same category as such greats as Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, or Lion King, but it certainly isn't bad. It's more The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in my opinion. I laughed a bit, and I enjoyed most of the characters, but the story seemed overworked and heavy. I wish this movie could've been made earlier so Tiana could be properly inducted as a Disney Princess, and I wish the movie was worth her character.