Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#49: You Must Be Dreaming

Favorite line of the movie: "Just...ONE kiss?" "Unless you beg for more!" Never fails to crack me up.
The Princess & the Frog, 2009
watched September 2, 2012

This film brings us back to familiar territory in the best way possible. We've gone a full 16 weeks since our last princess story, undeniably Disney's most popular genre. The Princess and the Frog also marks a return to traditional hand drawn animation. I can safely say this film redeemed the last one! Thank. The. Lord. Also, we haven't had a full-on musical (where characters actually sing) since Mulan. I am thrilled we're back in a place reminiscent of the Renaissance.

Now that Disney is a decade removed from that wonderful era, have they made any alterations to the formula?

Tiana stands alone amidst the princesses as someone who knows exactly what she wants at the start of the film, pursuing it with complete abandon. Her parents (both of them!) instill in her not only to dream big but to also work hard. Whether or not she actually achieves her dream as she had imagined it, well, that's where the story unfolds.

The story's prince stands out as well. Rich, spoiled Naveen, who spends most of his time in this movie as a frog, appears not to possess a heroic bone, or frog leg, in his body. Additionally, Naveen and Tiana begin their relationship at odds. She's practical, he's a romantic. He loves music and dancing, she'd rather be working. They see each other as obstacles in the way of what they want. Their witty banter and embodiment of "opposites attract" make them refreshing and engaging characters.

One thing Disney hasn't changed, however, is their emphasis on dreaming. "Dreams Come True" is unabashedly thrown all over glittery bedazzled tshirts for girls (and okay, women too. Not that I own one or anything). There's some truth here. Dreamers are compelling because they are driven by something beyond themselves. Their resilience and hope inspire us because we're built to live and hope for something beyond ourselves too.

But while dreams produce passion, if too small, they can also make us single-minded. They can become a reason to act selfishly in disregard of others. What I love about this story is how both Naveen and Tiana learn that their dreams are too narrow. Tiana spends so much time working and saving money to open her restaurant that she doesn't have time to enjoy life. Naveen, conversely, squanders his time and wealth, only to realize it leaves him empty and restless. As the two spend more time together (never mind that it's only two days), they learn the possibility of a bigger view of the world, a bigger dream, leading them to give up their own for something better.

I've had specific moments in my life where I've come to realize that my dream is too small. My idea of what happiness or success is can't be defined by myself. I need others to show me that there's much more than my own view of the world.

There's one Person specifically who can expand our dream. He helps us to stop wandering aimlessly like Naveen and pursue our calling. He helps us to not take life too seriously like Tiana and see beauty and joy in the world. Most of all, as we willingly give up our own dreams, he gives us one that's even better.


  1. So, is this the first Disney mixed-race couple?

  2. There's Pocahontas and John Smith... though they didn't end up together.