From her early girlhood, Tiana (voiced by Elizabeth Dampier & Anika Noni Rose), makes it clear that she’ll doggedly pursue a career as a restaurateur — fulfilling her father’s unrealized dreams. She has hints of several beloved Disney characters: Belle’s indifference to ‘provincial life,’ Cinderella and Aladdin’s ‘diamond in the rough’ melodramas, Ariel’s endearing stubbornness, and of course, Hercules’ starry-eyed determination to ‘go the distance.’ I have no doubt that this was a strategy to assimilate to Disney’s royal canon.
The film’s tone is set by Black magic and Black music. It swells with Big Easy jazz, and its villains are people who abuse New Orleans voodoo. The principal villain is Dr. Facilier (voiced by Keith David) — a corrupt bokor known to swindle his clients. Though he favors Prince’s purple flamboyance, he doesn’t favor princes at large. He casually turns Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos) into a frog in exchange for a handsome payoff.
In the end, The Princess and the Frog is a cautionary tale about taking shortcuts to success. Characters who don’t earn their winnings perish, and characters who endure a humbling journey (e.g. Tiana and Naveen) are rewarded with their dreams (as well as romance).