I’m unapologetically on a soap box for this one.
Do you know how much I wanted to love this movie? Really love it and not just for my kids sake but for mine? I LOVE Beauty and the Beast. I LOVE Aladdin. I LOVE Little Mermaid. I still have the Pocahontas cup I collected from Burger King round about 1993. I’ve been glad to watch Beauty and the Beast 25 times straight with my girls and happy to take them to the play at Disney. I wanted so much to like it. I wanted so much for my girls to love it. I loved that they are old enough to remember opening night and I wanted so much for them to buy the movie on DVD and watch it over and over. But on the way home I declared to my girls I was sorry but we would not be buying it. I’m feeling disappointed and let-down by Disney. And here’s why…
Here’s the thing you have to understand. I’m conservative but I get the fact that there is good guy/bad guy thing in Disney movies. Ursula always kind of scared me but it’s easy to explain she’s just mean and octopuses aren’t really like that and it’s all fake. Jafar always was just kind of stuffy to me. Gaston was just full of himself and rude. Even the witch in Cinderella can easily be explained away because there just aren’t witches like that for real. But the bad guy in this movie? Was just a guy and he was downright evil. And I do mean EEEEVIILLL. My problem with this movie boils down to the fact that the evil was just too evil. I’ll have to give you some background of the movie to understand but bear with me I don’t think I give away any huge spoilers.
The movie takes place in New Orleans. The prince from another country has been cut off from his family and has come to America to live the good life. Tiana is simply the daughter of hardworking parents with a dream to own a restaurant. The prince is taken in by the bad guy in the movie Dr. Facilier down an alley into wait for it…a VooDoo shop . The entire scene is standard Disney where the bad guy gets his scene/song. Dr. Facilier reads the prince’s tarot cards and paints this grand picture of what his life could be like if he’d just make a deal with him. The prince, still greedy and wanting to live the high life again, agrees. The doctor then uses voo doo on him which is what eventually turns him into a frog. It may not sound too bad on paper but you don’t just get the idea of voo doo..the words are literally written on the walls and it’s mentioned a few times by the doctor and the tarot card readings are the center of attention of the scene. Emma closed her eyes on her own because the scene was so scary. It just dripped with evil. That’s really the only way I can explain it. My sister Heather was there and I looked at her at the end, feeling very uncomfortable and said I didn’t like that..she mouthed Me either!
The movie went on and I have to say the good parts were good. But intertwined were these scenes with the doctor that made me very uncomfortable and to me were unnecessary. At one part, they go see Mama Odie, another voo doo doctor in the bayou who has a good message to them and refuses to turn them back to humans so they can “dig a little deeper” and find what they NEED (he needs love, not money and she needs someone to share all her hard work with) and not what they want. But in the midst, she is using basically witchcraft to look into the future to see what that might be that they need. So even the person pointing them towards good is using witchcraft to do so.
At one point, Dr. Facilier needs reinforcements and goes to see some sort of almighty evil voo doo mask and agrees to hand over all the souls of New Orleans for them to torture if he’ll just release some more demons to help him find the prince. They agree and these evil spirits are running rampant to find the frog.
And at the end, Dr. Facilier actually has a voo doo doll of the man he’s trying to harm and has a needle, getting ready to stick the voo doo doll.
All of it was just TOO MUCH. I did not feel good about the fact that I had to walk out of a DISNEY movie, a CHILD”S Disney movie and even THINK about voo doo and tarot cards. It was very unnecessary and disappointing that Disney felt the need to tie those themes in so heavily to the movie.
I GET that my kids are just kids. I GET that that gave me the opportunity to talk about these things that I feel are evil. I GET that my girls aren’t going to run out and start witchcraft. I GET that the voo doo and tarot cards were something that they BAD GUYS were doing. But when kids watch something over and over, those things become comfortable and familiar and honestly, I just don’t think it was appropriate for them to be learning about them at their age from a Disney movie.
All that said, I don’t want to totally bash the movie. There are many redeeming qualities about it. They were very clear through Tiana that hard work and love and family are important. It was clear that how you look doesn’t mean as much as who you are on the inside. The movie was very funny in parts, sweet in parts and just plain beautiful in parts. Tiana, in fact, is the one that ended up smashing the voo doo necklace and saying “it’s not right”. I applaud them for that. I really do. But again, why should a Disney princess be fighting against a voo doo doctor to begin with? I think I would have even been ok with a “generic witch” casting a “generic spell” on them to turn them to frogs.
As a conservative parent, I feel it’s necessary to tell parents to proceed with caution. You may not feel that it’s necessary to talk about to your kids about it but I did. Even as an adult, one that loves books about vampires and werewolves and even one that loves other Disney movies I was UNCOMFORTABLE watching it and I honestly don’t plan to see it again. Which is a shame. Because Tiana is a lovely princess and the moral lessons are worthy. Walking away though, I just can’t seem to wipe the uneasiness from my gut. I just can’t.