The Frog Prince, is more like a "Tale of Two Princesses." One of many Cannon's Faily Tale Classics during the late 80's, The Frog Prince clearly follows suit to it's childhood musical brothers and sisters.
Growing up in a theatrical background, I was constantly exposed to movie musicals as a young child. Though they were a far cry from the Oscars and Hammerstein’s classic movie musicals, and the golden age films of MGM in the 1940’s, Cannon put out a number of child oriented musical fairy tales in the late 80’s (usually premiering on the Disney Channel). One such film was The Frog Prince, debuting in 1987. Though slightly campy with blatantly obvious plot devices, the Cannon movie musicals did possess a certain irresistible charm. Aileen Quinn, and a very young Helen Hunt, starred in this particular childhood fantasy. However, it would not prove to be the most versatile roles of their respective careers. The characters were broadly drawn, suggesting an absurd sibling rivalry in which the two (completely different looking) sisters try to prove their worthiness to be crowned princess based up their etiquette and appearance alone. Zora (the younger sister played by Quinn) was socially awkward and childish. She was also friendless despite having a caring and generous nature. In the opening scene, Zora awakes to trumpet fanfare, and the changing of a banner in the castle’s buttress. She thinks perhaps it could have something to do with her, and so she sings the opening song Lucky Day. In this catchy tune, she describes her seemingly endless stream of bad luck, and she also expresses her deep desire to have a friend. That same night, after an embarrassing display at the dinner table, Zora runs out to a well in the castle’s courtyard (with her “lucky golden ball”), and there she meets a giant bipedal frog who befriends her after retrieving her ball from the well’s depths. I find that the idea of a human-esque talking frog to be far more believable than a solid gold ball as a little girl’s favorite toy. But, none the less, the two become quickly inseparable, and Ribbit (the Frog Prince) helps Zora to find confidence in herself by showing her that not everyone thinks she is weird. The two sing about their new friendship in the song Friendship. Then, Zora’s jealous older sister Henrietta (Hunt) kidnaps Ribbit with the help of her, soon to be remorseful, best friend Dulcy (probably a sobriquet for Dulcinea). They throw Ribbit into a fairly deep pit, in a place called the Wood of the Dark Heart, and leave him there to die. The day of princess judging arrives and Zora goes to the well to find Ribbit only to be heartbroken when he does not return. She sings a sad ballad Have You Forgotten Me? Then Henrietta reveals her role in the frog’s disappearance as a way of getting Zora to forfeit her chance at the crown. With the help of a map drawn by Dulcy, Zora races to forest where, the lucky golden ball she gave to Ribbit as a gesture of friendship, lights the way to his location. The 12 year old girl pulls the grown man/frog out of the pit and kisses him—revealing that he is really a prince. Then with the help of the golden ball’s magic they are able to get Zora back to the castle in time for the judging, which she wins, and they all live happily ever after… except for Henrietta. As campy, and immature as it may have been, I still believe that this is a wonderful children’s movie. The songs and musical numbers are entertaining. The plot is easy to follow. The characters are clearly good or bad. And, most importantly, it demonstrates the importance of honesty, believing in yourself, and opening your heart and mind to new things. So, all the adults who despise this and the rest of Cannon’s fairy tales should get off their cultural high horse. It’s meant for children, and I can confidently say that I still treasure this film in my heart… even as an adult.
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