Dr. Toon: Wielding the Hatchet
After the film came out, several prominent critics of the fundamentalist Right protested the use of voodoo, Obeah, what have you. Some were actually dismayed that Tiana and company sought help from voodoo witch Mama Odie, noting that the Catholic Church was a major player in New Orleans culture. Why didn't Tiana go to the established church fathers? Oh, the timeless idiocy of it. This is a partisan stance voiced only to object to non-Christian beliefs; it has nothing to do with The Princess and the Frog.
Let's think about the structure of this film, since the fundamentalists didn't. First of all, enchantments are an underlying theme in Princess. People don't really turn into frogs, fireflies don't become gaseous balls of hydrogen after they die, traitorous lackeys don't transmute into doppelgangers, vaporous evil masks and voodoo dolls generally don't stage pursuits through city streets. Now let's drag in a reality-based church (or churches) with all their established ritual, protocols, and personnel to play action-hero. We're talking deus ex machina, a surefire way to wreck the plot.
'It Wasn't That Way at All'
Other critics mentioned that the New Orleans depicted in The Princess and the Frog was a false fantasy of racial integration in which blacks and whites ate together, exchanged pleasantries and occupied the same streets in seeming equality. Although New Orleans may have been more progressive than most Southern cities, the argument goes, this was still a time when inequality between the races was at its height, racism reigned, and interracial disputes were settled with a noose. However things really might have been in the Big Easy, these observations are so peripheral to the story that they are irrelevant. This is a magical fantasy whose background happens to be New Orleans, not a commentary on racial inequity in 1920s Dixie. Taking historical liberties in this case does nothing to add or detract from the plot. Granted, there are films in which the inaccuracies are so egregious -- Don Bluth's ridiculous version of the Russian Revolution in Anastasia comes to mind -- that plot questions are directly generated by such foolery. In the case of Princess it is simply nit-picking of the highest order.
Fantasy Football Follies
Ever since Fantasy Football became a national craze, countless fans have equated a player's value by the number of fantasy points the player piles up during a season. There is frequently a disconnect with the reality of what this player actually provides on the field in contributing to a team's success. Among the most common mistakes that some uninformed critics make is equating the value of a film with its box-office take. Since The Princess and the Frog has garnered (at the time of this writing) only $105 million, it's been assumed that the film was a marginal "success" and no great hit with the public. Ignored was the fact that this film, like many others were "Avatarred" (I owe the term to colleagues Tom Reed and Michelle Klein-Hass). This was still a movie nominated for three Oscars and a daring move in itself since it was a 2D flick in a 3-D IMAX universe. Determining the success of this movie by box office gross does it a gargantuan disservice.