The Frog Prince (Cannon Movie Tales, 1988)

“A children’s musical based on Grimm’s fairy tale of The Frog-King. A young girl learns how to be a good friend and princess with the help of a “tall frog.”

– Lee Phangvivat, IMDB.

The Frog Prince is brought to us by Cannon Films. The film was the first in the Cannon Movie Tales series, which was primarily filmed in Israel. Aileen Quinn, who stars as the Princess Zora, is best known for her role as Annie in the 1982 musical of the same name. John Paragon, who plays the titular Frog Prince, previously played Jambi the Genie on PeeWee’s Playhouse.

Some thoughts from me (Possible spoilers below)…
Right off the bat, I’ll mention that it seems as though this one has never been released on DVD in a Region 1 format! I can only find German language Region 2 DVDs, so seekers of this film will unfortunately have to try and track down either an original VHS, or a VHS transfer of the film.

It’s strange, it seems like the rest of the Cannon Movie Tales have been re-released on DVD in some form or another. I almost wonder if there’s some sort of issue with the licensing that is preventing The Frog Prince from getting an official re-release.

Onto the film itself! Like many other films on this blog, I find this one pretty charming. Part of that might be due to my nostalgiac fondness for Annie. Like her role in Annie, Aileen Quinn plays a character who has a lot of spunk to her, which gets her in trouble with authority figures. In fact, the first 20 or so minutes of this film are basically dedicated to character’s berating Princess Zora for not acting enough like a princess. Thankfully, once the titular Frog Prince is introduced the film lightens up a bit.

The introduction of the Frog Prince is a bit weird, I have to admit. He almost comes across as sinister. I think it’s largely due to a combination of how the first few shots of him have his face partially obscured by shadows, and how he works to convince Princess Zora to promise to be his friend… it has some weird vibes for sure. It almost makes you wonder if Zora is about to enter into a Faustian bargain of sorts. Not helping things is the fact that the frog’s face prosthetic unintentionally make it look like he has a Glasgow smile, ala the Joker in The Dark Knight. Thankfully, the Frog’s role in this one is mostly to act as Zora’s life coach, as he tries to help her act more like a ‘true princess’.

One of the enjoyable things in this movie for me was seeing Zora’s uncle, the King, be won over by her over the course of the film. He starts off like many other characters do by chastising Zora for not being more princess-like. He seems to have much more of a preference for Zora’s sister Henrietta, who on the surface appears to be a lovely princess, but underneath is actually pretty villainous. As the film goes on he sees Zora’s earnest attempts to not only be more princess-like, but to also be a good friend to the Frog. By the end of the film he’s cheering her on (And seems to be fully wise to Henrietta’s wickedness). 

I haven’t watched many Cannon Movie Tales at the point of writing this post, so this may be a bit premature but I feel like one thing they can be counted on having are really decent sets. I think this is helped in that several of the Movie Tales were filmed at the same time, so they probably chose wisely to invest in nice sets since they were already planning to re-use them.

All in all, I’d recommend checking this one out. I hope that it’s one day re-released so that it’s easier to find a copy. It definitely falls into that category of films that, while not amazing, are still worth a look.

References

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