There are plenty of reasons why I’m looking forward to Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog.” For one, I’m excited to see if the Mouse House can successfully revive hand-drawn animated features that Pixar mastermind John Lasseter is overseeing things. For another, I love New Orleans, especially its musical heritage, and I’m anxious to see the setting fully recreated by Disney animators. And now, thanks to a video hosted by Cartoon Brew, I’m also eager to see more of the film’s villain, Dr. Faciler.
As you can see in the behind-the-scenes clip, Faciler is voiced by and very much resembles Keith David, an underrated character actor who you may recognize from such films as “Platoon,” “They Live,” "Clockers," “Barbershop” and “Requiem for a Dream.” And if you don’t know him by face, you probably know his deep signature voice, which has been heard in tons of documentaries, cartoons and video games. He’s done Disney feature animation before, having spoken for the god Apollo in the “Hercules” film. Most recently, he voiced the cat in “Coraline.”
I can see how people might be turned off by how stereotypical the Faciler character is. It’s a bit obvious that a New Orleans-set Disney fairy tale would feature a voodoo doctor as its villain, and it might be lumped in with the rest of the criticisms already made against the film concerning racial stereotypes. Faciler also doesn’t look like he’ll go down as one of the most iconic Disney villains, partly because he’s male and the majority of great Disney villains have been villainesses.
But due to my overwhelming excitement and expectations, I keep ignoring the negative factors. Typically, I don’t even like animated characters voiced by familiar actors, especially if the characters are made to look like those actors. For some reason though, my appreciation for David’s acting, voice and distinct facial features has me excusing my usual objections. Let’s just hope I can sustain such perspective for other characters, such as the one voiced by Oprah Winfrey.
“The Princess and the Frog,” which features Disney’s first African-American princess in a music-filled story about a couple turned into frogs (in an ironic twist to the “Frog Prince” plot), arrives in theaters this fall.
Are you looking forward to “The Princess and the Frog” and the return of classic Disney animation in general? Do you think Dr. Faciler will be a good villain? Or, are you still turned off by the seemingly racist stereotypes?