The plot is pretty basic. Zora, a lonely might-be-Princess (played by Aileen Quinn, who was also Annie) loses her golden ball in the pond behind the palace, and a frog-looking dude agrees to retrieve it for her if she will be his friend. She agrees, and he tries to teach her the kinds of Princessy things she might need to know if she is chosen as the true Princess. See, she and her sister Henrietta (played by Helen Hunt, of all people) are both nieces to the King, but only one of them is truly the Princess, so a Baron with a ridiculous name is supposed to choose one of them and crown her as Princess.
|She's singing about how today is gonna be her lucky day. Spoilers: It's not.|
Henrietta doesn't think Zora has a chance, but when she sees the giant frog dancing with her sister in the ballroom, she decides to ensure things by hiding Ribbit (what Zora calls the princely frog) in a hole in the woods, which may actually be called the Dark Heart woods. If Zora doesn't make it back to the ball by sundown, Henrietta will be declared the princess without argument, but she has to save her friend, who will die without water. Obviously, she makes it in time, because this is a fairy tale movie, and she turns Ribbit into the Prince of... Feedly? Freedly? Something, and everyone lives happily ever after.
|This still cracks me up. No, she doesn't sing.|
For some reason only one of these two girls is the "true" princess, and their mother didn't reveal which one so their uncle the King would love them both equally.
If only one of them is the true princess, then they both have two different fathers. And they are clearly like ten years apart. We don't really need a genetics test.
Unless the implication is that she cheated on her husband or something, and that means one of these girls is a bastard. Or possibly adopted? I don't know, and it's really not a well-explained dilemma. On what authority does Baron Von What's-his-nuts declare a girl a princess? Why does the King have no authority on this at all? Why not claim them BOTH to be Princesses? Even if only one is his official heir, at least he could assure wealth and happiness to both girls.
|The most useless King ever?|
Further: when Henrietta traps Ribbit in the forest, she literally pushes him into a hole in the ground and lays a wooden woven cover over it. She stakes it into the ground. I've known toddlers who could escape such confinement in about half an hour. I know it's implied that Ribbit is weak from lack of water but it's ridiculous to have your "hero" trapped in something that a dog of average intelligence and sufficient motivation could escape. (Edited to add: props for having the princess save him, though.)
|Furthermore, it looks like it's made out of pretzels.|
|It's hard to see, but the net basically just covers his head, and he could pull it off easily.|
When Zora runs off to save Ribbit, her uncle sees her go. 1: He knows she's going to save her friend. 2: He's a King. 3: He knows that Henrietta is responsible. 4: He does precisely zilch for Zora. "Take my fastest horse," or "Here, have some men to protect you," would both have been perfectly acceptable.
Yes, I appreciate that there are some things you must do on your own, but Zora is 12. Two horses and a liveried servant would have been more than sufficient for her needs, and she'd have been back in time to have dinner and a bath before she was presented to the Baron von Whatever.
Henrietta's friend Darcy could have spoken up, admitting that she helped Henrietta trap the Frog Prince and that it was done specifically so Henrietta would have no competition for the crown. Whether or not Henrietta would have been arrested (and rightfully so, had Darcy not marked the location on a map, Prince Ribbit would have most certainly died) she definitely would have been out of the running for Princess, and it's likely the Baron would have been willing to postpone the ceremony in honor of the ongoing rescue mission.
So, basically, I have spent far more thought on the film than the writers ever did.
Also, Zora is 12. The man playing the Prince is 17 years older than Aileen, who might have been as old as 15 when this was filmed. While their relationship is presented as platonically as possible, there are several moments where the age difference is both apparent and incredibly creepy. Especially when Ribbit is in Zora's bedroom, trying to convince her of how beautiful she is. I may be reading too much into it, because when I was younger I just assumed that Zora marries Ribbit, but I don't think I am.
|Just a little creepy.|
This movie was really fun for me to rewatch because I watched it so often when I was a kid. I may or may not still know the lyrics to some of the songs. But this isn't what I would consider a classic, not even a cult classic. It suffers from many setbacks, and if I hadn't been so interested in seeing how well it held up from my childhood I never would have watched it all the way through. I'm half-tempted to re-write the story of this film into a much better plot. There are some interesting threads, here, but overall it's just kind of poorly done. If you have a nostalgic reason to watch this film, go on ahead, but I don't think there's much here for anybody else.
(Edited on 5/15/13 for some errors.)