The movie opens with a bright star shining in the Louisiana sky. We hear the voice of Tiana (Aniki Noni Rose) singing, telling us that anything is possible if you wish upon the evening star. We are then taken to the very pink and frilly bedroom of young Charlotte Le Bouff (Breanna Brooks), who is sitting beside a young Tiana (Elizabeth Dampier) as they listen to Tiana’s seamstress mother, Eudora (Oprah Winfrey) tell the story of the Frog Prince as she puts the finishing touches on a dress for Charlotte. Charlotte is entranced by the story while Tiana is clearly disgusted and vows never to kiss a frog. Charlotte’s father, “Big Daddy” Le Bouff (John Goodman) arrives home with a new puppy for his spoiled daughter while Eudora and Tiana head home.
We quickly learn that Tiana and her friend Charlotte are definitely from two different worlds as the young girl and her mother head home to their tiny shack where Tiana’s father, James (Terrance Howard) waits for them. Tiana and her father laugh together as they whip up a batch of his famous gumbo and talk about their shared dream of one day opening a restaurant. Little Tiana makes a wish on the evening star that their dream will one day come true. Tiana’s father reminds her that wishing can only take you so far, and you have to get the rest of the way yourself. He makes her promise that she’ll never lose sight of what’s really important in life.
We then flash forward several years. Tiana is now a beautiful young woman, working two waitressing jobs and saving up all her tips in a bedroom drawer, hoping to earn enough money to open the restaurant she and her father had always dreamed of. Before heading off to her second job, she plants a quick kiss on a photo of her father (it is implied that he was killed in WWI), telling him that they’re “almost there”.
As Tiana heads off to work, we get a quick glimpse of the hustle and bustle of New Orleans as it was in the 1920s full of life and culture. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Tiana is much too focused on her job to really take part in any of it. She’s seen turning down invitations from her friends in favor of working extra shifts. It’s clear that she’s a determined and hard-working young woman.
While waiting tables, Charlotte (Jennifer Cody) arrives with exciting news Prince Naveen from the far away country of Maldonia has arrived to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. He will be staying with the Le Bouffs, and “Big Daddy” hopes that Naveen and Charlotte will hit it off so the two can wed. Charlotte is thrilled at the thought of marrying a Prince and pays Tiana an immense quantity of money to whip up some “man-catching beignets” for the Prince’s welcome party in order to impress him. After accepting the payment, Tiana finally has enough money for a down-payment on the run-down factory she plans on turning into her restaurant.
Meanwhile, Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) and his butler, Lawrence (Peter Bartlett) arrive in New Orleans. It’s clear that Naveen is entranced by the New Orleans music and culture (…and women). He definitely lives a playboy lifestyle. We quickly learn that, though he is royalty, Naveen’s parents have cut him off financially and that his only choice is to marry a rich woman or get a job. Of course, Naveen would never dream of lifting a finger himself, and instead hopes to marry Charlotte and inherit some of her fortune.
As Naveen and Lawrence wander the streets, they run into the shady Dr. Facilier (Keith David), who invites them to his voodoo shop, where they learn about his powers and his “friends on the other side”. Jealous of the Le Bouff fortune, Facilier takes advantage of the Prince’s gullibility and Lawrence’s resentment of his master to help in his plot to take over New Orleans. He turns Naveen into a frog and, using a magical talisman, turns Lawrence into an exact copy of Prince Naveen. The plan is for Lawrence (as Naveen) to marry Charlotte, get her money, and share it with Facilier (who plans on killing Charlotte’s father and using his fortune to control the city).
That night, at the Masquerade party, “Naveen” arrives and immediately sweeps Charlotte off her feet. She is clearly enraptured by the idea of marrying a prince. Meanwhile, Tiana learns that someone has outbid her on the old building. If she can’t get the money in three days, she’ll lose any hope of achieving her and her father’s dream. Feeling hopeless, Tiana goes out onto the balcony and makes another wish upon the evening star. It is here, under the stars, that she runs into a talking frog, who turns out to be the real Prince Naveen.
Naveen mistakes her for a princess (due to her masquerade costume) and tells her that, if she kisses him, he will turn back into a human give anything she wants in return. Thinking of her beloved restaurant, Tiana reluctantly kisses Naveen, only to have the spell backfire. She’s become a frog herself! Furious, she and Naveen begin to argue when they fall off the balcony and down into the party. Chaos ensues as they are chased away into the Bayou by Charlotte’s dog and several disgruntled party guests.
Tiana and Naveen have a rough first night as frogs, as they are nearly killed by a group of alligators and forced into hiding in an old tree trunk (arguing the entire time, of course). Her hardworking, no-nonsense personality and his lazy and carefree nature do not mesh well. The next day, Tiana builds a tiny raft, telling Naveen that they’re going to go back to New Orleans, track down Dr. Facilier, and get the spell reversed.
On the way, they run into another enormous gator. At first they fear he will eat them, but soon learn that Louis (Michael-Leon Wooley) is a gentle giant who loves jazz music and dreams of playing the trumpet in a jazz band, but it’s never worked out for him (cue hysterical flashback of Louis jumping onto a paddle boat and joining in the band before being screamed and shot at by the terrified humans). When they explain their situation to Louis, he tells them they should go visit Mama Odie (Jennifer Lewis), the voodoo queen of the bayou. At first, he’s reluctant to show them the way, but Naveen cleverly convinces him to come, implying that Mama Odie may be able to turn Louis human and help his dreams come true.
As they journey through the bayou, the three meet up with Ray, a Cajun firefly, who helps save Naveen and Tiana when they are captured by a group of hillbillies looking for a frog-leg dinner. As they eat some “swamp gumbo” whipped up by Tiana and celebrate their escape from the humans, Ray reveals that he is in love with a beautiful firefly named Evangeline, who shines brightly in the sky every night. The others quickly realize that Evangeline is actually not a firefly at all, but is really the “evening star” that shines in the sky. None of them have the heart to tell Ray the truth as he sings a beautiful love song for his Evangeline. As Ray serenades the star, Naveen asks Tiana to dance and it quickly becomes clear that the two are falling for one another.
Back in New Orleans, the imposter Naveen (Lawrence) has finally proposed to Charlotte, who is positively delighted. She proclaims that the two will be married that night at the big Mardi Gras parade and runs off to make wedding plans. While she is gone, the spell that makes Lawrence look like Naveen begins to wear off. Facilier explains that the magic talisman is out of Naveen’s blood. They need to bring him back and get more of his blood for the spell to keep working. Facilier has no choice but to call on his “friends on the other side” (who, it turns out, are frightening shadow demons). He sends them out into the bayou to find Naveen and bring him back alive.
Early that morning, back in the bayou, Naveen, Tiana, Ray, and Louis finally find the very old and very blind Mama Odie. Though she seems to be somewhat senile at first, she gives them all good advice they must “dig a little deeper” to find out what’s really important. They explain that they want to be human again, but she insists that it’s not what they want, it’s what they need that matters. Naveen sees that what he needs is to be with Tiana. Tiana, on the other hand, is too blinded by her desire to live out her dream to see that there is something more important right in front of her.
Mama Odie explains that the only way for the two of them to become human again is for Naveen to kiss a princess. They quickly realize that this means Charlotte (whose father had been crowned as King of Mardi Gras, making her the “princess”). The plan is for Naveen to kiss Charlotte before midnight (when she is no longer a princess), marry her, and buy Tiana her restaurant, just as he promised her when she first gave him a kiss.
Thanking Mama Odie profusely, the four friends head out to the river to find their way back to New Orleans. They hitch a ride aboard a paddle boat (everyone thinks Louis is wearing a very realistic alligator costume for Mardi Gras and invite him to join the band) and Naveen quickly confides in Ray his plan to propose to Tiana that very night, before the Mardi Gras parade. He proudly proclaims that he’ll give up his lazy lifestyle and get “two jobs, maybe three” to help keep his promise to Tiana and get her restaurant.
He sets up a beautiful candle-lit dinner (one really big candle, since they’re still frog-sized) and makes several feeble attempts to express his feelings for her, but is clearly nervous and flustered. Before he can get the words out, the boat passes the old factory Tiana plans to turn into her restaurant, distracting her. She starts talking once again about her dream, and Naveen feels that she really cares more about her restaurant than about him. He knows that he will never be able to give her the money for her restaurant unless he marries Charlotte, so he gives up his plan to propose and instead sets his mind on getting back to Charlotte so he can help make Tiana’s dream come true.
Before they arrive in New Orleans, Naveen is captured by Facilier’s voodoo “friends”, unbeknownst to his companions. After he is gone, when they finally arrive at Mardi Gras, Ray reveals to Tiana that Naveen truly loves her and was planning on proposing. Tiana realizes that this is what she truly wants as well and rushes off into the crowd to find him. When she reaches the parade however, she sees Charlotte standing beside the fake Naveen (wearing the newly-replenished talisman), preparing to marry him. Tiana misunderstands, thinking he has already kissed her and become human, and runs off to the graveyard, alone.
Ray follows her and tries to console her, but Tiana angrily replies by telling Ray that Evangeline is just a star, millions of miles away from him and that he needs to open his eyes to the truth before he gets hurt like she did. Still not convinced, Ray rushes back to the parade and frees frog-Naveen, who stops the wedding by jumping onto the imposter and knocking him off the float. Lawrence loses the talisman and is returned to his true form. Now that he has been revealed as a fraud, the bumbling Lawrence is quickly carted away by the police. Realizing its significance, Ray steals the voodoo talisman and flies away with it. Furious, Facilier chases Ray all the way to the graveyard.
Ray finally meets up with Tiana and gives her the talisman, making her promise to keep it out of Facilier’s possession. She hops away with it as Facilier knocks Ray to the ground and coldly crushes him without a second thought.
Facilier finally corners Tiana, offering to make her a deal. He tells her that if she gives him the talisman, he’ll turn her back into a human and he’ll give her everything she’s ever dreamed of everything she and her father always wanted. She hesitates a moment, but her eyes light up in realization. Tiana explains that, while it’s true her father never got everything he wanted, he had what he needed love. And that’s what she needs too. Tiana throws the talisman to the ground, shattering it into pieces. This greatly angers the voodoo spirits, who come out of the talisman and drag Dr. Facilier away into the underworld as punishment for failing them.
Tiana rushes back to the parade, where she sees Naveen talking to Charlotte. He explains to Charlotte what has happened and that, if she kisses him by midnight (which is mere minutes away), he will become human again and he will marry her. Naveen’s only condition is that Charlotte promise to give Tiana the money she needs for her restaurant. “She is my Evangeline,” he explains.
Deeply touched, Tiana hops out of the shadows and confesses her love for Naveen, telling him she’d rather be a frog forever and stay with him than have her restaurant without him. Naveen confesses that he loves her too and the two embrace. Charlotte is moved to tears that her friend is finally living out the fairytale she herself has always dreamed of, and agrees to kiss Naveen for Tiana, so they can both be human again and marry each other.
She holds Naveen in her hand and leans in for the kiss but it’s too late. Midnight has come and, though she kisses him again and again, nothing happens. Charlotte is no longer a princess. Before anything else can be said, Louis rushes in, holding a dying Ray in his hand. They lay Ray on the ground, and Naveen and Tiana tearfully tell him that everything is alright and the two of them will be together, thanks, in part, to him. Ray gives a weak smile, saying that makes him happy, and it makes Evangeline happy too. His eyes close, his light flickers out, and he’s gone.
His three friends tearfully bring him back to the bayou for a funeral with the rest of his firefly family. As they place his tiny body in a leaf and push it out to the water, everyone starts to gasp and point up at the sky. Another, new star has appeared beside Evangeline, shining just as brightly. Everyone starts to cry because they can see that Ray finally got his wish he’s with Evangeline at last.
The funeral party then fades away to a celebration as the entire bayou gather together to see Mama Odie perform Naveen and Tiana’s wedding ceremony. As she pronounces them “frog and wife”, they share a kiss and are shocked to find that they’ve turned back into humans. Mama Odie laughs as the two figure out that, in becoming Naveen’s wife, Tiana became a princess. By kissing her, Naveen broke the spell!
The two head back to New Orleans where they buy the old building back from the Real Estate agents and work together, fixing it up and eventually turning it into “Tiana’s Palace”, a very successful, up-scale restaurant. We see Tiana and Naveen happily serving tables as Louis the gator entertains the guests on his trumpet. Tiana and Naveen climb up to the roof where they dance together and share a kiss beneath the stars. Ray and Evangeline shine above as Tiana sings that “dreams do come true in New Orleans!”
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