1. Even if Tiana's father isn't there for most of the movie, there's still a very strong fatherly love presence. Tiana's mom, Eudora, voiced by Oprah Winfrey (who, incidentally, is the only really Famous Celebrity name in the cast list) also has a presence too. The first five minutes has a clip with both her parents which is just heartwarming.
2. Cajun = Acadian, with reference to that big-time Acadian love story, Evangeline. I missed this reference the first time around, but I think it was a wonderful thing to add to the story. I love Ray's solo about Evangeline.
3. The animal sidekicks have their own stories. Usually, the animal sidekicks start and end with the main character (Mushu and Crikey in Mulan, Meeko and the pug in Pocahontas, for example). Louis has a goal that doesn't have much to do with either Tiana and Naveen in the beginning. Ray was in love with Evangeline long before he even meets them. Ray's story continues after his encounter with Tiana and Naveen, too. This is pretty unusual, as far as Disney sidekicks go!
4. Mama Odie has a snake named Juju which is possibly the most multi-functional animal sidekick I have EVER seen. He doesn't have any lines, but frankly? He doesn't need any!
5. While I'm on the subject of Mama Odie - I don't like how she's all Christianized (whereas Facilier's voodoo is clearly based on stereotypes of voodoun, made to fit a more stereotypical Judeo-Christian mythology set) - but as a fairy godmother character, she is definitely different. She's the kind who guides the main character, much like Grandmother Willow, rather than grant wishes. I found it amusing how she tries to goad Tiana into having a non-Bechdel conversation with her, but Tiana doesn't give her that. XD "BLUE SKIES AND SUNSHIIIIIIIINE!"
6. Tiana dreams big. I think I cried a little bit more when her dream's crushed a little at the beginning, because I really identified with her - the whole, "you can dream big, but you'll be crushed". So I find this a very empowering movie for young girls to be growing up with, because Tiana keeps holding onto her dream anyway, despite the initial crush that would have turned off and defeated most people.
7. Charlotte, Tiana's white friend, is one of those characters I just want to hate. I do! She's so hilarious, though. Her privilege, both from her race and from her economic station, render her oblivious to so much, Yet, when the chips are down, she's there for Tiana, and has a genuinely good heart. I imagine a lot of folks will find her irritating anyway, and I sort of would, but her selfless act towards the end brings it all together. I like to think that even if Tiana hadn't run into Naveen, Charlotte would have come through for Tiana and helped her out anyway. Like I said above, most people would have been crushed by setbacks, and setbacks are usually in place because of a larger, unforgiving society that keeps individuals down. So, I like to think that Lotte would have been the kind to use her privilege to help her friend out, if she could get her head out of the sky for a bit.
8. Naveen has some serious character growth throughout the story, in a way that exceeds even my expectations. It's like the character growth the Beast goes through, but you can see how the process happens. Not only that, but he goes from self-entitled schmuck to someone willing to go through whatever it takes to make Tiana happy. It reminds me of the adage, "when you love someone, you set them free," and he really exemplifies that, preparing to do what it takes for Tiana to be happy on her own terms, rather than on his. And you know what? I really admire that. How many little boys are taught to do that? Not only that, but after the movie, I started ticking off all the Disney princes I could remember whose parents - BOTH of them - made an appearance.
9. Ray has a joke - "women love a man with a big back porch!" and he shows them his lit-up butt. I was thinking about this, wondering if it even refers to anything close to any stereotypes I've thought about. Then I figured, it's got to be a firefly-specific joke. And heck, why not? Fireflies would have their own culture! And it's not like no one would get it! I really found that neat. Also, I LOVE the fireflies song!
10. I am SO getting this soundtrack. Seriously, it is a solid, solid soundtrack. It's weird, because I don't hum any of the songs coming out of the theatre, and it's not really all that memorable that way? But the film is so well-backed-up with this soundtrack. I just want to bounce to the music. The street jazz, and kinda country rock, and the gospel song Mama Odie sings. Seriously, Anika Noni Rose has a powerful voice. I'm not used to Disney voice actors actually singing their own character's songs.
I am so happy for all these little girls who will be growing up with Tiana as part of their childhood. And little boys, too.