The hillbilly frog hunters are presented as villainous versions of The Three Stooges. Laugh at their stupidity.
The Cajun fireflies are stereotyped with missing teeth and being "simple". Ray's subplot makes him look like a Cloudcuckoolander, though the whole thing is about him being a firefly and has nothing to do with his ethnic group. And of course, that worked out for him in the end.
Averted with most of the white characters. They're noticeably wealthier and more privileged than Tiana and her family, but they're not depicted as arrogant. Hell, Charlotte is a better friend to Tiana than her nameless black friends in the beginning.
This could actually fit really well...some of the Loa are known for helping the hard-working underdogs of society against the "rich fat cats." When Facilier takes advantage of Naveen, Charlotte and Big Daddy, it's probably okay with them, but when he starts picking on Tiana, it becomes a whole different story. (And once Naveen makes the choice to get a job to help her, he becomes an underdog as well...) No wonder the Friends don't listen to Facilier's attempts to placate them after Tiana breaks the necklace!
Anvilicious: Tiana herself is a walking anvil with the message "remember to work hard". She drops the anvil practically every ten minutes into the movie.
Whether or not the "work hard to achieve your dreams" is an anvil that needed to be dropped or a dead unicorn Aesop. The former argues that the entire Disney Princess franchise required it since the earlier princesses were passive Distressed Damsels who got saved by handsome princes and whisked off to better lives. The latter agues that the earlier princesses had gone through their own struggles (as the classic three had grown up in poverty prior to becoming royalty) and still had to earn their happy endings too.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The poachers. Sure, their existence is foreshadowed, but they still feel disconnected from the rest of the story and contribute little to nothing to the overall plot. All it boils down to is a few minutes of gratuitous slapstick.
The scene made Naveen realise that Tiana wasn't a complete stick in the mud, and made them like each other more.
Cliché Storm: Yes and no. It harkens back to the traditions of the Disney Renaissance (spunky princess, stylized fairytales, comic relief characters), but is conservative in it's use of cliches that could be associated with all of the things this movie is (first traditionally animated Disney movie in five years, first American princess, first Black princess, first explicitly 20th century period piece).
Crossover Ship: Odette/Dr. Facilier seems to be pretty popular. Understandable, seeing how her backstory is similar to what Facilier does to the main characters.
When Facilier shows Naveen his future and changes around the images on his cards, three roman numerals appear at the top: "IV" shows Naveen as a royal, "XVI" shows Naveen in front of a tower, and "IX" shows Naveen with a bride and her father with treasure around them. In the Tarot, the fourth Major Arcana card is "The Emperor", representing power and control, the sixteenth is "The Tower", representing a sudden crisis or disaster, and realizations of falsehoods, and the Minor Arcana card "Nine of Coins" refers to someone who has achieved fortune through hard work. Lawrence's card, meanwhile, shows an "X", representing the tenth Major Arcana card "The Wheel of Fortune", foretelling a sudden change of luck and fate.
Ray's lover, "Evangeline", is a reference to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem of the same name, which chronicled the expulsion of the French-speaking Acadian (Cajun) people from Eastern Canada before their migration to Louisiana. The poem is widely considered the unofficial national epic of the Cajun people, so it's quite fitting that the very Cajun firefly Ray would fall for a woman of that name.
It's funny when you realize that arguably, The Princess and the Frog is among the least-girly Princess movies, alongside Mulan and Pocahontas - it features a very menacing villain, a roadtrip, slapstick, strong leads that aren't romantically interested in eachother at all at first... In comparison, Tangled is a girlier movie, with less peril, less Nightmare Fuel and more "princess"-stuff.
Animation Age Ghetto: Doug Walker thinks another reason for the film not doing well, is due to many people's opinions that hand-drawn animation = kid's movie, while CGI animated films have been more accepted by adults.
Harsher in Hindsight: In a previous Disney animated feature, The Lion King, Timon once said that the stars in the sky were 'fireflies that were trapped in that big blue-ish, black thing.' Ray, a firefly in this movie, was killed by Dr. Facilier and turned into a star in the sky.
Hate Sink: The Fenner brothers are racist and sexist. They don't have any redeeming qualities, and they exist for the viewers to hate them.
A while ago, some guy named Terry Pratchett wrote a novel called Witches Abroad, whose third act was set in a fusion of the Disney's Magic Kingdom and New Orleans, the plot of which involves voodoo and a prince who's really a frog...
In The Thing (1982), Keith David's character calls out the others for believing in "voodoo bullshit". In this film, he plays a voodoo doctor.
Tiana and Lottie are a black woman and a white woman (respectively) living in the racially discriminated time period but are very close friends. Awfully similar to Minny and Miss Celia from The Help, huh? Bonus points for Lottie having short, curly blonde hair, a liking for the color pink, and a thick Southern accent.
Charlotte "Lottie" LaBoeuf is obsessed with princesses and dreams of one day becoming a real princess. The British Royal family's newest addition is a princess named Charlotte!
Misaimed Fandom: While Lawrence and Dr. Facilier have understandable reasons to feel bitter about their lot, living in the service or shadows of "fat cats in their fancy cars"... some viewers miss the mark about this NOT being an excuse to use magic to try to lie, cheat, steal, trick, and murder their way into money. There are not a few that go so far as to say they should have completely gotten away with their scheme from beginning to end, even though it would have ultimately resulted in destroying the lives of countless people, none of whom would deserve it.
Moe: The film's prologue can be seen as pure unfiltered Disney moe.
Moral Event Horizon: When Facilier crossed the line is uncertain, but it's likely when he offers the souls of all New Orleans to his "Friends" in exchange for their cooperation. He takes it a step further when he steps on Ray the firefly.
Narm: Ray's death is either one of Disney's biggest and most shocking Tear Jerkers or it's so hammered in and over the top that it becomes hilarious.
Narm Charm: It's almost too easy, to the point of cliché, that Ray ends up as a star alongside Evangeline. And yet... it's sweet, and it's fitting, and it works.
During the "Ma Belle Evangeline" dance, when Ray sings "Look how she lights up the sky", and Naveen looks to Tiana and sees a very cartoony sparkle in her eyes. And yet, it's just too adorable a moment to feel awkward.
Mama Odie has about 15 minutes of screen time, but steals the show when she first appears.
To a lesser extent, the hillbilly frog hunters.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Working hard is important, but so is love. Neglecting your personal life just to work hard is going to leave you unhappy.
Strawman Has a Point: Tiana’s friends at the beginning, who complain about her working all the time instead of having fun on occasion, are portrayed as insensitive, but let’s be honest—consistently excluding oneself from social activities with one’s friends does tend to put a dent in one’s relationship with them. The film seems to take their side on this when Tiana learns her Aesop, though the friends aren't seen again.
Lawrence could have been a much more interesting character if he had received more development. When Facilier shows him his tarot readings, we learn that he has a pretty decent Freudian Excuse for his back-stabbing, as he was pushed around by everyone in his life, including his family and the prince. And in one scene after that, he actually offers to give his amulet back to Facilier and not go through with his plan. But none of that comes up again after those scenes, after which he passively goes along with Facilier.
Dr. Facilier's issues with his Friends on the Other Side would have made a perfectly good story on their own. Dr. Facilier is basically Disney's version of Dr. Faustus. He had unimaginable demonic power at his fingertips, and all he could think to do was scam a butler and get some money. When his debt is finally called in, he begs for "just a little more time." Indeed, one of the movie's most prominent criticisms is that the villain was underplayed.
In the same sense, Facilier's personal Living Shadow minion turned out to be a conceptually impressive hit, which makes it a big shame that in the movie proper, the Shadow ends up doing little more than acting as an extra pair of hands.
Vanilla Protagonist: Tiana for some. With the asshole Naveen as the love interest needing to learn An Aesop, a charismatic villain and entertaining side characters, Tiana mainly falls into a sort of Team Mom role. Her only flaw is that she's a workaholic, so she spends most of the movie teaching the Aesops rather than learning them. Notably the villain's plot has very little to do with her, making her a bit of a Pin Ball Protagonist too. The confrontation between her and Facilier is the first time that they meet in the film (though she clearly knows who he is already).
Win Back the Crowd: This movie was intended to prove traditional animation wasn't dead and re-establish Disney's prominence in the animation industry. While critical and audience response was positive, the jury's still out when you look at the box office take. It opened wide the week before Avatar arrived and steamrolled it; then Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel came along. Financially it's closer to The Emperor's New Groove or Meet the Robinsons than the company's early '90s hits. But since Tiana was long intended as the next official Disney Princess, there's plenty of Tiana and Naveen merchandise already, which will mean plenty more money long after box office sums are counted, not to mention the inevitable DVD sales and rentals.
Although it wasn't quite the smash they hoped for, it did bring attention back to the aforementioned princesses which hadn't seen a newcomer since 1998's Mulan over a decade prior. As such, many now call this the sort of starting point for the current Disney Princess Renaissance which has since been running stronger than ever before, especially since there have now been 3 more Princess films formally recognized in relatively rapid succession (one of whom wasn't even technically a Disney film), not bad after a decent break.
Alongside reviving the Princesses, of course, many are claiming that in hindsight; this film has helped to usher a Second Disney Animated Renaissance in general, much like The Little Mermaid did. Which although it wasn't quite successful in bringing back traditional animation to the forefront, it did jump start the return of Disney as a prominent animation house, what with the string of hits that would follow...(Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and as of 2013 the massive success of Frozen)
The Woobie: Tiana, especially when she was misled into thinking Prince Naveen was going to marry Charlotte instead of her. Poor Tiana.