Otherwise Known As: The Shadow Man
Premiered in: The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Voiced By: Keith David
Though still too young to be considered amongst the “classics” of Disney Villains, both of and before the Renaissance, I have no doubt in my mind that Doctor Facilier will forever have a place amongst them as one of the greater Disney Villains, standing shoulder to shoulder along the likes of Jafar or Maleficent easily. It’s not just because of Doctor Facilier’s being a practitioner of the voodoo arts but also because he’s voiced by Keith David the very man whose voice gave to life characters like Goliath of Gargoyles and Al Simmons of Spawn renown. And he sings too!
Now, before I get this review started, let me just say that I have little to no idea as to the proper aspects of voodoo and all that I say of it is based on what I see in the film and what I’ve read on the Disney Wiki so to any practitioners of the art, please forgive my blunders. That being said, let’s start off with Facilier’s motivation shall we?
At first glance, it can be assumed that Facilier’s main motivation for the entire frog prince affair is to acquire the wealth of the richest man in New Orleans, “Big Daddy” La Bouff and while this is true, it’s not the absolute crux of the matter. While I do agree that Facilier is jealous of the wealth that Big Daddy tosses about so carelessly, the man does pay a paperboy with more bills than I’ve seen at a duck pond, it’s not the matter of monetary wealth that drives Facilier’s actions throughout the film. Being a practitioner of darker voodoo, Facilier has a substantial debt to the Loa, or spirits if you prefer, with the biggest likely belonging to the “big daddy” of them all, a spirit by name of Baron Samedi, the Loa of the dead.
To pay back this debt, and to acquire some wealth of his own, Facilier turns the visiting prince Naveen into a frog and has his attendant, Lawrence, don a pendent and be disguised as the young prince in order to marry Big Daddy’s daughter, Charlotte. Facilier also offers up Big Daddy’s soul to the Loa in return for some aid in hunting down the escaped Naveen, as the pendent requires a steady supply of his blood in order to work.
While it can be argued that Lawrence is Facilier’s minion, I feel that he fits more under the category of “patsy” rather than straight up minion more for his spinelessness but also because when his disguise as Naveen ultimately breaks, he runs away crying like a baby. Truly, the title of “minion” goes to Facilier’s shadow that is every bit alive, if not even more so, as Peter Pan’s own. In fact, I’d dare say that his shadow is both Facilier’s salvation and his undoing in that while it does help him at times, it was the one that pointed out that he was earning quarters while Big Daddy La Bouff was tossing aside hundreds.
Ultimately, Facilier meets his end by way of his own power working against him for his voodoo, despite being quite dark and malicious, cannot be used for his own personal gain and as such, he can only use others to get what he wants. The pendent that he receives from his “friends” is something that he receives only to enact the deal that he had then struck and with it destroyed by Tiana, he is unable to pay back the debt of its creation, never mind all the rest that he swore to pay back then and there to Baron Samedi and the other Loa. The voodoo spirits do not take kindly to this fact so they decide to collect the one valuable thing Facilier still has left to him.
While not strictly being dragged down to Hell, as the Loa are not wholly evil nor are they wholly good and their world is, if anything, a colorful mess of magic the likes of which could drive men insane, Facilier does lose his life to them with a frightening reminder not to strike bargains one cannot keep. Not the most graphic of deaths but dang if the aftermath was any less disturbing than the rest. In fact, I dare say that Facilier starts a new trend amongst the latest line of Disney Villains in terms of disturbing demise but we’ll get to that when we get to it.
Doctor Facilier is easily amongst the top tier of Disney Villains, a solid five out of five, not just for his degree of power and trickery but that he accomplished something few Disney Villains have ever accomplished. He kills someone. Not just anyone, oh no, but a sidekick by name of Ray the firefly, one whose death, though brief, earned many a gasp and twice as many tears in the theater when I first saw the film. Yet, the one thing that I felt that Facilier exceeded in the most is perhaps the one thing that most Disney Villains aren’t really known for and that is his “villainous song” by name of “Friends on the Other Side”. With the film providing the visuals, it makes for an amazing display of color and mysticism but without it… Well, just imagine Goliath performing to this song…