Eli "Big Daddy" La Bouff is a character featured in Disney's 2009 animated feature film, The Princess and the Frog. He is Charlotte La Bouff's doting father and a wealthy sugar baron regarded as the most powerful man in New Orleans.
As the wealthiest man in New Orleans, Big Daddy is also the most powerful man in the city. He appears to be a single parent, as Charlotte's mother is neither seen nor mentioned throughout the film. He is also something of a father figure to Tiana, having been good friends with her mother, Eudora, for many years—in no small part due to Eudora running an esteemed seamstress business, which is responsible for supplying Charlotte with many fairytale-inspired ball gowns.
Big Daddy is revered and beloved amongst the townsfolk; so much so, that he was elected king of the Mardi Gras parade for five consecutive years. However, Not everyone in New Orleans is a fan of him; Dr. Facilier, a dastardly voodoo master, holds Big Daddy in contempt. With help from a legion of voodoo spirits, Facilier plots to steal Big Daddy's fortune so that he may rule all of New Orleans.
Despite his position of power, Eli is shown to be loving, jovial, and friendly. His eagerness to fund smaller businesses such as Eudora's and the local newspaper shows that he is incredibly generous with his wealth. Because of his friendly nature, however, he can also be a pushover—specifically with his daughter, Charlotte, who constantly exploits her father's fortune for her own obsessions, such as lavish dresses and gowns. Even so, Charlotte takes after her father in that she is warm-hearted and generous, despite her privileged lifestyle.
Role in the film
Eli is first seen at the beginning of the film after Eudora reads the story of "The Frog Prince". He notices the new dress the seamstress made for Charlotte and claims he would "expect nothin' less from the finest seamstress in New Orleans". However, Charlotte notices the dress from her storybook and begins to beg her father that a replica is made for her. Though he attempts to decline, Eli quickly gives in to his daughter's pleas and asks Eudora if she can whip something up, and she agrees, telling him "anything for my best customer" (while motioning to other numerous dresses Charlotte owns).
As Tiana and Eudora leave, Mr. La Bouff tells Charlotte that while she will receive the dress, he will no longer be "Mr. Pushover", seconds before giving her a new pet puppy.
Years later, while Tiana is planning to open her restaurant, he starts hosting a masquerade ball for Mardi Gras. He has invited Prince Naveen to stay at his home as an honored guest. Charlotte hires Tiana to cater for the ball, which gives her enough money to finally buy an old sugar mill that she wants to convert into her restaurant.
That evening, Mr. La Bouff is hosting the masquerade ball when the guest of honor, "Prince Naveen" (actually, Naveen's valet Lawrence in disguise) arrives and dances with his daughter, Charlotte. The dance, however, ends in a mess when two frogs (a transformed Naveen and Tiana) land on his daughter's dress, frightening her, and open seeing the two frogs, he orders the family dog, Stella, to chase them.
Despite the mess, "Prince Naveen" proposes to his daughter the next day, and the La Bouffs decide to use the wedding as part of the Mardi Gras Parade that evening. Unbeknownst to the La Bouffs, the marriage plan was part of a big scheme by the voodoo master, Doctor Facilier, in which the latter plots to murder Big Daddy once the wedding vows are completed, in hopes of stealing his fortune and taking over the city.
Fortunately, Eli La Bouff's life was saved when the real Naveen (who was captured and put in a box) manages to escape and distract the fake one, causing the latter to retreat into a church. The fake Naveen was afterward exposed, and an angry Mr. La Bouff ordered Lawrence arrested.
At the end of the movie, Mr. La Bouff, and his daughter attended Naveen and Tiana's wedding as well as the opening of Tiana's restaurant.
- Despite apparently spoiling his daughter and not being good on disciplining her, he does show some ability to control her, even if slightly, as he once stuffed a beignet in her mouth to stop her from continually interfering with his talking.
- Big Daddy bears a strong resemblance to his voice actor, John Goodman.
- In Kinect: Disneyland Adventures, Eli is briefly mentioned by Tiana; "We just told Big Daddy La Bouff the news. He's King of the Mardi Gras parade... again."
- Eli's nickname, Big Daddy, is possibly derived from the character of the same name from Tennessee Williams' play The Cat on the Hot Tin Roof.
- When he calls for Stella, he yells, "Hey, STELLA!" just like Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire (also made by Williams). Interestingly enough, his voice actor played Harold Mitchell in the 1995 TV adaptation of Streetcar.
- "The Princess and the Frog - Interviews with Anika Noni Rose and Bruno Campos" (September 24, 2010).