Release Date: November 27, 2013
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Genre(s): Comedy, Musical, Family Drama, Fantasy, Children
You don’t need a post to tell you that Frozen comes from a very distinguished Disney pedigree that includes such hits as Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Just one look at the trailer and you can see that the same sort of care and imagination went into the character design and storytelling. Comparisons to the other two films are going to be hard for Frozen to avoid but right now I want to step away from them and focus on Frozen on it’s own.
Frozen starts off very strong with an interesting plot. Anna, the main character, is the second daughter born to a royal couple and is otherwise just a happy, normal child. All she wants to do is play with her older sister, Elsa, who seems like any other older sister. But where Anna is like any other child, Elsa is special. Elsa was born with the special power to control ice. As she grows older she can control it a bit more but her emotions can cause things to go terribly wrong. After accidentally hurting Anna their parents have Anna’s memories of Elsa’s abilities removed and Elsa and her parents do their best to keep it secret. Unfortunately that sort of forces Elsa going into a largely self-imposed exile from her sister and anyone else. Anna – if she were able – would very obviously help Elsa with her abilities but Elsa is just far too afraid to let anyone in lest she hurt them. Ultimately, despite Elsa’s best efforts, her powers are finally revealed to the kingdom that has fallen to her to rule after the girls’ parents die and she takes off for the frozen mountains. Anna, now quite aware of the reason her sister has been so distant, takes off after her in order to bring her home.
I thought the idea of having the “normal” sister be the main character was actually kind of ingenious. We still see plenty of Elsa and we follow her too throughout the movie but not quite as much. Children’s stories and YA Fiction are filled with stories about kids developing superpowers of their own but stories rarely even consider how that all effects siblings. So right off the bat that was a nice change of pace.
But I’m not going to lie to you all – there are times when the story and characters can seem predictable and generic. You’ve got a Flynn Rider-esque character in Kristoff whose reindeer Sven is almost just a goofy version of Maximus. Hans, a prince from the South who initially comes off as a male version of Anna, seems like little more than your traditional prince love interest. And Olaf, the talking snowman, really is nothing more than Mater made of snow. The story seems to set itself up for a pretty predictable, simple, and ultimately happy resolution. Oh, but don’t let all of it fool you. There are plenty of twists and ‘OH EM GEE’ moments. Plus the focus on the relationship between sisters as opposed to a princess chasing after a boy or suddenly realizing she’s in love (though this is a Disney movie so, let’s be real, that stuff is still going to happen) was a nice change from the norm. It as nice to have a story that really wasn’t just all about romance and featured two very real female heroines. Brave was great but Merida’s power seemed to come from shunning anything feminine whereas Anna and Elsa are both very much your traditional princesses. They just also know how to be awesome.
I mean, just wait for Elsa’s Let it Go number.
The music – which was written by Robert Lopez who worked on Avenue Q and the Book of Mormon and his wife – was for the most part pretty good. It wasn’t quite the same caliber as the classic Disney musicals that I grew up with, of course, but maybe I’m a bit biased. Still, there are some pretty amazing pieces in this movie. Anna’s number where she desperately tries to get Elsa to come out and play with her as they grow up was quite touching. Similarly, as I said before, Elsa’s First Time in Forever number was pretty epic. Anna and Hans’s duet towards the beginning was very cute as was the Fixer Upper song later in the movie. But none of the songs really struck me the way, for example, “Kiss the Girl” has from the first time I heard it. It is, however, a step up from just having soundtracks with music sung by people other than the characters – like Brother Bear. (Which, to be fair, is a movie I absolutely love.) It’s just nice to see Disney return to their traditional musicals. I got a real sense of nostalgia just from the music.
The only issue I had with this movie really… was Olaf.
Olaf is an anthropomorphic snowman from the girls’ childhood brought to life by Elsa’s magic. He is there exclusively for comedic relief and in that regard performs admirably. But considering Kristoff and Sven – especially Sven as he’s characterized – are there for the same reason at times which generally pushes Olaf’s character into being way over the top. Olaf has some fantastic lines and most of the time he’s on screen he gives you reason to laugh. I just felt like if you took him out of the movie nothing would have changed. At no point did he really do anything that was absolutely critical to the story. He almost felt like he was just thrown in there to be a marketable character similar to Mater in the Cars franchise. I can’t really say I didn’t like the character because I did. I just… don’t entirely see the point of him in the long run.
That said, Frozen was a great family film and it did not disappoint. Frozen is the family movie to see this holiday season. I was a big fan of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph and it certainly held it’s own in the face of such comparisons. I’m really looking forward to seeing this one again and I’m only disappointed I can’t be there when my Mom’s friend’s seven year old sees it because there is one twist in this movie that is going to completely blow her mind. The way all the little girls in our theatre gasped was just adorable. Disney is definitely still full of surprises even after ninety years. If they continue with this sort of return to their roots we could really be in for some great films in the next couple decades.
So, forget about the movie with the talking turkeys. You need to see Frozen. It’s Disney at it’s finest.
Frozen breaks the traditional romance-centric mold by focusing on family relationships while at the same time still goes back to Disney’s roots as a very solid musical production. Anna and Elsa are two fantastic female characters and Kristoff is the adorable sort of leading man you want to take home to Mom. Also: I really just want a pet reindeer now. Frozen is a fantastic family film that everyone will enjoy. If you’ve got kids, they are a perfect excuse to see this movie pronto. If not, it’s still perfect for date night or a girl’s night out. Frozen is just one of those movies that hits home for all ages.