*If you watched Disney’s Frozen and actually liked the movie, don’t read this. If you haven’t watched Disney’s Frozen, but plan on doing so, don’t read this. In fact, I can’t think of any reason for you to read this unless you didn’t quite enjoy it, and are looking for a similar opinion. Spoilers abound.*
When we saw the first trailer for Frozen, Mad got a kick out of the snowman blowing his head off when he sneezed. When we later asked her if she wanted to actually watch the movie, however, she said no, reasoning that she didn’t know what would happen to the snowman’s head. She has peculiar concerns sometimes. Well, we asked her again this weekend and she deemed herself ready to watch the movie. It didn’t surprise me in the least that Lynnette and Madison really liked the movie. Madison is 5 and Lynnette loves musicals, so Frozen was right in their respective wheelhouses.
I suspect that Lynnette is drawn to the film because it is fashioned closer to a musical (Frozen even starts with a song sung by men while engrossed in physical labor like Les Miserables). Most of the recent Disney films feature music, but in the background. In Frozen, the characters actually sing the songs like the Disney movies we grew up with, with the added twist of having a few of the songs repeated in variations throughout the movie. It’s not like The Little Mermaid or The Lion King which feature a bunch of unrelated songs like “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea” or “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and ” Be Prepared.” The small handful of songs in Frozen subtly repeat throughout the movie, slightly altered to fit the events and/or mood of the plot. I again, I suspect this part of the stickiness of the film’s soundtrack.
Frozen is a cute movie. I can understand why kids love it. I suppose my complaints are a function of time; Frozen probably should have been a 5-episode mini-series instead of a two-hour movie.
My primary problem with the overall story is that it feels wholly unoriginal because it features too many obvious pieces of other movies or stories. The two main characters, sisters Elsa and Anna (left) are callbacks to the sisters in Wicked (one is a freak, the other is not) or Harry Potter (Harry’s mother had powers, her sister did not) whose parents die when they are young. Frozen accelerates through their adolescence, stopping again when Elsa is of age to officially ascend to the throne. Why would Anna have such an undying loyalty to a sister who A) ignores her completely, and B) never explains why?
Early on in the movie, Elsa accidentally drills Anna with a ice bolt to the head, and their parents hustle Anna to a community of forest trolls. Apparently, there is some kind of forest magic (Brave) and the trolls are better equipped to handle Elsa’s ice powers than the humans are. The whole series of events is troublesome. When Anna is unconscious, the king says he knows where he has to go, and leads the family into the forest. The king knows exactly where the trolls live, and the trolls appear to recognize the king, but then the head troll asks of Elsa’s power “born or cursed” to derive its source. So he has no prior history with this family? Then how did the king know to seek the trolls out? The troll cures Anna, but additionally removes her memory of the event. So there’s magic in this world, but it’s never explained from where or why.
Clearly, the main conflict in the film is the relationship between the sisters, but that won’t do in a kids’ movie. That kind of conflict is subtle and requires a better understanding of human emotions and experiences. I get it. Frozen not only refers to the temperatures created by Elsa’s Iceman-esque powers, but also her inability to live any kind of life because of her own fear of them. She comes to the conclusion that living alone in a palace of ice is preferable to hiding in a bedroom.
But kids won’t get that, so Hans (left) is the ostensible antagonist of the movie who reveals his love for Anna was a ruse so he could ascend to power in a realm not his own (a perfect time for me to turn to Madison and speak ill of boys). Really, that’s his entire motivation for being a scoundrel: he was the 13th born son and knew he’d never be king on his own; he had to marry in. I guess. He was basically Ewan McGregor in Angels and Demons.
The most glaring problem, though, is the film’s resolution. Basically, after spending the first 18 years of her life not understanding or being able to control her ice powers, Elsa has an epiphany is suddenly able to control them absolutely, in the span of about 3 minutes. Not even Dr. Greg House figured things out that quickly, and at least he had years of practice. Frozen could have been a pretty compelling story, actually, but it took shortcuts in relying so heavily on people’s established understanding of the genre, of princess culture, of Disney movies. The movie hit all the beats, but too quickly and without fleshing them out. And I won’t even get into Olaf.
The cynic in me totally gets it, though. It’s not even as good as Tangled, and it’s something of a running joke between Lynnette and I. I have a theory that you can tell how good a Disney movie is going to be by looking at the cast. Cars gets Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, and Paul Newman. Planes got Dane Cook and small cameos from Goose and Iceman. No matter, though. Disney has added two more princesses to its roster and that noise you hear is Disney high-ups high-fiving each other while printing their own money.