I was conflicted when going into Frozen. Early reviews were saying that this was the biggest Disney movie in a long time, harkening back to better days. Now, I liked Tangled but it’s true that Disney animated movies haven’t really had that same spark that I remember growing up with. Maybe it’s because they strayed from the musical formula. And I was mostly conflicted because the first trailers for Frozen didn’t do the movie justice.
The gist is that two sisters are growing up in a castle in Arendelle (which is kind of like Norway or Sweden or some other Scandinavian country). The older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) is princess to the throne but has developed the ability to make ice from her hands and has been secluded away. Her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) wants to see the world but the castle has been put on lockdown because they’re afraid of what Elsa might do. The story really kicks off when Elsa has an accident and her emotional burst freezes the entire land and she runs off to ice-olation (*ba-dum-chic*) and her sister Anna goes on a journey to find her and bring her back.
Along the way, Anna befriends an orphan man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer buddy. They also meet Olaf, a snowman that has been given life by Elsa accidentally (voiced by Josh Gad).
Everything. As the opening musical number began, I already was getting goosebumps. Disney struck gold here and it was a fantastic experience.
Let me begin with the music. Every song not only moved the story (or the characters) forward but also managed to pull on your heartstrings. I immediately found the soundtrack on Spotify when I got home, that’s how infectious these tracks were. Idina Menzel (Rent, Glee, Wicked) as Elsa was just breathtaking. I was also impressed with Kristen Bell’s singing ability. Some incredible duets.
Visually the movie was also stunning. Elsa’s ice abilities were incredible to watch and I almost want to rewatch in 3D as I’m sure it’d be worth the expense. I can’t really elaborate, but it’s a visually stunning movie.
And then there’s the story. You know that things will end somewhat well but the movie smartly debunks a few common Disney tropes. Without spoiling anything, they do some smart things with the role of the Prince and the idea that “love” will save the day. People praised Brave’s Merida as the new generation of princess but I found Elsa to be much 1.) stronger, 2.) more independent, and 3.) just generally more complicated and interesting. A line that repeats itself is “Conceal, don’t feel” and it resonated with me on a human level and touched me in a way that no movie (Disney or not) has affected me in a long time.
I also want to touch on Josh Gad’s Olaf, the talking snowman. He was the focus of the first trailers for Frozen and I thought he’d be an annoying character but I found myself laughing uncontrollably. He isn’t overused and most of the funniest lines are kind of throwaways that sneak up on you. Gad plays it perfectly, not hamming it up, but feeling genuine. His one song in the movie is also both hilarious and touching at the same time, as Olaf dreams of his first summer, without realizing the effect that the summer sun would have on a snowman.
What doesn’t work?
Nothing. I loved every minute of this movie and I’m actually more excited to see it a second time than I was the first time!
Disney is back. We get two princesses this time around and they’re both stronger than we’ve seen (maybe ever). The music is top-notch and the story is touching and emotionally satisfying. There is zero reason for you to not see Frozen in the next few weeks. You will absolutely not regret it.