You’ve seen the trailer, and you’ve most likely been dreading taking your little ones to this movie during the holiday weekend. But in truth, there is nothing to dread. Frozen is a nod to Disney classics while subverting expectations; it’s surprising and, of course, it will warm your heart.
Kristen Bell recently had an interview on The Tonight Show where she said she always wanted to play a Disney princess, but not a dainty one. In truth, Frozen harps back to the days of The Little Mermaid, but what it does right is call out Anna (Bell) on her newfound love and it doesn’t have her sacrifice her voice — neither metaphorical nor literal — for it either. When Anna and Hans (Santino Fontana) get engaged after knowing each other for just a few short hours, even I was calling out the story’s inanity. That would have worked in movies before, but it just feels outdated and ridiculous now. What I didn’t expect was the characters to feel the exact same way: Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna’s sister, tells her she can’t marry someone she just met; Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) questions her better judgement.
And ultimately, this isn’t a story about finding true love, anyway. Well, let me rephrase that: this is a story about finding true love, but it’s not about finding a romantic partner and how that decides your so-called happily ever after. It’s much more about familial loyalty and selflessness. Now that’s a message I can get behind, and it’s something the Frozen trailers decided to completely leave out. If only the entire film were as imaginative and inventive as that element.
In fact, Frozen doesn’t rate higher only because of its strange pacing in parts. At others, it’s overwrought with shoehorned numbers.
That said, the vocal performances are absolutely fantastic. I’ve of course heard Menzel and Groff before, and I’ve picked up on a few clips by Bell, but I didn’t expect their blend of voices together to be so wonderful. It’s true what everyone else is saying: Broadway is expecting Frozen any day now.
And if that doesn’t get you in the door, I’ve saved the best for last. Olaf (Josh Gad), the snowman, doesn’t arrive until about 35 percent into the movie, but when he does, he steals the show. There’s simply no way to describe the joy his lines deliver. Moments like “Are you alive?” “I think so…” are ripe with that rare, perfect coalescence of innocence and precociousness that make Olaf worth the price of admission.
Frozen mixes traditional roots with contemporary texture and creates a unique and surprising film in its own right. It’s perfect for all ages this holiday weekend (or anytime). As one little girl shouted when the credits began to roll: “I love it!“