I guess the honeymoon for the marriage between Disney and Pixar is officially over. You know how it is. When a couple first gets together the husband lets the wife pick the restaurant, choose the shade of white for the living room, and drive the car once in a while but after a year or two he’s decided the best place for her is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen while he smokes cigars, watches football, and makes movies with princesses in them.
(If any of you want to speculate on the nature of my own relationships based on that last statement, chances are that you would be at the same time completely right and completely wrong. Game Over image is from the Funny T-shirt category)
Not to say that Frozen is bad. It has a number of mixed messages (which are at times at odds with each other) but is pretty to look at and has a lot of singing (more on that later). If you gave the writers the assignment of creating a kid film with as many princesses and collectable toys in it as possible I’d say they did an admirable job. This is going to end up one of those reviews where I am at odds with the masses of legitimate reviews, but something about this film just left me cold (haw!).
For one thing, is there an occupation in the Disney world for a cute young girl other than princess? I mean, surely the housekeeper and peasant women at some point were hot teenage girls who had a magical romance where they fell in love and procreated without the benefit of a palace and ballroom. I laughed at the end of Wreck it Ralph when Vanellope turned out to be a princess but honestly it is to the point of being a creepy, psychotic obsession. It’s like a middle aged single man who has a massive ceramic clown collection.
Another thing that bugged me was a couple of the messages. Sure, there was a great one about sisterhood and standing by your family, but the youngest of the two princesses sole stated goal in life was to fall in love and get married. Not exactly empowering. Definitely not the accepting of your own nature message that was so great in Wreck it. Is it possible that there might be a teenage girl in a Disney film who wants to go to college and accomplish something other than fall in love, or maybe just smoke a lot of pot and become the worlds best twerker?
That’s not totally fair. There was a good message about acceptance in this one as well, and the importance of not being a closeted shut in. A lot of it felt recycled from other films however and this really wasn’t the vehicle to carpool these messages to work.
There were some things that did bug me in definable ways. The trolls, for one thing. A more blatant ploy for selling toys you will not find, and they were truly annoying (as well as unnecessary). Yes, I know this film is for the kiddiewinks and I am an ass for even reviewing it, but a good kids film should entertain all ages. I could see WIR once a week and enjoy it. Anyway, the trolls sucked. What did the look like, you ask? Take a troll doll, squish the aspect ratio down vertically about 20%, and color them green. Done.
Finally, the singing. You know how in the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast there are classic songs that work themselves into the movie seamlessly and you can hear them even now and not only know what film they were from but exactly what scene? I’m a dude of massive machismo and even I can recognize Be Our Guest and tell you exactly what was happening while it was being sung (truth be told, put a gun to my head and I could probably recite most of the lyrics. No amount of coercion will get me to actually sing it, however), or Under the Sea. No danger of that here. Instead of songs that enhance the film the music is forced into the film with the subtlety and painlessness of a garden hose catheter and are mostly the characters singing their dialog instead of speaking it. I honestly can’t remember one of them. They all blur together into a mediocre montage. The people singing them didn’t impress me with their pipes either, although to be honest I am not much of a musical talent myself unless playing the radio counts. I just know what I like.
The story. It starts off with Princess Anna (Kristen Bell-Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Veronica Mars, When in Rome) waking up her older sister Ilsa (Idina Menzel-Rent, Beowulf, Enchanted) so they can play. Ilsa has magical cold power for some reason and can manifest ice and show. While playing she accidentally shoots Anna in the head and freezes her brain. Her father and mother the king and queen take her to the local trolls, who look like rocks until they unroll themselves. The head troll (Ciarán Hinds-There Will Be Blood, the Road to Perdition, the Woman in Black) cures her and also erases her memory of Ilsa’s powers for some reason (?). Ilsa has to shut out Anna and hide in her room trying to control her power.
Skip forward a couple years and the king and queen are “lost at sea” (cough cough dead cough cough. Have fun explaining that to your kindergartener). Ilsa and Anna live almost alone in the shut down palace until Ilsa comes of age and is made queen. She still can barely control her power and has to wear gloves all the time. At the coronation party Anna meets Hans (Santino Fontana-Jersey Shore Gone Wild, Submissions Only, Nancy Please), a handsome prince. They hit it off and ask Ilsa for permission to marry after knowing each other for like two hours (another great message for your kids). She wisely denies permission but Anna argues. During the course of the argument Anna gets a glove and Ilsa unleashes her power, freezing over the countryside.
Ilsa runs off into the cold and creates a pretty spectacular ice palace. Anna goes after her and leaves Hans in charge. In the woods she meets up with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff-Taking Woodstock, the Conspirator, C.O.G.), a professional ice seller who is now in need of employment. She hires him to help her get to her sister. Along the way they meet up with a living snowman Ilsa created named Olaf (Josh Gad-Jobs, Love and Other Drugs, 21) who is along for the comedy relief. They get to Ilsa but she ejects them with the help of a terrifying snow monster she also created.
Hans leads an expidition to find Anna and capture Ilsa (the whole country is frozen over) and mixes it up with the snow monster. Two dudes send along by a two big bad duke (Alan Tudyk-Firefly, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Wreck it Ralph) try to kill Ilsa and she defends herself. During the course of the fight Anna gets ice zapped in the heart. Kristoff takes her to see Trolli who says only an act of true love will save her. They rush back to the palace where Hans has Ilsa locked up and he turns out to be a power hungry jerk (why is it chicks always dig the bad boys?). Conflict ensues, Ilsa learns an important message about the power of true love and sisterhood, and Anna finds here heart is elsewhere.
I don’t know. This is one of those films that in my opinion the total value does not equal the sum of all its parts. It has the elements needed. A princess or two. Check. Cute sidekick characters. Check. A hunky romance. Check. A bad guy who is not too threatening. Check. Singing. Check. Some magical visuals. Check. I have seen other reviewers call this one another Disney classic but honestly I don’t see it. It’s good but not amazing. A couple years from now it will be just another one on the pile. I don’t think they will be remastering and rereleasing it 25 years from now. Of course with kids films I skip the star/black hole thing and just go with how the kids in the audience react, and to be honestly they all seemed to be loving it. From that perspective this film is nigh flawless and perfect to help your kid kill a couple more hours of his or her childhood. I just don’t think you the adult will be as entranced.
So worth seeing sure. Maybe my dissatisfaction stems from my cold, dead heart but in truth there are plenty of kids films that I love. Date movie? Absofreakinglutley. If you don’t have kids but have a chick you are trying to thaw (haw! again) you can’t pick a better film. Bathroom break? Nothing really jumps out as being truly necessary or unnecessary. Maybe the scene at the trading post?
Thanks for reading. I still have Oldboy to write up but for some reason am not that motivated to work on it. I’ll try to get it done tomorrow. I double dog dare you to follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Who wants to be my 200th follower? If you have a comment on this film or my review post it here, and if you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great night.