Week Late Movie Review: Frozen

I never intended to see Disney's newest animated feature, Frozen, in the theater. Not out of some misguided boycott against fairy tales but more because, given my economic climate, I need to carefully pick and choose which movies I pay to see. But then I got an email from AMC Theaters saying they were giving away an Olaf pin with every ticket purchase between December 6th and 8th, which enticed me. I figured we could save money by going to a matinee showing, then use our AMC Stubs rewards toward popcorn and me and my wife could go for right around $15.
I won't lie. My patronage can be bought with cheap trinkets.
Right off the bat, I adored the movie. Elsa, the older daughter to the royal family, was born with the ability to make and control ice but she's forced to suppress it after an accident involving her little sister, Anna. Elsa's parents try their best to teach her how to control her powers but after they die, Elsa withdraws into herself, afraid to be around anyone for fear of her powers. This leaves Anna all alone, being kept at arms length by her sister despite all of her attempts to include her in her life. It's a great example of parents doing their best for their children but their choices go very wrong. The danger they instilled in Elsa harmed her relationship with her sister, and actually destroyed her opinion of relationships in general. All of the damage Elsa caused and her quest for solitude can be traced back to this moment. She's far from the villain despite everyone's protests to the contrary.

What I liked most about Frozen is that it doesn't follow the standard Disney guide to storytelling. Yes, it has its fantastic adventures through worlds unknown. It has the cutesy little animals/creatures that act as the comedy relief. It has the beautiful princess who battles her own awkwardness on her path to find true love. But the idea of love in Frozen is much different from other Disney movies. Anna falls in love with a big, handsome prince yet fails to realize that true love is under her nose the entire time. But more importantly, the love story takes a back seat. It's not about a woman validating herself with a man; it's about sisters finding each other and rekindling their friendship.

One thing I have to say is that I wasn't crazy about the songs. In fact, most of them were quite annoying. Unlike past Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, where the musical interludes mark an important point of the movie's plot, here they just seemed to break out into song for no reason. Well, honestly, that's not true. The more I think of it, the more it occurs to me that the majority of these songs were vital to the plot, but that still didn't make them interesting."Let It Go" and "For The First Time In Forever" were probably the best of the bunch, really capturing the spirit of the characters, Elsa and Anna respectively. The others just felt like filler, used to make a full soundtrack and capture a few more sales.

That being said, however, I give props to the voice cast for singing the vocals. Most Disney movies keep those separate, using talented voice actors for the speaking roles yet musicians for the music. But here, the two blend, and quite well. This was clearly intentional considering the actors they chose for their roles; Idina Menzel, best known for her role in Rent, both on Broadway and on film, played the part of Elsa. Jonathan Groff was nominated for a Tony for his role in Spring Awakening and plays the part of the male lead, Kristoff. But I was surprised by Kristen Bell, an actress not known for her singing roles. Hearing her belt out Anna's songs was eye-opening, making me realize that she's more than just a talented actress but a hell of a signer as well.

All in all, Frozen was a delightful surprise. My Disney preferences tend to lean toward the classics; I was really disappointed when they did away with the traditional animation in exchange for the CGI stuff. And while I didn't really swear them off after that, none of their newer movies really appealed to me. But I will happily say that I loved Frozen and I'm glad I gave it a chance.

Now, because I enjoyed it that much, I leave you with Elsa singing "Let It Go" from the film.

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