Let’s get something VERY clear; I have had a grudge against Disney since 1989 at the mere age of five (We’ll get into why later, trust me.) So understand how amazing Frozen is to make me forgive Disney for what I have calculated as a near 77-year long sin.
I’m not spouting hyperbole when I say that Frozen is the greatest film Disney has produced – not counting anything Pixar or Marvel related – since The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So, in order to convince you to go and see this movie and enjoy it for it’s warts and all, I’m going to describe in detail the great things about this film.
Here’s the rub; normally, I despise musicals with a passion.
For one, actors rarely make good singers in my experience (Exhibit A: Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time”) and singers make even worse actors (Exhibit B: the opening moments of the “Imma Be” video). For two, it’s very distracting. Just as I get emotionally invested in the action on screen, I get cinematic whiplash as the characters break out into song. It’s just not what a normal person would do in a dramatic situation – it’s what you would do for cheap laughs.
All of this was true for me in Frozen, but I quickly realized that, taken on it’s own without the movie, the soundtrack is beautiful. This is especially true of the main song “Let It Go” preformed by Idina Menzel of Wicked fame who, incidentally, is one of the few people that can act AND sing (sadly, I’m still bitter because I’m convinced she deserved better then Glee).
If I can find this soundtrack on CD (yes, I still use CD’s), I will buy it just to flaunt it in the face of my friends who criticize me for not giving musicals a chance and say, “See! I’m NOT impossible to please now, am I?”
The Comic Relief
Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that my girlfriend convinced me otherwise, I would have given the whole movie a miss just because I misjudged the stupid snowman.
Olaf, the talking snowman, is actually far more charming than the trailers and adverts painted him to be. At first, I wrote him off as very similar to Claptrap from Borderlands – annoying and very quick to wear out his welcome.
But, as it turns out, I grew to love Olaf as much as Anna and Elsa did. Underneath his facade of comedy is a legitimately tragic and lovable character – a creature of ice and snow that desperately wants, but sadly can’t, experience warmth without melting. He can’t even get the “warm hugs” that he loves so much.
Trust me, you will feel for Olaf by the end of the film just as I did.
The Big Twists
Okay, this is where the BIG spoilers show up. So if you have not seen Frozen yet, stop reading this, bookmark it, go watch the film, and come back. Seriously, if you read beyond this point, the entire movie will be ruined for you. Go watch it first. Get it? Got It? Good.
So there are two amazing plot twists in the story that spit in the eye of Disney’s previous conventions of their Princess mythology. Those conventions are what got me to hate Disney Princesses in ’89. That was the year that The Little Mermaid was released.
In addition to getting the previous two aspects of a movie wrong (seriously, I don’t get the appeal of Jodi Benson’s singing voice and Sebastian has all of my hate), the movie baffled me as a child because I didn’t get why Ariel would sell her soul (voice and soul are thematically the same here) for someone she barely knew and hadn’t even spoken with prior. As an adult, I look back on this outdated patriarchal sensibility and realize how lucky she was that Eric wasn’t a total creep. Not to get too lurid, but throwing yourself at people without knowing them is a good way to leave yourself open to a VERY dangerous situation.
The two big reveals in the third act of Frozen defy this trope that has so long plagued Disney. The “good” princess Anna is accidentally cursed by her sister Elsa with a slowly freezing heart that threatens her life. It’s revealed that the only way to thaw her heart is an act of true love. Everyone assumes that this means a kiss from her true love Hans, the prince of the Southern Isles whom she had agreed to marry the same day she met him.
However, when Kristoff, the mountain man that had been guiding her returns her to the castle to get her kiss from Hans, he reveals that he only asked her to marry him so that he could eventually claim the throne since, being the youngest of thirteen brothers, he’d never rule the Southern Isles. It’s just as Elsa warned in the first act – “You can’t marry a man you just met.”
At this point now, you’d expect Kristoff to be the man to save the day and rescue Anna. Well, You’d be wrong again! In fact, it’s not a kiss that saves Anna at all. Instead, it’s Elsa’s tears. Her weeping for her sister shows that she truly cares about her – an act of true love from a source no one could have expected.
Also, there’s something touching about Elsa’s arc of childhood repression and delayed teenage rebellion. If I wasn’t disillusioned into thinking that a smaller section of the corporate whole wrote this, I’d think that Disney might be feeling guilty about what they’ve done to their former starlets.
Seriously, You Better Have Seen This Movie By Now
Like I said, Frozen is far from perfect. The music – beautiful as it is – is still distracting, Olaf – charming as he is – is still annoying, and the references to modern life fracture my beloved immersion in the old world Nordic story slightly.
That said, this is still one of the best things Disney has ever made and has insured that I’ll be following them very closely from here on out. You’ve raised the bar very high and very quickly, Disney; Maleficent better be life changing.