Pin It
Favorite

Chilled to Perfection 

Disney shows it gets what it's like to be a young girl with Frozen

click to enlarge film1-1.jpg

Oh my goddess. Where did Frozen come from? It didn't come from Hans Christian Andersen; this bears little resemblance to supposed inspiration The Snow Queen. It sprang from the grand Disney tradition of full-on, Broadway-style animated musicals. But unlike 2009's throwback The Princess and the Frog, which felt like nothing more than a tired retread, Frozen is — we can hope, anyway — the start of a new era for the wonderful little subgenre Disney has claimed for itself.

Frozen is a princess story; Disney is doubling down on the princesses — there's two of 'em here. But Disney is also doubling down on the hints of nascent feminism Brave hinted at, the sort of bare-bones feminism which accepts that girls and women might possibly want more out of life than to get married. The princesses are sisters — the elder Elsa (the voice of Idina Menzel) and the younger Anna (the voice of Kristen Bell) — and this is mostly the story of their troubled relationship. Which has nothing to do with jealously that arises over them both liking the same prince.

When Elsa and Anna are small children, there's an accident: Elsa's paranormal ability to make things cold — a sort of Arctikinesis — knocks out Anna as they're playing in supernaturally produced snow, threatening the little girl's life. As part of the magical cure, Anna's memory of Elsa's ability is taken away — it's probably a good idea that they don't play like this again — and their parents, the king and queen of Arendelle, decide that Elsa should remain locked away lest she hurt anyone else; terrified of doing so, Elsa readily agrees.

Fast-forward to the present, as Elsa comes of age and is about to be crowned queen (their parents died in a shipwreck). Anna has spent years not knowing why her beloved sister has shut her out; Elsa is desperately worried that her subjects will see her as a monster. The recipe for disaster is in place.

The villains here? Unintended consequences, good intentions, and the pressures of conformity. When Elsa finally stops denying her Arctikinesis, she celebrates by creating a wondrous mountain ice castle for herself, belting out a glorious anthem to female power. Not since Howard Ashman's remarkably astute lyrics for Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid — which are far more about a girl's longings to be her own person than they are about finding romance — has there been a Disney song like "Let It Go," as Elsa tosses away "the good girl" she "always [had] to be" and stops believing that "conceal, don't feel" is a healthy way to live.

I had chills listening to this: someone gets it. (The lyrics are by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez; they wrote the songs for Avenue Q.) Writers and directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, with a screenplay assist from Shane Morris, get it. Disney is finally getting it. Hearing that you're not allowed to be yourself is stifling to a girl. Bottling yourself up is dangerous.

In Elsa's case, literally and on a grand scale. She doesn't realize that, in her letting go of her inhibitions, she has accidentally covered all of Arendelle in ice and snow. In summertime. She didn't mean to do that. Anna doesn't know whether Elsa's actions were deliberate, but Anna is determined to find her sister and convince Elsa to fix everything... and to let Anna back in as friend and family.

There are boy characters, too. There's handsome Prince Hans (the voice of Santino Fontana), whom Anna falls hard for. There's goofy ice merchant Kristoff (the voice of Jonathan Groff), who helps Anna on her journey. There's even talking snowman Olaf (the voice of Josh Gad), a byproduct of Elsa's magic; as comic-relief sidekicks go, he's one of the best Disney has come up with, and even gets one of the film's best songs.

The animation is gorgeous. The songs are soaring. There is real Disney magic here. It's subverting much of what the Disney magic of old was spinning. Progress! And it goes down very easy. ♦

Trailer


Frozen
Rated PG · 102 minutes · 2013
Official Site: movies.disney.com/frozen/?cmp=wdsmp_fro_url_dcomfrozen_Extl
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Producer: Peter Del Vecho and John Lasseter
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, CiarĂ¡n Hinds and Chris Williams

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Frozen

  • Pin It

Speaking of Film Review, Disney

Latest in Film

  • Gun Show
  • Gun Show

    Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are armed and dangerous in the true story War Dogs
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Master of Puppets
  • Master of Puppets

    Kubo and the Two Strings is a gorgeous, if conventional, epic journey
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Meat is Murder
  • Meat is Murder

    Sausage Party puts the gross in grocery store
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Spokane Symphony Soiree on the Edge

Spokane Symphony Soiree on the Edge @ Arbor Crest Wine Cellars

Wed., Aug. 24

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Gun Show
  • Gun Show

    Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are armed and dangerous in the true story War Dogs
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Magic Monster
  • Magic Monster

    Pete's Dragon is a reboot with an infectious spirit
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Tired Legacy
  • Tired Legacy

    Jason Bourne works as an action film, but also shows that the franchise hasn't kept up with the times
    • Jul 29, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Still Celebrating

    Boy George and Culture Club paved the way for genre- and gender-bending rock stars
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Behind the Music
  • Behind the Music

    The Grammy Awards are about much more than what you see on TV
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation