Disney Marathon: ‘Frozen’


Well.

We (mostly) randomise the order of the movies we watch in this series, and the wheel of fate have deliver us THAT Disney movie. Possibly THE Disney movie. Certainly the most talked about and merchandised in recent years. In terms of animated movies in the box office, this one was only beaten by its sequel. It’s time to review Frozen.

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: Frozen

Released: 2013

Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk

Plot: Princess Anna is forced to traverse a landscaped locked in an eternal winter in order to find her estranged sister, Queen Elsa, whose out-of-control magical powers have put their kingdom in crisis.

Review: It’s become a trivia question that Frozen was initially an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Snow Queen’. It has a drastically changed cast, conflict, setting and story. With the exception of magical ice powers the only thing the two stories have in common is the character’s names kinda sounding like the author’s name (Hans, Kristoff, Anna, Sven).

The story we do have takes place in the fictional Nordic kingdom of Arrendalle, ruled by the royal family which features a pair of young sisters named Elsa (Menzel) and Anna (Bell). Elsa was inexplicably born with the magical ability to generate ice, snow and other winter weather effects. An accident involving these powers injures Anna, forcing Elsa into seclusion as she attempts to control her powers. When the King and Queen disappear on a voyage, Elsa becomes the ruler and is forced into the public spotlight. When she looses control of her power she plunges the kingdom into a terrible and eternal winter and flees into the mountains.

Anna, meanwhile, has grown us all but alone and in the castle. During Elsa’s coronation she meets and falls for Prince Hans (Fontana), a visiting dignitary. Anna and Hans announce to Elsa that they intend to marry, leading to Anna confronting her sister over their estrangement and Elsa losing control of her powers. Feeling responsible, Anna pursues Elsa and teams up with rugged iceman Kristoff (Groff) and a living snowman created by Elsa’s magic named Olaf (Gad).

But you knew all that, because the chances are high that you’ve seen this movie. We certainly have. Amelia is just the right age to have obsessed over Frozen from a young age, gotten over it, and then got straight back into it when the sequel appeared. We’ve seen Frozen many, many times and listened to the soundtrack countless more times. With all that in mind it’s surprising that I’m still willing to sit down and watch it through.

Anna and Elsa are both fun subversions of the Disney Princess tropes (for starters, they both eventually become queens), and having two of them in movie means they can distribute different traits between them. Elsa is powerful, confident and iconic while Anna is quirky, determined and passionate. We admire one and sympathise with the other. The two moments of the movie that causes me to chuckle every time without fail is Anna’s reaction to Kristoff asking her if her parents warned her about strangers, and Anna responding to a snow monster throwing her out off a castle by aggressively preparing a snowball. Part of the charm comes from Kristen Bell herself, but Veronica Mars is rad.

We follow these characters from fun obstacle or diversion to the other, all the while being set up to view Kristoff as the true love interest rather than Hans. It’s a big talking point of the movie that the ‘true love’ is later revealed to be between the sisters rather than any of the romantic interests of the film, but Anna winds up with a boyfriend as well so whatever. What really sells the movie are these characters and their parallel journeys.

Except Olaf (Gad), he can fuck right off. I hate this character. This will be in part due to Josh Gad’s delivery, as I don’t enjoy his comedic style. Nothing against the man personally, but his schtick just does not work for me. This is compounded by the fact that Olaf could be cut from the film with little to no discernible change to the story. This isn’t my only gripe with the film, just my biggest. As good as the bulk of the soundtrack is, there’s a couple of numbers that bring the movie to a complete stop. The prologue to the movie is a clumsy one, shoehorning in a backstory to Kristoff that stretches suspension of disbelief to breaking point.

As said before, this is a movie that we will happy to watch again and again after saturation exposure. This movie became an immediate Disney classic and reignited interest in their animated films after Tangled served as a warm up. Tangled and Frozen act as a new The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, in that they redefined the style and tone of the studio for a new generation of hits. It’s pretty hard to fault, even if it has that repugnant snowman everywhere.

Best Song: Written in less than a day and vocalised by the star of Broadway hit Wicked, you know what’s coming so sing along…

Coolest Easter Egg: Did you ever notice that her plait moves through her arm in the above sequence? Ok, that’s not an Easter Egg. Instead, look for Rapunzel and Eugene arriving for Elsa’s coronation.

Weirdest Trivia: Jennifer Lee was the first woman to direct a full-length animated film for Disney, which, considering how much they lean into the Princess routine, is kinda stoopid.

Rating: NINE out of TEN

THE RANKING

ME

Yeah, this is a good film. The only thing that pushes it a few spots out of the top five is the lack of nostalgia attached to it.

You can click on those titles below if you want to see what we said about those films.

  1. Robin Hood
  2. Aladdin
  3. Wreck-It Ralph
  4. Alice in Wonderland
  5. Beauty and the Beast
  6. Moana
  7. Big Hero 6
  8. Frozen
  9. Tangled
  10. The Sword in the Stone
  11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  12. Mulan
  13. Emperor’s New Groove
  14. Fantasia
  15. The Three Caballeros
  16. The Princess and the Frog
  17. Oliver & Company
  18. The Aristocats
  19. A Goofy Movie
  20. Treasure Planet
  21. Chicken Little

AMELIA

Oh, this is Amelia’s jam. At age 3 she would walk around the house with her Frozen bedsheet wrapped around her like a cloak while sing the only words of the song she can remember…with was limited to ‘go’. She has LEGO sets, shirts, suitcases, dresses…this is a big part of her childhood.

  1. Frozen
  2. Emperor’s New Groove
  3. The Three Caballeros
  4. Moana
  5. Mulan
  6. Alice in Wonderland
  7. Wreck-It Ralph
  8. A Goofy Movie
  9. Tangled
  10. The Princess and the Frog
  11. Robin Hood
  12. Beauty and the Beast
  13. Oliver & Company
  14. The Aristocats
  15. The Sword in the Stone
  16. Aladdin
  17. Treasure Planet
  18. Big Hero 6
  19. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  20. Chicken Little
  21. Fantasia

JOSHUA

Joshua might be a bit over this one. He’s rather watch old episodes of Darkwing Duck than be subjected to this movie again. He still likes it though.

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Aladdin
  3. Emperor’s New Groove
  4. Treasure Planet
  5. Moana
  6. The Three Caballeros
  7. Wreck-It Ralph
  8. Frozen
  9. Mulan
  10. The Princess and the Frog
  11. Robin Hood
  12. The Sword in the Stone
  13. Beauty and the Beast
  14. Oliver & Company
  15. Tangled
  16. A Goofy Movie
  17. The Aristocats
  18. Fantasia
  19. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  20. Alice in Wonderland
  21. Chicken Little