I imagine that if Cinderella were in 3D and made with CGI, it’d look a lot like Frozen. New technology aside, Frozen is a throwback to classic Disney. It’s more of the story and the ample amount of singing that make Frozen feel like the old Disney movies that are near and dear to many people’s hearts.
Inspired by an 1845 publication of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen is the story of two sisters, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell), and her older sister, Elsa, (Idina Menzel), whose parents reluctantly locked her away in a room in their castle after her icy powers accidentally endanger Anna. As the sisters grow up, Anna wonders why Elsa cannot play with her any more. Meanwhile, Elsa lives in fear she’ll hurt Anna again, and as a result, avoids the one person she loves most.
When grown-up Anna finally confronts Elsa, Elsa panics and runs off and her dangerous, uncontrollable powers leave the kingdom of Arendelle trapped in an eternal icy, winter. Anna then sets off to find her sister, teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer, Sven. Kristoff is far from the Prince Charming that Anna has fallen for back at home, but it’s certainly fun to watch them bicker and, eventually, bond. They’re later joined by a talking snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) as they race to find Elsa and save Arendelle from a never-ending winter.
Frozen has definitely got winter holiday hit written all over it (despite the fact it’s competing with some of the same audience for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). And the kids will love Olaf (who is hilariously oblivious to what will happen to him when winter ends).
Still, I couldn’t quite completely warm up to the entire movie. While the songs by Tony winner Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez were plentiful and some of them charming, there were really no songs that I envision myself singing, whistling or even humming in the future.
And though the movie is set in the fictional Arendelle, the setting is obviously inspired by Scandinavia (Norway in particular), yet all of the accents were clearly American. I much prefer a movie like Disney’s Brave that used actors with Scottish accents that matched the setting of the film.
That’s not to say that the leading lady voices didn’t do a great job. Not having heard Bell’s singing voice prior to this flick, I was impressed at her vocal prowess. And, of course, Menzel (from Broadway’s Wicked and Rent) is well known for her angelic voice.
Unlike some of the classic Disney movies, surprisingly there’s no evil villain like a Wicked Stepmother or Evil Witch. One might expect Elsa to be the villain, but she’s not. She’s more like the snow queen who will melt your heart. There is a “bad guy” so to speak, but it almost seemed like an afterthought. The central story is really about the sisters finding their way back to one another.
And it seems quite fitting that since Frozen already feels like a classic Disney movie, the enjoyable short film prior to the movie creatively blends yesteryear and today. ••
Movie Grade: B+