In my 28 years here on this Earth I have seen a lot of movies. I started watching them when I was just a young, unbearded lad, and I have loved them ever since. Some of the movies what truly define my childhood were made by the one and only Disney. From Aladdin to Beauty and the Beast, from Lion King to a little gem called The Emperor’s New Groove, Disney has a long and illustrious track record when it comes to making movies with just the right combination of heart, charm, and a knack for sticking with you for years to come. Now we have Frozen, which whether they have come right out and said it or not (and I legitimately don’t know if they have), is Disney’s attempt to do what they haven’t done in many years — produce a movie that has that same heart, that same charm, and most importantly, stays with you for years to come. It turns out that this time, they just may have succeeded.
Frozen begins with the story of two loving sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), as they play together as young girls. Or should I say, Frozen should begin there. One of my few and albeit small issues with the film is in its opening. It’s a dark and somewhat gloomy musical number where giant men saw up ice, and while it does introduce Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), I was not a fan of the way it all is portrayed. For reasons I won’t spoil here, having Krisoff be around at this very young age is vital to the story, but I think they could have gone about the scene differently, as is just feels somewhat out of place to me. There are other times where this happens throughout the movie, and while it thankfully never lasts long enough to completely take you out of the film, it is at least noticeable.
As I was saying though, Frozen quickly introduces us to two sister, both daughters of the King of Arendelle. One of them however, has a bit of a trick up her proverbial sleeve, and it’s where the film’s name comes from. She is able to create ice and snow with a single touch, and while this initially seems quite fun, things eventually go awry and Anna is injured during an exceptionally robust play session in the snow. This is where the crux of the story lives. Elsa cannot control her icy powers as well as she would like, more accurately, as well as would be needed to use them around Anna and not risk her safety. And so she makes the decision to shut herself off from her sister. It’s a decision that on the surface seems logical, but when you watch it play out and then really think about it, it becomes this profound and heartbreaking choice that no little girl should ever have to make. The best part though is that we see just how heart breaking it is in a musical montage that shows Anna repeatedly asking her big sister to come out and play, to no avail of course. This is the kind of song, along with the rest of the amazing soundtrack, that will be remembered along side songs like “A Whole New World” and “Be Our Guest”. Feel free to listen below:
As the movie progresses with the upcoming coronation of a now grown Elsa and the now free Anna things pick up and we’re treated to all the things that make a wonderful family adventure. Friendships are made, mainly between Anna and a much bigger and burlier Kristoff. But also in smaller, arguably more entertaining places, like between the incredibly charming Olaf and Sven the moose. Olaf in particular is incredibly well voiced by Josh Gad, and takes up the banner of comedic relief in Frozen perfectly. Lessons are also learned as Elsa must move past her fear and doubt and really learn to trust both herself and those around her. When I look back on the movie it is actually pretty incredible that Disney is able to pack in so many stories, and so much character growth, into one film. Everyone comes out on the other side of the film having grown and learned, and while you both expect and get a happy ending, it doesn’t detract from the satisfaction of getting there.
I mentioned Josh Gad and his excellent voice acting earlier, and rightly so as his timing comically is spot on and he rides the line between goofy and charming with incredible precision. But I’d also like to go back and touch on some other stand out performances as well. Kristen Bell may have very well gotten a new member in her fan club this weekend. While always a name I’ve recognized from her work on Veronica Mars and her smaller role in Heroes, in Frozen she is able to portray the quirkiness and sometimes outright awkwardness of Anna in such a way that I immediately fell in love with the character. I can only hope that she is one day cast in a musical (one of my favorite genres I you weren’t aware). Lastly there’s Jonathan Groff as Kristoff. The chemistry between Groff and Bell comes through extremely well on-screen despite their lack of actually being on-screen, and in this case it really does take two to tango.
The last thing I’ll touch on is the music of Frozen. Yes, I know I already have mentioned it, but I would be crazy to not give the entire cast, along with composer Christophe Beck , their proper dues. The music of Frozen is brilliant. It is exactly what you want in a Disney movie in that it’s heartfelt, and gets stuck in your head as you walk out of the theater (I was still humming “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman” when I got home that night). “For the First Time in Forever” is as much a lock for an Oscar this year as I have ever seen before and “Let It Go” is a wonderfully epic sounding piece that showcases Menzel’s big vocals even if the song itself feels a little forced. There is even some comedy with songs like “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” and “In Summer”. Lastly, I have to mention “Fixer Upper”. This is a song performed by an exceptionally jolly group of trolls, and is basically a Muppets-esque group number hidden within the movie. Plainly said, it’s awesome.
Frozen is a reminder that Disney can still allow kids to have a wonderful time while still reminding adults that for at least two hours, they can still believe there is some magic in the world. The music is incredible, the voice acting is superb, and the balance of heart warming moments, feel good adventures, and well timed comedy is near flawless. If you have children then make sure you get to the theater as soon as possible, and if you don’t, go anyways. Because while I don’t claim to know a great many things, I do know that it doesn’t hurt anyone, young or old, to get lost in a story that leaves you walking away feeling like maybe storybook ending really do happen.