For almost its entire movie making history Disney has had a toehold on fairy tales. They have had stories about princesses coming out of their butts. With classics like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White they have had generations of little girls under their spell. Wanting Prince Charming to come to the rescue and to live happily ever after. Realistic no, but highly marketable. Now with their latest animated film Frozen they have been successful on both fronts.
Elsa (Eva Bella – Despicable Me 2) and her younger sibling Anna (Livvy Stubenrauch – first film) are two princesses and spend their time frolicking around their family castle. Childhood games are made all the more fun by the fact that Elsa has special powers. She is able with a simple wave of her hands to make snow and ice appear. Shaping this into different shapes and creating an icy playground that the two can have fun on. That is until the day that Elsa’s powers cause Anna some harm. The King (Maurice LaMarche – from television’s The Simpsons) and Queen bring their youngest daughters to a group of magical trolls to heal her. They are able to do so because the ice did not strike her heart. It did hit her head causing her to lose her memory about her older sister’s abilities.
Traumatized by what happened Elsa vows to never use her powers again. Keeping away from her sister is the way she sets about to accomplish this. Elsa stays in her room refusing to play with Anna. Anna tries for a while, but Elsa is steadfast in her isolation. As a result the two young girls grow up very lonely.
Years pass and at the dawn of Elsa’s 18th birthday it is time for her to fulfill her destiny. The time has come for Elsa (Idina Menzel – Beowulf, Rent) to be crowned Queen. This means a big ceremony and people from far and wide being invited. Elsa is petrified while Anna (Kristen Bell – from television’s House of Lies) is thrilled. Lonely she cannot wait for people to be around for the coronation.
The hopelessly romantic Anna meets the dashing Prince Hans (Santino Fontana – appeared in episodes of The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie). The two fall head over heels in love. When Anna tells the newly crowned Elsa that she is about to get married to a man she just met it is too much for the older sibling. Elsa cannot control herself and her powers are let loose. She cannot control her emotions and plunges the whole kingdom of Arendelle into an icy deep freeze.
Thinking she can no longer live amongst regular folks Elsa runs off to the mountains and fabricates herself an icy castle vowing to spend the rest of her days there. Her sister is not willing to let her sister go, so she goes after her. On the way she meets ice salesman Kristoff (Jonathan Groff – Taking Woodstock) and a snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad – Love & Other Drugs, Jobs), who both undertake helping her find her sister. The adventure has just begun.
As far as stories go this one is fairly simple. Loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Ice Queen”, what elevates this from a good film to a great one is killer combo of the quality of the humour, the great songs, superior voice acting, and beautiful animation. What I really appreciated about the film is that it conveys a different kind of message from those that we have become used to from Disney princess films over the years. Young girls can come away from the film without being brainwashed into dreaming about their prince coming to rescue them and love being the cure for everything. The two main female characters are feisty and make their own choices. We also see that being different is not something to hide away or be embarrassed of; it is something to be applauded.
It is rare lately that the comedy that animated films attempt have hit the mark. With Frozen they only make bulls eyes. I have not laughed this much in a film in a long while. Olaf is a scream. Almost every line he utters made me laugh. So sweet and funny that you won’t be able to help yourself.
Musically the film is like a Broadway style production. With the soaring vocal ability of Irina Menzel and the surprisingly good voice of Kristen Bell they have a cast that is able to deliver the songs. The role of Elsa really requires someone who can belt out those power ballads and in Irina Menzel they have the perfect vehicle. The songs are all so good they add to the impact of the story and sitting there I could easily see that this would be another Disney film turned into a stage production.
The animators have surpassed themselves with the icy world they have created. It is a wonder to look at. Icy crystals, impressive structures and intimidating storms all will be a wonder for your eyes. It is all like works of transparent art and if you see the film in 3D it will only amplify that.