Like many people this holiday weekend, I went to the movies. Twice. One of those times was on Friday, with 5 kids aged 5-12, to see Frozen. Like pretty much everyone else who has seen it, we all loved it. Perhaps all the Disney wonder in the world that skipped over the horrible Planes movie landed on Frozen. It's Tangled, with a bit of Brave, and a whole lot of Wicked.
Anna and Elsa are sisters and daughters of the King of Arendelle, but Elsa has secret powers that enable (or require) her to shoot ice and snow out of her hands. This makes for all kinds of childhood merriment, until Anna is injured and Elsa ordered to not only refrain from ice-making but also avoid contact with her doting little sister. Anna finds that she can't control her powers and so retreats more and more from daily life at the bidding of her parents. Because this is Disney, King and Queen are killed when their ship is caught in a storm, leading the sisters to grieve separately, in the same castle. Over time, Elsa must ascend the throne, opening the palace gates for one day for the coronation. Elsa barely makes it through the coronation without an icy slip, but loses control when Anna giddily announces she is engaged to a prince she just met at the coronation ball. Cold, snow and ice descend on the kingdom as Anna flees to the mountains to live in icy isolation. Anna goes after her sister, with a cute ice-cutter and his reindeer as her guide.
So, you may have seen the trailer with the re-arrangeable snowman, Olaf, and the reindeer, Sven. The movie isn't about that at all. If it were, it would be Free Birds. No, Olaf is the comic relief, but he has an appropriately small-ish role, like the crab in the Little Mermaid or Mu-Shu in Mulan.
Another thing, it's a musical. I full-throated musical. So much so that when Elsa is building her mountain ice castle and belting out "Let it Go," I realized that the plot was Wicked, and Elsa is Elphaba. A little Googling told me that I'm not the first person to think that or even to plan that. The voice of Elsa is Idina Menzel, who originated the role of Elphaba on Broadway, and the song was written especially for her. (The single was recorded by Disney cast member Demi Lovato, but we downloaded the Menzel version.) The song is very much "Defying Gravity" -- embracing what you've been hiding, turning a negative into a positive, eschewing the madding crowd, etc. It's an awesome song. I also dare you not to cry during "Do You Want to Build a Snowman," an anthem for all little sisters everywhere.
But the best thing about the movie is the story. The story of the sister's quest may not be entirely original (very much like Merida's journey in Brave, with a similar ending, and even more like Rapunzel's in Tangled), but it is still very appealing. And of course, no serious Disney love story in the post-Shrek world will have a heroine rescued by a hero, right? We know that. So, either a heroine will rescue a hero or the true love at question will be a different love, like daughter-mother. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to suspect that this movie will have a true love twist, but it didn't seem predictable. And in case you are with a five year-old girl who cries at a particular moment (like I was), remember that Disney dead is only mostly dead.
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