I will fully admit, as I saw the endless promotion for Disney’s 53rd Animated Feature, Frozen start to begin, I was less than interested. Olaf the Snowman, clearly designed to appeal to the youngest of Disney fans, didn’t excite me at all. I wanted to know more about the story of Frozen: the sisters, their background, what happened to them and why. Not watch a lop-sided snowman chase his carrot nose for an hour. Adding in Sven, the reindeer who seemed like a carbon-copy of Max the canine-like horse from Tangled, and I didn’t hold out much hope for Frozen. I was given some images from Disney showing background animation and concept art, and that excited me a bit. It was what I was most looking forward to when I attended a screening a couple of weeks ago, but little else.
Then, the theatre darkened and the music began. Rich, hearty Norwegian chanting. It made me sit up and take notice. What followed was me being glued to the edge of my seat, soaking up every pixel of gorgeous animation, every word of enticing story, every note of exquisite music and lyrics. I was, in short, in love. I walked out thinking “This is my new favorite Disney film.” and “I must have this soundtrack.”
Without giving major plot points away, I want to convey how refreshing it was to see this storyline unfold. Not knowing anything about the movie other than there was a silly snowman and a reindeer, I was completely taken in by what I thought was happening and really couldn’t guess the end at all. I loved how the sisters were portrayed, loving each other, caring for each other, and when unable to be together, missing each other. Unlike most previous Disney animated films, the first real main character song fits in so well as something that is really happening, vs. just breaking into a nice song that helps propel the story but seems a little out of place. We learn so much about the sisters’ upbringing in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and it’s a beautiful song to boot. We then learn more about Princess Anna in her subsequent songs and really begin to feel for her, as well as Elsa. The whole soundtrack is very Broadway-esque and I instantly thought of Rent when I heard Princess Anna and Hans singing “Love is an Open Door” it’s this kind of refreshingly good music that makes the difference here. Princess Anna is pretty identifiable (at least personally) – she may be a princess but she’s clumsy and even a bit gullible and clueless (which could be called trusting and innocent too), and most importantly of all, she wakes up with bedhead. How many other Disney princesses would admit to that? I instantly loved her. While we don’t know much about Elsa after she was hidden away as a child, what we do know is that she was a loving, caring sister. This sisterly bond above all else is an important message of the film.
When Idina Menzel as Elsa, newly crowned as Queen, finally gives in to her icy powers, the resulting “Let it Go” song is perhaps the most powerful moment in the film. The accompanying animation here is beyond amazing as well. You’ll wish you could hit repeat on this section of the movie, it’s that good. THIS is what Frozen is about. Family, secrets, struggles, love, and figuring out how to combine them all and be happy. While I understand the gigantic marketing machine that is the Walt Disney Company and how they must promote and sell merchandise with every movie they produce, I truly wish they could find a way to give the audience some credit and showcase the real highlights of their talented animators work. This film is so much more than has been advertised so far. That said, Olaf is less annoying than I thought he’d be. His song, “In Summer” is pretty classically funny without relying on toddler humor. It reminded me of Josh Gad’s stellar performance in Book of Mormon. It is also refreshing to see Disney working with the guy that wrote the music for Book of Mormon and Avenue Q, unafraid to take risks and push boundaries. Now the marketing team just needs to catch up!
The only disappointments in the film for me were the unnecessary troll characters which were as annoying as I mistakenly thought Olaf would be. They served no real purpose and their song was unmemorable and pointless. However, in listening to outtakes on the Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack, we learn a bit more of the trolls role, which made me wish some of the eliminated songs were actually used. Oh well. The other sad thing was that the talented Jonathan Groff was only given one very short song in the film. I can understand why; the film is really female-focused with the sisters, their bond and how they grow and learn, but I do wish we heard more Jonathan.
All in all, I walked away from this film proud of Walt Disney Animation, amazed by Kristen Anderson Lopez, Robert Lopez and Christophe Beck’s work with the soundtrack, feeling like Princess Anna was my spirit animal, and ready for more Frozen. It is definitely a must-see and a must-see again and again. Disney’s Frozen opens tomorrow, 11/27 and is the perfect way to spend some time during the Thanksgiving holiday. The wonderful soundtrack is available now and I highly recommend investing in the Frozen Deluxe Edition for even more insight into the film-making process with the songwriters commentary before the outtakes and additional pieces of the score. Idina’s “Let it Go” has been on repeat for 24 hours straight here and I don’t see an end in sight. Frozen will melt your heart!
I’d love to hear your thoughts below when you’ve seen the film!