The Disney princesses get a self-esteem boost in Frozen, the latest Disney animated movie.  Of course, in addition to life lessons there are dangerous chases, handsome guys, a goofy supernatural sidekick, and lots of songs.
In the kingdom of Arendelle, young princesses Anna and Elsa are best friends -- and Elsa's ability to create ice and snow are a thrill to Anna.  But when Elsa accidentally hurts Anna while playing, the King and Queen panic: They tell Anna never to use her powers, have Elsa's memories of Anna's powers removed, and shut themselves off in the palace from the rest of the world.  Several years later (which include Disney's frequent "very mortal parents" motif), the girls are now young women, and Elsa (Idina Menzel) is about to be crowned queen of Arendelle.  Elsa (Kristen Bell) is thrilled that the palace will be opened, and she looks forward to meeting new people -- and falling in love.  Anna and Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) sing and dance together, quickly getting engaged.  But when Elsa disapproves of their quick engagement, her powers erupt: The people all think she's a monster, and she flees.  But her powers also plunge the whole kingdom into a terrible winter (in the middle of summer)

Anna leaves Hans in charge of the kingdom and heads out to find Elsa, bring her back, and have her stop the storm.  Along the way she meets up with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a mountain man and ice-salesman, and his reindeer Sven.  There's also Olaf (Josh Gad), a living snowman created by Elsa who's always happy -- and whose naive daydream is to experience heat and summer.  Meanwhile, Elsa has found peace in isolation, creating a magnificent ice castle and deciding to stay alone forever.  The Duke of Weselton (Alan Tudyk) wants to exploit Arendelle and have Elsa killed as a monster.  And the storm keeps getting worse and worse...

Frozen is a fun little movie.  The film goes beyond the "find a husband, live happily ever after" themes (at one point Kristoff can't believe Anna got engaged in less than a day -- something that could apply to many, many Disney movies) for messages of self-acceptance, not isolating oneself, and not hiding what one truly is.  (The parallels with being gay are not subtle.)  The musical numbers peak halfway through with the rousing ballad "Let It Go," but that song alone is worth the price of admission.  I enjoyed the voice talent, and while the movie was somewhat predictable (with one plot twist), the action was well done and the icy images were appropriately scary and beautiful, as the story required.  Frozen doesn't break new (frozen?) ground in animation, but I liked it.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: