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Review

Frozen: The Happiest Surprise of 2013


I was skeptical about Frozen. I think most people were. Disney didn’t market it much at all, which made me suspicious of secret suckitude. That weird quote about animating women didn’t help, nor did controversy over the visual similarity between Anna and Tangled‘s Rapunzel.

Then, a few weeks ago, something weird happened. I started seeing reviews about how great Frozen is. Not “better than you think it is” or “pretty good, considering.” Just great. And then Thanksgiving weekend hit. You know the film’s going to make bank, because it’s a kid’s movie on a holiday weekend. But it smashed Disney Animation’s opening weekend record, and the comments on that post were filled with you, our readers, saying how wonderful it is.

So I decided to see it. And I was not disappointed.

(This review is spoiler-free. There are vague references to plot events, but nothing specific. I welcome any and all spoilery discussion in the comments, so if you’ve not seen the film yet just don’t scroll down that far.)

Frozen is something new for Disney: A movie about sisterhood. (Well, newish. Let’s not forget Lilo & Stitch). The two main characters are Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), the former a delightfully weird princess (“We finish each other’s sandwiches!”), the latter a Queen who’s suffered isolation her whole life because it’s thought—first by her parents, then by her—that being around other people will make it impossible to control her icebending. Watching the trailer it’s easy to assume that Elsa is the villain of the story, a sorcerer-gone-bad who has to be convinced by her pure-hearted sister to return to the light side of the Force.

But that’s not how it is at all. Elsa is the protagonist of her own story, one in which well-meaning parents taught her to rein in emotion for her own good. Frozen got on my good side by doing several things I didn’t expect (there was a plot twist about three-quarters of the way through that made everyone in the theater gasp), and the way it portrays family is one of them: Elsa and Anna’s parents aren’t evil. They’re not the stepmother from Snow White. They genuinely think they’re doing what’s best for both their children, and yet they screw things up (forgive the pun) royally. It’s an unusual (but welcome) message to put in a Disney film: Sometimes your parents mean well, but each person has to take charge of their own life and decide what’s best for them. It’s similar to what we saw in Brave, but it takes it further. Merida eventually brings her parents around, but the legacy that Anna and Elsa’s parents leave in their daughters’ lives is physical and emotional isolation. For a Disney movie, it’s pretty dark.

The biggest moment when I thought Disney was going to go the generic “I’ve seen this a thousand times before (usually in Disney movies)” route was near the end of the film, and I don’t want to spoil what happens, but I will say this: Frozen is all about sisterhood. The relationship between Anna and Elsa is the most important one in the film. And yeah, there is a romance, but it’s almost an afterthought.

Honestly, my biggest problem with the film—and it’s more an annoyance than a major point of ARRRGH—is that the romance seemed really tacked on. There’s a point in the middle of the film where things kind of veer away from the sister plotline, and you have your Disney Romance Song and your Disney Cute Glances. And the whole time it felt like the movie had swerved off its path. I was counting down the minutes ’til we got back to Elsa.

It’s like we can have a movie about sisterhood, but there still has to be a romance. We can have a movie that does things we don’t expect a Disney movie to do (see: That plot twist. Damn.), but there still has to be cute talking sidekicks. Frozen is absolutely a step in the right direction, but I hope the studio will one day reach a point where they regularly make movies where the Princess doesn’t end up with her One True Love by the time the credits roll. Pixar is boss at it, and I know you can do it too, Disney. I’ve seen Mulan.

The lack of racial diversity was also a problem. I know Frozen is set in a fictional land based on Scandinavia, but darn, Disney, did you have to make everyone white? There were POC in Scandinavia in that time period, first off, and one of the female leads makes magic ice castles, so don’t give me that “But history! Realism!” excuse.

So I do have a few beefs with Frozen based on what it isn’t, but that’s because it was generally an excellent film and I feel like it deserved to be even more excellent. I wouldn’t be quite so adamant if it was, say, The Little Mermaid 3. Because that’s a bad movie (I assume), and while racial diversity  is a wonderful, essential (and underused) part of media, it doesn’t stop a story or dialogue from sucking. But Frozen is a good film, and diversity and/or a lack of “Protagonist finds the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with!!!!” would’ve given it that boost to “Frozen is a gift to humanity, let me snuggle it to my bosom and love it forever.”

But what we got was still great. It was funny, they did a really interesting thing with the villain (though this review is spoiler-free, if someone wants to talk about it in the comments I have feels), Alan Tudyk was there, and while the songs were the the most part unmemorable I think my playcount for “Let It Go” is in the double digits, and the movie only got out like 14 hours ago.

I even laughed my butt off at the stupid snowman.

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  • Philip Lopez

    I loved all the songs and IMMEDIATELY bought the soundtrack. “Let It Go” is probably the best Disney song in a decade, but “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” packs almost as much emotion in it as Up’s first 10 minutes. I even liked the snowman’s song in spite of how much I was ready to hate him going in.

    *spoilers follow*

    I was genuinely surprised at the villain reveal. While I didn’t expect Anna to end up with Hans, I didn’t really see his turn coming. Whether or not that’s due to excellent or poor writing, I haven’t quite decided.

    I LOVED the fact that they kept with the theme of sisterhood at the end and made that the impetus for the act of true love and not the obvious, cliche “true love’s kiss” it made me almost cheer in the theater. While I agree the romance felt a little tacked on, but it also felt more like a actual relationship forming. Especially when contrasted with Hans.

  • Anonymous

    Oooh! I want to hear villain feels!

    (As for me, I enjoyed Frozen a lot. I still like Tangled more, but that’s because I think it’s a little more streamlined. Frozen was great, but I thought there was maybe one or two many characters, one or two many songs, and the plots could have had more focus, in addition to your criticisms re: diversity. Still listening to the soundtrack over and over though.)

  • ampersands

    Spoilers:

    So, there’s a gifset going around on tumblr comparing that line “we finish each other’s sandwiches” and the earl of Weiseltown (?) doing the chicken dance with Arrested Development. I think they’re pretty explicit references, not just coincidences, and here’s why:

    It’s essentially the thematic content of the movie. They are in arrested development, arrested the day their parents die. Elsa is stuck as a teenager with burgeoning powers that frighten her—only controllable when she accepts herself and her sister’s love—and Anna is stuck as a child, innocent and naive and romantic.

    Now the story of a wealthy family (royal sisters) who lost everything (their parents) and the one son (sister) who had no choice but to keep them all together. This is arrested development (frozen).

    What a neat film.

  • Samuel

    *SPOILERS*
    Personally, I kept hoping they weren’t gonna have a Christoff/Anna romance at all, and if they threw one in, it would be Cristoff falling for Elsa (I thought that would be funny, he loves ice, she makes ice), and Anna would be cool with it (but tease Elsa “cause they only just met”) because her and Christoff are besties now because they’ve been through THE FIRE. Idunno, 2 cents, but yeah, I was really glad they cut out the “true love’s kiss” shit.

  • Sarah Asarnow

    1. I was chanting ‘Sister-love over dude-love!’ in my head for the second half of the movie, and then that’s what they actually DID. Hurray! SO MANY HURRAYS.

    2. I enjoyed the stupid snowman. A lot.

    3. I have Rapunzel songs stuck in my head. (Also: isolated princess comparisons, and there are a lot of comparisons to be made.)

    4. Villain feels! Tell them to me!

  • http://mangabotblog3000.popanime.net/ Brand

    I went in expecting to hate that snowman but every time he said “I like warm hugs.” I was like “awwww.”

  • Anonymous

    That’s brilliant.

  • http://www.spaceunicorn.net Jayme

    Wait, what? Alan Tudyk was there!? How did I miss that?

    I’ll admit, the whole time (after the act of love bit came up), I was hoping it would be the pure love she has for her sister, but dreading it would be the oft-abused fairytale notion of true love. I was so happy at the end that they did what they did that I was bawling in the theater. I mean, that movie made me cry so many times for so many reasons (Elsa, my soul sister *fistbump*), but… Damn.

    My 4 year old son wanted to see that movie, so we had Mommy-Son date day. I am so glad we went, even opening weekend.

  • Samuel

    I think one of the things that helped me like the snowman is because he wasn’t just a pointless comedy sidekick, Olaf was a vessel for Elsa’s love for her sister, a blast from their past made manifest to guide and care for Anna. Made more poignant because Anna doesn’t remember Olaf from their childhood, and Elsa didn’t even realize she’d made him subconsciously when she “let go” and used her powers.

    Olaf’s raison d’etre is to represent the love the sisters’ share.

  • http://www.spaceunicorn.net Jayme

    I was a bit ashamed the way I guffawed when Olaf sneezed off his head in the first trailer, but I’m glad he totally didn’t disappoint.

    And Kristoff/Sven? Love. My son probably didn’t understand why I kept laughing every time Kristoff spoke for Sven. Oh well.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I just assumed the crew was full of AD fans, but I like this explanation much better.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    Frozen is giving me to many feels right now. I still prefer Tangled, but Frozen is really, really good. I adored well — everyone. Elsa and Anna were the best, though. Their relationship was definitely the highlight of the film.

    The bit at the end with Hans came a little out of left field for me, though? I think I like my villains to have a smidge more foreshadowing. I thought he was bland and a little passive, so maybe I’m just not getting those cunning manipulative villain-y vibes from him.

    “Let It Go” is amazing and wonderful and just beautiful. I love, love, love the message of that song so very much, and Idina Menzel just slays it.

  • Anonymous

    I enjoyed that Disney/Fairy Tale cliches were made fun of and pointed out. Like the “love and first sight” and “true love” bit. Anna going on about Hans, and Chrisoff is all “but you just met”.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” gave me so many feels. Afterward, I was thinking that it was probably the most powerful use of montage I’d seen since Up.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    I never thought of Olaf quite that way, but I really like that interpretation. Olaf is love.

  • Anonymous

    Ooh, you’re geeking out about Frozen. I loved this film. I cannot stress this enough: It comes alarmingly close to matching the wavelength that is Beauty and the Beast. And it really shows how Disney has evolved the whole princess line-up. They finally have the stones to have a queen for a protagonist. Obviously they’ve learned from the mistakes of Brave, but I don’t know the true extent of their involvement with that. Unfortunate for parents and especially those poor saps that have more than one daughter.

    The only issue I have is with Elsa’s eventual induction into the Disney Princess line. She is a queen. Makes no sense

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Tudyk was the dude of Weaseltown–sorry, Weselton.

    I was SO SURE they’d go for True Love. In retrospect the characters were very specific about saying “an act of love,” and all the characters assumed it was true love’s kiss just like I did. Good to know Disney can still pleasantly surprise me.

  • Anonymous

    I think he was made to appear as the generic hero prince, it’s from left field because you don’t really expect Prince Charming to turn into a douche bag, ya know?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I can’t believe I missed out on the double-meaning of “Frozen”.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    She can tell the others what to do?

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Hans was the generic Disney dude. He’s Prince Charming! With the meet cute and the adorable duet and the “We’re in love and we’re getting married and *I don’t care what my family says!*” And then he turned out to be evil. It was a little subversion that I don’t think I’d love nearly so much if I were a member of Disney’s actual target audience, but seeing Frozen as an adult the wink-nod to the way the studio usually does things was most welcome.

  • Paige

    I could be wrong, but I swear I saw POCs in the background- mainly the ballroom scene. Not that it makes up for having none in speaking roles, certainly, however they did exist in the world.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    Yeah, you’re right. He definitely turned “generic hero” on his edge, but I think I would have liked it better if he and Anna realized they kind of …just weren’t suited to each other. Making him the bad guy tied up that loose end a little too neatly for my tastes.

  • gia manry

    Immediately after seeing Frozen: “Man, that was surprisingly good.”
    Following day: obsessive soundtrack-listening on Google Music
    The day after: giant pile of pink and blue fabric purchased

    Yeahhhh. It’s good. :) I didn’t mind the romance; my main complaint is actually the direction they took Hans (which I assume is the plot twist you mean)…I actually would have liked better if they hadn’t had any real mustache-twirlers (excluding the minor villain from “Weselton”); the greatest obstacles we face are the ones we place in our own paths, I think. On the other hand I’m greatly relieved that the movie didn’t go Anna/Kristoff and Elsa/Hans, at least.

    Which is my main disagreement with this review, you mention how nice it would be for Disney to end a princess movie without her meeting her true love? One princess did, one princess(/queen) didn’t…I think I’m okay with that balance. A little fluffy romance, especially of the more realistic/friendly variety, is still entertaining, after all.

    Nothing to disagree on with the racial diversity there, though. Every time Disney makes progress it’s like they have to go back to the basics for a few movies. :

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I just assumed Anna would fall for Kristoph, and Hans would be sad but then he’d see Elsa and there would be hearts in their eyes and they’d end up together. No one gets jilted and both the female leads get paired off. I didn’t want it to happen, but I was prepared for it. And then Frozen threw a complete curve-ball into the mix. LOVE.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    This movie was packed with little wonderful easter eggs. Did anyone else catch the woman on the swing in the room with all the paintings? It looked a little bit like that famous portrait the Rapunzel concept art was based on.

  • gia manry

    Aw, that would have been cute…though I totally ship Anna and Kristoff because they’re super adorbs.

    They tried to make Kristoff’s feelings for her kind of gradual but I think it was tough for them, because it still feels like his attachment to her was super quick.

  • Samuel

    I actually really liked him being the villain. Hans was merely a consummate actor. It was also refreshing for Disney, who so often broadcasts the message to little girls that they should be princesses waiting for their prince charming, to now, while also showing the message a) romantic love isn’t the be-all, end-all, they showed b) SOME DUDE YOU JUST MET WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY BE KINDA DANGEROUS TO YOU. Which I think is a very good cautionary tale in this day and age.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so glad I wasn’t the only person who caught those.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    It seemed like Disney actively making a reference to “You know that thing we do a lot? With princesses falling in love with the perfect guy who they’ll be with for the rest of their lives? Yeah, that’s stupid.” I have no idea whether it was intentional or not, but I love it all the same.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree that the romance plot was probably added to meet Mandatory Disney Standards (like the addition of “zany sidekick”), I thought it was handled nicely enough. And what’s more, I really appreciated that they didn’t have a romance plot for Elsa, nor did they make it weird that she never shows any interest in one. I can get behind a movie that says “romance for those who want it, but if that’s not your priority, that’s okay too.”

    And speaking of the “zany sidekick,” I think the thing that made Olaf tolerable (even charming) to us jaded adults is that his introduction was met with just the right dismay and disturbance as you might expect from a living snowman. instead of a high-energy, grating sugar-rush, he was well-meaning, generally low-key, and any cloying cuteness about him was undercut by a streak of dark humor/existential dread. It was an impressive balancing act on the part of the writers, and I applaud them for their brilliance in pulling it off.

  • http://www.spaceunicorn.net Jayme

    I forget that he’s good at voices. Now that I know who he was, I can clearly see it. I was also blown away that he was King Candy in Wreck-It Ralph.

  • http://www.spaceunicorn.net Jayme

    I was preparing for Elsa/Kristoff because Ice Salesman and Ice Powers. But the way he gradually falls for Anna was completely adorable.

  • gia manry

    To be fair, she WAS a princess, and the company of queens is pretty scarce. ;)

  • Anonymous

    That’s “The Swing,” one of the foremost examples of rococo-era painting. The funny part (for us art majors) is that rococo painting was focused entirely on being “pretty for the sake of being pretty” and intentionally having no deeper meaning whatsoever. In response to The Swing, enlightenment philosophers and artists soon rejected this “frivolous” style for work with deeper meanings.

    It wasn’t a coincidence that they chose that painting as a highlight for the song about the Disney-Style-Romance that the movie later rejects.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Me too! I’d never have recognized him as Tudyk, but a few scenes in I was like “Waaaait… IS THAT KING CANDY?!”

  • gia manry

    I’ve seen a few people say they don’t want to see Frozen because it’s supposed to be a “bad” adaptation, to which I respond, it’s not an adaptation at all, if you can just think of it as a completely separate movie (which it basically IS) you can sit back and enjoy it– or not, I’m sure there are people for whom Frozen is not their flick.

    But seriously, the only things Frozen has in common with The Snow Queen are 1) snow, 2) the word “troll.” That…is basically all of it. Even if it started as an adaptation, it clearly isn’t one now, it’s its own thing, which is entirely for the better I think. :)

  • Anonymous

    I will not beat anyone for liking a Disney movie therefore I want to be diplomatic… I’m just saying that: I love Andersen’s “Snow Queen” and if I wouldn’t know that wonderful fairytale that at it’s core is not about some chick princess finding her true love but about the eternal struggle between the cold reasoning mind and the emotional “heart”, maybe I could like this movie, too.

    But by throwing out essentially the entire plot and ALL of the fairytale’s characters this film is – for me – less acceptable than e. g. “Arielle” which – despite a heavily changed ending – is still recognizable as Andersen’s core story. That makes “Frozen”, absolutely unacceptable for me.

    For those like me for whom truthfullness to a literary source is of vital importance I recommend strongly the Russian animated movie from the 1950s that easily could compete with most of the Disney animated movies of that time:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050987/?ref_=fn_al_tt_8

  • Philip Lopez

    The creators have made a point to say that while “Snow Queen” was originally the inspiration, Frozen is not and is not trying to be an adaptation of that story. People avoiding this movie because it is not a direct adaptation of that story are REALLY missing out on one of the best movies of the year.

  • Philip Lopez

    yeah, it was me realizing the similarity between the duke and King Candy that made me do a double take.

  • Philip Lopez

    I was hoping it would end up being more of a friendship between Kristoff and Anna, but the way it resolved didn’t bother me too much.

  • Meg

    Yeah, there were lots of PoC background characters at the ball/party but absolutely none walking through the town–I guess it’s intended for them to be visiting dignitaries but other than that the background ensemble is white as snow.

  • Philip Lopez

    See I read her costume change as her becoming more comfortable. The coronation dress was tight and restrictive and her snow gown was loose and comfortable.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe, but I rather save my money for the second part of the “Hobbit”.

    Well, as far as I can see “Frozen” and the “Snow Queen” have nothing in common. Point is, I have been waiting for years of Disney adapting the original tale closely and therefore I AM disappointed because my expectations weren’t met. Not saying that anything is wrong with the movie, it’s my mindset which I can’t (and also don’t want to) overcome.

    I don’t know how it is in America but here in Germany (where I live) “The Snow Queen” is very well-known and beloved fairytale which is being shown every winter in countless theater plays, ballets and so on for the whole family. To do what Disney did feels – at least for me – a bit heretic. Maybe the feeling in other parts of the world where the fairytale is virtually unknown (or just one of many) is different? Who am I to judge? I just know that I want something else that what the new Disney movie offers me.

  • Ang

    My take on the dress was ever since she was a little girl, her life was about control, about suppression. Her wardrobe reflected this, she’s consistently covered from her neck to her toes, her hair is tight, even the way she walks is about poise and control. The lyrics of “Let it go” emphasize “Conceal, don’t feel.”

    Her embracing who she is is visually represented by not concealing her literal body any more. Think about growing up til you’re 18 and never once wearing something that makes you feel beautiful, or being able to experience the physical sensation of a breeze, or touching anything because your entire being is set on limiting yourself. Growing up in a strict manner myself, as soon as I got out of that situation, first thing I did was buy something that made me feel sexy and beautiful and free, and that was a very empowering experience.

  • gia manry

    There is nothing about The Snow Queen in Frozen, and basically no point in evaluating Frozen as an adaptation of The Snow Queen. It isn’t one in any practical way.

  • gia manry

    > Disney

    > adapting the original tale closely

    Honestly, that seems like setting oneself up for disappointment. Faithfulness to source material has never been one of Disney’s selling points. ^^

    I grew up hearing and reading Greek mythology instead of traditional fairy tales, I absolutely wanted to despise Disney’s Hercules (that’s the wrong villain! And the wrong origin story! And the wrong basically everything else!), but what can I do? It’s still a fun movie. I just think of it as its own story instead of an adaptation.

    To offer another way I can relate– I’ve spent my whole life waiting for Disney to do an adaptation of The Nutcracker in the vein of Sleeping Beauty (e.g. utilizing the gorgeous Tchaikovsky score with stunning, unique animation), and instead I get Mickey’s Nutcracker on Ice. It’s not what I wanted, but I’m not gonna miss out on a fun time over it. :)

  • http://www.anikaguldstrand.com Anika Guldstrand

    Yes I saw that coming too but was SO pleased when it wasn’t the case. Thank you Disney. So much.

  • Anonymous

    Word is, the POC in the ballroom was (or dressed like) Tiana (green dress) for an easter egg.

  • ampersands

    Also, I really disliked the title when I first saw the trailer, but after seeing and reflecting on the movie, it’s just a perfect title, reflecting the emotional/psychological maturity of both girls, and the state of their relationship.

  • Anonymous

    Concerning the villian (so, spoilers)
    As soon as Hans said he had 12 older brothers I knew something was up and then Anna leaves him charge, yep yep yep. Although Disney pulled that late enough that even I was having second doubts (and my entire theater gasped too XD )

  • Tricia Ennis

    #5. Yes. My favorite part of the movie.

    When they said “act of true love” I actually leaned over to my friend and said “if anyone other than Elsa has to save her, I will be extremely disappointed”. Of course, I was wrong, but having her save herself by sacrificing herself was so much better.

    God I love that movie, despite some of it’s unnecessary bits.

    Also, on your last comment, so much of Anna’s dialogue felt like Kristen Bell that I almost wonder if they wrote the movie after casting her, or changed anything once she was cast.

  • María

    When the first trailer was out I was all upset because it didn’t look like the tale at all, so I wasn’t very excited about it. Then I told myself it was so different that I could consider it an original Disney story. I watched the movie. I loved the movie. Give it a try :)

  • Anonymous

    I think part of it is indeed a cultural thing. America doesn’t -really- have it’s own fairy tales and mythology. Yes, there are Native American tales and tales about various Presidents, but it’s not the same. Our stuff seems so pedestrian when compared to Grimm and Andersons tales. That stuff is exotic when compared to Johnny Appleseed. I guess Poe is -sort of- the equivalent, but again not really. Many of the “Old World” Fairy Tales are known second hand, via Disney or that old Fairy Tale theater on HBO. or Showtime. So when a Disney movie comes out schools will then sometimes visit the source material.

  • Travis

    I completely agree. It’s really my biggest complaint about the film.

    The movie breaks so many other tropes, I don’t understand why they felt they needed to keep this particular one.

  • Travis

    Once it became clear that Anna/Christof was going to be the pair for the movie, I thought it was pretty obvious they were going to write in an excuse to dump the Prince.

    Personally, I was hoping that they would try the true-love-kiss thing and it just didn’t work because they weren’t really that in love.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    I didn’t know that! That’s a really awesome bit of information, so thanks for teaching me something new and cool.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    Twice. :)

    I now want Rapunzel to be bestest best buddies with Elsa and Anna. Hopefully fandom can get on that.

  • Anonymous

    Always glad to share what little art history I can remember. =}

  • http://whiterosebrian.tumblr.com/ White Rose Brian

    I thought this was a happy surprise too. I almost skipped on this movie after spending about seventy dollars for premium tickets for the second Hobbit for myself and my friend. However, upon seeing good reviews, I made an almost literally last-minute decision (there was a screening in less than an hour) to go by myself last Wednesday. As I usually do upon seeing movies, I blogged about it afterwards.

  • http://whiterosebrian.tumblr.com/ White Rose Brian

    I still wish Olaf had blown his own head off.

  • Travis

    I was hoping for that, but inverted. Anna and Hans stay together, but decide to take it slow. Meanwhile, Elsa decides she likes having her own ice palace and goes away for some alone time with Kristoff.

    Hmmm, just realized that in the movie, Anna eventually falls for an abrasive recluse with a thing for ice. That’s kinda twisted if you think too hard about it.

  • Anonymous

    One of my mentors for my animation classes animated the dancing scene where that dude with the toupee dances around Anna, and yes, he did reference Arrested development for the chicken dancing part.

  • Anonymous

    One of my mentors for my animation classes animated the dancing scene where that dude with the toupee dances around Anna, and yes, he did reference Arrested development for the chicken dancing part. Hes a cool dude

  • Melynda

    Since Disney seized up Merida as one of their princesses and Pixar is technically part of Disney, three of those five things were already covered in Brave.

  • Anonymous

    Mulan is in the Princess line. That makes no sense, either! Now, if they added San from Princess Mononoke, that’s be cool!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, they gave Hans Christen Andersen a writing credit, which does imply some degree of connection.

  • Anonymous

    BEST MOVIE EVER

  • Anonymous

    BEST MOVIE EVER

  • Anonymous

    BEST MOVIE EVER

  • Anonymous

    Interesting – I’ll think about going to see this film now. Nice to hear Disney are taking SOME risks in their storytelling if not a lot else (that art style; bleaugh). I wonder if it was a conscious marketing strategy to play down the film’s originality and freshness? After all, the primary demographic would likely have squeed their hearts out at the thought of another of a Tangled carbon copy.

    As a side note, it’s interesting how the roles of princesses and their love interests is changing in Disney films. In Tangled and Frozen the love interest is a non-prince.

    However, active, clever and spunky the heroines are, girls still need them to BE as well as DO. Men are freer than ever to be judged on what they do.

    (In The Princess and The Frog, of course, the man was royal and the girl not so at the beginning. But interestingly there was an outcry over Tiana not being a real ‘princess’ when the film was in development (though this was partly a racial thing – unfortunate implications of making the black princess a servant) and Disney adjusted matters. And the film had the word ‘princess’ right up there in the title.)

  • MissPennyLoafer

    So glad you enjoyed the movie, Rebecca! I think I have the same niggling problems with it that you do, but overall I thought it was great.

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Elsa. I’ve grown tired of the Cute Quirky Clumsy Girl trope, so Anna is not my girl. But Elsa! When was the last time you saw a leading lady like that in a movie? Especially a movie for kids! So many people can identify with her – quiet, anxious, serious. But although Elsa isolates herself from others, it isn’t because she’s cold-hearted (heh). She is distant BECAUSE she loves others. I’m so glad they didn’t turn her into a hard character who doesn’t care about people. She is not angry. She’s just trying to hold herself together. I think “Let It Go” is a new classic. I only wish they hadn’t made her break the 4th wall at the very end. That was a really bad directorial decision IMO. Somehow it was simultaneously too unexpected and too stereotypical.

    I have no problem with Elsa’s blue dress. She’s 21. The woman is allowed to show a little shoulder. Besides, Anna wears an off-the-shoulder dress in the coronation scenes and I haven’t heard a single person complain about that.

  • MissPennyLoafer

    Re: the Romantic Disney Song about 3/4 through the movie.
    Are you referring to the troll song? I thought that was the low point of the movie. I cringed and rolled my eyes all through it. A couple days ago I heard an interview with the writers & they said the troll stuff was the very last thing added to the movie. No wonder it feels forced & out of place. But I think mostly I cringed because it was putting the focus back on cheesy romantic love & the old-school Disney notion of marrying someone the same week you meet them. Now that I know how the movie ends, I’m hoping the song will appear more as a foil & distraction that makes the surprise ending so satisfying.

  • Garlador

    Yeah… we’ll see. I still can’t believe “Brave” won it. It wasn’t BAD, but it was one of the weaker animated movies of that year.

  • Anonymous

    It would be interesting if they’d adapt The Book of Esther, ala The Prince of Egypt (which was Dreamworks), You have a brave, intelligent Queen (who happens to be an orphan), a mustache-twirling villain, a loving father figure and absolutely NO ROMANCE! Also, it takes place in a royal palace in ancient Persia, and you can have a lot of fun with that visually (and there have never been any Persian–or Jewish–princesses in the Disney or animated pantheon)

    Of course, they’d probably screw it up somehow and maybe upset some religious groups (although it”d be hard to do since the story itself is much less overtly religious than Moses’s story), but could be great!

  • Anonymous

    When did Elsa break the 4th wall? I honestly don’t remember that.

    The slit bothered me more than the sleevelessness, but *shrugs*. The cold never bothered her anyway! ;)

  • Anonymous

    Mulan and Lilo and Stitch are my favorite Disney flicks and neither has princesses. Of course, in Mulan’s case, you wouldn’t guess that she’s actually a warrior based on all the “princess” marketing!

    The art style bugged me the most. So bland and CG. I LOVE traditional hand animation and I really hope Disney hasn’t abandoned it!

  • MissPennyLoafer

    When she says the final line of “Let It Go”, there’s a close-up of her Elsa’s face and she says the final line directly at the camera . I’m sure it doesn’t bother most people, but it hit a sour note with me.

  • Anonymous

    STILL upset that Wolf Children isn’t even in the running. I really want a non-Disney, non-American,perhaps traditionally animated movie to win again. Ernest & Celestine? The Wind Rises? Letter to Momo? Frozen was slightly above average imho, but it would be so boring if it won best animated feature just because it’s Disney and CG

  • Anonymous

    ooh, link to your blog post?

  • Anonymous

    I gotta listen to the song again now!

    I blame the fact that Olaf wasn’t annoying on Josh Gad’s amazing performance! I want to see more Broadway actors making a silver screen debuts. Perhaps an animated Wicked, complete with Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenowith reviving their roles? It’d be sooo good!

  • gia manry

    That WOULD be interesting. There are all kinds of films I think would be fascinating if we could throw Disney-level money at them XD

    But alas, I expect they’re trying to stick to fairly secular stuff, or stuff whose potential religious connotations are more or less obsolete (a la the Greek pantheon in Hercules).

  • Fidchel

    Okay, regarding the romance with Kristoff being tacked on, I would argue that it wasn’t. Specifically, it serves two very important functions within the story.

    First, it is our bait-and-switch for the final twist. Anna is out there on the ice, desperately looking for her man to save her with love’s first kiss while he charges through the storm on his steed…when bam, she decides to save her sister instead, in turn saving the day for everyone. Without that budding romance, there would be no tension, no reason for Anna to be out on that ice, and the weight of her sacrifice would be lessened.

    Second, it serves as a contrast to the original romance between Anna and Hans. If Disney is going to pull the rug out from under us and say “stupid romance is bad” then inserting “but a romance based on friendship and mutual understanding is good” is just fine by me. The message isn’t about rejecting romance, it’s about being smart with romance. And frankly all romances in movies seem rushed when you only have an hour and a half to make two people fall in love. And as others have pointed out, Elsa didn’t have a romance at all, so….yes, you don’t need romantic love, but if you want it (as Anna clearly does) then be smart about it. That’s the message I took away from Anna/Kristoff.

  • Anonymous

    Mulan is the strongest female lead in a Disney film ever. It’d be a crime to let her get lost in the Disney shuffle. I’d rather trim some of this princess fat. Some of these ladies have zero personality.

  • http://whiterosebrian.tumblr.com/ White Rose Brian
  • Keez

    “but it would be so boring if it won best animated feature just because it’s Disney and CG”

    With all due respect that argument is straw-man. It implies the film wouldn’t be considered for its amazing songs, story, film score, characters, or even its beautiful art direction and cinematography in CInemascope.

    On another note, since the Animated Feature Oscar category was instated in 2001, Walt Disney Animation Studios has never actually won it. Yes, Disney bought Pixar in 2006, but they are still completely separate entities within the company.

    I sounds like you have a bias for traditional animation and if so I whole-heartedly agree with you as I practice the trade myself and have come to terms with the fact that it is a dying art-form, but that doesn’t influence my opinion on whether or not this or any all CG film truly deserves the Oscar.

    ‘Wind Rises’ in an excellent piece of animation, and due to Miyazaki’s retirement, it may even score extra sympathy votes to win. But I still think Frozen deserves it for returning and capturing Disney’s long absent formula in addition to what I stated above.

  • Keez

    “but it would be so boring if it won best animated feature just because it’s Disney and CG”

    With all due respect that argument is straw-man. It implies the film wouldn’t be considered for its amazing songs, story, film score, characters, or even its beautiful art direction and cinematography in CInemascope.

    On another note, since the Animated Feature Oscar category was instated in 2001, Walt Disney Animation Studios has never actually won it. Yes, Disney bought Pixar in 2006, but they are still completely separate entities within the company.

    I sounds like you have a bias for traditional animation and if so I whole-heartedly agree with you as I practice the trade myself and have come to terms with the fact that it is a dying art-form, but that doesn’t influence my opinion on whether or not this or any all CG film truly deserves the Oscar.

    ‘Wind Rises’ in an excellent piece of animation, and due to Miyazaki’s retirement, it may even score extra sympathy votes to win. But I still think Frozen deserves it for returning and capturing Disney’s long absent formula in addition to what I stated above.

  • gia manry

    Well, it’s Disney; if the movie does well enough a TV show is entirely plausible. See also: Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lilo & Stitch, Hercules, Lion King, etc. Though I think the Lilo & Stitch one is the most recent such spinoff…

  • gia manry

    We have more than you may realize…Sleepy Hollow, to name one that’s getting a lot of attention now. The Wizard of Oz series by Frank Baum qualifies as an American set of fairy tales for sure, even if only the first book has really entered the collective consciousness. Rip Van Winkle originated in America, and Edgar Allen Poe was based out of Virginia, so all of his works are American as well. To name a few. :)

    Of course, we’re such a melting pot that we keep bringing in tales from everywhere else– Europe, sure, but also Asia, Africa, etc. So those stories are absolutely part of our collective heritage, too.

  • gia manry

    Think of it this way: they plugged in a song about pairing up the male and female leads.

    And the people singing it were…trolls.

    ;)

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    Well, yes. Of course they’re not well-suited to each other when one’s a villain who tries to kill everyone. All I was lamenting, and it’s a very minor lament, is that I wish they didn’t have to make him a villain to neutralize the “love triangle”.

    Sometimes, exes aren’t villains — they’re really just not meant to be with you. I would have liked to have seen Disney’s take on that particular message, that’s all.

  • Garlador

    Here’s the thing; almost everyone I spoke too EXPECTED Hans and Anna to kiss… and there to be no spark, because Kristoff was her “true love”. They never saw him outright becoming the villain coming.

    The thing is, part of the reason the twist worked, is Disney HAS done the “exes aren’t villains, neutralized love triangle” thing before (even in a film also with Idina Menzel). They did this very thing in the movie Enchanted. The handsome prince’s kisses didn’t save her, he didn’t become the villain, they parted on good terms, and he found someone else.

    I thought they were going to do that AGAIN… and they didn’t. I got caught by surprise.

  • Anonymous

    Sleepy Hollow’s never really not gotten attention- Disney has a famous version narrated by Bing Crosby, and the Tim Burton one from ’99. And look how different the TV show is from the short story, it just doesn’t hold the same cultural meaning for us as The Snow Queen might have in Germany. Rip Van Winkle, another one by Washington Irving btw, also has had several interpretations. I mentioned Poe, but like I said, it’s not really the same as the Old World tales.

  • http://ageekgirl.wordpress.com/ Anonymous

    I ended up seeing Frozen with my sister and niece and nephew last weekend. It wasn’t something that I was dying to see, but we needed a kid friendly movie for the afternoon. I was very pleasantly surprised by the movie. I had heard that Idina Menzel was voicing one of the characters, so I was expecting at least one good song performance. And as so many folks have pointed out, I do like all the ways that Disney ended up subverting their usual princess movie tropes. Self rescuing princess, yay!

    One of the things that struck me as Elsa was singing Let it Go was its thematic relationship to Elphaba’s Defying Gravity. My sister hasn’t seen Wicked, so I couldn’t talk with her about it, but I’ve shown the youtube video of Let it Go to my husband who has, and even though he got the summary of the plot set up for Frozen, he recognized the nods in the lyrics. I suspect that the lyricist for the movie knew going in that Idina Menzel was cast and that the themes she incorporated in the song were deliberate.

    Of course, as my husband was watching the video and Elsa was raising the ice palace, he blurted out “Fortress of Solitude!”

  • gia manry

    Never hurts to see it again- and done better, in my opinion. I enjoyed Brave but definitely not as much as Frozen…I’ve always had a hard time articulating why.

  • Chris Howard

    It’s a matter of opinion, of course….but, no.

  • http://writelarawrite.wordpress.com/ Lara

    The slit and sleeves didn’t bother me, but goodness, she certainly sauntered a lot after letting her hair down. Felt like some nod to a sexual awakening.
    But even that didn’t bother me. It just felt a little sexy for a “kids movie”—I can foresee little girls trying to emulate that swing of the hips while performing the song. I think girls already feel more connected to Anna, but want to be more like Elsa.

  • http://writelarawrite.wordpress.com/ Lara

    Firstly, yes.
    Secondly, yes.
    I don’t think it felt tacked on, because if it had much more prominence and development, it would have competed more with the main relationship in the story. I think it had just enough emphasis. Actually, it really could have done without the kiss at the end, so it could have been even more “tacked on” for me, if that makes sense.

  • Anonymous

    the trolls weren’t white so there was diversity.

  • Michael Overton

    Like pretty much everyone else here, I was caught by surprise by the “reveal”, interestingly, the friend I saw it with studied alot of writing and literature in college, and she saw it all coming a mile away! She said “That’s straight out of the Jane Austen playbook”.
    What struck me was the song Elsa sings as she’s trying to suppress her powers, being a boy it struck me that she was essentially singing about burying her very essence. When I raised that with my literary friend (see above) she responded with “Absolutely. She’s singing about what every girl gets taught, suppress your feelings, bury your personality, you only live for everyone else, not yourself, and not matter how much you’re getting hurt by those around you you’re only allowed to smile back and never say a thing.” I sensed a part of that, but nowhere near as strongly as she did.
    I think that’s what I love the most in retrospect about the movie: The girls in it essentially reject that message, and the movie portrays that as the right choice.

  • Miss Cephalopod

    Your racism argument is not very well thought out. No, the film is not “incredibly realistic and historically accurate”. You know why? Because they went through a lot of effort to make Christoph Sami in all but ethnicity. You know, indigenous people living in Scandinavia. Non-white people. Christoph wears Sami clothes, he has a Reindeer. Reindeer husbandry is protected by law in Norway and only allowed for people with Sami ancestry. The Sami have faced discrimination for pretty much their entire existence, they have been looked down upon and mistreated for their culture.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/56/Lapper_og_Reinsdyr.jpg/800px-Lapper_og_Reinsdyr.jpg

    I think it is completely valid to get upset about that culture, that culture that they have so often been told is something to be ashamed of, being handed to a white dude to give him a cool outfit and a funny pet.

    Also, people seem to deal just fine with talking snowmen and a Danish fairytale taking place somewhere in the Carribean sea. God forbid they have to imagine non-white people, that’s just TOO outlandish.

  • Unity

    “But by throwing out essentially the entire plot and ALL of the fairytale’s characters this film is – for me – less acceptable than e. g. “Arielle” which – despite a heavily changed ending – is still recognizable as Andersen’s core story. That makes “Frozen”, absolutely unacceptable for me.

    For those like me for whom truthfullness to a literary source is of vital importance…”

    “Maybe, but I rather save my money for the second part of the “Hobbit”.”

    The Desolation of Smaug has little to no relation to what happens in the novel of The Hobbit. Sense: you don’t make it.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I realized that when I finally saw it.

  • Melodia E. McIntyre

    But if he hadn’t been a villain – how would Ana have committed the sacrifice as an act of true love?

  • http://supercarrot.com/ supercarrot

    the consent thing STILL has me floored. i saw it only a few days after i read this amazing article: http://disruptingdinnerparties.com/2013/09/26/modeling-consent

  • http://supercarrot.com/ supercarrot

    but the kiss at the end was an excellent way to model consent. (in our current culture, boys feel uncomfortable asking consent, because they don’t really know how to, so they just go for it, leaving a bunch of girls with a potential “first kiss” she didn’t want. [myself included. :-( ] now with this out there, maybe there will be more boys who will look back at this and they will know how to ask consent. positive examples are better than people constantly saying “don’t do this, don’t do that” now that they see how it’s done, they can go forward and be true gentlemen.)

  • http://supercarrot.com/ supercarrot

    are you sure kristoff wasn’t at least part sami? (he has a wider nose than your typical white prince, and at least his eyes are brown. i was doing a little research, and it looks like it’s not impossible for partial sami to have blonde hair.) of course it’d be amazing and straightforward if he had brown hair, but even in that case, would it have been obvious that he was sami? (white folk look at light skin and think they’re looking at a white person all the time.) his wide nose leads me to believe he’s not entirely nordic.

    after all, the movie opens with a native song being sung by the ice harvesters. kristoff was right there observing them and learning. we’re not completely sure that he was an orphan at the beginning, the troll family adopted him without knowing his family situation. he learned more about harvesting ice, so it’s possible he lived only part time with the trolls, and part time with a native family. i’m not entirely convinced that he’s not at least part sami.

  • http://writelarawrite.wordpress.com/ Lara

    Very true! I was really happy that Kristoff asked permission. It’s a refreshing change from stolen kisses (like when the guy just grabs the girl and passionately smooches her), and demanded kisses (“Just kiss me!”). The former is played as the passionate but man-in-control option, and the second as the girl-is-tired-of-waiting-and/or-reluctantly-takes-control option. Sometimes those are subverted, of course, but it’s really nice getting that third option of a requested kiss. Especially for the sake of kids looking for romance advice in movies.
    “Clueless” defined my adolescent understanding of relationships. Made my teenage years interesting.

  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Agreed, agreed, agreed.

    Did I mention, “Thank you and I agree?”

  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    And the creature was just so damn sweet. I couldn’t help but like him. He wasn’t snarky or subversively mean. He was just plain sweet and made of love.

  • Anonymous

    I just liked it that it wasn’t treated as lifelong true love. The film ends with a happy family, a happy kingdom, and Anna having a boyfriend – that’s all. That seems a lot more fitting conclusion, given the amount of time the romance has to develop, than the True Love Happily Ever After conclusion of the other Disney princess films.

  • Anonymous

    While it does make sense, and I called it within two minutes of her meeting Kristof, I felt that I called Hans being evil because it was the only possible explanation of what was going on in the plot. I keep wondering how someone who is so evil can still be overly caring, adorable, and actually faun over Anna in the beginning. I went back and watched the film thrice just to be certain of this (and because I loved the movie). Hans DEFINITELY looks genuinely attracted to Anna, and it’s not “acting” because she can’t see him when he’s making those facial expressions.

    Like with Elsa giving off mild villain vibes at first (she was originally going to be an antagonist, but they changed that at some point), I get the feeling that Hans was supposed to be a genuinely love interest and was made evil “last minute,” with a new song tacked on to “foreshadow” it. While I wouldn’t call it bad writing, I do think it was a bit of a lazy change.

  • Anonymous

    I was more bothered by the fact that the dress exaggerated her waist more, and her waist is literally the width of her head, which is an almost impossible to meet standard of beauty.

  • Caravelle

    My favorite part about the “true love” reveal wasn’t so much that it was about sisterhood – I was actually expecting that Elsa would end up being the one saving Anna – but because it completely inverted how “true love saves” works in Disney films (and others). The message is usually that you’re saved by being loved. Hence why it usually involves a true love’s kiss. But here it’s loving another that saves you, which in a way is so much deeper.

    It also helps me rationalize other parts of the film to think this was the meaning of “an act of true love” all along. After all no kiss can rival Olaf actually dying for her, which he was fully willing to do and nearly did, and there is no doubt his love for her is true. I’d normally assume this is the usual “it doesn’t count because he’s a sidekick/not human/not The Designated Love Interest”, but I prefer to see it as foreshadowing of the fact the true love of somebody else was never going to save her in the first place, it needed to be an act of true love by her. (it also makes mechanistic sense, I mean, it’s love that you yourself feel that will melt your heart, not something external).

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I were just talking about this as we left the theatre (hey, it opened here today). There’s actually a pretty good argument for saying Hans was justified, at least in his own mind, in what he was doing. It would have been consistent with what he was doing earlier, handing out supplies and trying to help alleviate the suffering. He could have become increasingly convinced that Elsa’s death was a horrible necessity, especially with older and more experienced people around him agitating for it, maybe playing on his insecurity as the youngest in his family. His caving to social pressure would have been a good complement to the movie’s message about conformity, too. He was a character with so much potential, turned into yet another stereotypical Disney villain.

  • Mara

    “Some people are worth melting for.”

    THE FEELS.

  • Alyson L

    Thank you. Olaf was my son’s favorite part of the movie. To him Frozen is actually the snowman movie.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, entirely, re: Olaf. I expected to /loathe/ him based on the trailers, but the dark humor balancing act with “D’awww” was… pretty spectacular.

    I also appreciated the fact that he behaved in a culturally “gay-coded” manner, but as Disney sidekick living snowmen don’t have sexual orientations, I saw it as normalizing his personality/behavior rather than contributing to the stereotype.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, entirely, re: Olaf. I expected to /loathe/ him based on the trailers, but the dark humor balancing act with “D’awww” was… pretty spectacular.

    I also appreciated the fact that he behaved in a culturally “gay-coded” manner, but as Disney sidekick living snowmen don’t have sexual orientations, I saw it as normalizing his personality/behavior rather than contributing to the stereotype.

  • Sanjay Merchant

    First of Spoilers!

    I know I’m massively late to the party here, but I just wanted to chip in my two cents: I thought that the trolls’ shipping song was actually kind of on point. It lays out (very, very heavy handedly) the Anna/Kristoff thing, so that you’re expecting SOME kind of twist to break up the Anna/Hans thing. Then that shoe drops and they’re free to properly surprise you with the REAL twist (ie sisterly, not romantic, love saves the day).

    Anyway, that’s my two cents on why the movie suddenly goes in that direction.

    Also, for my money, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and the working song from the very beginning are better than “Let It Go”. (Granted Menzel’s PERFORMANCE of “Let It Go” is fantastic, but as a former musician, that’s the kind of hair I like to split. :-) )

  • Anthony John Woo

    I think the relevant line from Fixer Upper (the troll song) is: “People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed.”
    Of course, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack non-stop for three months now, so I’ve pretty much got the whole thing memorized. I think there’s a sing-along showing in my area that I should buy tickets for. ^_^