Last night I watched Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen, for the first time. I didn’t love it. Do you hate me now?
[Editor's Note: While this isn't a review of Frozen (we've got that here), I will be discussing some plot points. Spoiler warning, active!]
So, I didn’t see Frozen when it first came out. To be fair, it was winter in New York City and I did my best to not leave the house for anything, and Frozen wasn’t the only film or event I missed. But this was a tough one to have not seen considering my line of work and the hype surrounding the film.
Believe it or not, I was able to avoid all spoilers about Frozen. A Herculean feat, let me tell you. Not only did our readers have a lot to say in the comments of our review, we posted a new Frozen video or fan art several times a week. Why? Because people are gaga over the animated film. Frozen was everywhere, it was the best Disney film in years, etc., etc., etc.
That’s why I was supremely confused, and more than a little bit scared, after I watched it and wasn’t blown away. Was there something wrong with me?
The hype was a big problem to be sure. This past weekend I also took in another critically acclaimed film and after it was over I tweeted, “So American Hustle was nominated for an Oscar, huh?” Because well, it was good but it didn’t live up to the hype. The same goes for Frozen. I didn’t think it was bad, it just came nowhere near to what others had said about it. For months.
Before I get into what I didn’t like, let me mention a few things I did like. The look, the music, the focus on sisters, the main character saving herself, Prince Charming actually being Prince Asshole. All good stuff, but something was missing.
Namely, a fully-fleshed out story.
I don’t know if I’m becoming more jaded or critical as time goes on (that’s at least part of it) but I’ve been noticing a lot of films lately just meandering along. Not really concerned about a beginning, middle, and end, or at least what should happen in between all of those. I felt Frozen was truly lacking in the story department. We quickly skim over Elsa and Anna’s childhood to get to what seems like should have been the more important, main story, but it left a lot open to the imagination which could have easily been focused on for a while (Did Elsa really just sit in her room alone, day in, day out, for her entire childhood?). Everything else just felt like it was trying to get from Point A to Point B, then C without taking time to stop and smell the roses.
I didn’t like feeling like I was watching a stage production rather than an animated feature for the first half hour or so either. Which is convenient for Disney as they move forward. On a related note, I had a hard time believing Idina Menzel’s singing voice was coming from Elsa’s body but that’s just a nitpick coming from me being too familiar with the star. The film strayed pretty far from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, but I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised about that. Also, while amusing at times, Olaf could be digitally removed from the film and nothing would change.
For me, Frozen doesn’t come close to Disney’s previous animated sister story, Lilo & Stitch. While both touted a positive familial connection, Frozen didn’t really give us enough context for it in the story. Though I do agree with the praise it’s gotten for going that route at all.
So what’s it like to go “meh” over something everyone else has been spazzing out over? A little bit scary, a little bit troubling. It’s one thing when I find myself heavily criticizing the last few seasons of Doctor Who - not everyone agrees with me but there are enough other fans questioning it that I don’t feel crazy. But Frozen? Do I feel like the odd person out, or what? But it’s ok. Really! I don’t like a thing. It’s not the end of the world. I may still be questioning in my mind what everyone found so special about Frozen (that’s a rhetorical question) but I’m sure those folks are wondering how I didn’t find the film the most amazing, special, unique snowflake in the world. It’s ok. Let it go.