For some reason, Disney has tried to disguise its princess fairy tale musicals in recent years. After ‘The Princess and the Frog‘ failed to match the success of the blockbuster princess flicks of the 1990s, it feels as if the studio execs must fear people knowing that they’ve made a musical (but not enough to actually stop making them). The trailers for ‘Tangled‘ focused on the male Flynn Rider character, showing less of Rapunzel’s mother/daughter story and none of the musical numbers. That ploy obviously worked, as ‘Tangled’ was much more successful than ‘The Princess and the Frog’. Now, Disney is taking that same route again with the ads for ‘Frozen’, which show no hint of musical numbers and highlight the two “pet” side characters over the central singing princesses. Luckily, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Much like ‘Tangled’, ‘Frozen’ is quite an entertaining and worthwhile holiday film for the family.
‘Frozen’ is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen’. The film opens with a musical number establishing the world in which it’s set. We quickly meet the princess sisters at a very young age. Older sister Elza (Idina Menzel) has inherited the unique ability to freeze things with her touch, but when she learns the potential danger that this can cause, she distances herself from her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell). Ten years or so later, their broken friendship will come to a freezing cold confrontation at Elza’s coronation celebration.
Of course, the movie also has a pair of male characters to keep the male audience interested. Anna meets and falls in love with a young prince from another kingdom, but then another worker boy from the woods of her own kingdom enters the picture. Both of these characters echo Flynn Rider from ‘Tangled’, not to mention James Mardsen’s parody of the Prince Charming stereotype in ‘Enchanted‘.
The first teaser trailer for ‘Frozen’ showed a reindeer and a snowman fighting for a carrot. I found the characters so annoying that I had no interest in seeing the movie. I worried that they’d fight more for screen time than just a carrot. Fortunately, that scene is nowhere to be found in the film itself, and the two characters are hardly given any focus. Instead, the reindeer is a lovable, dog-like best friend to the local boy, and the snowman is a hilarious creation of Elza. The snowman, Olaf, may not be playing with a full deck, which makes him (and especially one of his musical numbers) good fun.
Like almost all animated titles, ‘Frozen’ looks great in 3D. However, the animation quality doesn’t seem quite as detailed as Disney’s last few productions. I remember feeling something similar about ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, but was later surprised to find much more detail when viewing those in 2D, especially on Blu-ray. I suspect that may also be the case with ‘Frozen’, but I haven’t seen it in 2D yet. I’ll take the kids to see it over the holiday week, and will give my opinion on the 3D/2D comparison in the Comments section below.
There are more musical numbers featured in ‘Frozen’ than I’ve heard in a Disney musical in a long time. One could easily jump to the conclusion that ‘Frozen’ was written with a follow-up Broadway musical in mind. I never saw it coming, but Kristen Bell can actually hold her own opposite Idina Menzel. Much to my surprise, Bell sings quite a bit more than Menzel in the film and she’s fantastic.
‘Frozen’ is quite a family film treat for this long Thanksgiving weekend. It has a strong story, hilarious songs and likeable characters. The run-time glides right by. For the second year in a row, Disney’s big animated feature is actually better than Pixar’s.