Sunday, December 29, 2013


I enjoyed Frozen a whole heckuva lot.

Brandon wrote: "True princess love, set to song and not even slightly out of step with every other movie of its ilk, trumps all and sends its tumbling back into the closet."

And this is precisely where he's wrong. Not only is Frozen "out of step with every other movie of its ilk," it does them one better. It is refreshing to see a children's film that feature not "strong girls" but "mostly real girls." We get a powerful girl learning to harness her powers through opening herself to others and we get a young pixie girl maturing into a fixer-upper. The film examines how previous "princess films" have revolved around prince-princess romance. Here, when the prince tropes show up, they are subverted. When the pauper tropes show up, they are lovingly played with. The central emotional drama is between two sisters. The way that this is played out is superb. The "true princess love" on display is "out of step" with all previous Disney "princess" movies. In a similar way that Brave explored mother/daughter dynamics, Frozen takes a look at sister/sister dynamics. It is quite nice that Disney, under Lasseter's oversight, is making films in a feminine key.


I thought that Olaf the snowman was funny. Which was as much of a surprise to me as to anyone else. I always hate Disney "animal friends."

The musical numbers added an element of glorified speech, a heightened realism allowed by movie magic. The montages possible through many of the musical acts communicated quickly and efficiently attitudes and shifting feelings and the passage of time. And the Olaf summertime song was funny.

I thought that the animation was consistently lovely throughout.

Finally, I admit that I'm totally biased toward enjoying a movie when my lovely daughters are giggling all around me.

I do have criticisms of the film.

First, you're right that the songs aren't all that great.

Second, there is a whole lot of shorthand that's built up in those musical montage scenes. I wrote above that they are effective. I think that they are. I also think that they're a bit of a cheat.

Third, related to first and second, I think that the whole "conceal/don't feel" aspect was way too heavy-handed and the parents are portrayed as real idiots (and the troll king doesn't come out looking so wise either). Related to that, the "coming out of the closet" moment in which Elsa embraces her "repressed identity" is stupidly over-the-top. That sequence itself wouldn't have been that bad on its own considering how it is offset later by the need for the loving community of her family (her sister) but it's disturbing that it's chosen to play again over the ending credits as if the message of that song is the central message of the film.

So, Frozen is flawed. So what? I had a great time watching it and think that it might just be the best "Disney Princess" film so far. Brave (Pixar is basically Disney at this point) is the better film in terms of its craft and sustained narrative, but Frozen wins a whole ton of points for some of its final moments. These two movies together are the best two films that Disney has given to young girls. They both beat the hell out of the abomination that is The Little Mermaid.

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