Looking Back at 2010s Films: Frozen (2013)

25 Nov

By Tanner Smith

It’s the big one! “Frozen” became Disney’s most popular, most profitable, most phenomenal animated film since “The Lion King.” For the past six years, it’s been impossible to get away from it–with a ridiculous amount of merchandising in every retail store, theatrical re-releases with sing-along pop-up lyrics for the musical numbers, and of course…”Let It Go,” an inescapable song so overplayed that it even drives people who like the film crazy just from the first few opening notes alone!

Because of the insane amount of popularity “Frozen” has received, there came the inevitable backlash. Is it really that good? Does it deserve this much attention? And so on.

Personally, I don’t think any movie deserves THAT much attention–sometimes, a movie should just be a movie; other times, a movie should be more than a movie; the case for “Frozen” is that it’s even more than that, so of course it’s going to welcome a crazy amount of backlash. So, even with all of that in mind, what do I think of “Frozen”?

It’s very good. In fact, much of it is great. So let’s talk about it.

Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are two princesses who grow up separated from each other in their large castle, because Elsa has a magical ability that controls the cold and she almost killed Anna with it while they were playing together (and Anna’s memory of both that and Elsa’s power was wiped out). The two grow up as polar opposites–Elsa is an introvert after keeping her powers secret for so long, and Anna is a wild extrovert, ready to open herself to anyone who will give her attention. During Elsa’s coronation as queen, Elsa’s powers are accidentally revealed, causing her to run away and leave the kingdom in ice. Anna sets out after her so she can convince her to come back and fix everything, with help from an iceman named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Swen, and a magic, live snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad).

OK, what do I talk about first? Well, I guess I can start with what I haven’t mentioned yet: Anna’s fiance Hans (Santino Fontana). I don’t even think an hour has passed upon Anna and Hans meeting each other before deciding to marry–not too surprising for an animated fairy tale from Disney. What IS surprising and VERY refreshing is everyone’s reaction to it. Wouldn’t you know it, everyone is shocked and appalled that Anna would marry someone she just met! (Imagine that!) This is something Disney romances usually never touch upon, so that’s one of the things that make “Frozen” fresh and worth talking about.

And it actually follows through with a valuable life lesson about being careful who you trust. (I would issue a SPOILER ALERT here, but…eh, why bother? You’ve seen the movie, I bet.) Hans turns out to be the villain–a surprise villain in a Disney movie is not so surprising anymore. But here, it works, because Anna was so open to new ideas and possibilities, including agreeing to marry someone she met in a short amount of time. Put this much trust in somebody, and you’re asking for trouble. Especially for children who watch this movie, that’s a very good lesson.

But it’s not just a lesson for extreme extroverts. Elsa’s extreme introverted nature has consequences as well. Because she never socially interacted, she found herself truly alone with very little means of survival. Good lessons for both sides.

Neither of these two characters are annoyingly extreme, either. Anna is very funny and a lovable lead to follow, and Elsa is respectable and smart. And the side characters are fun too. Kristoff is a bright, resourceful, deadpan sidekick (who also sometimes talks for Swen–this Disney animal sidekick doesn’t talk, which is refreshing). And Olaf…yeah, a lot of people are annoyed by him too. Sometimes, he is a little aggravating, but I don’t mind him overall–for one thing, he’s quieter than most Disney comic reliefs; for another, he’s selfless; and last but not least, his song about waiting for summer (not knowing what the sun will do to a snowman like him) is still funny after all these years.

But that’s only from “Frozen.” For all I know, he’s gratingly obnoxious in “Frozen II,” which I haven’t seen (yet).

OK…let’s talk BRIEFLY about “Let It Go.” It’s a good song. It’s catchy, has a good melody, and is meaningful in terms of serving both the story and character…but WAY overplayed! But to be fair, there are worse songs that have become popular.

The animation is lovely and the visuals are gorgeous–not that I would expect anything less from Disney animation nowadays. The winter in this movie looks like the winter I wouldn’t mind living in. It’s beautiful.

So, yeah. “Frozen” is a very good movie. It’s not its fault people have overpraised, overhyped, and overbought every bit of it…OK, part of that is its fault, as Disney surely loves to manipulate its target audience. But you know what else is overdone in productivity? “A Christmas Story.” “Star Wars.” The Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s just part of the game, I suppose. I’ll watch “Frozen” again this Christmastime (it is a fitting Christmas movie) and enjoy it just as much as before.

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