Frozen (★★★½)

frozenThe most purely enjoyable Disney film I’ve seen in years, Frozen is a welcome throwback to some of their classic Princess films of yore. I literally left my screening last month humming a number of the tunes in this flick, and that rarely happens with animated movies anymore. Co-writers/co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee keep things moving briskly, filling the picture with memorably charming moments. The film has this sense of feeling like a classic Disney flick that you’re coming back to after not having seen it in a few years, and I mean that as a compliment. Top to bottom, it’s all great work, especially the voice work by Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Idina Menzel, who also sing some terrific tunes as well. Mixing female empowerment with show tunes, there’s really nothing not to like here. Not only just the odds on favorite for Best Animated Feature, I’d say that it’s got a great chance of taking Best Original Song too (for “Let It Go”). Frozen is a winner and one of the top 25 things I’ve seen all year. It’s easily the best animated film of 2013 too (I’d even say it’s my favorite piece of animation since Toy Story 3 was released. High praise, I know, but it’s well deserved, and then some. It’s something special.

Based loosely on the fairy tale The Snow Queen, the film centers on sisters Anna (voice of Bell) and Elsa (voice of Menzel), princesses who were close as little children but have drifted apart due to Elsa’s ice powers. When their parents die, they’re left alone in a sealed castle for years. Anna is an eternal optimist, longing for a life full of joy and others, while Elsa is withdrawn and fears how her powers would hurt the world. When the decision is made for the kingdom to open for a night, Anna is thrilled, while Elsa is more pensive. On that night, Anna meets Prince Hans (voice of Santino Fontana), while Elsa deals with the trade proposals of the creepy Duke of Weselton (voice of Alan Tudyk). After Elsa’s powers are revealed and she’s driven from the kingdom, turning things into eternal winter in the process, Anna heads off to find and save her sister. Along the way, she meets the gruff but sweet Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) as well as the happy go lucky snowman Olaf (voice of Gad). All manner of fun ensues, though there are some emotional high points as well. And the songs, oh my, the songs are just incredible.

Frozen-Official-Trailer-1The voice work is strong across the board, which helps to elevate this cartoon. The trio of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Idina Menzel especially are excellent, though that takes nothing away from Jonathan Groff, who’s real good too. Bell is very much your perky Disney princess, but with a modern touch that makes her extra special. Menzel has a bit more complex of a part, and he nails it too. Both of them do top notch singing too, sometimes even together. Josh Gad is comic relief, but he’s a complete scene stealer. His singing skills are solid of course too, but Book of Mormon fans already knew that. The aforementioned Groff is no slouch either, though he has less opportunities to show off in that regard. Both Santino Fontana and Alan Tudyk are solid as well, with able voice contributions coming from the likes of Eva Bella, Ciarán Hinds, Maia Mitchell, Livvy Stubenrauch, and a few others too. They each give it their all, but it comes back to Bell, Gad, and Menzel, who are complete winners through and through.

Filmmakers Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee know how to make a winning Disney flick, with the proof in the pudding here. They directed the flick as well as co-wrote it with Shane Morris (Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez handled the songs, brilliantly I might add), and it’s across the board excellent. They also have a great score from Christophe Beck, so that’s just another feather in their cap. Buck and Lee follow the Disney blueprint perfectly, leading to a brilliant sense of deja vu that doesn’t hurt the cartoon any and actually just elevates it. Honestly though, my favorite part of the film is the songs, led by “For the First Time in Forever”, which is the best Original Song I’ve heard all year. The Oscar frontrunner “Let It Go” is fantastic as well, while I adored “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “In Summer” too. The soundtrack is a must own folks. I guarantee you’ll be humming the songs like I did.

Frozen is almost a slam dunk Best Animated Feature winner, and I’d say the same about Best Original Song for “Let It Go” (though I wish they’d campaign “For the First Time in Forever” as well) too. I could even see Best Original Score happening for it, so the Oscar hopes for the picture are pretty solid. It’s completely worthy of those honors too, I can assure you of that.

I could go on and on all day about how great Frozen is, but I think the highest compliment that I can pay it is to say that I smiled the whole way through. At no point was I not completely delighted and engaged with this flick. I can’t recommend this one enough. It’s really a must see, so go see it! You’ll be so glad that you did.

You can read the Editor’s take on Frozen HERE.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!