When one hears about a new Disney princess film, many happy memories come to mind as well as many questions. Will it be too heavy on the love story? Will the songs be any good? What more can be gleaned from a princess tale? Luckily for audiences Disney’s newest film Frozen manages a positive response to any and all questions and I’m happy to add my voice to the other cacophony of voices singing the praises for this wonderful movie.
Frozen begins with flashback to when Elsa and Anna were young girls. Elsa has the ability to create snow and ice and uses it to turn an entire hall into an ice skating rink and build a snowman her and Anna name Olaf. However, when an accident happens with Anna, she has to suppress her powers. We then move forward to today where Anna is now grown and looking for love and Elsa about to be coroneted the queen. This joyous event goes off without a hitch until Anna meets the love of her life Hans and wants to get married. One big confrontation later and Elsa’s powers get out of control, setting off an eternal winter in July and forcing the now named Snow Queen into hiding. Anna, who now is now old enough to understand what’s happening, joins together with mountain man Kristoff to help get Elsa back and end the eternal winter.
Disney has hit a more mature level in the last three princess movies they’ve released. Frozen sees the traditional narrative of a princess and her love trying to be together to that of love between sisters and the weight of responsibility. The dynamics between the characters was well-defined and it felt like they took some bigger risks with the story than previous Disney movies in that the main focus is centered on true love, but not how you’d think. The movie isn’t just tackling serious themes, as it is one of the funniest animated films I’ve seen in the past few years. The jokes of course highlight the absurdity but also allow us to care for the characters on a deeper level.
Led by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, who play the two sisters, the vocal work in Frozen is really solid. I was particularly impressed with Bell who I didn’t know had such a strong singing voice. Anyone familiar with Broadway will know that Menzel has the pipes for any song from her days in “Rent” and “Wicked,” and she nails the big song “Let It Go.” The star of Frozen might be Josh Gad as the snowman Olaf. As the element in the film mean to cater to the younger audience, Olaf steals every scene that he is in and Gad gets the funniest number in the whole movie.
Speaking of the songs, the ones in Frozen are among the most solid one could get in a musical. Written by Robert and Kristen Lopez, the tunes are a mix of big production numbers and more intimate numbers that move the story forward. The mark of any good musical score is if the songs have you humming them as well as lyrically engaging and this movie passes that test. The only missing piece from Frozen was a really good villain song but when you have tracks like “In Summer” and the reprise to “For the First Time in Forever” leading the way, we can forgive that slight.
Frozen opens in theaters on Wednesday, November 27.