There is something about "Frozen" that will instantly capture you. Maybe its the music behind the classic Disney logo. Maybe its the beauty of the animation. Or maybe its the instant recognition that Disney has created another wonderful animated film. Much like with "Tangled," "Frozen" is a reinterpretation of the Snow Queen fairy tale, which features stories that will attract both adults and children in equal measure. In a year where the animation department has ranged from good to mediocre, "Frozen" is a film I feel I've been waiting all year to see.
When we think about the Snow Queen fairy tale, the Queen is usually evil. We generally take it as fact that the queens of most fairy tales are evil. However, the spin in "Frozen" is that the Snow Queen is good, just a bit misunderstood. I really enjoyed that about the movie. It begins to show children that villains can have shades of gray, and keeps up with the all the themes that Disney is known for. Why not create a couple minor changes? On ABC's "Once Upon A Time" Captain Hook is an antihero while Peter Pan is a huge jerk. If the context matches with the film, audiences will buy into it. It definitely seems audiences are buying into "Frozen," and this film is so good that's hard not to give into the hype.
Elsa (Idina Menzel) accidently freezes her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) while they are playing. Using the help of some trolls, Elsa and Anna's parents heal Anna and remove her memories of Elsa's magic, seems she has magical powers which grant her the abilities to freeze things and create snow. Elsa and Anna's parents are so afraid of what their oldest daughter can do, they lock their children in their castle. As Elsa and Anna get older, their parents eventually die, and Elsa decides to open the doors and hold a ball at their castle. A quick argument between the sisters ignite Elsa's powers once again, and she turns the entire kingdom into cold winter. Its up to Anna and friends to help her sister stop the constant winter.
What works for "Frozen" is that it feels like a classic Disney movie. Sure, the film may have top-of-the-line animation, which is beautiful to look at if I don't say so myself, but its full of classic bits. The film features catchy songs your children will sing for many months to come. The film is filled with instantly iconic characters who may soon become household favorites. But, as a surprise, "Frozen" has a sincere heart of gold at the center of its story, and never once does it feel forced or sappy. Everything comes very natural in "Frozen" its humorous but never hammy, its sad but not daytime soapy, it has a cliche "happily ever after" ending, but its well earned. Everything seems to come together in "Frozen" in a way that hasn't happened for the studio in a long time, and yes that even includes "Tangled."
I like the sudden norm where the man of the movie has a fun animal sidekick. Sven the reindeer belongs to Kristoff (Jonathon Groff) an ice trader who gets thrown into Anna's adventure. Sven is an awesome creation, and will lots of fun for the whole family. Likewise for Olaf, the living snowman who very badly wants to feel the warmth of summer. Olaf is given voice by Josh Gad, and I think Gad nails it. Olaf's song about summer is very loopy but so heartfelt at the same time that I find it hard not to like. In fact, all of the voice work is handled very well. This could be the film that brings Kristen Bell back into our good graces.
December is a time of year for families to spend an over abundance of time together. That's certainly not a bad thing, I love family time. "Frozen" is not only a perfect December family film, but it proves with "Tangled" and last years "Wreck-It Ralph" that Disney can accomplish magic without Pixar. Yes, "Frozen" feels like magic. Check it out, it will surprise you.
FINAL GRADE: A