I saw this movie two days ago, and I’ve had Elsa’s crowning song, “Let it Go,” stuck in my head ever since. Of course, this probably has something to do with buying the soundtrack as soon as I got home from the movie.
Needless to say, I liked it.
I was born and raised on Disney films, and I was always enamored of the “princess films” (though I had a lot of love for non-princess films like The Lion King). The princesses from my era were outspoken and often badass–Belle and Mulan in particular. I know a lot of people have a lot to say about the Disney princesses, much of it negative, but they always felt like positive role models to me. They made me feel like I could do anything or be anything, as long as I tried my hardest and refused to give up. (Although they also gave my unrealistic expectations about my ability to sing, care for plants, and befriend wild animals)
I think the recent pantheon of princesses is on the right track. Frozen slips well into the tone set up by The Frog Princess and Tangled, this time with two princesses in the mix. That’s right, two. For some reason, that idea just seems so ground-breaking to me. Two female characters? In a Disney movie?
It was nice. Refreshing, even. Frozen took a lot of Disney cliches—love-at-first-sight, evil queen, annoying sidekicks—and cast them in a new light. I was most surprised by how I didn’t hate the snowman sidekick. I was prepared to hate him completely, after the previews, but you just can’t hate a pathetically innocent snowman who longs to see summer.
This was also the first Disney film in awhile where I felt compelled to go buy the soundtrack. I liked the music in Frog Princess and Tangled, but not enough to need the soundtrack. Granted, as a Wicked fan, I’m sure it had a lot to do with the talents of Idina Menzel as Elsa.
The one issue I really had was that in the beginning, this movie reminded me a lot of Tangled. One of the early songs, “For the First Time in Forever,” reminded me a lot of Rapunzel’s shut-in lament, “When will my Life Begin.” There are a lot of thematic similarities, most notable how Anna has been completely cut off from society, and thus is a little naive (though not quite as naive as Rapunzel). Even the art style is nearly identical. Most of the similarities aren’t really a problem, since they’re shared with a lot of other princess movies, but coming so close on the heels of Tangled, it felt a little repetitive. True, there have been a few movies in between, but no princess movies.
That said, I loved having two princesses, and I loved how this movie dealt with both the romance, and the growth of Elsa’s character.
The only real disappointment I had with my film-going experience, was the short before the film. I love this trend of going back to short animations before the feature film, but after the amazing short “Paperman” that ran before Wreck-it Ralph, I was expecting something touching and entertaining, but instead we got an overly-long throwback to early Micky Mouse cartoons. It could have been nostalgic and fun, but it went on way too long, and had none of the emotional residence that we see with most Pixar and recent Disney shorts. Frozen more than made up for it, though, so no real harm done.
Also, don’t go in expecting Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.” Some elements of the original story are there, but for the most part Frozen is completely original.