Published Dec. 25, 2013 for the film review site I created, Crowd vs. Critic. Each film is reviewed twice, once from the Crowd perspective for its entertainment value (Popcorn Potential) and once from the Critic perspective for its Artistic Taste.
Blizzards, reindeer, and snowmen sound like classic elements for a Christmas movie. But princesses instead of Santa Clause, trolls instead of elves, and an ice castle instead of the North Pole? Frozen may not tell the traditional Christmas tale, but its chilly setting and charming story make it a festive holiday outing.
After her parents mysteriously sealed the palace gates and her older sister Elsa spurned her friendship, Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) wants nothing more than to see the doors flung open and for someone to fill her loneliness. However, when Elsa (Idina Menzel) accidentally turns her coronation into a snowstorm with secret magical powers, she runs away and leaves behind an eternal winter. Now Anna must search the snowy woods for her sister to bring back summer.
Although you can foresee the ending 20 minutes in, Anna’s sleigh ride journey is still worth the trip. Her sweet and spunky personality keeps the energy up, and her traveling companions provide good company, too—especially the scene-stealing snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad). Music brings the story to life, and few songs sound ready for pop radio. (Demi Lovato sings her own version of “Let It Go” on the soundtrack.) If it’s any indication of the movie’s likability, everyone from toddlers to grandkid-less seniors packed the theater three weeks after its release.
The story’s predictability detracts from its originality, but the enchanting tale will melt any viewer’s hesitation before the first hour ends. Even if it doesn’t include Santa or gifts under a tree, Frozen still deserves a spot in your seasonal lineup.
POPCORN POTENTIAL: 9/10
“Experience the greatest Disney animated event since The Lion King!”
Although one trailer for Frozen made the claim, don’t set your hopes that high. Instead, base your expectations on their next advertisement: “From the creators of Tangled.” Fans of Tangled and Enchanted will love Disney’s newest princess, even if her story overlaps quite a bit with Rapunzel’s and Giselle’s.
Frozen combines music and lots and lots of snow to tell a story of family, freedom from fear, and finding who you are. Although it chooses Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) for its main character, Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) has room for character development, too, which is a fresh change from the usual one-heroine narrative. Though some lyrics border on cheesy, Bell and Menzel prove their Broadway roots with their vocals, which combine beautifully in duets. The animation adds to the magic, too, with Elsa’s stunning ice creations.
Though the story stays entertaining, some of its character archetypes and plot points look all too familiar. We saw a socially isolated princess go on an adventure with an unrefined man in Tangled, and we saw another receive a proposal on first meeting in Enchanted. Some moments also feel rushed and the final conflict resolves quickly and inexplicably. One theme leaves a gaping hole, too. In one song, the characters sing, “People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed/Throw a little love their way…and you’ll bring out their best!” Disney has sung about the power of love many times, but it seems inconsistent to chalk up all bad behavior to fear and insecurity. Not all characters in this film fit this description or choose to change when shown love, either.
Frozen finishes as a solid effort, but a few more sparks of originality would have fought off this chilly flick’s bits of stiffness.
ARTISTIC TASTE: 7/10
Photo credits: movies.disney.com/Frozen