It seems like the majority of major studio animated films this year (with the exception of Pixar’s Monster’s University), and indeed, recent years have decided to cater to the low-brow mentality of animation being a children’s genre. I am happy to say that Disney’s newest animated musical, Frozen, plays out more like the Disney classics of the 90’s than an animated cash-grab for the holiday season. In Frozen, fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. This is all occurring under the shadow of Anna and Elsa’s estranged relationship, brought about by Elsa shutting herself away from Anna for fear of hurting her with her power, creating a sister-centric narrative that presents a twist from the more romance-driven narratives of many Disney princess films. Anna and Elsa are princesses with enough girl power moments to keep parents of young girls happy, and their relationship and personalities should be relatable to all young adults struggling to find their place in their families and the world.
Frozen continues the streak of an era of poignant, successful Disney animated films ushered in by The Princess and the Frog and continued by Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph, and improves upon it with a truly Broadway-worthy soundtrack (byKristen Anderson-Lopez and Tony® winner Robert Lopez of “The Book of Mormon” fame) with musical moments that put all but Tangled‘s “I See the Light” to shame. Frozen‘s music is what makes it feel more akin to a film like Beauty and the Beast, though anyone who grew up during the Disney Renaissance like I did would be hesitant to say that Frozen completely measures up to that greatness. However, Frozen’s stunning animation–from the ice effects to the textures of the clothing–create a beautiful world and appealing characters that define what a Disney animated film should look like.
Be sure to check out Frozen, out on November 27th!