Directed by: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Written by: Jennifer Lee

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana

Rating: [3.5/5]

No matter the deviations, the fluctuations, and moments of fresh air, Disney Princess movies for most of the company’s history have relied on the ultimate fantasy of victory coming in the arms of a strapping young prince. Something they have notably received plenty of criticism because of the pure stagnation of this element along with the idea of success for aspirational female characters coming in the form of just finding one’s prince. In their most noteworthy attempt, Frozen tries to truly break the mold and adding in a series of catchy songs, and you have a smash hit. 

In the kingdom of Arendelle, the sisters Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are thrust into leadership positions for the kingdom following the death of their parents. A scary prospect for Elsa as she continues to hide the fact of her ice powers, which she has grown fears would have her labeled as a monster. Conversely, Anna could not feel more different as she’s excited at the prospect of interacting with others and possibly finding love. 

The structure of Frozen can easily be broken down between Anna and Elsa and how their character arcs begin and eventually conclude. Anna follows the more conventional arc of what one would see in a typical Disney princess film. She has endless optimism about her future and what awaits her in the future. She knows how to sing and hopes to find a prince one day in order to complete what she sees as an aspirational life. Nothing inherently wrong with it but very much the common theme with other princesses. Then you have Elsa who does not fit this particular mold in the slightest. Saddled with the heavy burden of this ice power, she needs to be more reserved in order to conceal her true identity from others. Having no aspirations to find a prince or needing one to have the crown of her kingdom, she immediately becomes the more interesting character to follow throughout. 

Unsurprisingly, Elsa’s character progression and emotional arc is one that connected with individuals in the LGBTQ+ community, which only came to an explosion with the song “Let It Go.” One where the character speaks about not feeling like concealing her true identity certainly left reverberations across the spectrum of individuals finding a character representing the pain, anxiety, and then unrequited joy of letting it go as the title indicates. It further indicates the richness of this character and how many individuals can relate to and then further root for, especially when she gets portrayed as a villain by a set of ignorant people meant to be cordial to a Queen. Her position does not matter for these bigots to see her as a monster, which only indicates how much worse it can be for others not in a similar place of privilege and power. Elsa makes Frozen work as a whole, especially when the rest of the narrative leaves a bit to be desired when the filmmaking falls into more comfortable ground. 

One aspect ailing the film comes with the inclusion of Olaf. Yes, I understand why he exists in the context of the story and who this character seeks to entertain but when everything else in the narrative deals with fairly serious concepts and ideas, his inclusion does not necessarily bring the best type of comic relief. If anything, his presence raises questions about the true power Elsa contains as she seemingly creates life when Olaf appears. Something that does not truly get addressed throughout the feature but one that certainly differentiates her between someone with powers and potentially being a god. There’s quite the distinction there the film has no interest in looking into. 

It’s hard to reach the conclusion of this film and not be humming the many breakout songs. If anything, the musical tones have allowed the legacy of this film to continue where “Let it Go” does not get stuck in your head. Certainly helps that the song has a strong message written between the lines to go tag along with the catchiness of its tune. Another comes with “For the First Time in Forever” which more so lands in the type of song found in Disney Princess movies but nonetheless sets the parameters for the type of character Anna represents in this story and as a contrast for her sister as well. 

It’s hard to reach the conclusion of this film and not be humming the many breakout songs. If anything, the musical tones have allowed the legacy of this film to continue where “Let it Go” does not get stuck in your head. Certainly helps that the song has a strong message written between the lines to go tag along with the catchiness of its tune. Another comes with “For the First Time in Forever” which more so lands in the type of song found in Disney Princess movies but nonetheless sets the parameters for the type of character Anna represents in this story and as a contrast for her sister as well. 

From the gorgeous singing voice of Idina Menzel and the sprawling animation style, Frozen has maintained its legacy and while it does fall short compared to other Disney films released around it, the film certainly has proved to be the most successful and commercial. A strong message coursing through it and several funny moments allow this feature to be aspirational at its height and mildly entertaining even at its lowest points throughout the runtime.

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