Like so many others, I viewed Disney’s trailers for the new winter hit, Frozen, with considerable scepticism. What could the legendary company churn out for the Christmas film market, other than a festive cheese-fest?
I’m unashamed to say, Frozen is undoubtedly one of Disney’s best modern creations, destroying my preconceptions within a matter of minutes, and captivating the entire audience – no wonder showings on release day were sold out across the country.
Recalling the Disney Princess tradition, Frozen revolves around sisters, Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) and their separation caused by Elsa’s tendency to spout ice from her fingertips, as well as the accidental eternal winter Elsa creates as her secret curse is exposed to the entire kingdom of Arendelle. As Elsa flees to the top of a mountain following her refusal to bless Anna’s engagement, the latter embarks upon a quest to reverse the winter.
Disney’s first cinematic musical since 2010’s Tangled, Frozen certainly adheres to a new tradition that has seemingly been created. One for the feminists, Frozen strays from the traditional Disney true love ending, and instead focuses on the familial bonds of two estranged siblings. The main group of questing characters also mirrors the main group that featured in Tangled – Rapunzel has been replaced by Anna; Flynn is now an ice-selling loner raised by trolls, Kristoff; Maximus has become the reindeer Sven, who similarly acts like a silent-comic-pet; the chameleon Pascal is now a talking snowman known as Olaf. The combination of characters works well together, and the optimistic, naivety of Anna serves as an appropriate foil for the practical and grounded Christoff.
Frozen‘s humour lies largely within these characters – the slapstick is largely in Olaf’s fragility, as well as his unknowing eagerness to melt himself in the sun, yet also appears with the Christoff-Sven duo. The troll family is largely ignored within the film, which is a real shame. Although their musical number is a success, and funny at that, the trolls do not appear as frequently or prominently as they probably should. The film’s ability to parody itself, and apparently not take itself too seriously, also works incredibly well. Playing on the Disney engagement cliché, Anna’s engagement to the Prince is mimicked in the absurdity of their song, as well as incredulous responses by Christoff and Elsa.
The musical numbers of Frozen are arguably some of the funniest and most varied of all Disney musicals. From the Lilo and Stitch’s Hawaiian theme song meets Brother Bear’s mystical rhythm opening sequence, to the show-tune like solo of Olaf, as well as the heart breaking progression of Anna’s ‘Do You Want to Build A Snowman’, the music covers a large range of styles, which all work, surprisingly well, together. Although the different styles may appear unconventional, this gamble is saved by the humorous lyrics and catchiness of every single song. The background of the main voice actors certainly comes into play here – the theatrical influence is undeniable when dealing with so many Broadway stars. Jonathan Groff, Menzel, Bell and Josh Gad (Olaf) all let their vocals shine in their respective songs. Menzel, especially, steals the show with her performance of ‘Let It Go’. Her Wicked-esque belting out works perfectly with such an incredible animated sequence – the building of the ice castle really demonstrates the prowess of Disney animation, and results in, arguably, one of the most spectacular power ballads seen by any animated character, ever.
Frozen is definitely one of this winter’s must-see films. Although its viewers may be put off by the uncomplimentary trailers, this works in the film’s favour- it is able to captivate its audience with the surprise of its overwhelming strengths, as well as humour. This is also one of Disney’s films that is sure to appeal to a larger audience – it isn’t just a ‘kid’s film’, and you should definitely go see it.