Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Annual Academy Awards
Nominated for Best Original Song(“Let It Go”)at the 86th Annual Academy Awards
Princesses, again? My two young sons didn’t want to go anywhere near this one based on the commercials alone. Which was a disappointment to me, because Daddy wanted to see it. If only for its Oscar qualification consideration, and nothing else. Oh, I’d much rather watch Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” when that’s released wide later this month, because I bet(based on what I’ve read)that it’s most likely the finest animated film of the year. But “Frozen” will probably garner that Oscar, so it became a must-see. So, that’s where I found myself, on a recent weekday afternoon while my kids were at school. Only two other people in that vast multiplex theater besides me(“Frozen” has been playing for over two months now), all of us with our 3D glasses in hand, but I can assure you that I was the only one not texting. And you know what? I’m okay with “Frozen”. It’s no “Toy Story 3”, but it’s pretty darn good. At the very least, it’s superior to 2012’s “Brave”, so we’re already pointed in the right direction, and ahead of the game come Academy Awards time. Plus, that Olaf the Snowman character is very funny.
Little princess Elsa(the delectable Broadway star, Idina Menzel)somehow has the power to create ice and snow, but she also has an issue controlling it. Then, when playing with her younger sister Anna(strong voice work from Kristen Bell)one day in their parents castle, Elsa knocks her cold(yes, I went there)with some wayward ice during their game. The bonk on the head nearly causes Anna’s demise, and only recovers upon the advice of the kingdom’s mystical trolls. A distraught Elsa, terrified by the thought of injuring Anna again, locks herself away in her room for the better part of a number of years. When the girls reach their teens, their parents are lost at sea during a storm, and soon it reaches the time for Elsa’s coronation to Queen. At the celebration, Anna is wooed by a handsome Duke(Alan Tudyk), and Elsa dons heavy gloves to avoid any “icy” happenings during the festivities. But when the overeager Duke proposes to Anna, and she hastily but excitedly accepts, Elsa’s emotions sends her powers haywire(due to her sister’s impertinence), and the entire kingdom learns of her “gift”. A panicked Elsa runs to the hills in shame, inadvertently plunging the surrounding lands into eternal winter. Anna’s pursuit of her beloved sister introduces us to a charming mountain man named Kristoff(Broadway-star Jonathan Groff), that lovable talking snowman dubbed Olaf(a hilarious Josh Gad), and a number of dangerous frozen obstacles. When all is said and done, will a kiss from a true love save the day? Does a snowman have snowballs?
“Frozen” is funny and charming and adventurous, with a simply understood plotline that never raises the bar, but also avoids getting sidetracked like the one in “Brave”. The voiceover work is all solid or better, and as mentioned Josh Gad is a riot as Olaf. It is glaringly obvious that it’s attempting to channel the style of a Broadway musical(and sure enough, I come across info that a stage version of “Frozen” is in the planning stages), and the songs, while far from Sondheim, are more than passable. The story is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, and its literary pedigree shows—which is a good thing. It’s still seems mostly lightweight, plus it is also princesses again, but the direction from Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee is better than adequate, and Ms. Lee’s screenplay is sharp throughout. The 3D effects are kind of awesome at times(I usually find that extra dimension enhances the cartoons), and the whole package has already grabbed almost a billion dollars for Disney—so the public is eating it up. Overall, I’m pleased that I got the chance to experience “Frozen” while it’s still in the theaters, and I won’t be too upset when it receives the Best Animated Feature Academy Award. There’s been much worse. Grade: B
next review up: “The Square”