The Barb had a birthday and the pickings were slim at the bargain theater—Walking With Dinosaurs wasn't lighting her candles, and I sure wasn't gonna push it—so we went and paid full price for Frozen, Disney's latest animated musical fairy-tale extravaganza.
Had you told me that Disney would, in 2014, make a movie of all white people, that wasn't just a movie with songs but outright musical-with-a-vengeance, and that it would have not one but two princesses, I would have had a hard time believing it.
But for whatever reason (John Lasseter?), Disney seems to have decided they'd rather make a good, fun movie, damn political correctness, and thus Frozen, which is even inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story (though apart from some names and the general premise of an ice-sorceress, one might be hard-pressed to detect the inspiration).
As a result, they do a damn good job.
It's got the Disney look (as it should) and it feels familiar but without feeling tired or reticent. It doesn't try to be hip, as it seemed like Tangled was trying to. The story is one of two sisters who are tight, with the younger one enamored of the older one's ice powers (and why wouldn't she be) until an accident nearly kills her.
The King and Queen decide the best approach is to make the little sister forget, and separate the two, and encourage the older sister to fight her powers.
Of course, as everyone but the King and Queen knows, fighting something is the absolute worst way to try to control it, and things go to Hell—the icy 9th circle, if you're into Dante, the 5th if you're into D&D—rather quickly (in movie time).
Well, look, they all live happily ever after. Can you imagine otherwise? The point isn't the destination, but the journey. And it's a good journey.
The music is unapologetic, as I said, if a little too modern for my taste. I can't remember any of it, except I guess the big ice number. Similarly with the dialog—it's a little too contemporary to my ear.
The characters are likable. The anthropomorphic/marketable cute animal is a charming moose. With two unmarried princesses, the movie has a chance to tease us with, well, more than one potential romantic outcome. The ending was refreshing.
The animation is wonderful, happily. The snow provides all sorts of interesting and vibrant scenery, and the attention to detail is there. There's one sequence of ice growing that looks fakey—but real ice can kinda look fakey, too, you know, when it's all perfect crystalline and light-reflection. (Hey, I'm an L.A. kid. I don't see much snow and ice.)
Elsa, the snow queen, has the sexiest sequence in a Disney movie (her "coming out" song) since Jasmine came on to Jaffar in Aladdin. Nothing lewd, just sort of a side-effect of not completely de-sexing her.
It's also interesting that the cast is not exactly jam-packed with A-List movie stars. Kristen Bell is Anna, the little sister. Alan Tudyk, doing a voice, is an officious duke, who fills in as the evil businessman (gotta have one). And Ciaran Hinds plays the leader of the trolls. But other than that, the names I recognized—Maurice LeMarche, Nick Jamison, Fred Tatasciore—are voice actors.
So, maybe there's a sea change going on. We can hope.
We all loved it. Great ending, as I mentioned. Pure Disney princess flick. Who'd've thunk?