'Frozen' takes this Disney fan back in time December 7, 2013 • Patrick White
It may come as a shocker that I was not a big fan of “Tangled,” Disney’s last princess movie released in 2010. The music was contrived, the humor lacked the Disney flair and the moral messages were shoved down the audience’s throat with a whimsical, musical sledgehammer. When first seeing trailers for “Frozen” I was fearful that Disney Animation had a similar cinematic adventure on its hands.
I was turned off by the silliness of a talking snowman and mute, but expressive reindeer leading the film. I refused to watch another preview for “Frozen” based on my experience with Disney princesses lately. I must admit this was unusual for me considering I was a Disney fan since 1989 when Ariel and Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid” jammed to the classic musical hit, “Under the Sea.”
To my delight and former sense of whimsy, “Frozen” turned out to be the Disney animated film I didn’t know I wanted. This ’80s through ’90s Disney fan was once again entranced by the magical kingdom of colorful animated characters and wit of Disney’s writers.
“Frozen” begins with a wonderful choral opening that is reminiscent of “Circle of Life” from 1994’s “The Lion King.” The audience journeys through crystallized snowflakes and icy terrain down to a musical number featuring manly men breaking apart ice for the summer. I was immediately taken in with “Frozen Heart” as it reminded me of another manly Disney hit: “Gaston” from “Beauty and the Beast.”
The beauty of this picture doesn’t let up when the audience gets a background story of a family with two young daughters, one of whom has mystical powers. Everything works so well, because the producers, writers and director have constructed a animated film that is a hybrid of all the best parts of Disney’s former motion pictures. The opening is powerful and hooks an audience, the magical storytelling is engaging throughout the picture, the characters are relatable in a modern way, and the humor is increasingly hilarious.
The standout humorous moments come from the living snowman named Olaf, who is played by the surprisingly delightful Josh Gad, now best known for his role in the musical “The Book of Mormon.” Gad’s particular brand of humor and vocal performance makes Olaf into a living, breathing entertainer with his great solo song “In Summer.” Olaf no doubt steals the show in the same way Sebastian, Lumiere and Philoctetes did with their respective Disney films.
The humor of the film will no doubt enchant both adults and children alike, but what ultimately holds the animated feature together is the brilliant screenplay and direction by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. This duo has constructed an imaginative blend of everything that makes the Disney animation company so fascinating and successful. Disney might consider always putting a directing duo on their films, because two heads were no doubt better than one with this film that is every bit as good as the Disney princess films from the ’90s.