Sign in to any social network over the past few months and you’re sure to find *someone* still talking about Frozen, posting a video of a girl singing “Let It Go”, or a clip of John Travolta messing up Adele Dazeem’s name. Ms. Dazeem, your voice is beautiful, I have no idea how he could’ve confused you with that Broadway alum.
I was painfully skeptical about Frozen, but everyone’s lathering fervor for this film was really getting to me. After seeing Tangled and Brave, I still wasn’t sure if Disney’s new-found love for CGI over traditional animation was signaling the death of the Disney I knew and loved or ushering in a new medium that actually worked. Tangled and Brave were pleasant, but really just okay. My heart still resides with the Disney Renaissance: Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Beauty & the Beast, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Something about those films will always stay with me, and I can watch them anytime and never be bored. Earlier favorites include Fantasia and 101 Dalmatians (not to be confused with the knockoff 111 Alsatians, and its villain Devilla Cruél).
I was pleased to find Frozen at Redbox only a day or so after it was released, which was somewhat baffling. I popped in the BluRay and anticipated plastic Barbie/Tinkerbell animations with a few musical numbers geared towards girls and felt like I was going to really have to pad this review with subtleties in order to say something other than “Eh, it was cute I guess, but I still hate their stupid doll faces and Disney sucks.”
And from the first few notes of the first booming musical number, reminding me a bit of “Look Down” from Les Miserables, I knew something was different. Disney was back to making musicals again. And I can tell you, from this point on, I was transfixed. The numbers were well-planned, clever, charming and full of personality, and most of all memorable. Arguably as memorable as the songs from The Lion King or Aladdin, which is a difficult comparison. “Let it Go” is as memorable as “A Whole New World,” as soaring and wonderfully performed. The CGI actually adds to the style, allowing amazing effects with snow and ice that twinkled with complexity. There was even a scene that referenced Fantasia’s pixies/fairies dancing on the water and freezing a crystallized pathway from the Nutcracker Suite. In true Disney fashion, there are tons of hidden references that will probably only be caught across multiple viewings.
The humor, the characters, the personality… It was all there. Those little things that made Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship adorable, the hilarious non-human sidekick that belongs in every film, and some self-referential Disney retrospection that really makes this film quite modern. The fact that Anna wants to blindly marry the first man she likes is a great play on Disney tradition, that happily-ever-after marry-a-prince mumbo jumbo that we were all expecting all gets turned around in the best ways possible. Disney has matured, come into reality, and is saying the right things again to young girls out there.
I downright loved it. I laughed the whole time, enjoyed the songs immensely, and appreciated all of the adventure and story developments that made it feel truly unique. So damn good. I can honestly say that it’s in my top 10 (Disney films). It may never beat the classics, but I do think that “Disney is back.” And what was Disney missing? Music. That’s their magic, right there. Of the classic Disney films that I love, they’re all musicals, at least to some extent. Disney makes the best musicals ever, and I think if Tangled or Brave had been musicals, they might have been so much better.
“Do you want to build a snowmyannnn…”