It’s nice to see Disney go back to its roots. Sure, the Mouse House has all but abandoned traditional animation for their feature films, but the old formula still works. Take a classic tale, like “Beauty and the Beast,” or even a Hans Christian Anderson story like “The Little Mermaid,” throw in some musical numbers and voila! Instant Disney classic.
“Frozen” may not be a classic, but the film is certainly right up there.
Based on a (guess who!) story by Anderson, the film features Kristen Bell voicing Anna, a princess whose sister is hiding a terrible secret: she’s a witch and can do anything she wants with ice. When things go horribly wrong, Elsa flees into the mountains, leaving their kingdom stuck in a permanent winter. Per Disney formula, Anna is accompanied by Kristoff, a ne’er do well peasant with a likable animal, this time a reindeer.
At first, “Frozen” seems like its going through the motions, trying to be nothing more than a dry run for another Broadway Musical from Disney, a la “The Lion King.” The opening music even sounds like it’s from “The Lion King.” With the opening sequence’s choreographed moves and song, it seems like “Frozen” is going to be just another bland, corporate film designed to rake in the bucks.
Not only that, but it seems Anna is dead set on meeting a man at her sister’s coronation. It’s as if this film didn’t come from the same place that released “Brave,” which is all about female empowerment. If a guy can notice the message being sent, it has to be pretty blatant, right? But then, a funny thing happens.
“Frozen” gets good. Really good. Especially once Olaf, a living snowman voiced by Josh Gad, appears. Gad’s gleeful voice lends a breezy, light tone that the film sorely needs, in between the plots to kill Elsa, not to mention her exile. It may be the best vocal performance in a Disney film since Robin Williams in “Aladdin.” Gad really is that much fun.
It may lack the nostalgic fun of “Wreak-It-Ralph,” but the film treads in very similar territory to the superior “Tangled.” “Frozen” may follow the classic Disney animated formula to a T, but it does so without coming across as a tired, uninspired exercise in paint-by-numbers. The constant icy environment may be visually trying at times, but the film provides plenty of entertainment for the kids and even a little for the adults.
And, because plugging this on a review for a Disney film feels appropriate, be sure to check out/donate to the Kickstarer campaign to get my zombie novel "Dead New World" published. Thanks!