When the first previews came out for Frozen, I confess: it didn’t impress me. It looked more like a silly Ice Age sort of movie, which may be funny in its own right but not on it’s way to being the next Disney epic. I blame the marketing for my lack of enthusiasm, however, because as so many know by now the content differs wildly from those original teasers.
Maybe it was smart to play with our expectations – I don’t know – but the film has obviously stuck in the hearts of a global culture as the highest grossing Disney animated film since The Lion King, with a sing-along version now in theaters complete with bouncing snowflake. We apparently can’t get enough of Olaf’s warm hugs.
Since the film opens with ice being cut over frigid waters, it occurred to me that just as water has three states – gas, solid, and liquid – there were at least three angles to examine the film from: where it’s a hilarious gas of a film, where the story is solid with foundational lessons, and where a few ideologies prove so fluid things might be troublesome for parents down the line.
The film is undeniably funny, from the awakening of Elsa by her overanxious sister Anna to the later debut of the obliviously charming Olaf. The whimsical snowman’s ode to summer was one of my highlights.
“Winter’s a good time to sit close and cuddle…
But put me in summer and I’ll be a– happy snowman!”
Disney put a LOT of thought into the appropriate amount of comic relief, and the animation and editing make the interaction with non-speaking characters like the reindeer Sven priceless. Facial expressions and character interactions are heartwarming. Sequences like Hans and Anna’s introduction (with the horse’s hoof precariously holding the boat in place) are staged and executed like old Chaplin films, with a Looney Tunes timing. Still, the style is undeniably Disney to the core. Comedically it’s a big win, and I’m sure numerous Olaf shorts are in the works… perhaps a Summer Special?
It also didn’t hurt that when we came out of the movie it had started snowing outside. What do you suppose my wife and I did the following day? You know what we built…
It’s easy to get lost in the silliness, like a whiteout in winter… or skate along the sumptuous scenery and character animations of Frozenand merely enjoy it as a purely visual experience, regardless of plot or narrative, plucky protagonist or heartbroken sisters. However, the film itself begins with long saws cutting down into the ice, exposing treacherous waters underneath, leveraging big chunks of frozen water to be used for helpful purposes. Since children of all ages are watching this (and particularly tween and teen girl), it’s a good idea to check out what’s under the frozen surface of Disney’s movie of the same name.
We’ll dedicate the next two posts to see if the message of the film truly melts – or impales – our hearts.