This past Christmas, everywhere I went, I heard the same anthem over and over again. You might think I’m talking about the typical holiday phrases (“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”) but I’m not. In fact it had nothing to do with Christmas. Everywhere I went, people kept saying, “Forrest, you’ve got to go see this new Disney movie, Frozen! It’s amazing!”
For a while I rolled my eyes. With the release of some cinematic greats like American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks, Frozen was near the bottom of my list. However, one blustery winter day, my wonderful sister invited me to accompany her and my mother to a showing…
I’ve now watched Frozen 4 times.
At first, you might raise an eyebrow at my minor obsession with the new Disney classic but before you stick out your judgmental tongue, let me plead my case.
I’ll start with some aesthetics. I tip my cap to Casting Director for nailing the talent. If you haven’t heard Idina Menzel belt “Let it Go” you haven’t really started 2014 yet. Kristen Bell brings an adorable and truly believable performance as Princess Ana whose voice took me back to some of the classic Disney princesses. The unforgettable comedy of Josh Gad as the snowman had me laughing the fourth time through. He’s the quintessential voice actor. (Not to say his role in The Book of Mormon was anything less than amazing). Beyond the stars, I’m continually blown away by the detail in animation we’re able to attain these days. Next time you watch it, notice the snow and how “real” it looks - the way it falls and flurries when they walk. I uncover a new gem each time I watch it.
Now to the heart of why Frozen tops my favorite’s list this winter. First, I feel Disney poked fun at itself for their typical concept of “love” in a charming way. Watch any other princess movie and most likely, the main love interest will fall for his/her significant other upon first glance. It is destined to be and written in the stars! 15 minutes into Frozen you might think it falls into that category. But the creators wasted no time in drawing attention to Ana’s free fall into love. It was refreshing as an older audience member to chuckle at the fantastical idea of romance that pervades so many animated films. It was almost as if Disney was saying, “Yeah, we know…”
The other aspect I truly respected was the ending which totally caught me off guard. I won’t spoil the details here but they employed some wonderful storytelling techniques. They led me in the direction that most Disney features take, I was ready for the corny, mushing ending, but they flipped the tables at the last minute! I think it’s easy as a storyteller and audience member to get caught up in expectations. (There’s a whole blog to come about this) We see so many movies and hear so many stories that we forget that problem A doesn’t always have to be solved with solution A. There’s also B, C, D, and E. I hope my fellow filmmakers and writers don’t ever count out animated films as amateur or lesser. There are myriads of techniques, graphic weight and character development just as valuable as DiCaprio’s most recent attempt at an Oscar.
If you still want to point and finger and laugh at me, be my guest, be my guest, put my service to the test. Frozen re-introduced the magic of Disney to me and changed the way I approach future Disney animations for the better. Now, take all that pent up aggression towards me and in the words of Queen Elsa – Let it Go!