Every once in a while, a movie experience occurs when you are transported away from everyday worries and for a few hours you don’t think at all about other things you could be doing. If it’s really magical you may even find yourself giddy and feeling like a little girl (or boy) – that was what I experienced when I saw Disney’s new animated musical masterpiece “Frozen.”
From the opening musical sequence until the end of the credits, which you should stay for, I was enthralled with this story of two sisters, the Princesses of Arendelle, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) who have grown up with a secret in their castle that has kept them separated since they were small girls. On Elsa’s coronation day the secret that has kept them apart is revealed – Elsa has an icy power that can freeze items and create ice. She flees the castle leaving eternal winter over Arendelle in her wake. Anna leaves the castle and kingdom in the hands of her new beau, Hans (Santino Fontana), and begins her adventure to track down her sister and unfreeze their land. On her way Anna meets a mountain man/ice salesman, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer, Sven, as well as a snowman from her childhood memories named Olaf (Josh Gad), and a group of matchmaking trolls. There are twists and turns, and I was completely captivated by the story for the entire journey.
What makes this movie stand above more recent ventures “Tangled” and “Princess and the Frog,” and also has had me drawing comparisons to my favorite Disney animated classic “Beauty and the Beast” is the combination of rich emotional storytelling, well developed and enthralling characters, stunningly beautiful animation, and Disney’s most enchanting songs and score since “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” With songs written by Tony Award winning composer Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and a cast filled with Broadway musical talents, you could transfer “Frozen” to a Broadway stage tomorrow with the cast intact. “Tangled” and “Princess and the Frog” had more of a contemporary and stylized feel to their music with a pop singer, Mandy Moore, even taking the lead of Rapunzel. They are both good films, but “Frozen’s” charming Anna (who I swear is related to “Enchanted’s” Giselle), classic Disney storytelling, and soaring theatrical songs conjured up feelings of a little girl seeing “The Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and the Beast” in the theater for the first time.
My one negative thing isn’t really a negative, but more a personal bias. I adore Idina Menzel and was lucky enough to see her onstage in Disney’s “Aida” as well as multiple times in her Tony Award winning performance as Elphaba in “Wicked.” The issue is that Idina’s voice is so distinct that it almost felt like I was watching Elsa being dubbed over with her voice because the character is so visually different from Idina. I also saw Idina saw perform “Let It Go” at D23 Expo this summer and the performance was unforgettable. That being said her vocals are flawless and you’ll never want to listen to the Demi Lovato version of “Letting Go” every again once you hear Idina sing it.
It’s been over a year since I have been this excited for others to see a film. Mostly I can’t wait to hear what all of my young nieces think of it. While I’m pretty sure they are going to love it as much as their Aunt Amy, I need to know whether Anna or Elsa is the preferred princess for Christmas presents.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a film as touching, funny, and charming as this holiday season so give into your inner kid and go meet Anna, Elsa, Olaf and the others. “Frozen” is a Disney animated masterpiece that will captivate children and the child in all of us for generations to come.
Disney’s “Frozen,” loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen,” arrives in theaters on November 27.