This is it! THIS IS IT! The last Disney Princess Movie! HA HA HA, no one can force me to watch a terrible punishment movie now because I am a WINNER!!!!!!
Unlike virtually everyone else on the planet, I’ve never actually seen Frozen before. Much to my amusement, I’ve heard wildly different reviews of the Disney juggernaut: the majority of my local friends found it hugely overrated, whereas a few of my less-local friends were ardent advocates of the film; one even made up this whole Frozen/Thor fusion musical called Thor: The Frozen World.
Going into this film, I figured I’d probably fall somewhere between these two extremes, and wouldn’t you know it?
Boom! Smack in the middle. I definitely enjoyed Frozen more than my local friends, but I probably won’t be feverishly brainstorming epic crossover musicals about it, either.
Always, always with the SPOILERS. Although to be fair, there actually are things to spoil in Frozen–or would be, if I wasn’t the last person in the galaxy to watch it.
Oh, I almost forgot: there are also SPOILERS for Enchanted, too. Sorry about that.
Elsa (Idina Menzel) has tried to repress her secret ice powers for years, but on the day of her coronation, they go haywire very, very publicly. She then runs away, unwittingly freezing the kingdom behind her. Her younger sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), goes to find her in hopes of mending their relationship and, also, thawing out the kingdom.
1. We should establish something very important right away: in this house, I am Elsa and Mekaela is Anna. This has absolutely nothing to do with our respective personalities (neither of us are really hyperactive enough to be Anna) or ages (which are actually reversed) and everything to do with the fact that I have Deadly Ice Hands that I’m happy to unleash at any given opportunity. During this movie, for instance, when I reached over and grabbed my unsuspecting sister’s arm with my ice cold fingers, yelling, “I AM ELSA!” while she cursed me and probably muttered about me needing to wear gloves for the 87th time.
2. But enough of that. Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
My biggest problem with the whole movie happens in the first ten minutes.
So, okay. Elsa and Anna are cute little kids playing around in the palace with Elsa’s snow powers, when oh noes! Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the head with ice! (It’s mostly Anna’s fault.) The King and Queen take them both to the trolls, who fortunately can heal Anna. Unfortunately, the ice has gone into her brain, or something, so the Wise Troll Dude (Ciarán Hinds) recommends that the magic be entirely removed from her head; this includes even memories of magic.
And . . . look, the rules of any magic system or spell in a story are technically arbitrary, like, the writer can ultimately make up whatever they want because, you know, none of it’s actually real; it’s not like they’re getting legitimate medical facts wrong, or whatever. But they do have to execute it convincingly enough that the reader or viewer is capable of suspending their disbelief. And while I generally think I’m pretty good at suspending disbelief–so long as the rules are given to me up front–this doesn’t work for me here at all. When the Wise Troll Dude says, “I recommend we remove all magic, even memories of magic, just to be safe,” my immediate reaction is, “Why? No, seriously, why? That totally sounds like bullshit.” I wanted to point to my screen and yell “plot device!” Which isn’t always a terrible thing, like, I can appreciate a good McGuffin now and again. But if the thing that rings my Bullshit Meter is what’s causing the source of serious emotional conflict between two characters? Nope. I’m out.
I probably could have forgiven the unnecessary memory erasure . . . but then the King says they’ll continue keeping Elsa’s powers hidden from everyone, including Anna, and I’m like “WHY? Will Anna’s brain damage come back if she finds out that Elsa can do magic?” Because if it doesn’t–and spoiler alert, it totally doesn’t–then there is no fucking reason to keep this a secret from her.
3. In fact, the King and Queen have what we in the fanfiction community like to call A+ parenting because oh my God they suck.
Look, I know parenting’s scary and challenging and if I ever become one I’m going to make a whole host of mistakes and yada this yada that, but come on now. The King and Queen decide that the words “you must learn to control it” and “fear will be your enemy” actually translates to “conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show.” If you don’t quite see the difference, let me demonstrate.
“You must learn to control it” and “fear will be your enemy” is basically a fancy way of saying “practice using your powers and maybe try to find some zen, because the more you freak out about them, the worse it’s going be.” By contrast, “conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show,” is a philosophy that I would better describe as “entirely repress all your negative emotions until they inevitably implode and then you fucking freeze a whole kingdom because humans aren’t robots and your emotions aren’t meant to be caged in like that you poor poor child.”
So yeah. The King and Queen pretty much toss Elsa into a room for, IDK, ten years, give her a pair of gloves, and remind her to not feel anything because then she might kill someone. (But, you know. They do it kindly.) Worse, they either actively encourage (or at least don’t discourage) her self-imposed isolation from her sister, Anna, and since they’ve already basically cut the two girls off from the entire kingdom, neither Elsa nor Anna get any real socialization of any kind.
I want to tell you all how shocked I am that this stellar approach doesn’t pan out, and also that I have zero sympathy for the King and Queen when they abruptly die on a sea voyage, possibly on their way to Rapunzel and Flynn’s wedding. Because seriously, they are the worst well-intentioned parents in a Disney movie ever; most fairy tale parents have to actively try to murder their kids to fuck them up this hard.
4. Maybe if the King and Queen didn’t suck so hard, Anna wouldn’t be so desperate for love and attention that she decided to marry the very first man who was nice to her.
Luckily, everyone else in the movie gives her grief about this, and by everyone, I mean Elsa (who won’t provide her blessing, like the responsible older sister she is) and Kristoff (who’s hilariously, perfectly flabbergasted by the whole idea). I really love that this movie makes so much fun of a trope that Disney is so well known for.
As far as Hans (Santino Fontana) goes, I actually didn’t suspect him to be a bad guy, at least not initially. Which I know means I’m horribly gullible, but to be fair, Disney Princes usually aren’t villains. I did briefly wonder about the guy after Anna left him in charge, mostly because my immediate reaction was like, “Good job, Anna! Hope this total stranger doesn’t takeover or entirely ruin your kingdom or anything . . . huh. Hey, what if this total stranger actually does takeover or entirely ruin the kingdom?” Hans being secretly evil certainly seemed plausible after Grown Up Kristoff came into the picture, because he was clearly Anna’s true love interest, and one of the easiest ways to resolve a love triangle is to make one of the suitors secretly evil. (It’s what I call the Agatha Christie Method.)
But then Hans specifically didn’t murder Elsa when he easily could have, so I thought maybe he was more like James Marsden’s Prince Charming in Enchanted, nice and overly earnest and clearly a second banana love interest. (You know, like most of James Marsden’s roles. Look, I know I’ve made that joke before, but it’s just like “Sean Bean always dies” jokes. When the opportunity arises, I just can’t let it pass me by.) Only then Hans is revealed as EVIL ALL ALONG, and I was like, well . . . fine then.
As a Disney Villain, I generally like Hans. He’s not my absolute favorite or anything, but he’s pretty original for Disney, and the moment where he pulls back from Anna and reveals his true nature is pretty damn cold. Pun surprisingly not intended.
5. About Anna’s actual love interest:
Cute little Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) grew up to be a loner and occasionally a bit of a jerk, but I still like him because he makes me laugh. I’m generally fond of grumpy people, being relatively grumpy myself, and I like his whole shtick of talking to himself through his reindeer. And of course the aforementioned mocking of Anna’s true love, which, I mean, Anna is cute and super feisty and all, but yeah, you wanna get married to a total stranger, you deserve a little mocking. (Gentle mocking, though. Total scorn will remain with the parents, who are still the most to blame for this.)
6. Frozen is definitely more of a romance than Brave (where Merida had no love interest of any kind), but what’s pretty cool about this movie is that it’s telling two love stories, and only one of them is romantic. The other love story, of course, is about siblings.
(Point of interest: the last Disney Princess who had a sister was Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and the only other movie to feature siblings–that aren’t evil step-siblings–is Brave.)
I may struggle with the beginning of this movie, but the ending–where Anna sacrifices herself for Elsa’s safety–pretty much brings everything together for me. As soon as I heard that only an act of true love could save Anna, I obviously knew Hans wouldn’t be providing it, and that was well before he was revealed to be a bad guy. There was always the chance it was Kristoff, of course (just like True Love’s Kiss had to be given by Patrick Dempsey in Enchanted), but I was pretty sure it’d be Elsa instead; I did not, however, consider the idea that Anna would be sacrificing herself for Elsa rather than the other way around. I think it actually works much, much better the way they did it, and it’s a lovely, emotional moment. For me, it brings the whole story together.
7. The primary complaint one of my friends had about this movie was the music; she felt the song lyrics were all incredibly predictable. It amused me because she’d always mention it anytime the movie came up, although I was pretty sure that particular flaw wouldn’t bother me at all, if I even noticed it, which I can’t say that I did. I will say, however, that while the songs were mostly okay, the music certainly wasn’t a highlight for me; overall, I found most of the soundtrack relatively forgettable.
But of course we must talk about THE SONG.
I don’t have any young relatives (or at least not ones that I see on a regular or even semi-regular basis), and I rarely listen to the radio (I get most of my new music from from TV, movies, or friends’ recommendations), so unlike most people in the universe, I’ve probably only heard “Let It Go” maybe two or three times, and honestly, I’ve never much cared for it. In scene and with context, however, I definitely warmed up to it: it’s kind of a fun, rebellious, “fuck off, world” song and a really good moment for Elsa, who I wish had more actual scenes in the movie, especially because this is the only moment in the whole film she gets to show any glimpse of a real personality outside “self-sacrificing” and “misunderstood.”
That being said, unlike other Disney songs like, say, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” or “Mother Knows Best,” I’d probably never voluntarily listen to “Let It Go” on its own or gleefully sing along with it, either. Because honestly, even though I know the context now, when I’m just listening to the song on its own? Yeah, I still don’t really like it.
8. About our Disney Sidekicks: I like Sven. I don’t have a whole lot to say about Sven, but I like him. And then there’s Olaf (Josh Gad).
Olaf is a bit on the obnoxious side for me. He isn’t awful, and–much like with Iago in Aladdin–I can see how he’d be a big hit with little kids, but as a 31-year-old woman watching childrens’ films, he’s not my favorite, probably because the ‘snowman who longs for summer’ bit gets old for me before he even finishes his first song. I think the only moment where I genuinely like Olaf is the scene where he and Anna think Kristoff is delusional; otherwise, meh.
But this guy?
Can I keep him? I want one immediately.
9. Finally, a handful of random notes:
9A. All right, fine. My Icy Hands of Doom aside, I’m probably the Anna to Mekaela’s Elsa.
This is a fair representation of our childhood.
9B. Also going back to the beginning, I forgot to mention a couple of things:
One: the very first thing the Wise Troll Dude says about Elsa is “born with the powers are cursed,” which is just categorically not true. Obviously, you’re only cursed if you never learn to control your powers and your parents shut you away for most of your life and then somehow apparently expect you to eventually lead a country, like, oh, okay, parents, that’s a solid plan.
Two: I just want you to know that if this hadn’t been a Disney movie, I would’ve been sure that the saws at the very beginning were foreshadowing some serious bloodshed and mayhem. Alas. Twas not to be.
9C. It’s not a huge problem, but I kind of thought that Frozen might have worked a bit better overall if the prologue had included a scene establishing a national prejudice against magic or something, mostly because the kingdom turns on Elsa far too quickly for my liking. I mean, once she’s frozen the whole kingdom, I get it, but here it felt more like one drop of ice from her fingers and everyone was all “BURN HER! SHE’S A WITCH!” Which seemed excessive. Plus, if there was a dangerous prejudice against magic, that would make me considerably more forgiving of how the parents acted. (Not 100% forgiveness, though. Because seriously: ZERO REASON TO KEEP IT A SECRET FROM ANNA.)
9D. It should also probably be pointed out that while the ending of this movie is lovely, it would never have actually happened because Anna, clothed in only a lovely green dress and matching cloak, would totally have died of hypothermia well before she met Kristoff, much less found Elsa. Like, she’s not even wearing gloves. Lady gonna be losing some fingers at the very least. Even if she had miraculously survived, though, Anna and Kristoff absolutely would have died after they fell off that one cliff; like falling onto a pillow, my ass. Meanwhile, Sven the Reindeer would’ve absolutely bit the big one after he fell into the icy lake or whatever, like that whole BS about how we’ve pulled him out of the freezing water, so he’s fine? Nope. Sven the Reindeer died of hypothermia too. Winter has come. The end is nigh. Hold your friends while you still have them and enjoy your upcoming future as a popsicle, because nothing ends warm and fuzzy here, folks.
9E. Hey, Alan Tudyk is in this, and he’s playing the shmucky bad guy from Weasel Town! (Excuse me, Weselton. Does this constitute Disney poking fun at its own less-than-subtle naming practices? Probably not.) Anyway, it’s always nice to hear you, Alan Tudyk!
9F. Finally, here’s another thing Anna and I have in common: neither of us wake up well in the morning.
I appreciated this. Also: Anna punching Prince Hans off the boat at the end of the movie. That worked for me, too. Good job, Anna!
(Olaf the Snowman has just been singing about what wonderful things will happen when summer hits.)
Kristoff: “I’m gonna tell him.”
Kristoff: “Hey, guys!”
Anna: “They’re rocks.”
Kristoff: “You guys are a sight for sore eyes.”
Olaf (quiet, to Anna): “He’s crazy.”
Kristoff: “Hey, whoa, I didn’t even recognize you. You’ve lost so much weight.”
Olaf (quiet, to Anna): “I’ll distract them while you run.”
Olaf (to rocks): “Hi, Sven’s family! It’s nice to meet you!”
Olaf (quiet, to Anna): “Because I love you, Anna, I insist you run.”
Olaf (to rocks): “I understand you’re love experts!”
Olaf (quiet, to Anna): “Why aren’t you running?”
Anna: “Elsa, it’s me, Anna, your sister who didn’t mean to make you freeze the summer!”
Kid: “Why do I have to wear this?”
Kid’s Mother: “Because the Queen has come of age! It’s Coronation Day!”
Kid: “That’s not my fault.”
Prince Hans: “I’d like to formally apologize for hitting the Princess of Arendelle with my horse. And for every moment after.”
Kristoff: “Now, that’s ice. I might cry.”
Anna: “I won’t judge.”
Kristoff: “It’s 20 feet of fresh powder down there. It will be like landing on a pillow, hopefully . . . okay, Anna. On three.”
Anna: “Tell me when. I’m ready to go–”
Anna: “I was BORN ready, yes–”
Kristoff: “Calm down.”
Kristoff: “What made the Queen go all ice crazy?”
Anna: “Oh, well, it was all my fault. I got engaged, but then she freaked out because I’d only just met him, you know, that day. She said she wouldn’t bless the marriage and–”
Kristoff: “Wait, you got engaged to someone you just met that day?”
Anna: “Yeah. Anyway I got mad, and so she got mad and then she tried to walk away and I grabbed her glove–”
Kristoff: “Hang on, you mean to tell me you got engaged to someone you just met that day?”
Anna: “Yes, pay attention. But the thing is, she wore the gloves all the time, so I just thought, maybe she has a thing about dirt–”
Kristoff: “Didn’t your parents ever warn you about strangers?”
Anna: “. . . yes, they did.”
(Anna, eyeing Kristoff, slides away from him.)
Anna: “But Hans is not a stranger.”
Kristoff: “Oh yeah? What’s his last name?”
Anna: “Of the Southern Isles.”
Kristoff: “What’s his favorite food?”
Kristoff: “What’s his best friend’s name?”
Anna: “Probably John.”
Kristoff: “Eye color?”
Anna: “But I want to help!”
Kristoff: “No! I don’t trust your judgment!”
Anna: “Excuse me?”
Kristoff: “Who marries a man they just met?”
Anna: “It’s true love!”
Anna: “I’ll replace your sled and everything in it. And I understand if you don’t want to help me anymore.”
Kristoff (to Sven): “Of course I don’t want to help her anymore. In fact, this whole thing has ruined me for ever helping anyone ever again.”
Kristoff (as Sven): “She’ll die on her own.”
Kristoff (to Sven): “I can live with that.”
Kristoff (as Sven): “But you won’t get your new sled if she’s dead.”
Kristoff (to Sven): “Sometimes I really don’t like you.”
Kristoff: “You want to talk about a problem? I sell ice for a living.”
Anna: “Ooh, that’s a rough business to be in right now. That is really. Ahem. That’s unfortunate.”
Anna: “I don’t even know what love is.”
Olaf: “That’s okay, I do. Love is . . . putting someone else’s needs before yours, like, you know, how Kristoff brought you back here to Hans and left you forever.”
Anna: “Kristoff loves me?”
Olaf: “Wow, you really don’t know anything about love, do you?”
Anna: “Olaf, you’re melting!”
Olaf: “Some people are worth melting for . . . just maybe not right this second.”
It’s a cute story, and I suspect I might like it more on a second viewing. I enjoy the banter back and forth between Anna and Kristoff, and I love the climactic scene with Anna and Elsa. But that beginning really does get on my damn nerves, and I do wish we got a few more scenes with Elsa. (Not that, apparently, she needed them, since from the way people talk about this movie, you might be forgiven for forgetting Anna’s even around. Still, it’s a balance thing for me.)
Kristen Bell. She manages the perfect balance between being cute, feisty, and a little bit clueless, making Anna charming rather than obnoxious. I’m not sure every actress could’ve pulled that.
Repressing your talents, your emotions, and your identity in general really never does you any good, kids. I know it all worked out eventually in this movie, but did there really need to be this much angst and (seemingly) eternal winter before that happened? I think not.