I went to see Frozen last night with a friend as equally obsessed with Disney as I am, and I must say I was surprised.
I’ve gotten into a habit lately of not watching trailers for films unless they’re presented to me preceding other films. It keeps the ignorance of the plot to a comfortable level. Going in to the movie, all I was aware of was the critical praise it’s received and the fact that Josh Gad voiced a talking snowman. I was slightly aware of the film’s Scandinavian setting and its billing as a “return-to-form” for Disney back to their fairy tale re-imagining musical films. Actually, now that I think about it, weren’t The Princess & the Frog and Tangled both billed as that same thing? It’s akin to all 4 of Britney Spears’ album’s since 2007 being billed as “comeback” albums. I digress.
What really caught me off guard about Frozen is how gut-bustingly hilarious it is. No exaggeration, there were moments in this film where my entire theater, toddler to geriatric, was in tears laughing. The comic pacing is wonderful and the dialogue is fine-tuned to a science. Josh Gad’s Olaf absolutely steals the show once he’s onscreen, and it’s magical in execution: the character is not obnoxious, he’s not urbanized, he’s not an absolute nut, and he’s not too cutesy to be off-putting — just a genuinely funny, charismatic, naive sidekick.
The songs are decent. Not exactly “Circle of Life” or “Be Our Guest”, but then what else ever will be? Christophe Beck does a decent job scoring the film and I’m excited to see what else he’s capable of in Disney’s hands. ”Let It Go”, in particular, is a showstopper, but Olaf’s “In Summer” takes the cake if for nothing else but its rampant dark humor.
That’s another thing. This script is wonderful if for no other reason than that it showcases the new generation of children’s film writers: cynical, internet-bred millennials with biting penchants for sarcasm and quick pacing. The characters are all well-developed, the relationships are believable, and the plot twist (yes, there’s a plot twist) is actually brilliant. It’s not exactly on par with Stephen Moffat, but for a Disney Movie it may as well be The Sixth Sense. No one, absolutely no one, in my theater saw it coming and a collective gasp sucked the air out of the room when it happened.
The animation is a little hit-and-miss. At times it’s vanilla and run of the mill, but during the song sequences and action scenes it’s possibly the best Disney’s ever produced.
On the whole, I understand why critics are raving about this. It’s a great film that everyone deserves to see. I would rank it above most of the Disney Renaissance as far as quality is concerned, but it’s really pretty damn hard to outdo Tangled. That being said, Frozen has reserved a place in my top 3 favorite Disney films if only based on heart and soul.