I saw Frozen for the first time last night. Jay knew I hadn’t seen it and since all our nieces and nephews want Elsa dolls for Christmas, it seemed the time was right. I generally enjoy animated movies (or cartoons as I will probably always call them) and Wreck-It Ralph is one of my recent favourites. Since Frozen is Disney’s follow up to Wreck-It Ralph (at least chronologically) I thought Frozen might be quite enjoyable. As it turned out, there was a little bit of truth to that but not as much as I would have hoped.
The problem for me was that Frozen is basically another princess movie geared toward selling new dolls and dresses and direct-to-video sequels. And clearly it has been a massive success on that front, but it struck me as a very hollow movie. I think there were a few good choices made in its creation, mainly that Elsa did not become the bad guy (which Jay tells me was originally going to happen until they realized they were going to have a huge hit in “Let it Go”) and that the guy with the reindeer did not really end up saving our two princesses.
I shouldn’t complain too much. I don’t want to be unfairly critical or hard on Frozen. After all, it is a cartoon and a princess movie at heart and on those levels I can understand why it is beloved by all my little relatives. It’s just a big step down from Wreck-It Ralph, which really lived up to Pixar’s legacy as a movie that was designed for people my age as much as it was for kids (see Up, Toy Story, the Incredibles, etc.). It’s a high standard and a tough mark to hit but there have been some great animated movies produced in the last ten years (some not even by Pixar) and I hope most people making movies, animated or otherwise, are aiming to match or beat what has come before. Frozen had a few moments where something new and exciting seemed like it might materialize but I think it just ended up being too easy for them to stick to the tried and true princess formula instead of really making something original and memorable.
Hopefully Big Hero 6 will be a stronger continuation of Pixar’s best efforts, or at least be more exciting. That’s probably a safe bet because it seems to be about robots and superheroes so there should be very few princess cliches involved. And for whatever reason, robot and superhero cliches do not bother me at all; I will happily watch the same basic plot over and over if Batman is involved, but if you put a singing princess (or two) in the starring role and tell a generic story then I’ll call your movie unoriginal. So don’t be surprised to see my Guardians of the Galaxy review assign a final score of 21 out of ten space guns (or something equally clever) but in the meantime I am not ashamed at all to give Frozen a rating of six talking snowmen out of ten.
(Check out the comments for Jay’s rant on Frozen’s supposed feminism.)