I was pretty slow to jump on the Frozen bandwagon; it’s very hard to persuade my wife to watch animated movies at the best of times (ironically, for all the effort it took to get her to watch it, she’s now watched it three times in the last fortnight). However, now that I’ve watched it, I can see what all the fuss was about; it is a very good addition to the Disney catalogue (and, along with Tangled, marks a definite return to form for Disney).
So, here are the five reasons that I feel Frozen is better than the average children’s film of similar type.
Clearly there are spoilers below; you have been warned.
1) Surprisingly adult storyline
Most of the big animation studios have realised that they need to make their films enjoyable for adults too. However, this generally involves taking a standard kids’ film and sticking in a bunch of references for the adults to get. This is not necessarily a bad thing (the Shrek franchise is particularly notable for this and is a great series of films… except, perhaps, the third one), but it’s nice to see a kids’ film that has a bit more substance at its core. Contrast, for example, Tangled and Frozen. A live action version of Tangled would still very much be a kids’ movie, as it’s a standard fairy tale (albeit well told); a live action version of Frozen could easily be aimed at an older audience with minimal adjustment (basically removing Olaf and ramping up the action sequences).
2) Subverted expectations
The film goes to great lengths to subvert the standard conventions. Everyone points out how ridiculous it is to marry someone you’ve just met; Elsa doesn’t get paired up neatly with anyone by the end, as would typically happen; even the act of true love turns out not to be a kiss. Kudos to Disney for doing this, given that almost their entire back catalogue is guilty of these conventions.
3) Gay Scandanavians
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Oaken points to his family in the sauna, which includes four kids and another man. I like the fact that the movie makes no big deal out of this… he’s gay, it’s perfectly normal, we move on.
4) The soundtrack
Yes, Let It Go is an awesome song; yes, I occasionally find myself humming it; yes, my wife made me download it and is probably going to put it on repeat for the entire duration of a four hour drive tomorrow. However, the rest of the songs deserve some credit too, for their catchy tunes and smart lyrics. In particular, I’d like to call out Do You Want to Build a Snowman, which finishes with Anna repeating the title line and leads you to think that Elsa is going to respond, “Yes, I do.” (the rhyming structure suggests it, the time signature allows it, there’s even a three note refrain exactly where you’d expect the words to be), but as part of the subverted expectations above, she remains silent.
5) Decent comic relief
The obliviously crazy sidekick role is a difficult one to balance; stupid enough to be funny, without crossing the line into stupid enough to be annoying. Olaf the Snowman manages to walk that line well, mainly because he’s so incredibly friendly that his stupidity is instantly forgivable. (In contrast, take a character like Donkey from Shrek; he has a lot of good lines and the film would be poorer without him, but he is still a really annoying character.)