Reel Talk: Frozen

I had my reservations going in to see Disney’s new animated fairytale “Frozen.” I’d caught wind of the big concerns on the internet when its premise and design started to go public and was worried it would just be an attempt to recreate the profits from “Tangled.”

But, I was pleasantly suprised.

“Frozen” features some large-scale changes to the “Snow Queen” plot, so much so that I would call it inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson tale if anything. It’s not really similar enough to be considered a re-telling or even a re-imagining.

The story follows two sisters Anna and Elsa in the days following the latter’s coronation as queen of the fictionalized Nordic kingdom Arrendale. Elsa (voiced by Broadway veteran Idina Menzel) also has the ability to control and create ice, a power she has to keep hidden from her sister and the rest of the kingdom. The story kicks off when her attempts to do that backfire and she runs away, leaving the surrounding area cursed in an “eternal winter.” Anna (Kristen Bell) takes up the mission to find her and reverse that curse.

Anna is a goofy, unrefined heroine in a similar vein as the Rapunzel character in “Tangled.” She’s defined by her pretty desperate need for affection. She was starved of her sister’s attention growing up and it plays up a needy, yet still very endearing, quality in her.

While plenty on the internet were happy to see a female-powered Disney narrative hit theaters, most hit the internal panic button the moment sketches of a burly mountain man hero were released. The character, Kristoff, and his reindeer are really nothing to be concerned about and hardly keep the film from passing the Bechdel test (a feminist test of a media requiring two lady characters to speak to one another on screen about a subject other than a man).

I also think writers went in the right direction by keeping the reindeer (for the most part) voiceless. Sometimes too many talking animals or magical critters can be a bit much for me.

As the icy winter months take hold, I also find myself listening to the soundtrack constantly. The cast was well-stocked with Broadway voices and the songs have the perfect mix of humor and heart.  When I’m emotionally volatile and walking alone in the dark? “Let it Go,” the painfully perfect Idina Menzel power ballad is blasting. The opening track “Frozen Heart,” a Nordic working song for harvesting ice, is perfect for chipping the stubborn layers off my car windshield.

But, I have to say that the best part of the film and the best decision creators made was to make sure “Frozen” is not a capital-L love story. It’s a story about sisters, at its core, and about how that bond and that sort of sisterly love is just as mythic and worth telling stories about.