Thursday, February 06, 2014

FROZEN: My review

With the Winter Olympics getting underway, I thought today would be a good day to talk about FROZEN.

FROZEN is an example of how you can take a formula, but if you do it really really well, you can produce a terrific movie.

Think about it – FROZEN has all the elements of a successful Disney animated movie. Get out your checklist.

Mythical kingdom
Pretty princess who is funny, down to earth, and looking for love
Uplifting catchy songs
Goofy character for comic relief
Adorable forest critters
Sight gags
True love
At least one dead parent (this seems to be a Disney staple)
Evil bad guys
A happy ending

Plus the movie opens with a work sequence that might as well be the 7 Dwarfs in the diamond mine.  It's "Whistle While You Work" meets "the Volga Boatman."

They don't miss a trick. Uncle Walt would have been proud. And since he’s apparently frozen himself, the subject matter would really resonate.

But the creative team really pulled it off. A story that captures the imagination, the best songs in many a kingdom, and a cast with the likes of Idina Menzel who can sell the tunes like nobody's business.

Personally, I enjoyed the movie very much but was not swept away by it. I blame myself, not the film. Had I not seen 20 others ones that were similar, or had I been there with a child so I could share the wonder through her eyes, I might’ve had a different reaction. Still, I very much appreciated the film and marveled at its craft.

And full disclosure: Now that my kids have grown I tend to go to animated children’s movies at 10 p.m. when the children are all in bed. Who needs their caterwauling while I’m trying to find the inner child in myself?

Like practically every critic, I recommend seeing FROZEN. If you have kids they’ll be singing the songs. And once it comes out on Blu-Ray, parents of small children, you will be watching it on a continuous loop for a year. I’m just seeing it once. And tipping my mouse ears to the Disney animation unit. Hope you do as good a job with the Broadway version, ice show version, direct-to-video sequels, and ride.


Hamid said...

direct-to-video sequels

Thankfully, a few years ago Disney announced they wouldn't be doing any more direct-to-video sequels to their theatrical releases. Films like Bambi II, Cinderella II, The Lady & The Tramp II and The Lion King II cheapened the Disney brand and sullied the memory of the original films.

PatGLex said...

I did go to see FROZEN relatively soon after it came out. I enjoyed the movie, particularly the effects of turning the place into the ice kingdom -- that castle! -- but from the first song all I could think of is "This is the next Disney Broadway musical." So that's what lessened it for me. [Although I did like the ending -- no spoiler -- because it was not what I was expecting. Also, the last paragraph of the credits. If you didn't stay that long, go back just for that.]

princessapr said...

I completely agree. I liked it, but I wasn't seeing it again or go around professing my love for it. That said, I went with a 6-year-old girl who LOVED it. She's played the music into the ground, and she'll be getting the DVD. Seeing her enjoy it like no other movie yet does make it more enjoyable.

Scooter Schechtman said...

"a terrific movie"
"Uncle Walt would have been proud."
"Uplifting catchy songs"

Blurbs don't lie! Goin to the movies!

An (is my actual name) said...

I've seen it twice with my kids, and thankfully, enjoyed it. My only complaint is that the character of Elsa seems just a bit underdeveloped. Even one more scene might have helped. Other than that, it was a step above the more recent Disney fare I've been subjected to. Nice to hear from other grown-ups who appreciated it.

Cap'n Bob said...

I know--or at least assume--you were joking, but Uncle Walt is not frozen.

Howard Hoffman said...

He isn't?

In the early stages of CGI animation, it was easier to animate talking animals and monsters, but humans were always elusive. Even today, every other studio can't get past that computerized look, and they wholly rely on the mind-numbing zip-zip-zip technique to show speed...not to mention using all their technology on trying to make every scene "oh wow" for the 3D version.Disney got very close in TANGLED, but FROZEN completely nails it. Where the traditional work of LION KING and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST left off before CGI took over, FROZEN finally picked it up and took it to new heights. It's the perfectly crafted Disney film in the "new" format. I can't wait to see what's next from John Lasseter and his crew.

tb said...

I'm hearing that the Lego movie is also surprisingly good

WackyTim said...

Yep, felt like I was watching the birth of a new franchise. An amazing achievement!

cadavra said...

It felt to me like they just took TANGLED and doubled everything. Two beautiful princesses, two handsome heroes, two comic-relief animals (horse, reindeer), two gorgeous palaces, twice as many power ballads, ad infinitum. I enjoyed it, but it definitely had a been-there-done-that feel.

Ken, you said nothing about GET A HORSE, the wonderful Mickey Mouse short that precedes it and is alone worth the ticket price. Didn't you dig it?

Tony C. said...

Forgive me, but I'm shocked. I usually agree with your opinions on television/movies, but here I couldn't disagree more. I hated Frozen. I hated almost everything about it. The only thing I didn't hate was the snowman. Him and his song I liked. Everything else was torturous to sit through, in ways I can't even fully recount, as it's been months and I'd have to see it again just to freshly pick it apart. All I remember is just thinking how terribly fragmented and random it was, from the opening number which was like something out of Les Mis and completely disconnected from the rest of the story, to the moose character acting like--what was it? A Dog?--just because it was obligated to. Just because "Hey, the Horse worked in Tangled. Throw one of them in there." That was the whole move. "Hey, this worked in that, this worked in that. Throw one of them in there. Throw one in of that." It was awful. Just awful. The terrible antagonist, poking his head out of the crowd and practically screaming at the kids in the movie theatre "Hey! I'm the bad guy! I'm the bad guy! There's really no story-driven reason for me to be here! Just the necessity for conflict. Hence: here I am! Me! The sniveling, bald, annoying bad guy!" Fuck. What a horrible movie... If anyone want's a lesson on how to make a disney animated musical, do the following. Go buy the blu-ray version of The Little Mermaid. Put it in your player. Go to the bonus features section and click on the feature "Howard's Lecture." The Howard in mention is Howard Ashman, the man who forever changed Disney animated films by bringing to them his Broadway sensibilities (never mind him doing us all a favor by giving us this gift of Little Shop of Horrors). But more than that, the guy knew how to TELL A STORY. And how to use music to do it. All the makers of Frozen knew was how to use music.

404 said...

Tony, I think you and I might have gone to see different movies with the same name, because I absolutely loved it. I thought it one of the better films--overall--I've seen in years, and definitely Disney's best in a long time.

Is it formulaic? Sure. Name me a Disney flick that isn't. There's a formula for a reason--it works. And while we adults can groan about seeing it over and over again, you have to remember that the target audience is kids, and to a lot of them that formula still feels brand new.

So we'll have to disagree. But then again, I thought (and still think) that The Little Mermaid was an hour and a half of boring drivel with terrible music and a weak, spoiled, ineffective heroine who I desperately wanted to see get turned into one of those little sad plant-things by Ursula, so what do I know?

Tony C. said...

"But then again, I thought (and still think) that The Little Mermaid was an hour and a half of boring drivel with terrible music and a weak, spoiled, ineffective heroine who I desperately wanted to see get turned into one of those little sad plant-things by Ursula, so what do I know?"


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Very small data point: Walt Disney is not cryonically preserved. I refer you to the invaluable Snopes:

(And cryonically preserved is actually not "frozen", despite the temptations of Larry Niven's lovely word "corpsicles", but we'll leave that for another time.)


Mike said...

Thanks @Wendy M. Grossman for the Snopes reference. The earliest known printed version of the rumor appeared in the magazine Ici Paris in 1969. Quelle surprise. Vive la France.
It's a little known fact that, due to European Union import restrictions, every Disney cartoon shown in France has to be first remade with Asterix & Obelix.

Cap'n Bob said...

Thanks for confirming what I said earlier, Wendy.

XJill said...

My friend was an animator on "Frozen" and I went with a mutual friend and his 7 year old, we saw it at the El Capitan before it opened anywhere else. I had the lowest of expectations but ended up LOVING the movie. I've seen it sans kid two more times!

Roseann said...
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