If you’re upset by the approach of spring and seeing the snowman in your front yard evaporate into nothingness, fret not. The movie “Frozen” teaches us that the coldest creatures welcome the warmth as much as anyone.
You can even kick their head off, and they’ll just giggle and ask for a hug.
If you go
“Frozen,” rated PG
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring the voices of: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and at Craig's West Theatre.
In the kingdom of Arendelle, residents have rarely seen the two princesses who have remained under lock and key within the castle walls, but that’s all about to change with the coronation of eldest royal daughter Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) as the new queen. Her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) is ecstatic that not only will she finally be able to experience the outside world, but perhaps she can grow close to Elsa, who has been emotionally distant for as long as she can remember.
However, Anna finds Elsa’s detached demeanor was just the tip of the iceberg when the newly crowned queen accidentally reveals a secret ability for creating snow and other cold conditions, a magical talent that terrifies the people of Arendelle. What’s worse, when a distressed Elsa takes flight for the North Mountain, the kingdom suddenly morphs into an unseasonable wintry wasteland that continues to grow colder by the minute.
Anna knows her sister couldn’t possibly have meant to hurt anyone and is convinced she can get her sibling to fix everything if she can only find her. Enlisting the help of a rugged mountain man (Jonathan Groff) and his reindeer — and meeting a friendly talking snowman (Josh Gad) along the way — Anna’s quest is a dangerous one, especially since Elsa may be happier being on her own.
Bell is a fine choice for the voice of the irrepressibly sunny Anna, sure to appeal to girls — and maybe even some boys — who want a Disney princess who can be a little bit adorkable. The kind who starts the day with a severe case of bed-head, slides down the banister, wolfs down a handful of chocolates and within seconds meets the man (Santino Fontana) she is certain she’s meant to marry.
And, even luckier for Anna, he’s a prince. How fortuitous is that?
Broadway star Menzel seems to be playing the same part all over again, with her signature role in “Wicked” visible in Elsa’s characterization, which portrays someone seen as malevolent but actually misunderstood. Having subjected herself to self-imposed exile for most of her childhood, Elsa is afraid of the powers within her, knowing what harm they could do to those she loves.
“Glee” actor Groff provides the tone for Kristoff, an outdoorsy loner — his hooved best friend Sven his only companion — whose business of selling ice blocks has gone belly-up with winter’s early arrival, forcing Kristoff to help Anna as they seek out her sister, bickering much of the way.
And then there’s Gad as the open-to-anything, optimistic walking pile of snow that goes by Olaf, ready to help bring back the warm weather, blissfully unaware that should they succeed, his fall-apart body will wind up as a puddle with twigs, a carrot and a few rocks floating in it. At least the loveable lunkhead is impervious to pain, even taking an icicle through the torso in stride — “Oh, look at that. I’ve been impaled. Hee-hee.”
You may find Olaf, as well as Kristoff’s adoptive family, either cute or cloying, but the studio that’s given us a hyperactive genie, a flatulent warthog and a gaggle of wise-cracking gargoyles in the past has always toed the line when it comes to supporting characters.
After years of eschewing classic fairy tales, Disney came back in style with “The Princess and the Frog” and “Tangled,” and that blend of modern sensibilities mixed with traditional elements is utilized just as well in this loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” adding the twist of making the title character and the heroine related, something relatively new considering how many Disney protagonists are only children.
The story relies more on age-old aphorisms than it should as Disney tries to keep its new era going, but the look and feel of the visuals demonstrate there are still new worlds to conquer, with the animation of Arendelle and Elsa’s ice palace sanctuary as dazzling as you’d expect, creating a lovely cartoon representation of Scandinavia, its chilling winds, fjords and all. The list of songs by husband-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez also comes close to reaching the greatness achieved in Disney’s pinnacle years with “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
The best of the bunch is by far Elsa’s “Let It Go,” as she finally busts loose and allows her abilities to come out freely. The sappy “Love Is an Open Door,” the sweetly sad “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and the hopeful “For the First Time in Forever" also are thoroughly pleasant to the ear.
At least, those of us who have ears. Sorry, Olaf.
Maybe the best part of the fun and frost of “Frozen” is that we’re seeing increasingly better role models for young women, doubly so here. With a pair of female leads who are much more complex than some of the princesses of the past, Disney’s newest animated feature — certain to be considered the top cartoon of the year — shows the company can take criticism and turn its image around easily.
Take that, Snow White!
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.