I first watched Frozen in a cheap theater pretty late into its U.S. release. With the hype seeming to dissipate and the movie being fairly average (+), I felt no need to review it. Then I got on the plane to Tokyo and had the Japanese dub as my in-flight entertainment, along with Ted (+) and the second Hunter x Hunter bullshit filler movie (~~). Since then I’ve been unable to go five minutes without having Frozen thrown in my face.
Frozen begins with some burly dudes harvesting ice in the mountains, which is then sold at the Kwik-E-Mart for $1/bag. The scene shifts to Elsa (Princess #1) almost killing Anna (Princess #2) with her ice powers. To suppress her powers, Elsa is taught the cringeworthy catchphrase “conceal, don’t feel”. Gee, I wonder if there’s a message in there somewhere. Elsa then becomes a hikikomori during a time skip. Future Anna starts being a dumbass, so Elsa flips out and accidentally freezes the whole town. Then Elsa runs away and sings Let It Go.
Let It Go almost requires a post of its own. I’ll give credit where credit’s due: the music and vocals are great. The problem is the lyrics and context. Let It Go is essentially the chick version of Hakuna Matata. Elsa and Simba both run away and screw around while everyone else suffers. The difference? Let It Go is presented as empowering instead of irresponsible. Yeah, it’s really empowering to make an entire kingdom freeze to death. While Hakuna Matata is a fun song, even kids can sense the cloud of moral ambiguity hanging over it. Do you get that in Let It Go? No, everything is just so glamorous and liberating! Meanwhile Elsa is still a mess and everyone is dying of hypothermia while she’s singing about how the cold doesn’t bother her. Way to go asshole, why not sing to starving children about how hunger doesn’t bother you? Elsa doesn’t even really Let It Go until later in the story. Why not save the song for the end, when it might actually carry the heroic message Disney’s trying to market?
Anna chases Elsa up the mountain and proceeds to get thrown out of a shop, chased by wolves, assaulted by an abominable snowman, and confronted by trolls as she’s freezing to death. Sounds pretty good, right? Too bad the trolls ruined it all by singing about love. To be fair, just about all Disney movies have this problem. Kids don’t want to watch movies about love. Adults don’t want to watch kids’ movies about love. Who’s the target audience?
The movie is finally resolved when Elsa truly learns to Let It Go. She opens up about her true nature and expresses her love for Anna. Basically, it’s a movie about lesbians. The only people who disagree are homophobes and hipster gays who can’t admit that anything mainstream could possibly be pro-gay.
Perhaps the biggest thing keeping Frozen from the ranks of the all-time great Disney movies is the lack of a legit villain. A quick way to gauge the quality of a Disney villain is seeing how easily you can remember their name. Aladdin? Jafar. The Little Mermaid? Ursula. Sleeping Beauty? Maleficent. Beauty and the Beast? Gaston is a pretty shitty villain, but even he’s easy to remember. Who does Frozen have? That one prince guy? I’ve seen the movie twice in the past six months and I still can’t remember his name. His impact on the story was limited. Things would’ve gone down almost the same way if he hadn’t been evil. Weselton? He didn’t do shit, though it was pretty cool that Weselton is basically every anime representation of Admiral Perry. Elsa was probably the biggest villain in the story, but she didn’t really mean it so it’s all good.
What makes this movie so popular? The story? Nothing special. The animation? I was expecting better. The music? Plenty of other B-grade Disney movies have catchy songs. The characters? Eh. Skinny white chicks instead of token minorities, animals, and inanimate objects? Hmmmm…
In conclusion, this movie would be forgettable if only Disney’s marketing machine would let you forget it. If you want a story about a real badass ice queen, watch something else.