Legacy Review

Frozen (2013)

As the father of two girls, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, Frozen is more of a utilitarian commodity to me than a piece of cinema. I’ve listened to the soundtrack probably 100+ times and watched all or part of the movie maybe 5-10 times. But it seems I’ve avoided writing a review until now. So here goes.

Frozen’s first act is by far its strongest. Everything from the opening through “Let It Go” has narrative tension, strong music, and interesting character dynamics. I’m always struck, in particular, by the interactions between Anna and Elsa after years in isolation, and Anna’s desire for connection to and approval from her older sister.

The film’s masterpiece moment is unquestionably Elsa’s smash hit power ballad: the swooping camera and glittering snow patterns accompanying coming-of-age “I Want” lyrics belted by Idina Menzel. That transformation and “let the storm rage ONNNN” are downright iconic.

The film’s second half is, unfortunately, a bit of a clusterfuck of pacing and twists. The lone musical number in the third act is a tonal misfire, the trolls singing a silly jaunt as the film rushes towards its climax.

The ending is almost comically abrupt. “Oh, yeah… LOVE!” And poof, everything’s fixed.

The nine years (has it really been that long?) since its release have not been kind to most of Frozen’s visuals. Some of the weather effects still looks nice, but the humans look like uncanny putty half the time.

Olaf might be Disney’s worst comic relief ever, undercutting a handful of moments where the film is in the middle of building some drama or romance, Josh Gad hamming the movie to oblivion.

The whole thing ultimately holds together pretty well in spite of the numerous pimples, and there’s no question the movie has resonated with a generation.

At this point, I must admit I find myself slightly more fond of the ambitious, beautiful mess that is Frozen 2 than its original, even as the sequel is more incoherent.

But I suspect Frozen is a rare bit of feel-good monoculture we’ll be discussing for decades to come.

Is It Good?

Good (5/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.

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