I was planning on skipping Frozen for several reasons.
- I saw (and wrote a review) of last year’s biggest holiday children’s fare, Rise of the Guardians, which TheScott and I took our foster daughters to see. I am a fan of good animated movies, but the idea of going to Frozen reminded me a little too much of how much I miss the girls.
- TheScott had no interest, so he wasn’t going to go with me.
- But mostly, the trailer made it look awful. Have you seen the trailer? It looks like a silly show about a feisty-stupid girl and a brawny dude with a bad sense of humor trying to save a town from an evil witch who’s making it snow. And an annoying snowman tags along, because gods forbid we have a Disney movie without a sidekick to add bad puns and a pointless song. (Am I the only one who’s anti-sidekick? I know they’re created for the kids. But Disney used to do them well–like Sebastien (Little Mermaid), Dorie (Finding Nemo) or Cogs and Lumiere (Beauty and the Beast). But lately they all feel like annoying versions of Donkey from Dreamworks’ Shrek but, unlike Donkey, exist with no story purpose. But I digress.)
So I was going to skip Frozen. But then I started hearing it was better than the trailer looked. And it is set on a fjord most likely in Norway, where I just was on vacation. Then the hammer came down when a friend decided to take her 4-year-old daughter to it, making this the first movie the child would ever see in the theater, and she asked if I’d like to come along.
Watching an adorable 4-year-old at her first movie? Sold. I went. (So did GG!)
And I’m glad I did. If you absolutely abhor knowing anything about a movie before you go in, skip the rest of this paragraph because I’m summing up the first 5-10 minutes to show how misleading and otherwise downright dismal the trailer is. The story is about two sisters (princesses, of course) who are best friends. The elder (Elsa) has a power–she can freeze things and create snow. But she can’t control it. When the girls are children, she almost kills her little sister (Anna) by accident. Terrified Elsa will hurt or kill someone, the royal family locks the doors to the castle and Elsa breaks off ties with Anna and everyone else. The movie is about Anna trying to reconnect with her big sister, and it really kicks off when they open the castle doors for the first time in (something like) ten years, on the advent of Elsa coming of age. Of course, things go horribly wrong from there.
Did you get any of that from the trailer? No? Me, either.
The story is a gorgeous look at family bonds, particularly sisters, and reminds me a bit of Brave in that its focus is on a relationship between women (Brave being mother/daughter and this being big sis/little sis). There is a love story, but it’s secondary, which I really liked. At its heart, Frozen is very much a story about women empowering each other despite people’s fears trying to reign them in. According to a friend who works in marketing (and this article), this is why Disney gave it such a suck trailer because common marketing wisdom says you can’t sell a story about women relating to each other.* So, instead, they took pretty much every joke in the movie and every scene with the unnecessary snowman (my least favorite part of the movie) and strung together a trailer out of that. Seriously, I think every bad joke in the movie is in the trailer. And they’re a lot funnier in context than they are strung together like a popcorn garland. (The snowman is not funnier in context, but whatever. He’s a minor enough character–because he’s pointless**–that I can ignore him.)
One of the things I think I loved most about the movie, though, is that the protagonist is Anna, the character without the super power. (At least the trailer got that part right!) Because of her actions and courage, Anna is a far stronger character than her magical sister, despite being “normal.” While not the first time this has ever happened in story-dom, I love a tale which supports the idea that our actions, not our abilities, make us heroes.
Along those lines, the film also does a brilliant send up of several fairy tale tropes which I won’t discuss for fear of spoilers. But they made me so happy. Finally, the animation of Norway was gorgeous with fantastic detail paid to the snow and the ice. It’s a lovely movie from a visual perspective.
Needless to say, I was surprised, pleased and, at the end, crying. I called my sister when the movie was over and nearly started crying again as I tried to explain why we had to go see the movie together when she came down for the holidays.
Go see Frozen! It’s a beautiful, surprising story about the power of love, family and courage. And it’s set in Norway! (BONUS!)
Have you seen it? What did you think?
*The main trailer for Brave did the same thing. It starts with the father describing the bear, then moves on to the men bringing their sons in to challenge each other for Merida’s hand. There is some reference to the mother and daughter arguing over her getting married and Merida states that she wants to “change my fate,” but that is overlaid with her fighting the bad bear. You cannot tell from the main trailer that the main point of the movie is Merida’s relationship with her mother.
**In addition to fulfilling my pet peeve of pointless sidekick, the snowman was a hugely wasted opportunity to do something neat. **SPOILER ALERT** The snowman actually could’ve had a story point–building that snowman is something the sisters do together as children, before Elsa’s power drove them apart, and he is one of the first things Elsa makes when she lets her powers go. But do they use that to make a statement about Elsa’s continued love for Anna despite their separation? No. They turn him into this annoying dumbass who bears zero resemblance to his creator. Bah! **END SPOILER**