Review: Do you want to build a snowman?

By Mary Whitfill, News Staff

Disney’s new film “Frozen” took box offices by storm over the holidays, blowing this year’s other animated features out of the water. A captivating story, wrapped in gorgeous animation, “Frozen” is the best children’s film in years without a major flaw in sight.

The musical, which was outstanding in its own right, was put in a particularly flattering light considering the overall disappointing feature films produced by Disney in the last decade. “Frozen” proved that Disney is back – and in a big way.

The movie follows Anna and Elsa, princess sisters of Arendelle who spent their childhoods locked in a castle, interacting with no one outside the gates. Elsa, the heir to the throne, has magical powers which she tries to hide from everyone, including Anna. However, Elsa is forced to open the gates for her coronation after their parents’ death, much to the joy of Anna who sings her dreams of finally being “noticed by someone” in the song “For the First Time in Forever.”

However, a fight ensues when Anna asks Elsa for her blessing in marriage to a man, Hans, whom she met hours before. When the argument puts Elsa’s temper over the edge, her ability to control  snow and ice put Arendelle in a state of eternal blizzard. Elsa flees the kingdom and builds her own ice castle in the mountains, and it is up to Anna, her unlikely friend Kristoff, his pet reindeer Sven and snowman Olaf, to find her.

“Frozen” is the first princess movie since the 2010 release of “Tangled,” which sparked Disney’s animation redemption. And thus far, it has exceeded all expectations – winning the hearts of everyone from toddlers to grandparents, “Frozen” has cemented a place in Disney history bringing catchy tunes, impressive animation and relatable characters.

“Frozen” produced the best soundtrack from a children’s movie in recent memory, scoring an Oscar nomination for “Let it Go.” Other catchy songs included “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” “In Summer,” “Love is an Open Door” and the folksy “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People.” The music was co-written by Robert Lopez of “Book of Mormon” and had a distinct Broadway feel – a stage reproduction is already in the works.

As the quintessential Disney girl, the most refreshing thing about “Frozen” was the authentic feel of the animated classics. Not the charming spirit of “The Lion King” nor “Sleeping Beauty,” but the real retro Disney found in “Cinderella” and “Snow White.” Despite the plethora of modern adjustments, there is something comforting about the regal setting, the lonely princess and the kingdom in peril that echoes the original Disney sentiment while avoiding the crippling damsel in distress.

“Frozen” is distinct in that it is a Disney princess movie that does not either end in marriage or point very heavily in that direction. Nor does the story line revolve around a romantic relationship, or the idea of love at first sight. Instead, Elsa acts as though Anna’s idea of wanting to marry someone she just met is ludicrous.

Additionally, this movie glorifies a different type of relationship than princess movies past. Anna does not need a man to save her from her perils. Rather, her and her sister’s love is enough to beat the curse and save the kingdom.

While these variations from the normal tale are admirable, the most important lesson is that “Frozen” showed young girls that the first man is probably not the right man. Despite his witty banter and charming smile, Hans turns out to be a complete ass, a reality that young girls have not been exposed to in other Disney movies. Classic films, “The Little Mermaid” perhaps being the most obvious, suggest that it is worth risking everything, including marriage and self worth, to pursue a 20-minute-old relationship.

Despite these seriously ground-breaking steps in the world of princess movies, “Frozen” is a fun, hilarious and captivating film that is an instant classic. It stays with you and makes you want to watch it again and again. People have been singing “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?” since the film’s release.

A shoe-in for an Oscar in the “Animated Feature Film” category, the domestic gross of “Frozen” has already surpassed those of “Finding Nemo” and “Despicable Me 2” and it continues to climb in its 12th week. The soundtrack is currently available on iTunes and the DVD will hit stores March 18.