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Frozen is a great family film with heart and humor

Updated on April 16, 2014

I've been pretty satisfied with the animated films that Disney has been putting out lately. They had a dip in quality in the '70s, and again (in my opinion) in the late '90s. But lately they've done a great job of bringing the fun and charm back into their films.

I can see the influence of Pixar in their latest films. Which isn't that surprising, with John Lasseter executive producing films like Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled, and The Princess and the Frog.

Frozen is their latest entry in the oddly growing field of "films loosely based on a kids story but changed enough that we need to give them a completely different, one-word, adjective title." This time around, rather than the much better known "Rapunzel", Frozen is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen". (It's not completely obscure, but not nearly as widely told.)

But loosely or not, the story-telling and humor is actually quite tightly honed.

But first, the story

Anna and Elsa (Livvy Stubenrauch & Eva Bella) are two young princesses of Arendelle—a typical bedtime-story kingdom. Elsa, however, has been born with a magical ability of snow and ice. After an accident, the king (Maurice LaMarche) decides that the best thing to do is to limit Elsa's contact with the world and never let anyone know of her powers, even her sister, Anna.

Because there's no way that advice could lead to unwanted complications, right?

And then, right on schedule, the king and queen are lost at sea. Because what's a fairy tale without a broken family?

Due to their father's advice, as the two grow up, the sisters—once thick as thieves who are thick—grow apart, to the heartache of Elsa, and the confusion of Anna.

Finally, when she is old enough, Elsa (Idina Menzel) is to be crowned queen, and Anna (Kristen Bell) is ecstatic with the possibilities to meet new people and maybe even *gasp* "the one" at the coronation. But since Neo doesn't show up, she has to content herself with either the old and curmudgeonly Duke of Weasel Town (Alan Tudyk) or the charming and dashing Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana).

And since her full name isn't Anna Nicole Smith, you can probably guess which one she takes particular interest in.

However, following an incident at the coronation ball, Elsa accidentally freezes the kingdom in the middle of summer. She then runs away to isolate herself and protect everyone else.

Anna, runs after her to try to calm her sister down and beg her to come home. On the way, she meets Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his pet reindeer Sven (Dasher). She also befriends a living snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) who her sister accidentally brought to life, because, you know, that happens sometimes.

Dot dot dot

I seriously can't think of much to say in criticism, except that, being a musical, they may break out into song a little too often for some people's tastes. My brother says that's one of the things he likes about the Pixar movies, because they don't do that.

And, overall, I don't think the songs here are as instantly classic as some of the best Disney musical soundtracks. But with as much play as this movie will likely get, that won't get in the way of them being sung in every household with children ranging from 3 to dead.

Especially since the music is so uniquely arranged. Each song has its own unique sound to it, and they work very well with the story. But that can possibly lend it an inconsistent feel. Possibly. Not that I care myself, though.

The story is quite well told and not as predictable as many kid shows. It helps that its source material, “The Snow Queen”, isn't as over -told as stories like “Cinderella” and “Snow White”. And since it's loosely based on the story—very loosely indeed—even those familiar with the Andersen story, can be surprised, and pleasantly so.

Frozen - Trailer

There's real heart and, more pointedly, real humor. Much of that is due to the pitch perfect portrayal of the snowman, Olaf, by Josh Gad. His song "In Summer" is absolutely hilarious, and he can turn even the simplest line into a knee slapper.

Yes, I slap knees when I laugh. You got a problem with that? Not my own knees, of course. That hurts. But it mean that most of my friends have stopped going to movies with me.

In the end, Frozen is, quite simply, a very fun, very funny, rather touching film that fulfills its promise to the viewers, though maybe not in the way they were expecting.

And if you care, the 3D for this movie is not a conversion. It doesn't fully utilize the 3D as well as I might have hoped, but it's a good experience with a few very great shots.

But what do you think of the movie?

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Frozen

For me, Frozen gets a 9 / 10.

Frozen is rated PG for a little bit of mildly rude humor and a fair amount of action and peril.

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