Frozen 2 was released in the US on November 22, 2019. It opened to near impossibly high expectations, having to follow up on the wild success of the 2013 hit film. Anticipation going into this movie can take one of two forms – over exuberant over-the-moon excitement for more of the magic the made Frozen so special, or “there’s no way this could be as good as the original, so I’m preparing for a letdown.” Of course, there could be shades of gray too, and that’s where I fell on this. I was guardedly optimistic, hoping for some gleams of brilliance, but preparing for an overall slightly less inspiring sequel.
We saw the film as a family in early December, a few weeks after release. While most of our family loved it, I must admit it didn’t really connect with me. The film was stunningly beautiful – almost too perfect. But I do wonder at what point this computer animation will be just too close to real to feel magical like an animated film usually feels (and what I love about them).
One thing often missing in this newer generation of computer generated animation films are songs. I don’t mean the musical score, I mean the show stopping song and dance numbers. I used to work with a guy who hated Disney movies because the story stops to let a playful song take center stage, and he felt it ruined the continuity of the story. I wholeheartily disagreed with him then, and I still do for the most part. I love to stop for a good sing-song or two. They are sadly missing from most of the Pixar films, though they are a bit more present in the recent Disney animated films. They are fun, meaningful, and provide a good opportunity to stop and smell the roses. That being said, Frozen 2 maybe had too many of these, particularly in the first half of the film. As soon as the story started rolling, it would screech to a halt again with another pause and sing. To be honest, all the songs were great. There were just too many. I found myself understanding my former coworker’s point.
Even given this criticism of mine, Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods” ranks up there as one of my favorite Disney music moments. The cheesily romantic 1980’s-inspired rock ballad took me on a joyride back to my youth. Peter Cetera, Queen, and Journey would be proud. It was brilliant and I felt it was made just for me. Thank you Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
But I think the primary reason why Frozen 2 didn’t connect with me the first time out, was that I perceived a sense of over importance in the film. I want a film to be meaningful, but this seemed to be just a bit too epic. A frantic search to find the cause and cure for a generation’s sins of the past – it’s admirable, but maybe just a bit too much to expect kids to fully understand and appreciate.
But you know what? After the movie, we as a family discussed the themes, and our kids appreciated the sentiment of the movie much more than I expected them to. And the more I thought about it, the more I appreciated it too. I softened a bit.
Fast forward to the week after New Years Day. I offered to take my son to a movie. I was hoping he’d want to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker again, but he chose Frozen 2. Sigh. Ok, let’s go. This time it clicked. The story, the theme, the drama, the message. It totally worked for me. I’m sold, and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again (though I’ll probably wait for Disney+). Anna is strong, Elsa is strong, Kristoff is supportive. Olaf is as frank and witty as ever. Their roles and strengths are appropriate for the current day. Disney got this right. Yes, It’s a bit larger than life, but then, it kind of had to be that big to match the original.
Seeing the film for a second time allowed me to focus on some additional details that got lost in the largeness of the story the first time out. So here, in roughly the order they appear in the film, are some light-hearted moments that struck me.
Elsa is awful at charades. For someone who is so magically talented, this amuses me.
Olaf’s recap of the original Frozen film was spot on – a fast-paced soliloquy supported by timely pantomime. Who would have thought “They were dead” could be such an amusing line? Brilliant.
The little purple fire spirit dragon (I later learned his name is Bruni). I still don’t fully understand his relevance in the film, but he was kinda cute, especially when he sizzles upon touching Elsa’s hand (I was hoping that would happen).
Samantha? Who the heck is this? I’m thinking George Glass (I may be showing my age here, and some readers may need to read up on this one).
Gale. It’s not easy to give a breeze personality. Somehow I got to like this thing. It felt like Carpet from Aladdin. I don’t think Disney will be able to sell plush Gales though.
Elsa’s castle up the mountain is still there! No mention of it, they just sped by it en route through their epically important mission. I wonder if the big ice monster and the little baby snowballs from Frozen have taken up permanent residency there?
In one of the frozen clues, Elsa’s young father admitted reading a book by “a new danish author.” I’ve gotta think this is a reference to Hans Christian Anderson’s book The Snow Queen, which we all know is the inspiration for Frozen. Nice homage.
Speaking of inspiration, this film drew two gags (to use a term from Walt Disney’s lexicon) from one of the newer Mickey shorts that our family loves – Yodelberg. In Yodelberg’s climactic scene, Mickey is being chased by the Yeti (our friend from Expedition Everest). He uses one of his skis to hook a branch and change direction to avoid the Yeti’s approach, similar to how Anna used one of Olaf’s arms to divert their course while in the rapid waters. Also, both Mickey and the Yeti have to yell in hushed tones to avoid causing an avalanche, similar to how Anna instructs Olaf to be quiet while “rapidding” into the hidden cave, so he wouldn’t wake the sleeping rock giants. I don’t know if these gags were inspired by Yodelberg, or were just coincidental. Either way, they were fun to spot.
I think I’ve coined a new term – Horsonification. The act of taking an inanimate substance and turning it into a fully functioning stallion. Water flushes to form Elsa’s horse friend multiple times throughout the film, and near the end she transforms him into an ice horse. Kinda cool. (Actually, kinda cold.)
Olaf dressed in a fancy suit? Adorable. But if you ask me, Sven in a bowtie stole that scene. This has Christmas ornament written all over it.
How did you feel about this film? Did it live up to your expectations? Did you spot any Easter Eggs that I may have missed? Please let me know with a comment. You can either write it here on the blog, or feel free to go to my Facebook or Instagram pages. I’ll post there as well.