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Friday, April 11, 2014

A rebuttal review: Frozen

Good morning!

My 20 year old son and I watched the universally acclaimed sensation, "Frozen."  My son likes the movie, and he's the one who bought the DVD.

Since my kids are all but grown, I really haven't paid much attention to animated films in the last couple years.  But so much has been made of Frozen.  I mean, people were still dropping $10 a seat to see it in theaters after the DVD release!  The song won an Oscar!  This might be the best film EVER MADE!

After viewing it, I'd like a moment for rebuttal.  Remember, this is my opinion.  You don't have to agree with me, and I'm betting most of you won't.  

1)  The music.

Yes, the music is, as with most Disney movies, wonderful.  However, if I'm going to be really grumpy about it, many of the tracks feel like high school musical  (NOT THAT High School Musical) performances.  There's just something about many of the performances that just seem a little sub par.

Maybe I'm just exhausted with it, since "Love is an Open Door" and "Let it Go" seem to be playing non-stop everywhere.

2)  I really liked this movie better the first time I saw it.

Was it just me, or is this really just "Frankenstein" meets "Frosty the Snowman?"  Reading the credits, I see it's "based" on a Hans Christen Anderson story. (VERY Loosely.  I mean, there's snow in both stories...)  I have to disagree.  The villagers storming the ice castle to kill the monster...I mean Ice Queen...smacks far more of Mary Shelley.  

There is a feeling of disconnect between the actual story line and the way it's Disneyfied.  We all know Disney has taken books in the past and made them more palatable for the younger set.  Disney is wildly good at it.  I mean, have you READ "the Jungle Book?"  Or "Snow White?"  But somehow, there's this feeling that they put together some storyboards for "Frozen" and said, "Holy crap, we have a really, really creepy scary story here.  Is this going to be Disney's first foray into horror?"

And I imagine the conversation going like this:

"Um, no.  We need to make it for kids because then parents take the kids to the movies and we get double the take at the box office."

"Okay, then we have to put something in here that's going to keep the kids from being scared to death."

"How about a snowman?"

"Will the snowman be adorable?"

"Of course, we're Disney!"

"Can we through a critter in there?  I love it when there are critters that talk or sing or dance or something."

"Well, it's a movie about snow...what critter lives in snow?"


"Reindeer aren't cute."

"Rudolph was cute."

"Well, we can't use Rudolph.  We're Disney!  We have to have original ideas."

"Polar bear?"

"Coca Cola won't let us."

"Well, is it a deal breaker if the reindeer doesn't talk?"

"No, he doesn't have to talk...but can he grunt in a cute way?"

"We'll work on it."

3)  Has Disney met with social services?

Typical Disney...everyone in the movie is an orphan.  The princesses are raised by...well I'm not sure see, because the parents implement a weird sort of child imprisonment live style about six minutes into the movie.  And then the parents die.  And instead of opening the doors  (this a big theme in the movie) the servants who are the only adults caring for these two girls, keep them locked in a palace.  It's a palace, sure, but where's Social Services?  And then the male character is also an orphan, raised by rock gnomes....(Hey, "Frozen,"  "Noah" called...he wants his rock characters back.) He lives with his reindeer and the rock gnomes, and we aren't given any sort of clue as to whether he eats anything other than carrots coated in deer slobber or if he has a place to sleep.

4)  My brother and I rough housed, but come on!

There is sibling on sibling violence beyond words in this.  You can explain it away  if you want.  "Oh the snow princess is misunderstood...she can't control her power...blah, blah."  The bottom line is there are three instances in this movie where sister one very nearly murders sister two. And Snow Queen isn't done...under the guise of "Let it Go!"  she turns her homeland into an unlivable wasteland where it's clear (because we're told this through dialogue) that the villagers are going to DIE if summer doesn't come back soon. (A bit dramatic, but clearly they live in a world where summer is the only thing they can live in.  So, while singing this magnificent song of empowerment, Snow Queen is endangering the lives of everyone else.  

AND THEN, she creates this beastly snow monster that, again, attempts to kill Anna and Kristoff....I'm all for private property rights, but this was extreme.

 Then, when the villagers storm the palace to kill her, I mean, to broker a negotiated peace, she manages to stab one soldier right through the chest with an icicle.   I saw something like that in a movie...I think it was in on of those "Last House on the Left" movies.

5)  Did we run out of step mothers and witches?

Let's talk about the villains.  There seem to be two, although one is such a weak stab at a villain, I have to wonder if it just didn't get cut out in editing.

The lesson here:  Handsome men are going to do bad, bad
bad things to you. But as long as they sing a great
song with you it's okay.
You've got Hans, the handsome prince who comes to the coronation.  Now, I watched this movie and watched Anna, the younger princess, "fall in love" in two minutes and get engaged to Hans right away.  Then they since "Love is an Open Door."  Great song.  But creepy.  Why?

I can't get past the fact that there seems to be a really, really big age difference between the two.  Like a criminally age difference.  And here comes this prince, and he proposes to a princess who hasn't been outside her house in a decade.  Is it just me or do the words "pedophile" and "predator" come to mind?  

I didn't want to believe this was the plot, though.  I mean, they sang a love song.  That's sort of the Disney mark of "happily ever after!"  Having read zero about the plot of the movie, I still felt like Hans was up to no freaking good.  He's presented in such a positive light most of the way through the movie it is a shocking turn about when he shows his real face and he's COMPLETELY EVIL!  So very evil.  

And then we have Duke of Weselton who, I think, is BIG BUSINESS.  He's a trading partner with the summer island of Arandale and shows up at the coronation to make sure his business is still going to be safe.  His body guards lead the charge to murder the Snow Queen...disobeying the orders given by Hans (who might be a horribly confusing character for the wee ones).  Weselton is in the movie, why?  he's not funny.  We don't need his body guards to try and murder the Snow Queen.  And other than a couple "WEASLETON" jokes, he's unnecessary.

So, as far as villains go, Big Business are BAD.  Pedophiles seem great, awesome, wonderful until BAM!  They smack you in the face.  

And all that's in ADDITION to the evil sister who is a really misunderstood girl, but who can't seem to control her rage so every time someone comes to talk to her she freaks out and shoots ice darts through their hearts.

Did we run out of evil step mothers and witches?  Seriously.  

6)  Comic relief.  

So back to the snowman and the reindeer.  Disney needed some comedic relief because, like I say, this is one freaking scary flick.  So we've got the talking snowman Olaf and the grunting rein deer Sven.  I really liked Olaf.  Very fun, very Disney.  Give Olaf his own film, make it a comedy.

7)  And finally, the point.


We've been trained in Disney's other 52 feature films that love conquers all.  

So then, Kristoff, the orphan boy raised by rock trolls is the hero, right?


But, love conquers all...he saves the day.


I shouldn't gripe about the ending of this film.  I mean, sister empowerment and all that.  But here's the thing:  Men have taken a BEATING in recent decades.  If you're a man, you're portrayed as a villain, an idiot, or a sex toy.  Even in the world of romance heroes don't get to be heroes because today's heroine better rescue herself darn it all.  (I've blogged this point before.)

What do you mean, you
erased my TV show from the DVR?
Besides, we have to finally redeem Elsa and make her all good again.  Fine, whatever.  

So the ending of Frozen is fine, it's fine.  But if we continue to marginalize heroes  (Kristoff is little more than a taxi service for Anna.  I might be exaggerating here, but not by much.) there will be zero reason to put a hero in a movie.  And then it'll just be women and talking snowmen and frankly, I'm out.

Over all, in spite of my comments, I did enjoy "Frozen."  But for me, it's not the best thing Disney's put out.  The message is muddled because the characters are muddled.  And honestly...this is not a movie for the little kids.  We've moved way beyond the poisoned apple from Snow White.  Else, the Queen, flies into a murderous rage several times.  And we're suppose to empathize?  A handsome man preys on an inexperienced young girl, but we all sing along with the kicky tune?

I grew up with Dumbo  (Racist crows and drunken clowns) and Pinocchio (children running away to play cards, drink, and smoke).  And still these points in "Frozen" bother me.  

I'll give "Frozen" two scores.  It's a 3.5 out of 5 as a movie.  Disney obviously knows how to make creepy, dark literature a fun romp with catchy tunes.

But as a kids movie I'm sorry, I have to give this one a 2 out of 5.  If my kids were small I would be pretty upset because they just didn't do a good enough job of covering the creepy.

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