Frozen (2013)

(On Cable TV, July 2014) Walt Disney Animation Studios have been on a roll lately, but with Frozen they move just above the already high level of Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled into a blend of heartfelt sentiment, fantastic animation, big laughs and successful musical numbers that evokes nothing short of the studio’s best pictures. The focus on the relationship between two sisters is unusual enough, but the script has a number of blatant curveballs and fake-outs that clearly signal that Frozen has more than the usual Disney Princesses in mind. The quality of the animation is astonishing, especially considering that much of the film takes place in a snowy environment –speaking as a Canadian, not every shot of snow is equally convincing, but there is a lot of nice work here. Frozen, more than any of the recent Disney films since The Princess and the Frog, leaves quite a bit of time to its musical numbers, and they work exceptionally well: Like everyone else, the past few months have drilled “Let it Go” in my head, but hearing the song isn’t nearly as effective as seeing it in-context, where it’s simply a thing of beauty and characterization. Much of Frozen feels like a tightrope act taking decent storytelling into more audacious and ultimately more rewarding territory: it could have been just another animated film, but it ends up being something more, like many of Pixar’s best productions. (For instance, Olaf the snowman could have, under many other circumstances, taken over the film as simple comic relief. Here, he’s used judiciously in a more complex fashion, being very funny but also bringing a bit of poignant naiveté.) I’ll try not to quibble about the strange anachronisms scattered throughout –for a film set in 1840ish Norway, it’s still definitely produced by 2013ish South Californians. Frozen remains an easy film to love, and why not? The lead characters are both interesting in their own way, and once you throw in a reindeer and snowman into the mix, well, it’s hard to resist the entire thing.

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