Just when it seemed like Pixar Animation Studios couldn’t go wrong, along came Cars 2, Brave, and Monsters University. While Brave and MU were nowhere near the critical fiasco that Cars 2 was, the glory days sure seem long gone. Meanwhile, Disney Animation Studios had a glimmer of hope with Tangled. Then, after the release of the fantastic Wreck-It Ralph — and its diss of Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars — it appeared another Mouse House renaissance was coming. Frozen proves that Disney is on their way to taking back that crown.
In the land of Arendelle, little princesses Elsa (voiced Eva Bella) and younger sister Anna (voiced by Livvy Stubenrauch), spend their time playing in the snow in the foyer to the castle. Elsa has a special power to create snow and ice. After Elsa strikes Anna in the head with her cryokinetic powers, the king and queen rush Anna to seek out the help of the nearby trolls. The Troll King (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) manages to heal Anna, but at the price of removing her memory of Elsa’s powers.
Now Elsa must keep this secret from Anna, but in the meantime, their parents perish at sea leaving Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), who is of age, to take over the land of Arendelle as Queen. During Elsa’s coronation, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) meets Prince Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana), and asks for Anna’s hand in marriage. Elsa becomes infuriated by Anna’s willingness to leave, awakening her powers, casting an eternal freeze over the land. Elsa is cast out of the castle and vacates to the North Mountains. Now, Anna must find her sister to break the curse, with the help of Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), his trusty sidekick reindeer Sven, and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad).
If only Disney had the same courage as their new princesses. Maybe then people would know that Frozen harkens back to the days of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. Yes, the glory days of Disney are definitely back. Even The Princess and the Frog, showed Disney had finally gotten their groove back, but it seems with every film they keep upping the ante. A new classic is born as director Chris Buck and co-writer/director Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph) breathe much needed life back into the Princess genre with their adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen.
Did I mention the songs? Yes, Frozen is a musical, even more so than Tangled. The songs come courtesy of Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Tony Winners for Avenue Q and Book of Mormon), and will inevitably be stuck in your head — the way all classic Disney songs should. Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell sing their hearts out, with two showstoppers in “Let it Go” and “For the First Time in Forever” (which harkens to Menzel’s own Wicked). And anyone who knows Josh Gad’s theater background (Broadway’s Book of Mormon) won’t be surprised to find he has a hilarious number called “In the Summer” as the snowman belts his heart out about how much he’d love to see the season. Surprisingly, Jonathan Groff is only given one pseudo-musical number considering his singing ability, but this is the Elsa and Anna show and their characters are always center stage.
Leave it to Disney to unleash the film surely to win Best Animated Feature. This year has been somewhat of a snowball effect in the animation department with each film being better than the last; Frozen comes out on top as the year’s best. Packed with stunning animation, memorable characters, hilarious hijinks, memorable songs, some absolutely zany plot twists, and the prerequisite touch of heartwarming, Frozen is the true Disney classic we’ve been waiting for.