Monday, December 16, 2013

Why "Frozen" Just Didn't Do it for Me

Critics called it "Fabulous," "Wonderfully enchanting" and even went as far to claim it "The best animated feature since 'The Lion King.'"

Like all other devoted Disney beings, I was biting at the bit to get to the theaters to see "Frozen." When the awaited day arrived I bought my popcorn and sat down in the crowded theater ready to fall in love with a brand new world of Disney fantasy. The animation was incredible and the cooky cast of characters was enough to make me laugh out loud on several occasions, but as the credits rolled I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing.


The performers, including the amazing Indina Menzel and Kristen Bell, sang beautifully in songs that really showed off their pipes (am I the only one who kept thinking "Wicked" when Elsa sang?). But where the music excelled in crescendos, it lacked in lyricism. "Frozen's" lyrics were written by Bobby Lopez and Kristen Andersen-Lopez. Bobby, also known as Robert Lopez, is most well-known for co-creating the broadway hits "The Book of Mormon" and "Avenue Q," both groundbreaking and cleverly sarcastic shows...but definitely not Disney-like.

Bell, Gad and Menzel - Photo courtesy of fanpop.com
I believe that "Frozen's" storyline of a harsh disconnect between sisters and the brave actions taken to heal old wounds could have felt much deeper if it had been lyrically led by masters Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken. Without imaginative lyrics, "Frozen's" emotional influence felt very surface level. Think about songs like, "The Colors of the Wind," and "Part of Your World." The best Disney movies are known and adored for their songs and the music tells the stories far better than a plot alone. "Frozen's" songs "Fixer Upper" and "In Summer" simply didn't reach the bar.

Along with the absence of memorable music, where in the world was the villain? In "Frozen" the antagonist isn't Elsa, it's Elsa's inability to control her powers. Instead of being able to dislike the villain, you really just end up feeling sorry for her. And that isn't fun for anyone. We want to be able to root for the hero and cheer when they take down the bad guy for good and for all. We need to see Ursula the sea witch be impaled by a ship, Ratcliffe thrown in chains and sent back to England, and Mother Gothel turn to dust. We need it not because it is morbid, but because it symbolizes how good really does triumph evil. Elsa's realization that "love" was the answer was so subtle. It seemed more like a "blonde moment" realization than a total transformation of character.


I'm not saying "Frozen" was terrible. I'm not even saying it was okay. It was very good!...but it wasn't magical. And it for sure wasn't "The best animated feature since The Lion King." If such a thing was to exist it would definitely go to "The Princess in the Frog." I mean, come on!

With all of this being said, if you haven't seen "Frozen" yet, definitely check it out. The adorable snowman will in no doubt have you giggling your popcorn calories off. It is a great film that is fun for all ages and full of incredible talent.

It just isn't one for the history books.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, Amanda! What a great analysis! (I also TOTALLY agree about Princess and the Frog... not enough love there!) Where I loved the song "Let it Go" I felt a couple of the other songs were just a little too whimsical to compare to early '90s greatest Disney hits. :)

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