Let me begin by reminding you, dear reader, that Frozen 2 is a sequel to a children’s movie. It is a movie created for children, but it is very evident that the writers are well aware that none of these children can drive themselves and most (ok, probably all) of them will be accompanied by their parents/chauffeurs to the theaters this holiday season. In Disney Animation past, the recipe seemed to be that the movies were created for the children with some subtle jokes for the parents, but Frozen 2 has switched the formula. This is a movie for parents with some jokes and songs for the kids.
This movie deals with some serious, serious sh*!. I’ll dig into some themes, in a minute, but if you’re not prepared to go on a journey of self-discovery (am I really where I am supposed to be?), deal with the fact that precious time is slipping through your fingers (the only constant in time is change) or perhaps process the death of a close friend or family member (actual lyrics from Anna’s song: this grief has a gravity, it pulls me down) DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE. You will leave that theater pissed to the max, probably with a puffy face and snot on your shirt from the ugly crying. You’ll be ready to write an impassioned Tweet to Disney Animation Studios for a refund and also be on the verge of some hard conversations with your kids about drowning, reparations and how come Elsa doesn’t have a boyfriend.
I’m going to keep this review as general as possible, as I do not wish to spoil the movie for you, and let me be clear as to where my slant is coming from: I loved this movie. Perhaps it is because I am the target audience: a mid-thirties kinda-feminist mom of a daughter and son, with a love of Broadway musicals, a nostalgic outlook on life and still somewhat confused by my place in the world since becoming a mother. In the narrative, I am Elsa. In my head, I sing like Idina Menzel. In my real life, I have complicated family relationships, have recently experienced a loss that I am still learning how to grieve and move forward with and still, in my thirties, am trying to find my place and where I fit.
This movie in one hour and forty three minutes addressed all of those things in my life and instilled an element that has been missing: hope. I sobbed through the last half hour of the movie because for the first time in a long time (for the first time in forever? too much?) I knew what to do: the next right thing. In my job, in my marriage, in parenting, in ministry, in my complicated relationships… I don’t have to solve all the problems at once, I am only responsible for doing the next right thing. That’s it. The next breath, the next step. That is all that’s expected of me.
On a surface level, the movie is fantastic. It captivated all of us, ages two and a half to newly thirty-two. We were invested in the story, laughed out loud and cried out loud (just me, I think). Not a moment of dialogue is wasted, Anna and Elsa are resilient, brave and strong. They also wear pants, which is kind of incredible, although their boots have heels (eyeroll). Olaf is hilarious and has an amazingly silly song about everything making sense when he’s older (Samantha?!), Kristoff’s presence serves absolutely no purpose really other than being in love and a helper to Anna. He has a really long and elaborate song where he is Lost in the Woods. It’s hilarious and extra and such an incredible use of Groff’s talent (versus just narrating reindeer thoughts) and is a moment of relief in the tension that is ongoing in the movie as they search for “the voice”.
The soundtrack has been on repeat since the week before we actually went to the movies. Since then, the kids constantly request the songs and take turns performing for us. As a former show choir enthusiast, lover of music and performing I love that my kids enjoy the soundtrack as much as I do, including the Panic! at the Disco version of Into the Unknown (although I am awaiting the covers of Show Yourself which is the REAL #1 song from the movie) and Weezer cover of Lost in the Woods. Seriously, Disney, you’ve outdone yourself with the targeted marketing and strategy. Hook, line, sinker. I applaud you.
Dear reader, I encourage you to go. Maybe alone, if you’re not sure your littles can handle the suspense or you think you may cry and don’t want to answer to anyone. After learning a lot about Disney & Pixar this year, and the way these types of movies come to be, I’m truly in awe of the creative collaboration that took place, and the conversations that must have been had. The way that the writers and animators imagined the audience and our life circumstances and the way this movie would help us through them, is inspiring. It is storytelling at its finest, with people at the core. This movie has reminded me that heart is what is at the center of my art. Thank you, Disney, for showing us in a brand new way that the magic in us what we’ve been waiting for all along.