This post comes courtesy of guest writer and Wee film reviewer, Aaron Mettey.
Many of you, like me, grew up during the revitalization of animation in the late ’80s and ’90s. (See: The Little Mermaid, Toy Story.) So the bar is set pretty high for “kids” movies. We expect them to be filled with complex storytelling and structure. We also expect that we — especially those who are now parents — will be able to (for 90 minutes) mentally relax and forget real life for awhile.
But so far, this year’s widely released animated movies have been a little… meh: a few gems (well, one, anyway — Monsters’ University); some mildly entertaining but ultimately forgettable films (Turbo, Epic); and many disappointments (Despicable Me 2, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2). Sure, each had a few things for kids to enjoy. But for us adult kids? Not so much. And with the year in pop culture that we’ve all had — I mean, Miley Cyrus alone took years off all of our lives, didn’t she? — wouldn’t it be nice to sit through something we actually like?
Fortunately, this Thanksgiving weekend, there is a movie that kids will love and adults will be able to lose themselves in: Frozen, from Walt Disney Animation Studios, is a dazzling animated feature with something for everyone.
Loosely inspired by Han Christian Anderson’s story The Snow Queen, Frozen tells the story of two princesses: Anna and her older sister Elsa (voiced by Broadway’s original Wicked witch, Idina Menzel!). Elsa has the power to control and create ice and snow; as a child, Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her powers, which causes their parents to isolate Elsa. As they grow older, Elsa becomes more fearful of her own powers and flees the kingdom, inadvertently leaving it under a magical winter. It is up to Anna to find Elsa and stop the curse before it is too late.
What sets Frozen apart is its spectacular look and sound. The scenery — specifically Elsa’s ice castle — is some of the most beautiful ever created on film. And though I’m usually loath to recommend 3D, in this case, it is stunning. The ultrarealistic snow swirling before your eyes is magical. The music by husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez (Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, is memorable (much more pop and modern Broadway than you’d expect from Disney, honestly). But its songs, mainly the highlight, “Let It Go,” could hold their own against any from the Little Mermaid era.
Unfortunately, the characters don’t get quite the same attention as the scenery. Anna, perfectly voiced by Kristen Bell, is the most developed. But with trolls, two male leads, a reindeer and a random-but-Disney-required-talking-creature-to-please-the-kids snowman, there isn’t much time for the other characters. Or plot development. But, with scenes that come quick and fast, it’ll maintain the attention of the younger audience members and won’t bore you to tears.
So this Thanksgiving weekend, go ahead and brave the theaters for Frozen. The kids will love it. And the adult kids might — for a couple hours — be able to forget the real world (Miley, holiday stress, Jane Seymour and her Open Hearted reign of tacky terror) and just enjoy. You know. Like we used to.
MY GRADE: B+
RATING: PG for some action and mild rude humor
GOOD FOR: All ages
STUFF A PARENT SHOULD KNOW:
(1) Some sequences involving wolves and a magical snow creature could be frightening for some kids.
(2) Prepare yourselves: Disney is getting two new princesses from this movie. Though they are no damsels in distress, they are designed with the Disney Princess Aesthetic — big eyes, small waist.
(3) While not necessary, the snow effects are much cooler in 3D.
ABOUT OUR REVIEWER
Aaron Mettey — a Philly ex-pat who’s made his home in New York — is a lifelong film and TV buff who spent the last three years writing about movies and television for Philadelphia magazine’s website. As a child, he once got his head stuck under a garage door. Today he’s an uncle (real and honorary) to dozens of kiddos.