Frozen (4 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by: Chris Buck (Tarzan), and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph)
Written by: Jennifer Lee, Story by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Shane Morris
Voice Work from: Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Idina Menzel
Just yesterday I was sitting with a group of students where I work watching "classic" Disney films. The day started with Hercules, then The Lion King, the Beauty and the Beast, and ended with Tarzan. I then asked one student her first Disney movie she saw in the theatres, and she stated that it was Lilo and Stitch. This both aged me, mine was The Little Mermaid, which was released 13 years prior to Lilo, and made consider the fact that many she missed out on a great age of Disney in the theatre. Frozen changes the game.
Frozen centers around two sisters, Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel). At a young age the girls are thick as thieves, Elsa entertains Anna with her magical powers to manipulate snow where they skate and build snow men. One night Elsa's powers jolt Anna, and for the safety of their children their parents the King and Queen of Arendelle decide to seclude the family from the outside world to keep their family safe from question. As Elsa grows up her powers reveal themselves, and she accidentally covers Arendelle in a blanket of ice. Anna then goes after her sister with the help of Kristoff (Groff) his reindeer Sven, and a talking snowman named Olaf (Gad) in order to save Elsa and the kingdom.
Disney is on a roll with their animated films, Wreck-It Ralph was the best animated film last year, and Frozen is one, if not the best from this year. While Ralph lacked the musicality Frozen is more in line of classic films like Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, where the music is the key to the success of this film. The score from Christophe Beck is fantastic, but its the original music from Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Robert Lopez that leaves you walking out of the theatre singing "Let it Go" and all of the other songs. This husband and wife team have done an excellent job, and this music made this film feel Broadway ready without even trying too hard. There is no surprise this music felt ripe for the stage Robert Lopez is a Tony winner for The Book of Mormon, and Avenue Q two of the best musicals recently. The music is fantastic.
While the music is some of the best in years there something to be said about writer director Jennifer Lee who has only worked on two major projects; she has done fantastic work for the "Mouse House" and Disney should hold on to this women. In the 2000s most people have focused on Pixar, which left Disney animation in the dust with films like Brother Bear, Lil and Stitch. Lee is the mind behind two of the most recent films, which have brought Disney Animation back to life, this started with The Princess and the Frog, but Lee's work started with last year's Wreck-It Ralph. The team of Lee and Buck created a fantastically quick intro that most directors/screenwriters would envy, and they did not stick with the standard Disney message. Sure some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy, but if you can't "let it go" then you have no heart.
Frozen is a magical experience, filled with excellent songs, and terrific voice work. Josh Gad as Olaf was a subtle scene stealer in the best way possible. This film has me singing and dancing around my apartment one day later, take your kids, your sister, your best friend, whoever, and experience the magic in Disney once again.