Directed by: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Starring:  Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana

"That's no blizzard, that's my sister!"
- Anna (Kristen Bell)

Disney has given us the best animated musicals: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and so much more.  However, in recent years, except for The Princess And The Frog, Disney’s animated musicals have been nonexistent.  Clever computer animation a la Toy Story has dominated theaters. This year alone we have seen hordes of computer animated films: The Croods, Epic, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, Planes, Turbo, and Free Birds to name a few.  But Frozen is the first film to harken back to the golden age of Disney animation, and for that it stands out in this year of animated fare.

Elsa (Eva Bella/Idina Menzel) and her younger sister Anna (Livvy Stubenrauch/Kristen Bell) are two princesses living in the kingdom of Arendelle.  Elsa, however, was born with an incredible power: she can control ice, snow and winter elements.  Unfortunately, she often turns things to ice and sometimes cannot control her power.  When they are young girls, Elsa and Anna are playing games in the snow.  While they are playing, Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the head with ice, and she suffers a devastating injury.  The king and queen take Anna and Elsa to a group of magical trolls and they heal Anna, but they remove her memories of Elsa’s magic.  The king and queen shut Elsa in a room and keep her away from Anna and the rest of the kingdom to protect everyone from her powers.

When the king and queen pass away, Elsa ascends to the throne and for the first time in years, she and Anna must welcome the kingdom into the castle.  Elsa is incredibly nervous about interacting with people, for fear that her secret will be revealed.  Anna, on the other hand, is elated and cannot wait to meet people and perhaps fall in love.  Her prayers are answered when she meets the handsome prince Hans (Santino Fontana), twelfth in line to the throne in his own kingdom.  Hans sweeps Anna off of her feet and they decide to get married.  Anna asks Elsa for her permission to marry Hans.  Since Elsa has some common sense (and also a secret to keep), she refuses to bless the marriage.  Anna and Elsa argue and when Elsa gets upset, she ends up revealing her powers and putting the whole town of Arendelle into winter.  Elsa flees to the mountains.  Anna enlists the help of a local man, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and they race to bring Elsa back and save the kingdom.

Frozen is a traditional Disney animated musical, with some progressive updates.  The two lead roles are strong female characters.  Elsa has incredible powers and Anna is courageous and loving.  Sisterly love, family loyalty and sacrifice are the common themes.  The plot is simplistic, but there are some interesting twists and turns, and even a tearjerker moment.   The story seemed to resonate with the children in my audience, and for the most part the stunning visuals and musical numbers even held my four year-old daughter’s attention throughout the film.

The Frozen soundtrack is solid.  In fact, Tony Award winner Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez deliver some of the best Disney music we have heard in years. The film’s music is driven by powerhouse Rent/Wicked star Idina Menzel. The whole movie I kept thinking of Rent  because of Idina’s recognizable and ridiculously wonderful voice.  Kristen Bell also surprises with some great vocal chops.  The most notable tunes are probably:  “For the First Time In Forever”, “Love is an Open Door” and “Fixer Upper.”  However, for those fans of classic Disney, Frozen did not have any songs that jumped out at me as instant classics like “Hakuna Matata”, “Under the Sea”, “A Whole New World”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Friend like Me” or “Colors of the Wind.”  I did not come out of the theater humming any particular tune.

Although, Frozen is visually stunning, contains strong leads and good music, the film does have its flaws.  The biggest gap is the lack of humor.  There are a few laughs generated by some witty dialogue, but not many.  The comic relief, Olaf the snowman who longs for summer, is not very funny.  Nor is he particularly endearing.  When compared to some of the iconic comic relief characters played by Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy and others, Olaf falls short.  For an animated film, Frozen simply does not deliver the humor.

Moreover, there is something that keeps this film from being truly magical.  It could be the underdeveloped love story, not enough of a focus on Elsa, or not enough trolls.  I cannot quite put my finger on it, but the film just does not rise to the level of some of the greats. 

Frozen earns a strong 0.06% rating. It is an entertaining family film and manages to stand out in a year where we have been inundated with computer animated films.