Jan 8, 2014

A warm Disney fairy tale, old fashioned and modern, bouncy and poignant.


Grade: A-

Directors: Chris Buck (Tarzan), Jennifer Lee

Screenplay: Lee (Wreck-It Ralph) from Hans Christian Andersen story

Cast: voice of Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Idina Menzel (Rent)

Rating: PG

Runtime: 102 min.

by John DeSando

“Hi, everyone. I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!” (voice of Josh Gad)

That self-introduction by a cute snowman will give you an idea of how contemporary and friendly the newest Disney animation is. When my granddaughter declared Frozen was the best movie she ever saw, I determined to see it because any recommendation from a 12-year old must be heeded.

Although Frozen turned out to be not a tear-jerking Casablanca, it is one of Disney’s best musical animations and high-grade nectar for pre-teens. Smartly pushing the theme of love, it covers all the fairy-tale bases from challenged princesses, multiple suitors, loveable animals, and enough magic to make a kingdom.

Elsa (Idina Menzel voice) is the heir apparent to the kingdom but has a wicked curse that freezes things and isolates her because of it. Determined to get her sister back and break the curse, Anna (Kristen Bell), along with working-class hunk Kristoff (Jonatham Groff), seeks out her sister in her remote ice palace. Although you pretty much know what will happen, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee with Lee’s screenplay never descend to the maudlin or cheap romance. Love is the object to unthaw the world, and it doesn’t come easily.

Making the old Hans Christian Anderson story contemporary is as easy as having Kristoff exclaim when his sled burns, “Ahh, and I just got it paid off!” The preparation for teenage and adult responsibilities is laced with comments like Kristoff’s to Anna: “Didn’t your parents ever warn you about strangers?” The combination of romance and reality is effective, no more so than with the big, Broadway-like songs perfectly matched to the theme.

The challenges are many, not quite as physical as often happens, to make the defeat of evil, not quite as evil as usual either, rightly earned. Despite the possible interpretations such as a need for inclusion and the solitude of being different (gay?), Frozen should warm the whole family with its humor and adventure. But be careful with your pre-teen girls: This movie empowers young women to make their own life and fight their own battles. I hope that translates to your home peacefully.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at