December 6, 2013 Leave a Comment
directors Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
viewed: 12/01/2013 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA
Frozen, the latest from Disney’s digital animation crew, has been getting a lot of praise, some suggesting that it’s Disney’s best since The Lion King (1994), and maybe they just mean best “musical” since The Lion King, I’m not sure.
In my opinion, it’s not even as good as either Tangled (2010) or Wreck-It Ralph (2012), though perhaps I am skewed a bit against musicals. Well, skewed against bad or mediocre musicals, not musicals in general.
I was noting to a friend that the challenge of making a movie musical is that not only are you trying to make a good movie (hard enough) but then you have to write and perform good music (also no cakewalk). You are basically doubling your challenge and probably complicating the odds against success by degrees much more steeply.
Frozen falls closer to Tangled, also taking a single word past participle title and reworking a fairy tale quite freely. Frozen re-works Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen”, turning it into a story of estranged sisters, one cursed with magical powers, the other cursed with a sister with magical powers who doesn’t want anyone to know that she has them so she keeps the castle the live in all locked tight. All goes well until the coronation and exposure to the rest of the kingdom and the releasing of her powers over snow and ice.
The kids weren’t too bothered about seeing Frozen but I told them that it had gotten good reviews and that it looked worth seeing. Apparently I didn’t tell them it was a musical. Felix felt that there was too much singing. Which is fair. None of the numbers in the film would be hummed afterwards, or remembered even now much later.
The songs all express the characters’ feelings and tend to push the narrative forward in explicating their feelings. They are very obvious and fit in contemporary popular style. While musicals aren’t what they used to be, a truly popular genre of film, they still rule Broadway and popular television shows indulge some of the same. Not everybody appreciates the Musical as a genre, but I would argue that contemporary pop culture does.
Sadly, as noted above, the music just doesn’t cut it. And when it doesn’t cut it, it cuts the film.
Frozen is okay. It has its charms. But it has a lot of unmemorable, emotive, and obvious musical numbers. None of us was too impressed.