Advertisement
  1. Arts & Entertainment

Review: Disney's 'Frozen' has a few cracks in the ice

Elsa the Snow Queen is voiced by Idina Menzel in Disney’s Frozen.
Published Nov. 27, 2013

The most amusing ingredient of Disney's formula on ice in Frozen doesn't belong there. He's the adorably dumb sidekick named Olaf – the Tow Mater of the piece, if you will – voiced with exuberant stupidity by Josh Gad.

Olaf is a snowman, suiting the frigid setting, with a naive hankering to live in tropical climes, prompting this musical's liveliest song. His magically detachable body parts – and a cherished new carrot nose – make Olaf a continuous sight gag after his arrival halfway through. He's fun and energetic, which doesn't fit much of what came before.

Frozen is a throwback to serious Disney musicals like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Princess and the Frog. Olaf is flatulence at a formal dinner party, too boisterous for the table set before him.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee present a wintry spectacle with 3-D tricks a cut above most 'toons. Frozen impresses by conveying coldness in all its frostbitten beauty, from northern lights and blizzards, to ice magnifying, refracting and reflecting light. The movie is a lovely example for animation enthusiasts to study.

The drama of Lee's screenplay is equally chilled, focused on two princesses apparently not meriting that official Disney merchandising status. Elsa is the eldest, cursed/blessed with the ability to conjure cold in any form. These icy powers are fun and games until younger Anna gets hurt by an arctic bullet. Their royal parents ground the girls for years, isolated even from each other, until Elsa's coronation day.

That event doesn't go well for Elsa (now voiced by Idina Menzel), who plunges the kingdom into deep freeze then high tails it into the wilderness. Anna (Kristen Bell) must convince Elsa to return and thaw out the kingdom. Aided by the smitten mountaineer Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and later Olaf, Anna's quest to connect with her sister is the underwhelming gist of the movie.

There's a distinct lack of conflict, since Elsa isn't a bad person, only misunderstood and neurotic about her cryo-kinetic condition. Even when unleashing an abominable snow-bouncer, there's no peril from her taken seriously. Lee introduces a pompous royal (Alan Tudyk) with ulterior motives who never materializes as much of a threat.

Songs composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez employ the yearnings and assertions of quasi-Broadway show tunes. The theatrical camaraderie of Bell and Menzel's duet For the First Time in Forever, and later Elsa's breakdown song Let It Go, nakedly mimic the supernatural sibling chemistry of Wicked. Neither is as playful as Olaf's showstopping daydream In Summer, and Gad's giddy performance.

Making even better use of 3-D technology – earning the "plus" in this B+ review – is a short masterpiece preceding Frozen, an ingeniously retro Mickey Mouse cartoon titled Get a Horse. For six indescribable minutes, Disney's original spark of animation genius melds with modern capabilities, with Uncle Walt himself voicing Mickey. It's the only thing your ticket's buying that'll be revered 20 years from now.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. On Sunday, Zac Brown Band will perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Courtesy of Diego Pernia
    Sing along to Zac Brown Band in Tampa, attend Open Streets St. Pete or stuff your face at Tampa’s Taste of Latino.
  2. The Florida Department of Transportation is installing lights on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as part of a $15 million project. During tests this weekend, engineers will illuminate the bridge in a pink hue to commemorate breast cancer awareness month. Courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation
    The Florida Department of Transportation is lighting up the span this weekend to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.
  3. At The Tiki Cove, you don’t need too much imagination to place your mind and mood at an actual beach. JUSTIN GRANT  |  Justin Grant
    The Tiki Cove is a Florida-only novelty that anyone passing through will be sure to enjoy. | Bar review
  4. Try I Am The Walrus Berliner Weisse ib draft at Hidden Springs Ale Works, or look for it in cans at your local quality beer shop. JUSTIN GRANT  |  Justin Grant
    This is Florida, so some of our autumn brews fall outside the paradigm. | Local beer of the week
  5. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley is among the headliners of the 2020 Reggae Rise Up Festival in St. Petersburg. Brian Cross
    Nahko and Medicine for the People, SOJA and Iration also top the bill for the St. Petersburg festival.
  6. In this Friday, Sept. 27 file photo, gondolas move to various locations at Walt Disney World on the Disney Skyliner aerial tram, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Firefighters have responded to help Walt Disney World park-goers who have been stuck aboard the Florida resort's newly launched aerial cable car system, on Oct. 5. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    The tapes depict stranded riders crying, pleading for help because of their health conditions and in one case a man who had passed out.
  7. Thunderstorms are expected this weekend in Tampa Bay, prompting the cancellation of several outdoor events. CHRIS URSO  |  Times (2014)
    MarineQuest and the St. Petersburg Science Festival have canceled their popular Saturday activities.
  8. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue was scheduled to headline on Friday, Oct. 18 at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday in Coachman Park. Mathieu Bitton
    Festival and city officials will monitor the weather accordingly as a tropical disturbance threatens heavy wind and rain.
  9. Screenwriter Andy Warrener shows off a copy of his film "The Black String" available at a local Walmart. Andy Warrener
    Andy Warrener went from Civil War reenactor to screenwriter. “The Black String” has two local screenings next week.
  10. Chad Mize, left, and Jay Hoff in front of the "Pride and Love" mural they completed with LGBTQ youth as part of this year's Shine Mural Festival. Courtesy of Annie West Ellzey
    The Shine Mural Festival continues in St. Petersburg, ‘Rocky Horror’ star Barry Bostwick hits Tampa Theatre and ZZ Top performs with Cheap Trick in Tampa.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement