Expert film discussion from completely unqualified people


January 2, 2015

Mike reviews Frozen. Sort of.

"Why have a ballroom with no balls?"

The other night I sat down with my nieces and finally watched Disney’s Frozen©®❃. It’s good. I didn’t understand how it became a worldwide phenomenon and the highest-grossing animated film of all time until about the middle. In more ways the one, this film highlights the wonderful stupidity of children. Here’s my synopsis from memory:

The film opens on Arendelle, some sort of kingdom on the coast of what is most certainly a Scandinavian nation. Anna and Elsa are two young children playing unattended in a big-ass room. Elsa has the power to create and manipulate ice and snow. Anna has ADHD. She refuses to calm down and listen to Elsa. Instead she manically jumps off an ice cliff resulting in a blast of ice magic to her thick skull as Elsa tries to save her from busting it all over the ballroom floor. Their non-attentive parents ignore the concussion and instead rush the entire family out into the forest to meet with the ‘Crites’ -the furry alien monsters from the movie Critters. At first I thought they were chia-pets. The film refers to them as Trolls, but we know the truth.

Anna and Elsa’s parents explain the situation and the Trolls somehow come to the conclusion that the only way to save Anna is to suck out all the memories of Elsa’s powers. This is stupid, but who am I to question the wisdom of the critters? Off to the side we see a mama critter kidnap a boy and his moose. Elsa blames herself for the accident. She’s the last person who needs to take responsibility for what happened. The order of blame in this case is Anna, the parents, the castle staff, John Lasseter, Elsa.

Instead of sending Elsa away to the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (I already assume Elsa is actually the lovechild of Rogue and Iceman), her parents decide the best way to prevent any more accidents is to stop letting their girls play together and to keep Elsa isolated. At this point I’m not really sure what they are actually doing. Is Elsa locked in her room? Is she allowed to roam the castle but with limited contact with Anna? There is a musical time lapsed montage that shows them growing up into the animated supermodels that Disney likes to burden us with, but it’s unclear if Anna and Elsa ever see each other or communicate.

The parents, the king and queen of Arendelle, then get on a ship and leave. We don’t know where they’re going or why. I guess leadership of the kingdom is left to the babysitter until they get back. They don’t come back. Their ship vanishes into the ocean. We assume they died screaming because few Disney films like to deny the audience of orphans. This is all in the prologue. It seems like a lot but I’m pretty sure this all happened in the first two and half minutes of the film.

Three years later, it’s time for Elsa to be coronated as queen. Anna gleefully loses her shit as people are allowed inside for the party. She joins her sister during the ceremony and the sexual tension between them is palpable. I’m not kidding. The awkwardness between them after whether or not they’ve even seen each other or spoken in a decade inadvertently comes across as the wrong kind of unresolved intimacy. I’m not the only one who perceived it in this way. Others have taken the idea and run with it, if only to make the internet a little more disturbing.

Feeling all warm and gooey, Anna runs into a man she had previously groped on the docks. Muttonchop ascot man, otherwise known as Prince Hans, seems like a totally righteous dude. He and Anna run around singing a song that may or may not be about polygamy ("Love is an Open Door"). They decide to get married because that is what you do in a Disney princess movie. The couple go to Elsa for her blessing. In one of the best moments of the film and a complete reversal of previous traditional Disney values, Elsa basically calls her an idiot for wanting to marry someone she just met. The argument results in Elsa losing control of her powers and orgasmically blowing ice all over the ceremony. She leaves in a panic, freezing everything in her wake. Anna decides to pursue her sister into the now-frozen wilderness. Everyone else seems a little hesitant about letting the teenager and only royal family member remaining chase after the snow witch in woods filled with wolves and critters, but ultimately no one tries to stop her. Prince Mutton is now in charge. Elsa ascends to the top of Mount Crumpit and happily builds herself an ice castle after murdering the grinch.

Her construction song is the now infamous “Let It Go”. This is it. This is how the movie became a franchise, how it grossed so much. This fucking song. We’re led to believe this song was written for the film. I don’t believe that for a second. I think the film was written as a vehicle for the song. Unlike many of the other songs in the film, "Let It Go" can exist free of the context of the movie. There are a number of ways you can interpret the tune, but it's basically a “coming-out” anthem. I can’t really rag on it. I understand why so many parents have had their heads twisted off by this playing on loop. Its catchy and solid.

Meanwhile, Anna is now in pursuit. This is the point where her character starts to become immensely likeable. Along the way, she encounters Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kristoff and his caribou slave Sven. His character is also extremely likeable. After realizing Mount Crumpit is the source of the eternal winter befalling the land, Anna commissions him to guide her up the mountain to find her sister. They discover Olaf the snowman who prays for his own death. The group continues up the mountain. The chemistry between these characters is entertaining enough that you stop caring about Elsa and or anyone else. You really just want to watch them go on their own adventures. At least until Anna and Kristoff bang.

Meanwhile, Hans takes a crew to go find Anna and Elsa with some assassins in tow. The group reaches the ice castle and Anna goes inside to reunite with her sister. Elsa eventually flips shit again and shoots Anna in the heart with her ice magic. Anna seems okay, so Elsa instead creates a giant snow monster to kill them. Stay Puft/Sandman chase Anna and Kristoff away only to discover that Elsa has dyed Anna’s hair. Fearing the worst, they rush to the critter camp to seek a cure. The critters try to force Anna and Kristoff into an arranged marriage until they realize she’s dying. The only cure is penicillin but since it’s the 15th century or something they have to settle for an act of true love. Buying into her naive notion of love, Kristoff rushes her back to Hans Blix.

My memory is a little fuzzy on the next few bits. Hans captures Elsa after she nearly murders the would-be assassins. She is restrained using goofy hand shackles. Anna reunites with Hans and explains her predicament. Instead of kissing her, loveable and noble Hans turns a complete 180. Hans is full-on evil. I was shocked that this is type of twist would be in a children's movie. There is no prior indication that Hans is actually a power-hungry sociopath. Typically the audience would be made aware of the ruse prior to the characters discovering it. While seven-year-olds are curled in a ball rocking uncontrollably trying to figure out how a “good” character they thought they understood could actually be a despicable murderer, Hans leaves Anna to die on his way to execute her sister. Fuck.

After this turn the movie wraps up pretty quickly. Elsa escapes because she has incredible superpowers (what did they think was going to happen?). Anna and Kristoff sprint towards each other across the frozen fjord so that they can make out. Elsa and Hans are out there too. Hans tells Elsa that Anna is dead. Elsa falls to her knees in grief. Hans moves in for the kill. As he prepares to strike a death blow, Anna jumps in the way and becomes a greenish ice statue thing. Instead of shattering to pieces at the touch of the sword, the weapon instead splinters resulting in some kind of energy bubble that knocks Hans backwards. Elsa, realizing that Anna was not dead but now totally is dead, once again mourns. Predictably, (and maybe because Anna does not have any children to orphan yet) Anna’s sacrifice is the act of true love necessary to unfreeze her. Elsa realizes that true love will thaw out the kingdom and proceeds to undo her terrifying ice magic. She now knows she has a chance to resolve her romantic feelings with Anna and probably share the fun with Kristoff, his moose, and the snowman.

At the end, Anna gifts a new sleigh to Kristoff. I don’t understand how he uses the sleigh in the summer since all the snow is gone. Shouldn’t she have given him some kind of wagon or carriage? How was he using the sleigh before Elsa froze everything? I guess there is still snow in the mountains, but how does he use it to get his ice into town? Is he still going to have a job now that Elsa can just create unlimited ice whenever she wants?

Queen Elsa treats her subjects to an ice rink with her powers. She somehow creates ice skates for people with her ice powers. For some reason it took until this moment for me to realize that Elsa is a god. She is a human makerbot. She can create just about anything with her ice powers. She doesn’t need existing matter to do this. It just manifests itself. She creates matter and energy with her magic in any form she wants as long as it’s fucking cold. Hans isn’t the only one out of a job. Elsa can replace any creative labor. She can completely transform the economy of the region. And lets not forget, she can create LIFE. Olaf the snowman and the massive violent snow monster.

md5.pngWhere did her powers come from? Did the trolls give them to her? It doesn’t seem that way since they asked if she was born this way or cursed. Is she descended from Frost Giants, an adopted ward to keep peace between the realms? Where were their parents going when their ship sank? Were they trying to smuggle the secret of ice powers away from Oscorp? I’m guessing a number of the open questions were meant to be answered but were intentionally left out to avoid bogging down the story.
Despite this completely delirious romp through bumblefuck Norway, Frozen is actually a decent children's film. It’s the spiritual successor to 2010’s Tangled and, while I personally do not think it’s as good, it continues a trend of more modern and progressive “Disney Princesses." As I mentioned earlier, what really made this movie a giant success is what I disliked most about it: the song. There were many songs in this film but everyone knows what I mean when you mention the song from Frozen. On a hunch I’m going to say "Let It Go" has has gone platinum more than once and has probably made nearly as much coin as the film itself, if not more. Disney has always been about profit and they did a great job here. This film wasn’t some slapped together cash grab like many other animated features that like to bank on the success of other films. Frozen is one of the anchors. It is a well executed, well intentioned Disney animated feature film about incestous lesbians with superpowers. And the kids love that fucking song.

md3.pngMike is a regular contributor to the Ugly Club. Catch him on twitter: @TubNubbins


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