April 11, 2014
Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee's Disney film Frozen has been declared the top money-making animation in history. This hot film has risen to number nine on the list of international Box Office hits, soon to overpower James Bond in Skyfall.
Let's visit some of the reasons why:
- The fantasy melds multi-generational appeal with a multi-cultural musical beat.
- Princesses reign as the latest animation starlets.
- Nordic scenery energizes Disney's colorful canvas.
- Boreal snowflakes dazzle.
- Bedazzling melodies astound.
- Astonishing ticket prices gross more money.
- And many fans are returning for multiple viewings.
Now for the reasons this achievement is mystifying:
- Princesses are popular - sisters not so much.
- Of Disney's 3R's - Romance, Royalty and catchy Refrains - Romance takes a beating.
- No super macho (or macha) heroes punch in or punch out.
- No villains, witches or bitches compel the plot.
- No combat or conquests bloody the screen.
- No happily-ever-after warms your fuzzies.
- True love has family ties.
There are no really bad guys, just really bad weather. Everybody is freezing in Frozen's sunny kingdom. We don't mind. Disney's winter is so pretty.
But the inhabitants of Arendelle are cold and confounded by the global cooling...and by the by, the government is to blame.
Elsa, the eldest princess, has inherited the King's throne from her Dad. (Now that's a twist for a Disney cartoon. No wars, marriage or patrilineal traditions for the Arendelleans.
Her parents, the king and queen, died in a boating accident and she was next in line. No drama. No paranoia. Easy-peasy.)
Elsa, unhappily, has an emotional problem. Whenever she gets mad, she glaciates everything in her wake.
The cure, we are told by sympathetic trolls, is to control her emotions. She fails and her hissy fits ice over her empire.
Ah ha. We knew it. This cute little girl is too emotional to reign. The sexual stereotyping has fallen to a new low despite ladies' lib at Waltwood.)
Instead of self-control, she heads for the hills, away from the temptation of her temper tantrums, the escalating blizzards and her inquisitive subjects. Is this Hans Christian Anderson's prescient take on fairytale rehab or enchanted anger management? Is Anna planning a sibling intervention?
O.K. So I'm way off topic.
Anna whose very life was threatened by her sis's frostbite, has not been privy to the truth of Elsa's mental condition. She is determined to return the new queen to her throne. She hires Kristoff, a handsome everyman's Norseman, and Sven, his Disneyesque deer, to track Elsa to her frigid hideout. They are joined by a snowman, Olaf - the consummate goofy Disney mascot.
Never mind the spoilers, Frozen is as twisted and tangled as Memento, but not as rational. Meanwhile, soak up the scenery and savor the soundtrack as you wait to learn if pretty Elsa can conquer her demons in time to defrost her queendom.
Ready for Frozen 2?
Sadly, the Golden Era of Extras is waning. With Netflix and streaming saving pennies over abbreviated DVDs, and with the studios rushing the DVDs to market, Extras are shelving crew interviews and director's narratives.
Happily, here are some notable exceptions. Writer/co-director Jennifer Lee and co-director Chris Buck host a historical look into "D' Frosting: Disney's journey from Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen."
They also walk viewers through the reasons for the deleted scenes - depicted via stop-action story-boards.
A new original Mickey Mouse animation, "Get a Horse," is full of visual puns that are as entertaining for kids as they are engaging for adults. (Recommended.)
"The Teaser Trailer," (the tussle between the snowman and the reindeer over a carrot) would be a good time for adults to grab a beer.
One way Disney boosted international sales was to dub foreign pop stars onto foreign language soundtracks - from Thailand and Japan to France and Flanders. Twenty five different language versions of "Let It Go" were commissioned. Ka-ching. Ka-ching.
Written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the talented couple created many of the Frozen songs. For your pleasure, watch three singers belting in four languages. You can see the beautiful Marsha Milan Londoh letting it go in her native Bahasa Malaysia. Demi Lovato lost the battle to perform for the Academy Awards to Idina Menzel (Elsa, the Queen), but won the war to appear on this Blu-ray DVD Music Video segment.
"How Did We Make Frozen?" was make-ity made into a Glee-ful song and dance number for the Bonus Extras. This catchy polished production is watch-worthy. Kristen Bell (Anna), Josh Gad (Olaf) and Jonathan Groff (Kristoff) lead a talented troop of performers caroling and cavorting this energetic routine. (Look closely and you may spot Frozen notables including Disney creative chief John Lasseter, directors Buck and Lee, as well as the songwriters.)
What the Extras don't tell you here was that the Lopezes won this year's Academy Award for best song. Robert is now one of the rare (and the youngest) EGOT recipients - he has been bestowed (more than one) Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. (And he is the only artist to do it within 10 years.)
Maybe that info and an interview will appear on the veritable "Collector's Edition" - one that includes a 3D disc and even more Extras.
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Director: Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds, and Chris Williams
Aspect ratio: 2:39:1
7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
5.1 Dolby Digital
5.1 Dolby Digital
English SDH, Spanish and French