Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I bought into the Frozen hype. Now I want a refund.

I feel like I am the last person to see Frozen, however, if that person is actually you: Warning! Spoilers abound!

I'm a bit ashamed to admit it, but I bought into the Frozen hype.  David and I have been wanting to get our hands on a copy since it came out on DVD, but it's been all but impossible to find at a Redbox until this past weekend.  We were just as excited to watch it ourselves as we were to show it to Lucia.  

Big mistake.  If I had watched it expecting a Disney movie, I probably would have enjoyed it tolerably well, but I was expecting the Disney movie of the year decade century and I was sorely, sorely disappointed.  So much so that as I stayed awake the last few nights with a sick toddler, I couldn't help wondering exactly what I found lacking in the movie. 

1) The "You Can't Marry a Man You Just Met" storyline seemed contrived and a bit too obvious. I heard so many people saying, "Finally! A realistic Disney movie!" Realistic? Might I remind you of the anthropomorphic snowman? Or the character that controls wintery weather? Who watches a Disney movie for realism?  Isn't the whole point of fairy tales (and Disney movies are the fairy tales of modernity) to teach morals through the use of a fantastic story? They are supposed to get kids thinking and analyzing in order to find the moral.  But, apparently, it's much easier these days to just have the sister of the main character say the moral pointblank.  Unless the moral of the story is actually "your older sister knows best".  In addition to feeling like this "fairy tale rewrite" was a little forced in order to please the modern woman, it's also not a consistent message throughout the film (see #2 and #6).

2) Hans must be evil because Kristoff is good. If we're talking about realism, let's talk about this love triangle.  In real life, it's not unusual that a woman might be interested in two men, but rarely is one all good and the other pure evil.  But I guess that's where people stop praising Frozen for being realistic.  As soon as I saw the love match-up between Anna and Kristoff, I knew that Hans would turn out to be the bad guy.  Not because anything in the movie suggested that, but because I knew Disney just wouldn't make a female character choose between two good guys. You can't marry a man you just met, but you still have to marry your one true love.  I was hoping that Anna would actually have to make a choice and that there would indeed be a new and exciting departure from the classic Disney princess model.  But apparently the only thing that has changed in princess relationships is a longer dating period.

3) "She's my sister. She'd never hurt me." I saw a meme of this going around facebook a while back with friends tagging their sisters as a sign of the sisterly bond. Did they see the movie? Elsa does in fact hurt Anna, which would be somewhat understandable if it were done on accident (the ice in the heart was an accident after all) but she sent a snow monster after her. And then later Elsa was so upset to find out that Anna was dead. Well, it very well could have been that snow monster!  Anyway, this movie is touted as so new and unique because it's sisterly love and not true love's kiss that saved Anna, but that ending was pretty obvious from early on in the movie though, wasn't it?

4) The bipolar snow queen was too much for me. One minute, Elsa is running away from her kingdom in tears because she revealed her powers, scared her subjects, and could have killed them. A moment later, she "let[s] it go" and changes herself from a modestly dressed princess to a sexy snow goddess complete with a slit up the leg.  She spends her childhood hiding from her kingdom and the sister she loves in order to protect them, then quickly changes into an angry, bitter witch.  Then at the end the movie, she is back in her kingdom frolicking with others - even though she was just enjoying herself living free in isolation.  The mood swings are a bit too drastic.  Even if I don't care that Disney movies are realistic, the emotions of the characters should still make sense for the fantastic situations they are in.

5) The trolls seemed unnecessary. The role of comic relief was already taken by Olaf. And Kristoff. And Sven. And they seemed to undermine the whole "You Can't Marry a Man You Just Met" moral as "love experts" who wanted Kristoff and Anna to marry right away. I did agree with their advice that you can't change a person and that no one is perfect, but that was just another romantic love lesson that was being shoved into this movie that was primarily about sororal love. 

6) We rented Turbo last week and it got more play in our house than Frozen. Lucia just didn't like it. She didn't ask to rewatch it once, whereas we kept Turbo for days because she was thrilled to watch it over and over.  They are different types of movies, but Lucia enjoys the traditional Disney princess movies - one of her current favorites is Sleeping Beauty - and some more story driven cartoon movies like The Prince of Egypt. Frozen just did not keep her interest. 

That said, I appreciate that Disney has seemed to revive an interest in making music-filled movies based on classic fairy tales. I just think they would do a bit better if they kept closer to the original story lines like they did in the past. I couldn't see any resemblance of Frozen to it's supposed influence, Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen".  Other than the snow, of course.


  1. I keep wanting to write a "Why we should have just kept to the original fairy tale" post. I was so excited to have a "Snow Queen" story for once, it's such a good one, and Frozen so contrived in the end. It was cute and all and a few of the songs are catchy, but definitely not my favorite.

  2. Oh good Mandi, you can come over here with me in the "people who didn't much care for Frozen" boat. There's plenty of room. I thought I was alone.

  3. You make some valid points. However, I think the "you can't marry a man you just met" thing was Disney just poking fun at themselves in a very overt way.

    I did like the movie, if anything, because it was a departure from 'classic Disney.' I liked how characters changed from good to bad and then back to good (or not). I think having Anna have to decide between 2 good guys would be too confusing for kids (and would open up a Team Edward/Team Jacob kind of deal that I don't think really fits the Disney model).

    But we can agree to disagree, and it's refreshing to hear another take. And 2 thumbs up for the first time I've seen the word "sororal" used on a blog post.


    1. Well, you make me feel like a dunce! I didn't even think of that as Disney making fun of themselves! I was more responding to the reaction of others though who saw this as "realistic" and "a good lesson for our daughters" and I think they took it a little far. Can't we just be the good example for our daughters regarding dating? I hope what I teach Lucia has more sway than a Disney movie.

      I think kids could handle seeing someone decide between two good guys if a difference between the two was set up - Hans was someone she barely met and had time to get to know, but she spent a lot of time with Kristoff and could be more herself around him, etc. There at least didn't need to be the contrast between "pure evil" and "good", you know? Hans could have been not so great without being as awful as he was. And there should have been at least a tiny bit of foreshadowing that he wasn't perfect.

      Agree to disagree. And I had to look up that word - I knew one existed but I had no idea what the sister version of "fraternal" was!

  4. I really liked Frozen. I thought it was cute, and I enjoyed the foray into Nordic land :) I also think you may have intentionally missed the main moral lesson- which is that you can't lead life in fear, but rather must go forth with love. Elsa was taught from an early age to conceal any feelings that weren't "acceptable", to hide away her emotions and to fear her own strength as a woman. So, it's no wonder that she had to go through that crazy Winter Goddess phase! That was her coming into her own and finally realizing that her innate power. If she had instead been taught to work through her feelings, even the negative ones, with love, I think there would have been a very different story line.

    I like that there wasn't just an emphasis on romantic love. I wasn't in love with the overemphasis of sororal love, and I wasn't impresses with how out of nowhere Hans was a "bad guy"- but hey. It's a kids' movie. It makes an interesting plot twist and of course Kristoff is extremely loveable.

    Anyway, that's my defense of Frozen. I too am a little bewildered as to why it's been SUCH a smashing success. I liked it! I'll buy a copy. I loved the music. (Love Idina Menzel in general).... but is it better than Lion King? Aladdin? Jungle Book? Nah.

    Thanks for writing this!

    1. Yep, totally intentionally that I didn't discuss the main moral because I didn't have an issue with it - there is so much positive about Frozen out there that I wanted to share the things I didn't like. I don't think that Else was taught to fear her "strength as a woman" though - I think that's reading a bit too much into it. She was taught to fear emotions and her powers because she didn't know how to control them well. I don't think that really had anything to do with whether she was a woman or man.

      I'm fine with the fact that it emphasizes sibling love but I was annoyed that there was such a focus on it: "Wow, a Disney movie that focuses on the family relationship instead of love relationships!" And then when I watched it, so much of the movie was still about romantic love. I felt like Disney could have done a better job of downplaying romantic love a little more if they wanted to focus on the relationship between Anna and Elsa. There was just too much going on on both ends. Maybe if there was only one male love interest instead of that weird triangle, it would have been fine.

      Making Hans go from really good to really bad was kind of awful. No foreshadowing at all and it just seemed like a last minute decision. The writers could have put a few tiny little flaws in his personality throughout the movie that could have made the watcher look back and say, "Yeah, there were signs, they were so small I didn't notice them, but they were there if you looked closely enough." It just seemed so flawed - I get fairy tales aren't real life, but the emotions and actions of the characters should still be realistic for the crazy fairy tale situations and that just wasn't. Even if Anna was smitten with him and blind to his flaws, the outside observer should have some knowledge of his true character, right?

      Thanks for reading and discussing with me!

  5. Well said, Mandi! We actually bought the DVD when it came out and we were sorely disappointed. We definitely want a refund!

  6. Mandi I'm with you on #4...all through out the movie I wondered what all the hype was about!? I enjoyed Brave and Tangled much more....

  7. I'm glad I'm not the only one (you + some other commenters) who didn't think Frozen was the bees' knees. I thought the main problem with it was how the Troll King basically gave terrible advice to Elsa and her parents from the beginning - that she must hide her powers and lock herself away to avoid hurting anyone else ever again. Bad, bad advice! It takes Elsa years and lots of mistakes to figure out that was the opposite of what she needed to do to control and manage her powers.

    Plus, I thought the movie sincerely praised and encouraged the fact that she ran away from her problems. "Let It Go," although really catchy, has a terrible message if you think about it - forget everyone else, what I do doesn't matter, I might as well do whatever I want to do. Horrible advice, especially for impressionable kids - running away should be the last thing a child or adult does when faced with a serious issue.

    But I will admit that the songs got stuck in my head for a very long time after I saw it for the first time...and I enjoyed Olaf quite a bit. He saved the movie for me.

  8. I agree 100%...we saw it in 3-D...and I was just....meh

  9. I finally watched it last week. It was alright but I definitely didn't get why it's gotten so much hype. The music was good, but that can be said for a lot of Disney films. Maybe I went into it expecting a lot since everyone LOVES it.

  10. I don't mind the spoilers at all, even though I haven't seen it yet and I do intend to. (I don't have kids but I do have five nieces and a nephew, so I gotta keep up.) The fact that I haven't loved "Let It Go" may be significant. :)


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