New-Release Tuesday: Frozen

Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.

When you’re in a group discussion about movies and everyone in the group says of a particular title, “Yeah! You’ve got to see it!”, it’s best to pay attention. Especially when folks spontaneously break into song. So it was that I finally got around to seeing Frozen.

This Disney film, though executive-produced by Pixar-division’s John Lasseter, is a thoroughly Disney film… which is to say it draws inspiration elsewhere than the Pixar metaphor of underdog-excellence-battles-corporate-flash-and-wins-because-it’s-actually-better-duh. In this case, Frozen draws on a classic Hans Christian Andersen story and elaborates.

Elsa and Anna are young princesses in an unnamed Scandinavian region. When we meet them, they are still children and Elsa entertains Anna with her magical abilities to create ice and freeze things. It’s a skill that Elsa has not learned to control, though, and when her parents become convinced that Elsa is not only a danger to others but to herself, she’s imprisoned in her own home. Anna is as well, as collateral damage.

Eventually, Elsa comes into her own as Queen of the Realm, and all Hell freezes over, so to speak. It’s up to Anna and her new-found friends to manage the damage and bring Elsa back to the fold.

There. Minimal spoilers. The trailer gives away more than that.

The bottom line here is sheer fun. As with Producer Peter Del Vecho’s 2009 effort The Princess and the Frog, primary characters are humanly engaging while supporting characters are exactly that, providing necessary comic relief without threatening to steal the show. The production design presents a unique time and place without conveying the impression that animators are just showing off. And the story presents something that feels genuinely new without coming off as preachy or disingenuous.

In this case, the “something new” is the idea that we may have gifts which we don’t know quite how to control. If that’s the case, it may take us a long time to use them properly… and until we do, what is truly a gift may appear to be (and even be used as) a weapon or curse.

Wow, that’s a stretch, isn’t it? How many of us have the ability to freeze things when we touch them? Well, I’ve known a great many people whose talents with words, as one example, works in a similar way. Even into their forties, they’re still feeling cursed, like a literary version of The Dead Zone‘s John Smith. Yet underneath the collateral damage of their own lives lurks this amazing talent waiting to be discovered by the world as such, and used for great good. Think, for instance, of Atonement as a metaphor for Frozen.

One temptation with Frozen would be to read it as some “coming out” story–which is an important enough theme. But that would be for a different movie than Frozen. This is really about talents which we have yet have not truly learned to harness.

I daresay one of them might be love. Even at 50-something I’m learning about the ways in which I express and receive love, and how they might be damaging or unproductive.

Howzzat for reading too much into children’s entertainment?

See? I have a neato destructive talent, too!

You can watch Frozen for free with a trial subscription to Starz on Amazon Prime. It is also available for a small fee on YouTube and iTunes.