You were wondering who that one person in the whole world is who didn’t like it, and I’m right here.
I didn’t want it to be this way, but it is and now we all just have to deal with it. I’m going to lay out the reasons I just could not love this movie, so that maybe I’ll stop getting shocked and hateful stares every time I share the news. ***SPOILER WARNING***: I will be discussing many aspects of the plot and characters, so I’ll probably give away everything about the movie. I waited until now to write this so that anyone who was dying to see it will have probably already seen it, and anyone who hasn’t probably just doesn’t care that much about spoilers.
So, let’s just go ahead and talk about the most controversial issue I’m going to raise in this entire post: the music. I hated it. The soundtrack for this movie is wildly popular, and at one point it was even the number 1 album on iTunes (number 2 was Beyonce’s surprise ninja album, so that’s pretty amazing).
I just did not like the music. To be fair, I require a lot out of soundtracks to earn more than an “ok” rating. I consider the soundtrack to be bland if I can’t remember any part of it after having just watched a movie (in other words- it is forgettable) or if I notice the soundtrack ALL THE TIME because it is obnoxiously protruding from the cinematic experience. With that said, I do understand that some Disney songs are supposed to be noticeable (especially in the musicals) because they serve as vehicles to move the plot forward. But with Frozen, not only did I notice every song, I noticed that every song annoyed me. Some songs would have been merely mediocre (and forgettable) had they not indulged in some inescapable and irritating quirks).
Of course, I didn’t hate every song. The movie would have been unbearable had that been the case. Most were simply mediocre. The immediate hit “Let It Go” has unimaginative lyrics, bland music, and is only saved in my memory by the absolute powerhouse vocals of Idina Menzel. Honestly, I kind of like that song, but I recognize that this is only so because Menzel has the kind of voice that one cannot forget. She could sing “The Morning Report” and save it from its rightful place on the cutting room floor. Josh Gad’s “In Summer” is great example of a comedic song with clever lyrics; I would even put it in the same grouping as “Hakuna Matata,” though of course in a very inferior position.
Most songs had good potential but were tainted by stylistic choices that I did not like. “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman” is a great concept but lacks the emotional punch it should probably have had. “For the First Time in Forever” is terrible: horrible lyrics, weird arrangements, and I swear to the God of Soundtracks (Phil Collins), I have heard the same melody or refrain or something in another Disney song and so this song feels like a not-quite-as-good version of something else that I can’t quite remember. Not a good place to be. “Love is an Open Door” is actually okay, nothing too annoying except the bland as grits accompanying music. “Fixer Upper” is annoying. Do not sing it at me unless you are trying to put yourself in great peril.
Another aspect of the movie that irked me is the film’s bad habit of leaving plot threads loose, and I mean SUPER LOOSE. I understand that Disney has some constraints with film-making, and so might be unable to design a complete and coherent world in one children’s movie, but the threads left to wither and die in this movie are especially noticeable because they appear at introduction to be important elements to the story. I was waiting to hear the background of specific parts of this movie, and I’m still waiting.
First: how did Elsa get her powers? We are told exactly this about them,
“Born, or cursed?”
Okay, well then that means they are genetic. Which means that either one or both of her parents also has powers (unlikely, given their my-child-is-a-freak-of-nature-omg-lock-her-up reaction), or someone else in the family tree has a gift. Normally I don’t quibble about the origins of magical powers in Disney animated movies, it’s usually just something you have to accept. But Elsa’s powers are part of her identity in this movie, indeed she never seems to think of herself in any terms other than her powers, and they trigger the plot of the entire movie, AND they feature in the resolution of the conflict. So I really think that neglecting to adequately explain the origin of these powers is a noticeable mistake.
Also: the trolls. Just what. Are they supposed to be exiled from the kingdom? Why? I have absolutely zero problems with random characters appearing in the middle of the movie as long as they actually advance the movie. The trolls seemingly exist just to sing a song (which is a terrible song– let me just repeat that again) and when the entire theme of the song is rejected (Kristoff reveals that Anna is engaged to Hans) they immediately quit their shenanigans and we never hear from them again. I can only assume that they exist to be Kristoff’s adoptive family and that a heartwarming and explanatory scene was cut from the movie regarding how this came to be. Speaking of which……
There are some problems with the development of Kristoff’s character in that there doesn’t seem to be any character development. His origin story as an orphan or exile or whatever is the first problem: it is not really specific about why he lives with the trolls. Didn’t any of the ice farmers have enough of a heart to adopt an abandoned boy who would otherwise be forced to live in the wilds of Scandinavia? Once again, this lack of explanation is an issue because it is central to Kristoff’s identity and is how he thinks about himself. The perpetual loner, Kristoff and Anna connect because they are two people who experience little human interaction, and who are unwillingly separated from their families. Even if I were able to accept his origin story as “mysterious” and “unknowable,” I would still feel that his character is a little flat. Sure, he’s funny, and I love that, and he is great with animals, and I love that, but most of his scenes in the movie go like this:
Ana does/says something weird/awkward/dumb/magical.
Kristoff makes a snide remark/looks at her in wonder.
He has no other personality indicators. It is possible to write a movie with two awesome female leads who are complex and unstereotyped characters without making their male cohorts flat. There is no scale, where in order to make females into realistic people on screen, you must make males less like realistic people.
And now on to things I liked about the movie:
The animation: Holy Hell, it was great. I have made speculative jokes along the lines of, “Well, it looks like they took the budget for storyline development and soundtrack production and gave it to the animation department” and I kind hope it’s true because it would at least offer an explanation for the issues with this movie. Highlights include Elsa’s ice dress and palace, as well as the shots devoted to the spread of eternal winter in the kingdom.
The ending: I really, really liked this ending, and it is part of why I feel overall good about this movie. Yeah, you read that right: I feel good about this movie even though I don’t particularly like it. The fact is, young boys and girls are not going to be able to think about the movie in the ways I have just discussed it, but they are definitely going to be able to understand and internalize the movie’s ending. The revelation of Hans the Total Stranger as the “secret villain” and “betrayer of trust” is a refreshing change, as were Kristoff’s remarks early on in the film (“You’re engaged to a man you just met? Have you even shared a meal with him? But you don’t even know all of his disgusting habits. etc). The use of familial and sisterly love as a means to break a curse is a novelty that I wish were not a novelty. And the ending kiss between Ana and Kristoff is, I believe, a “dating kiss.” In other words, it’s not an “engagement kiss.” The difference between these types of kisses is that Ana can both save her sister and kingdom with her love via self-sacrifice and not have to give up her love life to do it (in other words, she can wear the cape of the hero and not give up her womanity to do it). This is a great ending. If only the parents had lived to see it, but, alas, they had to go on a Mediterranean cruise.
Sigh. I know that this opinion is certainly not popular, but I needed to spell out my reasons clearly because I’m tired of getting a scandalized look from everyone when it comes up that I did not like the movie. You know that look. What upsets me most about this movie is that it could have, should have been a great movie. Frozen is not an example of a project doomed from the start– in fact, it seems to me to be a project that started out pretty awesome and was cut up and reassembled so much during the production that the finished product resembles its old self very little. And that’s a shame.
If you would like to submit a rebuttal arguing for the greatness of Frozen, and how absolutely wrong I am to even utter one breath against this miraculous work of art’s complete beatitude, you may certainly do so and I encourage it. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply leave a comment. Anonymous is always an option. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings. The cold never bothered me anyway.