I’m not a Frozen hater. I own the DVD and I play the role of Queen Elsa in my house every other day with socks on my hands for gloves. But it’s the most poorly crafted story of any Disney movie I can remember (even if the songs are super catchy and that Snowman is pretty fun). Plenty has already been written on the flaws of Frozen, but because I will probably be watching this movie on repeat for the next three years straight, consider this my catharsis.
- Ambivalent Troll King? The entire plot hangs upon Elsa not knowing how to control her powers. Troll King Pabbie tells her when she’s a girl that fear is her enemy and says great evil will come from it…but doesn’t mention what to do about it. (So her parents lock her in her room; real smart.) But when Anna has been injured by Elsa years later, Pabbie is quite forthcoming with the solution: An act of true love. Why didn’t he mention this in their meeting years before? He has no reason to hide this information. (The answer is, of course, because the writers were too lazy to come up with a real conflict.)
- Who is running this castle anyway? When Anna and Elsa are out of the picture, Hans is left in charge. Really? There’s no third in command in their kingdom? As far as we can tell, all Anna does is dink around talking to portraits and Elsa has been locked in her room for a decade. These are the people who have been in sole control of running the country?
- Custom handcuffs. Did they just have those handcuffs that can mysteriously control Elsa’s phenomenal powers lying around? She has the power to create life and ice castles, but put some metal cups on her hands, and she is powerless?
- No foreshadowing. Having watched it a number of times, I can confidently say that there is absolutely no foreshadowing that Hans is a bad dude. Even when he’s alone with his horse, there’s no evil sneer. The thrill that not all is as it should be is what builds tension and conflict. But the lack of a single hint of deception steals this delicious treat from the audience and makes it seem as if the filmmakers hadn’t decided yet what they were doing with Hans until after animation began.
- Stealing sandwiches. “We finish each other’s sandwiches” is a joke from Arrested Development. Maybe it’s an homage to the late great series. But as a prominent line in a love song, it seems more like stealing. Just saying.
- Where is the character development? To make a story great, there needs to be some character development. Elsa needs to go from a to b. Maybe she starts out sweet, turns bitter and evil, then decides to be loving again. But that’s not what happens. She starts out sweet, stays sweet (just sweet and scared inside a locked room), then sweetly runs away so she won’t hurt anyone, then realizes that with love she can control her powers. But she doesn’t really change internally. She doesn’t suddenly become more loving so that she can control her powers, she simply gains the knowledge that love controls it. So the entire movie hinges on a lack of information…which Pabbie could have given her at any time.
- Unbelievable Anna. And speaking of character development. Has there ever been a nicer girl than Anna? Her parents both died. Her sister hasn’t spoken to her in years without giving her any reason. I have two sisters. Growing up, if one of them had refused to talk to me for a day, I would have been really hurt. If they didn’t talk to me for a week, I would be furious and confused. If they ignored me for a decade, even after our parents died and I didn’t have another friend in the world? I’d need a therapist and a restraining order. Yet, Anna and Elsa’s first meeting after years of estrangement is…kind of cute and friendly. Anna does get a little fed up when Elsa disapproves of her 10-minute engagement and yells, “Hey, what’s your problem?!” Really? That’s all you’ve got, Anna? Either she’s the most forgiving, loving and light-hearted person who ever lived. Or she is really lazily written. Anna also doesn’t go through any kind of character development. She starts out nice and brave. And stays that way. Big whoop. (And when her supposed true love lets her die a slow death and sets out to murder her sister? Well that just really burns her biscuits. She sends him back to his brothers to give him a stern talking-to.)
- Wasted time. The reason the movie doesn’t have any time to spend on character development is that it has too many extraneous characters. The reindeer, the snowman and the trolls all serve as comic relief. That could have lost at least one of these elements. Although the Snowman’s “Summer” song is catchy and fun, it has nothing to do with the plot and does nothing to advance it. It’s wasted time. Same with the troll’s fixer-upper song. Wasted time that could have been used to make three-dimensional characters. They are trying to invest in too many characters. Three orphans. Two evil foreigners. A reindeer. A snowman. And a bunch of goofy trolls.
- Lose Kristoff. The moral of the Hans story is that we shouldn’t fall in love and run off with someone on the same day. That’s shallow. You should take time to get to know someone. You know, like Anna does with Kristoff. Whom she knows for two days. (But he is the only character you could argue had a smidgen of character development as he realized that other humans aren’t all that bad. Although only being able to relate to reindeers and not human beings doesn’t rank in the top 10 archetypes for relatable story lines.) Disney admirably had a story that focuses on the relationship between two sisters, so why waste my time with the blond hunk? Oh yeah, because Anna has to kiss someone at the end of the movie.
- What about a bad day? It’s not entirely clear, but at the end it seems that Elsa has learned that if she’s just full of love and happiness, she can control her ice powers. So they are mood dependant. If she has a bad day, there goes the kingdom. Watch out, she might shoot an ice dagger through your heart on accident. (And has she not felt love in years in order to notice that’s all it takes to control her power?) Besides, a queen who can make ice fountains and skating rinks in Scandinavia to be enjoyed during the only two warm weeks of the entire year? Worst superpower ever.
- The ice song. Just for fun, here’s an 11th problem for you. That ice song. Lame and forgettable and, once again, a waste of time in that the only thing it establishes is that there is ice, and they are cutting it. The movie’s mood or atmosphere as set by its music is inconsistent and muddled. It starts with a tribal-sounding ditty, which is nice but completely unrelated to the rest of the movie. This is followed by the uncatchy, unmemorable ice song, which has a somber kind of mood which seems fitting but which is also completely unrelated to the rest of the movie. Then it’s followed by a bunch of silly, fun songs like the Snowman’s “Summer” song, which is very American with its scatting and hat and cane. I like most of the songs, but they fail to create a cohesive sense of place or atmosphere in the movie.
There is so much more I could knock the movie for, but I’ll stop here. I hope I didn’t harsh your buzz. But I feel better now.