This seems hard to believe, but 2013’s Frozen was a surprise hit. Like, nobody — including Disney — expected it to go on to rake in a million-gazillion dollars (actual amount to date: $1.27 billion). Nobody expected “Let It Go” to become a song that even people living on a remote island with no other human contact know by heart (I have no proof of this). No parent expected that their kids’ lives would become so dominated and influenced by this film. And perhaps most of all — after the movie did become an instant box-office success, no one could believe that there was hardly any Frozen merchandise to satisfy millions of fans around the world. Someone surely got fired over that major screw-up.
I bring this up because now, six years later, it’s the opposite scenario. Expectations for Frozen II are crazy-high. Everyone is waiting to see if it’ll have another “Let It Go” in its soundtrack. Even the guy on the remote island has some of the new merch, because it is INESCAPABLE. And this all leads to two questions we ask every time a sequel to a successful movie (especially a successful kids movie) comes out: 1) Did this sequel really need to be made?, or 2) Was it just a blatant cash-grab by the studio and a ploy to sell a billion more dollars of new Frozen stuff?
My answers to those questions are: 1) Very few movies really need to be made, and 2) Of course it was, but if the sequel is good and you enjoy it, does it matter?
This time around we see Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Olaf (Josh Gad) banding together once again after a mysterious force awakens in the nearby forest and threatens to destroy Arendelle. There are songs (I still remember all of them a week later, but there is no “Let It Go” in the bunch), there are laughs (more than I expected), there are cute new characters (MORE MERCH), there is gorgeous animation (one scene involving a carriage looks photo-real, as did many others) and there are new, and I dare say important, lessons.
As someone who loves all of the more traditional Disney princess movies as well as the more recent batch including Tangled, The Princess and The Frog, Brave and yes, Frozen that are moving away from the typical “girl loves/is saved by/marries boy” storyline, I have to applaud Disney—and returning co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (who also wrote the screenplay) — for going even further out on a limb with Frozen II. Friends, this movie is WEIRD. It’s not so weird that your kids are going to think it’s weird, but you will be like “What is happening” in more than a few parts.
I really, really wish I could discuss those parts, but they involve some of the twists in the film, and I would never ruin anything for you. But here are a few high-level ways in which Frozen II diverges from other “Disney princess” movies:
- While there are bad guys that we become aware of, there is no true villain
- There is some seriously dark material (again, it is likely to go over younger kids’ heads) — and I’m not talking about the required “dead parents,” though rest assured Anna and Elsa’s deceased mom and dad are back in the mix again
- One of its main themes doesn’t have to do with a relationship of any kind, and I don’t think it’s ever been explored in a Disney movie, and
- One of its best, laugh-out-loud musical numbers is only going to be truly appreciated by those who lived through (survived?) the ‘80s.
So yeah, WEIRD.
Frozen II is not going to be for everyone. But personally, I loved it, and I am excited to see it again with my kids and husband and observe their reactions. I don’t think I’ve ever continued to ponder over the themes in a Disney movie a full week later like I have with Frozen II. I hope you get as much out of it as I did, and I wish my fellow parents luck in not dropping $$$s like I already have on all the new clothes/toys/figures/food tie-ins/please make it stop.