Full disclosure: I’m one of only a handful of human beings who hasn’t seen
Rapunzel sorry I mean Tangled haha that’s right these movies totally aren’t about women. At all. Anyway, I haven’t seen that movie. I keep meaning to, and then don’t get around to it.
I’m honestly not sure if Frozen makes me want to give Tangled a chance or not. I have really, really mixed feelings about this movie.
So, spoilers coming if you care about those.
The movie tries to fake you out twice. One of those times is very successful. The other one flat pissed me off.
The good fake out had to do with how true love was treated in the movie. About halfway through-ish, Anna gets hit with her sister’s magic and escapes. It’s apparently going to kill her. The random trolls (more on this later) inform Anna and Kristoff that the only thing that will thaw a frozen heart is an act of true love. Immediately, pretty much everyone jumps on the idea of true love being romantic, and a kiss from Anna’s supposed true love Hans. This caused me to write some very cranky notes, up until the big gotcha right at the end—where the act of true love is actually Anna choosing to sacrifice herself to save Elsa’s life. That’s right. The act of true love was about the bond between sisters.
Okay, that? Was awesome. And unexpected. Well played, Disney, well played. It’s so unusual to see the power of familial love (or love between friends) being shown as equal to or even greater than romantic love.
The bad fake out was the entire thing with Hans. At the beginning of the movie, Anna meets Hans, and they do the love at first sight thing and have a song about it even. When Anna runs off to try to find Elsa, she leaves Hans in charge, and he seems to be doing a pretty good job watching the store, so to speak. Then when it looks like Anna is lost, he leads a party to go looking for her, and ends up at Elsa’s ice castle—where he saves her life. Add all of this up, and when he suddenly does the Oh hey I’ve been a villain all along reveal when Anna tries to get him to kiss her, it makes no fucking sense.
Normally if someone’s going to be the evil traitor/hidden villain sort, movies will give narrative clues that they’re the bad guy—because the audience likes to know things the characters don’t, if nothing else. (Just as when you have a character who seems villainous but actually isn’t, they normally get a “save the cat” moment early on just to clue us in that they’re actually okay.) Now, we could get into narrative arguments over how much more sophisticated it is to not use devices like that, but let’s remember that this is a kid’s movie, to begin with. And the very fact that Hans acts to save Elsa makes no fucking sense in light of him being a villain. He could have pretended to be just a little too slow to save her, let her get killed, and then problem solved. The entire concept of his villainy is out of left field and nonsensical. It honestly felt like the writers got to the end, realized that they needed a bad guy from whom Anna could save Elsa, and picked him.
And it was also just unnecessary. Anna could have saved Elsa from nearly any other hazard at that point and the story would have worked just fine. And let’s consider the bravery of a story that’s told where there’s no actually villain except for prejudices, misunderstanding, and insecurities. The way Frozen was set up, they really could have done that, and I don’t think it would have lessened the tension at all.
The whole weird sudden turnaround of Hans honestly went along with the other major issue the film had, which was that its pacing was really uneven. The first act really stretches out (there is a lot of necessary backstory, but still) but then the jump into the second act is incredibly abrupt, between Anna deciding within five seconds that she had to ride off and find Elsa immediately and that she was going to leave the guy she just met in charge, and Elsa being like screw it I’m the snow queen I don’t even need a line of dialog before launching into my big song. And then there are the magical MacGuffin trolls, who are conveniently present twice when Anna gets hurt and conspicuously absent at all other times. They live in a technicolor plant-filled valley that seems entirely disconnected from the rest of the world of the film, and even moreso when it’s magical winter everywhere else…but inexplicably not for the trolls. Their presence was another disjointed plot point an already bumpy ride.
I almost didn’t see the movie because the publicity campaign was so terrible—you know, where you basically get the snowman and reindeer show and then oh maybe there’s these two chicks in it? Yeah, if the trailers had been about the sisters, I would have seen it of my own volition.
Though funny enough, I didn’t find Olaf all that annoying, and I thought I would. (I actually found Anna to be the most annoying character, another thing that prevents me from really wanting to see the movie again.) His perverse yet innocent death wish sustained me through the more frustrating moments of Frozen. Olaf sings my favorite song out of the entire film. And there are a lot of songs…and I think most of them are good? Though I admit I was disappointed, going from the beautiful opening credit song Vuelie to much more standard Broadway-style fare. So another point in its favor if you like musicals, because that was definitely the feel it had going.
Between the pacing problems and the thing with Hans, I can’t quite muster up enthusiastic squeeing for Frozen. Which is a shame, because the thing with the sisters is amazing—I really appreciate it, I just can’t say I want to go watch the movie again. In a way, I actually feel quite guilty for not liking the movie, because it did have women in the lead, a story about sisterly love, etc–all things I feel I ought to appreciate. But I just didn’t connect with it, I didn’t get in to some of the characters, and the narrative just really frustrated me in places.
Anyway, it was fun, and if you’re in to animated movies you should definitely see it.