Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Perhaps it is just being a young boy at heart, but after watching Disney animated films for nearly three decades, I’m not quite that excited when the latest princess flick is announced. That’s not to say that I don’t still try to see every one of them, as was the case in the past couple of years with enjoyable entries like “Tangled” and “Brave,” but lately I’m veering my fandom more toward nontraditional entries like “Wreck it Ralph.”
However, today’ selection does stand in quality company in what is shaping up to be the weakest year in recent memory when it comes to animated films and I have a feeling the best feature prize will ultimately come down to this flick, “Monsters’ University” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.” “The Croods” certainly had a chance earlier on, but it doesn’t quite have the same punch as these, which pretty much shuts out “Despicable Me 2” unless minion antics are more preferred than a developed storyline. “Frozen” may be cold as ice when it comes to the overall theme, but it is a funny, heartwarming tale that has a rare balance through a full range of characters that each audience member can find a match.
Set in a kingdom called Arendelle, which looks like a cross between Tsar Russia in “Anastasia” and the palace from“ Beauty and the Beast”, we are introduced to the latest princess icons, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menze). The two start out as inseparable friends, raising all kinds of mischief about the palace while regularly admiring what seems to be Elsa’s unique ability to manipulate ice; that is until said trait causes great harm to Anna during an accident one night.
As a result of this and a tragically classic Don Bluth moment that leaves them alone, they are separated as they get older, but not without a tune or two that attempts to keep in line with the house of mouse’s usual peppy style. However, that does not last forever and one day Elsa is forced to not be the richest regional shut-in when she is crowned queen.
Of Course, this also goes rotten when she again loses control of her powers and it only seems to spiral further back into bad moods despite the suspiciously helpful nature of those like Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana). Cue the ever clever Anna, who attempts to right the epic freak out even if it again means great risk to her life, along with the help of a quirky snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad) and an ice salesman named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff).
It is the close attempt at being a darker fairy tale (Disney did not dare wreck the happily ever after by truly adapting the Hans Christian Anderson story where the frozen one is a villain) that really helps make this a winner and manages to find the right moments to turn off the faucet before the sap overflows. Sure, it will not quite be my favorite of the modern princess adventures, that honor instead held by “Princess and The Frog,” yet it is something I recommend if you had to choose just one animated flick for 2013.
In the end, if I were to pick an area that was my favorite, it would be the slapstick comedy of those like Olaf, who dreams of summer and Sven the reindeer, who becomes the Laurel to his Hardy. That alone would make for some entertaining possibilities if the studio does the expected and milks this for at least one more sequel. Thus, the final verdict for “Frozen” is four out of five snowflakes.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.