It’s no secret that Disney princess films are formulaic, and the fact that Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s Frozen is entertaining without being groundbreaking just confirms that the formula works.
On her coronation day, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and her mysterious ice-making powers unwittingly plunge her realm into an unseasonable winter, and it’s up to younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) — accompanied by hunky icemonger Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) — to find Elsa and make her thaw everything.
As is Disney’s wont in recent years, Frozen apes the Pixar style of character animation and attention to textures; the fjord-based settings are gorgeous, and Anna’s bedhead deserves its own Oscar.
Unfortunately, from a marketing standpoint, Frozen feels like Disney course-correcting the princess canon after Pixar’s progressive turn in Brave. Like Brave‘s Princess Merida, Frozen‘s Princess Anna is a spunky redhead with a preference for green clothes — but she’s also thinner, more conventionally pretty, and yearns for the domestic life that was anathema to the independent, tomboyish, and difficult-to-merchandise Merida. (Disney princesses are a commodity, after all.)
That said, Frozen is a fun ride with some catchy tunes, though “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” fails to dethrone Cannibal! The Musical‘s “Let’s Build a Snowman” as cinema’s reigning song about snowman-building.