Culture & Entertainment

Disney’s Frozen: “Well, that happened”

By: Guest Blogger
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Disney’s Frozen: “Well, that happened”

By: Guest Blogger
I finally caught up with the reigning family film, Frozen, over the weekend, and I have to say I really don’t get all the praise being heaped on it. In fact, it kind of depressed the hell out of me. I suppose it’s impressive on a technological level: it looks hugely expensive, and there’s a nifty set piece in which a princess constructs an enormous ice palace out of thin air. But it’s almost shockingly lacking in enchantment and wonder. Like so many other computer-animated kids’ movies these days, Frozen is a relentless, machine-calibrated assault of non-stop capital-E entertainment. It’s so determined to hold kids’ attention—with spectacle, with yoks, with soaring power-ballad emotion—that not a damn thing in it is allowed to breathe. You can practically feel the producers holding their stopwatches, making sure every second of screen time contains some sellable moment. Kids’ movies have always erred on the “busy” side, but in the new era of digital animation, “busy-ness” has reached preposterous, untenable levels. I’m sure kids don’t feel assaulted the way I do—they’ve grown up with this level of stimulation, and they’re much more able to process it. But processing isn’t the same as absorbing, and I don’t care what anyone says: you can’t truly absorb a moment without at least a little breathing room. To take just one of a million possible examples from Frozen: at one point, the heroine and her love interest go tumbling over a cliff, only to save themselves by grabbing onto a tree branch at the last possible second. Instead of pausing to let the heroine (and us) observe how high up she is and how close she came to death, we get an immediate ironic quip from the love interest: “Well, that happened.” Think about that line for a moment. Think about what an awful, soul-deadening bit of dialogue it is, particularly for a kids’ movie. Essentially, the screenwriters are telling us that the characters aren’t even slightly invested in what’s happening; they are ironic observers of their own lives, so much so that even a brush with death fails to move the emotional needle for them. And if the characters aren’t impressed with the momentousness of anything, why should kids be? Nothing that happens in Frozen is given its emotional due: it’s all just meaningless, relentless event, and when it’s over you’re left with nothing—just a vague feeling that you’ve been to the movies. Kids will probably enjoy it well enough, but it won’t provide them with the imaginative sustenance of movies like The Black Stallion or The Secret of N.I.M.H. or Coraline. You can sum Frozen up in a line: “Well, that happened.”
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Disney’s Frozen: “Well, that happened”

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