Frozen (2013)

Cards on the table here: Lindsay and I don't agree on whether this even qualifies for the blog. She thinks it's not a Christmas movie because it technically takes place in the summer, has nothing to do with Christmas, and never once mentions the holidays by name. And those are valid points.

But here's where I'm coming from: I'm looking at a movie with five main characters where one's a talking snowman and another is a reindeer. A full 40% of the leads are Christmas tropes.

"Are there bells?" you may ask. Yes - hanging ice bells that the reindeer gets tangled in.

"But does the reindeer appear to fly?" you'll respond. There is a scene where the reindeer leaps over a ravine that's reminiscent of flight.

Let's add this all up:

xMY = (1.25 Talking Snowmen * Reindeer * Winter Wonderland)  / (No Santa * No X-Mas mention)

If I'm doing the calculations right, that still comes out to 2.71 megayules, which is well above the cutoff for Mainlining Christmas (as outlined in our charter). So then. Let's get to it.

Frozen, like the last four Disney princess movies, is a princess movie about how it's simultaneously a princess movie and not a princess movie. It wants to be part of the franchise, but at the same time it wants to subvert the genre's expectations.

This time, the primary deviation from the tradition formula is that it's about two sisters. There are potential love interests, too, but they're ultimately peripheral. Conceptually, that's awesome. In practice... well, the problem is that they focused too hard on the concept.

The plot plays out like the writers have put together a dissertation on why they should tell a story about two sisters. Major plot lines exist to drive home this point intellectually. It's clinical in its execution: there's genius in the structure but very little art. The film works well enough, but it never feels as mythic as I wanted it.

Fortunately, while the plot lacked heart, the characters were fantastic. The two sisters were great, the main love interest was fun, and the reindeer was sweet.

Then there's the snowman. Yeah, you've seen the trailers, you've seen the test video where he dances a hula, and you're dreading what he's going to do to this movie.

Throw those preconceptions out. He was awesome. He's a hilarious character, and he's the heart of the movie. Ostensibly, he shouldn't work in this world, but somehow he does. Well done, Disney. Well done.

I also loved the animation. Elsa's magic is breathtaking to watch: she's operating at a power level similar to Maleficent, but for once we get to really sympathize with her. Her scenes are a lot of fun. Just don't make her angry: she's extremely dangerous when angry.

The music is good, though I felt it was out of place. Stylistically, it evoked Broadway musicals when I wanted magic. Between the songs and the lack of mysticism in the story, this just didn't feel like a Disney fairy tale to me.

I found myself liking the movie more when I thought of Elsa as a mutant and the whole thing as a prequel to the X-Men movies. Maybe Arendelle becomes Latveria in a few hundred years.

All in all, this is a good Disney movie. It's nice to see songs taking a central role again, and I love that we're still seeing female characters as leads, as opposed to love interests. Disney has been getting good at this, and I hope they keep it up. At times, it feels like it was made by committee, but ultimately the characters are strong enough to overcome this issue.

It you need a break from the hustle and bustle that define the four-day Black Friday weekend, check it out.