Frozen – the childfree version
Kids in theatre audiences can be a bit of a pain. Aware of the risk that I might some out as a modern cousin of Scrooge, a mean, grumpy, child hating person, I must admit that I find it somewhat distracting when they loudly comment on everything that’s going on in the movie or – worse – complain about being bored. Not to mention when they repeatedly need to run out of the movie since their parents for reasons I cannot fathom have bought them the largest sodas which result in bladder flooding incidents. Or the fact that they’re walking zoos carrying an assortment of germs that they’ve picked up at preschool and now do their best to spread all over the room, sneezing and coughing constantly.
All of this is of course referring to other people’s children. Your own kids are angels, naturally.
Anyway I was happily surprised as I took my 21 year old daughter to see Frozen. As it turned out here wasn’t a single person below 18 in the theatre, which was as good as sold out.
And I think it wasn’t just the late hour that kept them away. It was that we watched in the original language, with subtitles instead of dubbed voices. That’s the advantage of watching it in a country outside of the English language zone. It makes for a natural selection. If you’re a grown-up who still fancy child movies, you can skip the matinees and catch them late at night instead, with English voices. When you looked around in the room, you would assume from the age mix that we were just about to watch a slasher movie – not a movie about Norwegian princesses dealing with magic and dishonest cavaliers.
But let’s get to the point: what did I think about the movie? Well, I guess it’s a case of half full or half empty glasses. Starting with the negatives: I’m growing kind of tired of this idea that Disney movies always have to be about princesses and that the love interest theme – getting married or not getting married, finding your “true love” and so on – always takes such a big part of it. One part of me thinks that we could just skip this princess because it’s old and silly and start to make films about ordinary girls – and boys – who become heroes in their own lives. Without the crown-and-pink-and-pretty-dresses-and-ball party- crap.
BUT – and now I’m seeing it from the other side that wants to look at things from a brighter side: progress is being made and we’ve come a very long way compared to how it used to be when I grew up, when the princesses were reduced to being objects, whose only purpose was to be dressed up, saved and kissed. The prince type is still there, but he’s in the periphery. Brave was a story about a mother and her daughter sorting out their relationship. Frozen is about the ups and downs in sisterhood. And just like in Brave, the power is in the hands of the women. They’re the one bringing magic and anti-magic to the story. They’re the ones who cause mayhem, but also the ones who save the world. The love interest is in fact of very little use. He’s mostly there to be rescued. So while there’s still some room for improvement, I think there are movies that are far worse when it comes to stereotyping than Frozen. I would happily have brought my girls to the movie when they were kids, in the hope that they might pick up the idea that getting over the differences with your sister is a good thing.
As a Scandinavian I couldn’t help enjoying the environment, the clothing and the names on the characters, even though it was clearly more Norwegian than Swedish. It would have been nice if they had picked up a little bit more of a Nordic tone in the song numbers, like they picked up some Celtic heritage in Brave. As it is now it’s too generic. Nothing stands out, nothing sticks with you and at this point I couldn’t hum a single song from the film no matter how hard I tried.
Get a Horse!
Something that really did stick out though, which deserves a special mentioning, is the short film that precedes Frozen, Get a Horse!, which is a sort of homage to the Disney history with a delightful mix between old Mickey Mouse cartoons and modern 3D animation with a lot of breaking of the fourth wall. Not everyone is on board with it. For instance a poster at Criticwire called it an “insult”. The thought hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could hate this before I read that piece, and perhaps you can criticize it if you’re a Disney historian. But this doesn’t change my experience of seeing it the slightest. I was chuckling all way through it of pure delight and love for everything that animated movie stands for: the possibility to break all boundaries and let your imagination run wild.
Frozen (Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee, US 2013) My rating: 4/5
Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan, US 2013) My rating: 5/5