Disney already has two animated releases under its belt this year, with Pixar’s Monsters University garnering plenty of critical acclaim and commercial success, and the Cars spinoff Planes performing better than expected. Nevertheless, there’s still time to squeeze one more film into the busy holiday movie season, and Frozen is hitting theaters just in time for Thanksgiving.
In the kingdom of Arendelle, the castle gates have remained closed for years, with Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) locked away from public view, thanks to an uncontrollable magical ability to manifest ice and snow from her fingertips. But when Elsa comes of age, the gates are thrown open for her coronation, allowing the townspeople inside the castle walls – and allowing Elsa’s younger sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), the opportunity to seek out her true love.
Anna’s exuberance sends her falling head over heels for the first nobleman she encounters, and rushing heedlessly into romance sparks an argument with her sister, which sends Elsa’s powers spiraling out of control and threatening those around her. Ashamed and afraid, Elsa flees into the countryside, leaving behind a kingdom trapped in a perpetual blizzard, with Anna vowing to venture into the mountains to break the spell.
Along for the ride are Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), an ice merchant whose business has come to a screeching halt for obvious reasons, and Olaf (Josh Gad), a snowman brought to life courtesy of Elsa’s abilities. These two characters, along with a goofy reindeer called Sven, provide much of the film’s comedic moments, keeping the adventure decidedly lighthearted and consistently hilarious between the songs.
Yes, that’s correct – Frozen is a musical, a fact which has been kept well-hidden by the marketing team, although certainly explains the decision to cast Broadway stars Menzel and Gad, along with Glee alum Groff. Every song is distinctly memorable, and the combination of time-honored fairy tale themes and stirring musical numbers results in a film that feels like an old-fashioned, classic Disney feature. It’s easily the best animated film of the year, and one of the studio’s best efforts in the past decade.