Disney is clearly a little tired of sitting in Pixar’s shadow, and Frozen is its latest attempt to return to its roots. This wintry animated musical is bright, beautiful and often funny, although it lacks the depth and freshness of the excellent Tangled, if only because it feels so much like it. Thankfully for people taking kids to the cinema this Christmas, it guarantees a good time.
With Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen as a loose framework, Frozen has all the elements needed for a classic Disney movie. Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are young princesses in the kingdom of Arendelle, with the former possessing magical powers that allow her to control snow and ice. A childhood accident prompts their royal parents to erase Anna’s memory of her sister’s abilities, for some reason, and the two grow distant as Elsa shuns human contact to avoid hurting anyone else.
Elsa’s powers are revealed anyway when she gets a bit mardy following her coronation, plunging the kingdom into an eternal winter. Anna sets off to find her sister, who has fled to the mountains, in an attempt to reconnect and get her back on side. She teams up with low born hunk Kristoff and a talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad) for songs and larks on the tundra, while also juggling a romance with the noble Prince Hans who’s looking after things in her absence.
Anna’s lively, tomboyish character is enjoyably modern, if very similar to that of Tangled’s Rapunzel. Her silly sidekicks are also often a treat, with deadpan idiot Olaf being a particular highlight. Unfortunately the film suffers from a little narrative looseness at times, and there’s not really a stand-out song of the same calibre as found in now vintage Disney movies like Aladdin or The Lion King. But as a packaged product it’s got everything required for a fun family experience, with kids and grownups likely to enjoy Frozen in equal measure.