“Frozen”

Susan Granger’s review of “Frozen” (Walt Disney Studios)

 

With its 53rd feature, Walt Disney Studios has reclaimed its animation crown. And the magic begins with Lauren MacMullen’s inventive short, “Get A Horse,” featuring Walt himself doing voice-work.

In “Frozen,” Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) are fairy tale princesses, heirs to the enchanted Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle after their parents die in a shipwreck.  Older Elsa was born with a scary, supernatural power to create snow and ice and, through a bizarre occurrence, has inadvertently condemned her subjects to bleak, perpetual winter.  So Elsa seeks sanctuary in an Ice Palace on North Mountain. Younger Anna longs to create a thaw and reestablish the close connection with her beloved, yet estranged sister that they once shared as children. For this arduous quest, Anna teams up with a rugged mountain man Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff), his trusty reindeer Sven and an endearing, anthropomorphic, carrot-nosed snowman, Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad), who loves “warm hugs” and dreams of summer. Complicating matters are the scheming Duke of Weselton (voiced by Alan Tudyk) – which everyone pronounces “weasel-town” – and handsome but duplicitous Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana), Prince of the Southern Isles.

Based very loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the fast-paced comedic adventure is directed by Chris Buck (“Tarzan,” “Surf’s Up”) with co-director/writer Jennifer Lee (“Wreck-It-Ralph”) and co-writer Shane Morris. Chock full of clever, contemporary gender revisions, there’s an exhilarating nod to female empowerment and awesomely gorgeous animation.

The most unexpected treat is the soaring musical score by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Broadway’s “Avenue Q” & “The Book of Mormon”).  Of the eight original songs, the liberating “Let It Go” is most memorable. Composer Christophe Beck’s score includes rhythmic chanting, the Norwegian bukkehorn (ram’s horn) and Christine Hals’ high-pitched Norwegian “kulning.” Indeed, “Frozen” seems poised to become the next Disney project to transition to the Broadway stage.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Frozen” nabs a nimble 9, ready to warm even the coldest of hearts.