If you’re a kid at heart like myself, you may have already made your way to the theater to see Frozen II, which came out on November 22. While I’m typically apprehensive about sequels, this one delivered. The soundtrack was awesome, the jokes were hilarious, and the plot kept me intrigued from start to finish.
All of those great things aside… There were some underlying gems that make this movie truly something special.
ELSA’S JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY
It’s rare that you see a main character in a Disney movie (or any movie, really) without a romantic story arc. Or so it seems.
The fact of the matter is that she arguably has the most beautiful romance story of all – one with herself. Something that isn’t about rose pedals and chocolate hearts. It was entirely about learning who she is and figuring out how to be okay with that answer.
Whether you’re a toddler just getting started with Disney movies, or a grown ass adult who still just loves singing along to those cartoon movies – we all struggle at some point with self-acceptance. That’s why Elsa learning to love herself is arguably one of the most important storylines in Disney history. It shows that even though you’re different, even though you don’t have all the answers, even though you haven’t always gotten it right… Everyone is perfectly and beautifully unique.
We should all take a lesson from Elsa and invest some time in our own self-discovery.
(On a total side note: Idina Menzel is wonderful and I love her.)
KRISTOFF’S LOVE SONG
First of all, Jonathan Groff could sing to me Sunday through Saturday.
Incredible vocal talent aside, this is my favorite song from the soundtrack. At first, I couldn’t figure out why I enjoyed it so much or why it stuck with me to the extent that it did. Then it hit me.
It’s a Disney love song sung entirely by the male lead.
While that sentence alone doesn’t sound earth-shattering, let’s walk through it. Try to think of another animated love song that is sung entirely by a male character. Not a duet.
Male Disney characters have gotten their fair share of epic songs and power ballads, sure. “Go The Distance” by our pal Hercules, “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from cocky-as-hell young Simba, and “One Jump Ahead” from that loveable scamp, Aladdin. All great songs. The message of all of these are relatively similar: self-empowerment, self-reliance, etc. They’re not about love. Heck, they’re not even about vulnerability. Quite literally the opposite.
So, I ask again – when has a Disney male lead performed an openly vulnerable solo about love? I couldn’t find any. I combed through ‘Top 100’ lists, album track lists, ‘Greatest Ever’ playlists and come up short on all fronts.
This song finally gives the guys tuned in a way to see that masculinity does not have to be toxic. Your identity as a male is not defined by how strong and rugged you are, but by embracing every side of yourself – the soft ones, especially. Talking about your feelings is not only just ‘okay’, but welcomed and encouraged.
Slight aside: There’s another scene in the movie where Anna and Kristoff are reunited in a stressful moment. In movies of the past, the male character would’ve stepped in front of the female, protecting her. He could have said ‘get behind me’, ‘stay back’, or ‘I’ve got this’ (Kristen Bell has a great quote about this scene if you feel like doing a quick Google search). What does he say instead?
“I’m here. What do you need?”
He wants to be considerate to Anna’s needs and not just jump in willy-nilly and try to save the day. He recognizes his role and his partner’s role in this specific situation, realizes she has the better overall grasp on this, and follows her lead. What a fucking MAN.
Thank you, Kristoff, for being the Disney prince we’ve been waiting for.
KRISTEN BELL’S PORTRAYAL OF PRINCESS ANNA
I’ve read articles about all the great messages Frozen and Frozen II have been able to communicate, but not a lot of people touch on this one.
Anna’s character is a bit more ‘classic Disney princess’ than Elsa. That being said, it would’ve been very easy to write this character as a ditz who can’t do anything for herself and can only think about falling in love and getting married. While Frozen I leans into those undertones slightly more, I firmly believe that the biggest service Disney could’ve done to that character was have her be voiced by Bell.
I remember when the first movie came out, she did several interviews talking about how she wanted to make this character more independent and strong-willed than the original script called for. This is even more evident, in my opinion, in the sequel.
Her character goes through a lot of emotional distress in this film. While she begins by relying on those around her to get through it, she realizes throughout the course of the movie that she can do anything she wants to on her own power – even though it might be hard sometimes.
Anna has a song towards the end of the movie call “The Next Right Thing”. This song was based on a personal motto Bell has while living her life on a day-to-day basis. Essentially the message is: sometimes when it feels like you don’t know where to go from here, all you can focus on is doing the next right thing.
The line that absolutely gutted me was when Anna is literally curled up in a ball on the floor, she whimpers, “How to rise from the floor when it’s not you I’m rising for?”. She follows that up with “Take a step, step again – it is all that I can to do… The next right thing”. By the end of the song, she’s in a full sprint running off to do something she knows she has to. It’s really beautifully done.
In my opinion, Anna had one of the largest character developments from the first movie to the second. That’s largely, if not solely, due to the magnificent vision of Kristen Bell.
Frozen II was great. Go see it. Then see it again. And if you feel like sharing your favorite song or moment, leave it in the comments below!