Since Mulan, Disney has been trying to reinvent its formula and expectations with how young women are portrayed in their stories. The recent Brave and Tangled attempted to make the final leap, but both failed. With Frozen they have finally succeeded in creating a message I’d be willing to give to a young girl. Mind you, every kid has probably already seen it… I’m way behind on this one.
I have to admit, I was worried when the film started. The typical princess-in-distress love story was being set up and, despite some clever bits, it was feeling a little too saccharine. But the story manages to avoid some of the more obvious choices, even as it falls into deep traps of cliche with others. Some of the visuals and music were also less than exacting or engaging (man, some of those lyrics were weak). However, despite all the issues I may have had, it hit enough new and right notes to rise above the rougher parts.
Part of that is the talent behind the craft. The voice acting was solid, led by Bell (Veronica Mars) and Menzel (Glee) who create a believable pair of sisters. The two are supported primarily by Groff (Glee, C.O.G.) and Gad (Ice Age: Continental Drift) who give them a backdrop to respond to and comic relief (a little too much at times).
I don’t know if this sea change will hold for Disney, but the incredible success of the movie world-wide has to be a wake-up call. Much like their other cash cow, the Marvel cycle, this helps prove what good story can do for the bottom line. Perhaps they’ll take note and stick to the direction they’ve finally opened up with this film.