Frozen II

Movie Information

A forgettable and unnecessary sequel to the megahit blockbuster.
Genre: Animated/Musical
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Starring: The voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff
Rated: PG

I question the artistic value of a film preceded by a commercial for a tie-in Lego set. I know full well that 42-year-old men aren’t exactly the target audience for a film like Frozen II, but as the father of a little one who very much is the target audience, I can say with confidence that there are much, much better films to enjoy with your kids. (There are two from this year alone: Missing Link and Toy Story 4). I didn’t actively hate Frozen II — the whole thing is pretty innocent — but at no point was I excited for what may happen next, either.

The story hinges on a retconned mystery forest that lies just down the road from the utopian kingdom of Arendelle. As it turns out, this magical land is shrouded in a dense fog and may hold the origins of Elsa’s ice powers (as revealed in a convenient flashback that no one seemed to find important until just now). With Arendelle in danger, our intrepid heroes set off to discover the forest (that was there the whole time, apparently) and unlock the secrets of the past.

The narrative is weak and makes little sense. What’s worse, though, is that it isn’t exciting and it adds nothing meaningful to the original film’s mythology. I freely admit that I didn’t much like the first Frozen movie, either, but it at least cleverly upended a few well-worn Disney tropes and clichés within its self-contained story. Part Two has nowhere near the awareness of its predecessor and comes off as one of those “straight to DVD” releases Disney is so fond of (albeit with much better production value than any of those bargain bin sequels).

Frozen II opens up a story that needn’t be opened. It muddies the waters and unnecessarily complicates what should have remained a simple folk tale. In addition, it’s unlikely you or the children who dragged you to the theater will be much affected by the film’s cheap attempts at pulling your heartstrings. Not even a rip-off of the generation-defining death of Artax the horse in 1984’s The NeverEnding Story was enough to rouse an emotion from my 5-year-old. Frozen II’s predictability and disappointing cop-outs prevent any kind of real, compelling sentiment. There’s nothing to grab onto, and you can see every move a mile away.

Oddly, though, there are some unexpected positives. First, Disney took special care to not be racially insensitive toward the indigenous Scandinavian cultures introduced in the film. This choice seems as if it would be a no-brainer, but if you’re familiar with Disney’s history in these matters — well, I’ll leave it at that. Second (and this is especially for you parents out there), none of the songs in the film have staying power. It’s unlikely you’ll be hearing any tunes from Frozen II a month from now, let alone six years. Thank the gods.

Parents, you might as well just get it out of the way. It won’t hurt too badly. Frozen II isn’t nearly as cringy as most children’s fare, and there are even a few laughs to be had (mostly from the peculiar existentialism of Olaf the snowman). You could easily do worse (but you could do better, too). My daughter says she liked it, but there was an obvious disappointment in her voice. Afterward, I asked her how she’d compare it to her favorite movie of all time. Her reply? “It’s no Isle of Dogs.”

About James Rosario
James is a writer, record collector, wrestling nerd, and tabletop gamer living with his family in Asheville, North Carolina. He is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and contributes to The Daily Orca, Razorcake Magazine, and Mountain Xpress.

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