Frozen II with a Two-Year-Old

Frozen-2-1200x676
Frozen II
Directors: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Writers: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, Marc Smith, Kristin Anderson-Lopez, and Robert Lopez

Over the weekend, our entire family went to 9:15 a.m. screening packed with Frozen devotees. It was an all-ages show, which probably sounds like hell to many but there was actually a childless couple behind us in line, so I guess it’s not too noisy – or else they really, really wanted to see the sequel to Frozen and couldn’t fit it in at any other time. I have grown to like the all-ages screening, in part because they turn the sound down, but mainly because it’s sweet to hear kids responding to what is on screen, especially a movie like this one, which was For The Fans.

If you want my two-second review, Frozen II was a lot of fun but not a great sequel, on par with Toy Story 2 or even, um, let me see here, I realize I haven’t actually seen a lot of sequels to kids’ movies. My relationship to kids movies is, generally: something to put on while I clean and I need my children to stay in one place. However, I have a soft spot for Frozen.

It’s a snow day favorite for my son, and I’ve watched it several times—often because I’ve sat down to watch “just the one scene” and ended up staying for the whole thing. I love the dynamic between the sisters and the northern setting with its blue-tinged color palette. Also, Olaf.

The problem with Frozen II is that I’m not sure it would make much sense if you hadn’t seen Frozen multiple times. The story is overly complicated, as if it’s trying to answer every stray question about the Frozen cosmology. Qs like: Why does Elsa have these strange powers? What is the extent of Elsa’s powers? How does the magic work? What can it do? Where does it come from? Does anyone else in the family have powers? Why did Anna and Elsa’s parent leave? How did they really die? What did they know about Elsa’s powers? How did they meet and fall in love? Will Anna and Kristoff eventually marry? How’s Olaf doing? Sven? Is there anyone else who can talk to reindeer or is it just Kristoff?

To its credit, the writers seem to understand that they are throwing a lot at their viewers, plot-wise, because early in the movie, Olaf re-enacts the entire story of Frozen while skating on a frozen puddle. Also, you do get pretty good answers to all the questions, as well as a environmentally progressive message about how damming rivers is harmful to local ecology, which I wasn’t expecting, but appreciated. There’s also a solid parody of an 80s power ballad, and a new Olaf song, “When I Am Older,” which could be the theme song for all six-year-olds. My son’s favorite song is “Some Things Never Change,” an opener that indicates, of course, that everything is about to change.

What else? There are many evocative mists, flowy dresses and high-heeled boots, and autumnal vistas. There’s also an ice horse, which my daughter adored. She’s two, and she doesn’t talk much, but every time she saw that horse, she really, really tried to say “horse.” Over the course the movie, she also attempted to say Olaf multiple times, which came out sounding like “O-ya!” Which was adorable, obviously, and pretty much made the whole movie worthwhile for me.

This review is a little hodgepodge because I watched most of the movie with my daughter going back and forth between her seat and my lap, and so my attention was always partly focused on her. It’s possible that the story is more coherent than I’m giving it credit for, and if I’d gone by myself, I would have gotten more out of it. But I enjoyed it as a family movie that managed to amuse both a seven-year-old and a two-year-old. And, I’m sure it will be streaming in our home 6-9 months from now. The test of its ultimate quality will be if I am able to sit down for “just one scene,” or if I am drawn in and end up watching it all over again. 

 

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