Looking back it almost seems like the original Frozen came out of nowhere, quickly becoming (at the time) the highest-grossing animated film of all time and making Idina Menzel’s rendition of “Let It Go” one of the most karaoked songs in recent memory. Because this is 2019 and it’s almost law that every Disney movie needs a reboot, remake or sequel we have Frozen 2, which I’m pleased to tell you bucks the trend of being just another cash-grab. This is a funny, well-crafted and engaging followup that moves the storyline forward while treating these characters with respect.
Frozen 2 almost feels like a family reunion as nearly everyone from the first film returns for more here, including the writer/directing team of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (once again billed as the sole credited screenwriter), the talented voice cast and especially the Academy Award-winning husband and wife songwriting team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Frozen, Coco) with all new songs.
Frozen 2 opens with Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) as young girls being tucked into bed by their parents. Too excited from playing their father, Agnarr (Alfred Molina), settles them down with a bedtime story about an enchanted forest and how the people of Arendale and the indigenous people of the forest once came together in peace to build a dam, promising the indigenous people that it would be good for their land. Their mother, Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood), sings them a song she remembers hearing the people in the enchanted forest sing, which quickly puts the girls to sleep.
In present day Arendale all seems to be going well under Elsa’s leadership, including Kristoff (Jonathon Groff) and Anna’s relationship, as well as lovable snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) who now has a magical permafrost coating to keep him from melting. However, during an innocent game of Charades, Elsa starts hearing the melody of the enchanted forest that her mother once sang to them as children, and she begins to withdraw from Anna in order to figure out where it’s coming from.
Anna gets Elsa to open up to her just in time as the spell that held the enchanted forest begins to fail and magical things start happening that force the people of Arendale to evacuate the town for their own safety. Much to Anna’s surprise, Elsa is certain that whoever is doing this and calling out to her is actually a force of good. Leaving Mattias (Sterling K. Brown) and his men to guard the people are Arendale, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf and Elsa set out on an adventure that culminates in surprising deaths and revelations that won’t leave a dry eye in the theater. Parents should be ready with the tissues, for both the kids and themselves.
Reprising their roles as Anna and Elsa Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are absolutely wonderful in this magical and meaningful sequel. While Bell’s voice is the perfect mixture of innocence and strength, Menzel’s singing blew me away all over again. Not to throw shade at other singers, but it’s wonderful to hear actual singing in a Disney film these days, especially with songs you might want to sing along to. Menzel left me in awe of her talent. However, it was Josh Gad’s Olaf that stole the show for me. His lovable snowman plays a major role in the growth of all the other characters in this sequel, but especially Anna.
Frozen 2 goes a long way to show audiences that it’s not always the one with the most power with all the answers, or the one you think is going to win a battle who actually does the fighting – or makes the right decision. The idea of strength lies not in the source of her magic that Elsa is determined to find, but rather in the love and bonds holding her family together, both in the past and the present.
Returning directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee were careful to not give the entire spotlight to the two sisters, though I feel their story could’ve been told more succinctly to allow for more development of characters that the audience knows loves, such as Kristoff. Also, having Elsa not find her own romantic interest, while Anna’s continued to develop, felt like a missed chance or a overly feminist choice. I’m positive there’s going to be another sequel at some point, which I’d totally welcome, and would love to see Elsa grow more as a character outside of her obvious abilities as a powerhouse fighting princess. I’d hate to see Disney trade one stereotype for another.
Frozen 2 is a wonderful family film with outstanding animation, beautiful music and a storyline that will leave kids loving Anna and Elsa all over again – and adults dabbing at the eyes – as they leave the theater. As far as modern Disney sequels go this is definitely one of the best as everything fans loved about the original movie is back for more, and it’s always a treat to see these characters back in action. Parents with small children probably won’t have a choice in the matter, but anyone who appreciates the value of family and friends (especially around the holidays) should check this one out.