Young children don’t pay much attention to critics’ reviews, but you can bet their parents do — especially when there’s a good chance they’re going to be dragged to the cinema by the tots during Thanksgiving weekend. Not only do the adults want to research the potential movie of the week to see if it’s age-appropriate, but they also want to prepare themselves mentally for what might be 90 minutes of mindless dreck.
Relax, moms and dads. Disney’s Frozen, fortunately, looks to be one of those treats that the whole family can enjoy. Not only are there princesses (Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel) and a talking snowman sidekick (Josh Gad), but the Broadway-caliber songs were written and composed by Robert Lopez, who won Tonys for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
Very loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Frozen tells the story of two princesses. The elder, Elsa, is gifted/cursed with the ability to turn everything she touches into ice and snow. When her secret talent becomes known, she blankets the kingdom in ice and retreats to a forest fortress of solitude. Her younger sister, Anna, ventures into the tundra to retrieve her sister and fix the ice weather before it’s too late. Along, the way, Anna meets a talking snowman and a handsome ice-salesman (Jonathan Groff), who, Oz-style, help her complete her journey. “The journey is a little generic,” writes EW’s Owen Gleiberman. “[but] the exploding-ice-crystal visuals are spectacular: You can almost feel them freeze-burning your fingers.”
Click below to see what other leading critics are saying about Frozen before you purchase your tickets.
Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly)
“With the full-throttle emotionalism of its Broadway-style musical numbers and its two spunky-princess heroines, the movie is a throwback to the Disney cartoons of the pre-Pixar era. The surprise is that its wholesome spirit suddenly feels bolder than the compulsive cleverness that is Pixar’s stock-in-trade.”
Drew Taylor (IndieWire) ▲
“Frozen feels like classic Disney animation. If someone had announced Frozen as the studio’s follow-up to Beauty & the Beast, no one would blink. It’s that good.”
Stephen Holden (New York Times)
“Allegorically, Frozen lacks the purity and elemental power of a classic myth like Beauty and the Beast, but at least its storytelling is fairly coherent, and its gleaming dream world of snow and ice is one of the most visually captivating environments to be found in a Disney animated film.”
Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)
“Frozen has monsters and villains and sequences of high adventure, but they erupt when you least expect them to, giving the movie a fresh, groundbreaking feel. … Nearly every other major Hollywood studio is cranking out cartoons these days, but Frozen reminds you why Disney does it best.”
Richard Corliss (TIME) ▲
“If there were a Hunger Games face-off between the studios’ films of the past few years, Disney vs. Pixar, we’d rule in favor of the venerable Mouse House.”
Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▲
“Nearly every song in Frozen is so catchy and is delivered with such theatrical gusto by the splendid cast, I wouldn’t be surprised if even movie audiences break into applause a time or two at the conclusion of a few numbers.”
Claudia Puig (USA Today) ▲
“Just as The Lion King was a tale of a loving father and son, this story celebrates the bonds of sisterhood. Happily, the sisters are more complicated characters than is the norm for Disney animated movies.”
Linda Barnard (Toronto Star) ▲
“With their back stories, quirky personalities and faults, the sisters seem more human than animated, although they do have that big-eyed, wasp-waisted impossible prettiness that Disney just can’t seem to abandon.
R. Kurt Osenlund (Slant)
“While they’re initially explored with thin familiarity, the film’s empowering themes of feminine strengths and bonds eventually flourish in novel fashion. There are men among Elsa and Anna, but none are essential to either woman’s self-realization…”
Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter)
“The most consistently annoying aspect of Frozen is the screenwriter’s insistence upon putting banal and commonplace teen Americanisms in the mouth of Anna in a clear sop to that major component of the film’s intended audience. Anna’s dialogue is full of “you know” and “freaked out”…”
Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)
“[Olaf] the snowman is an animation marvel, designed to keep coming apart and bouncing back together. His broad smile, buck teeth and wide eyes are the very embodiment of innocence and adoration. Josh Gad, who voices Olaf, is so endearing you really do want to just hug him…”
Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 77
Rotten Tomatoes: 87 percent
Length: 102 Minutes
Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel
Distributors: Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures