Frozen Musical Review

I am writing this blog from good old Denver Colorado! My friend Phaedra and I decided to make the drive to see the new Disney Frozen: The Musical. It’s the latest in a long line of Broadway adaptations from Disney that started with Beauty and the Beast and has included The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and more. Frozen will open on Broadway next year so this was just a preview screening but we decided we should check it out!

One cool thing I got to experience was to wear my Elsa cosplay to the play. There were tons of little girls dressed up as Anna and Elsa and they got a real kick out of a grown-up Elsa running around. It really made me feel pretty and special  to have all these girls smiling and waving to me (or Elsa!).

I was also able to go with my friend Phaedra and fellow youtuber Larry from LC Screentalk. We had a great time hanging out and  all 3 of us loved the musical. It was bright and colorful, had great songs and was a faithful recreation of the hit movie. I don’t think it will win over new fans but it was a very good play.

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There were a lot of things that worked in this musical. First of all, the casting was spot on. I loved the women playing Anna and Elsa. They were both tremendous singers. I also thought the man playing Olaf was an uncanny imitation of Josh Gadd from the film. They decided to make Kristoff an African-American character which I thought was cool (and he did a great job). Hans was also a terrific singer and convincing at playing both hero and villain.

The spectacle of Frozen: the Musical was also great. Let it Go is everything you could want it to be with one of the most amazing dress changes I’ve ever seen.  Also Sven and Olaf were a ton of fun using puppets. Both were expressive  and worked seamlessly within the story. I loved the way they showed the ice and Elsa’s magic working it in some cool special effects. The sets and costumes were all outstanding and immersive.

They also gave us some new songs. Elsa sings one called ‘Monster’, and Kristoff has a song called ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ that I liked. The Young Anna and Elsa were excellent and sang 4 songs. There was only one song I did not like called Hygge that went on too long and had elements of comedy I didn’t care for.

Frozen: the Musical is not the kind of broadway musical you go to in order to be provocative or challenged. It takes the film and makes small but meaningful changes that I think most people will really enjoy. It’s a musical you can take the whole family to, both boys and girls will like it, and have a great time at. It’s got spectacle, heart and some great songs.

When Frozen:the Musical comes by you I encourage you to see it. It’s a lot of fun and I think will do very well when it does come to Broadway next year!

Overall Grade- A-

Here is my review for my youtube channel with my friend Larry

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Movie 55: Zootopia

zootopia posterIt’s kind of crazy I haven’t done a Disney Canon review since November 7, 2014!  Of course last year there was no Disney Canon film so that caused the delay.  In return for the delay, we get 2 Canon films this year with Zootopia and Moana.  And my friends, I will start the hyperbole early because if Moana is half as good as Zootopia, than I propose 2016 is the greatest year ever for Walt Disney Animated Studios. Yep, I really believe that is true.

Zootopia is a real gem, a special film that lives up to the all the hype.

Now I was not initially sold on Zootopia. I didn’t love the first 2 trailers and then the 3rd trailer I worried showed too much.  I was also nervous because the previous anthropomorphic film, Chicken Little, is one of my least favorites- relying too much on puns and a strange combination of 3 stories in 1 with a mean-spirited tone.

Fortunately, I can happily inform all of you my fears were unfounded.  I know all film is subjective, but I would be surprised if every last moviegoer doesn’t find something to love about this movie.  It just seemed to have it all.

I will only tell you a brief summary so no worry about spoilers

zootopia1Zootopia exists in an anthropomorphic world where animals have evolved past their original predator and prey natures and live in harmony- particularly in the more evolved big city.  Little Judy Hopps grows up in the country and hears the stories of Zootopia a city where ‘anyone can do anything’.

She decides as  young bunny to become a police officer and to her parents chagrin get a job on the force under Chief Bogo.  Judy is part of an affirmative action type program promoting minorities within the force.  You see, all of the other officers are predators (lions, bears, elephants etc).  Chief Bogo has no time for this bunny and assigns her to parking duty.

zootopia100As a meter maid she meets a fox Nick Wilde who is a sly con artist.  Through various turn of events her and Nick get involved in a case involving missing mammals.  Chief Bogo gives Judy 48 hours to solve the case or it is back to parking duty.

zootopia15That’s all I will say about the story because I want it to be a surprise.   (I will do a full spoiler review later on like I did with Inside Out).

Going into Zootopia, I thought it was going to be a straight on comedy but like The Lego Movie it manages to weave together emotion, humor and beautiful visuals all together in a very entertaining film.  But perhaps even more effectively than Lego, is the message at the heart of the film.  Zootopia has the potential to change perspectives of children and families.

zootopia trailer2-2I certainly can’t think of any other Disney Canon film that tackles such topics as diversity, tolerance, hatred, racism, bullying, fear, and more with so much skill and power.  I can imagine families all over the world talking about the way Judy is treated and marginalized and the way people use fear to control and justify hate.  It’s really quite remarkable.

Yet the film never becomes preachy.  This is not a Fern Gully or even a Fox and the Hound.  This is because all of the characters have these fears and prejudices and are also victims of them at different points in the story.  This makes great characters without a bad corporate greedy guy villain like in The Lorax (boy what a contrast that movie is with this!).

zootopia trailer2-3It also weaves the message within the case and Judy’s journey to never give up on her dreams. It never felt heavy handed or like a message movie to me, which was refreshing.

It’s remarkable how likable and endearing the characters are.  I loved Judy Hopps and her underdog spirit so much (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin).  Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman, is slick, sarcastic but sweet in his own way.  They are such a great combo. You can tell that they did voice work together (not common in animation) because the chemistry is there!

The other characters are great.  Idris Elba, JK Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and more are used effectively and unlike most say Dreamworks cast do not feel there for only celebrity-sake.   Perhaps the only unnecessary star is Shakira as a pop singer Gazelle but she is in the movie very briefly.

zootopia1000While Zootopia wasn’t the uproarious comedy I was expecting, there are some good jokes. I definitely laughed a fair amount.  Disney is even willing to poke fun at itself.  For example, there are 2 Frozen jokes that made me chuckle.

I was worried the movie might feel too generic with its buddy cop elements but it really doesn’t.  The setting is so different with unique worlds like Tundratown, Rain Forrest District and Bunnyburrow that it helps keep it fresh.  And to be honest, I don’t really mind a familiar plot if everything else is engaging and working and this was.

It’s hard to compare Zootopia to Frozen and Tangled.  I will leave those comparisons for Moana, but I do think it is better than Big Hero 6 and Wreck-it Ralph, despite those being strong films in their own way.

zootopia sloth2And I don’t want to undersell Zootopia’s stunning visuals.  The world building is remarkable and full of surprises.  I loved all the character designs and how they kept everything to scale like real animals.  Judy is a bunny so of course she is way smaller than the bears and lions.  That was brilliant.

It’s funny, sweet, with 2 wonderful lead characters kids and adults will be able to relate with.  There are jokes for adults like Godfather references and things like that but nothing too tawdry.

And then it adds to all of those strengths with an amazing message about fear and discrimination that was perfectly executed.

zootopia trailer2-8Aside from Shakira not needing to be there, the only ‘negative’ is for kids under 4 there are some scary scenes and moments of peril. But if they can handle scary moments in other Disney titles like Big Hero 6 or even Aladdin they will be fine.  Some may find the way the case plays out a little predictable but I enjoyed it.  zootopia trailer2-4Congrats to Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush for a fantastic job. Oh and tremendous score from Michael Giacchino as well.  What a great movie.  I can’t wait to see it again this weekend!

Overall Grade- Definitely gets an A+

Have you seen Zootopia?  What did you think?  Put in the comments section below.  Thanks!

Here’s my youtube review:

Tangled vs Frozen

I thought this was pretty brilliant from the Nostalgia Critic:

So I will say my peace on the issue.

I like both movies!!!  Both make my top 10 Disney Canon films.  Tangled is at 4, Frozen is at 7.  So I guess that makes me a true hipster!  I refuse to take a side.

Here’s the thing’s I like about both films.

Tangled- It’s Disney’s first romantic comedy.  The banter between Flynn and Rapunzel is just great.  They feel like a real couple and the fact Rapunzel accepts Flynn, even prefers him as Eugene is so lovely.  Flynn’s sacrifice for Rapunzel is something we’ve really only seen in Beauty and the Beast.  Usually it is the woman or princess in a Disney film that is incapacitated and the prince rescuing her (ie Sleeping Beauty, Snow White etc).  We even have Aladdin where he refuses to make the sacrifice for Jasmine- for good reason so he can free the Genie but she is nevertheless a subordinate to his choices. Here Rapunzel decides if she can save Flynn. That’s great.

We also have Flynn narrating the film and a variety of both male characters that make Tangled appeal to both boys and girls.  This is balanced by Rapunzel being such a likable character and Mother Gothel being a terrific villain.  You could say there is something for everyone in Tangled!

The action is really fun in Tangled and the animation is wonderful.  I had sworn off animation for a long time.  Aside from Pixar films I wasn’t seeing it or watching it.  Then I went to Tangled with my siblings and the lanterns in 3D blew me away.  I’ll never forget it.

A lot of people are tough on the songs but I enjoy them.  I like the fun songs like I Have a Dream and When Will My Life Begin?.  I LOVE the villain song Mother Knows Best and I think the romantic ballad is very sweet in I See the Light.

I also agree with Doug, Maximus and Pascal are fantastic comic relief and overall Tangled is an entertaining, beautiful, heartwarming film.  It’s also one of Disney’s most rewatchable.

 

Frozen- It’s Disney’s first true Broadway musical.  Yes, their films have been retconned into Broadway musicals like Lion King, Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, but those films are more of a classical sound, where Frozen is Broadway in all it’s belting glory.  As a huge Broadway buff that was such a thrill! The Lopez’ songs and getting the divine Idina Menzel to sing the part of Elsa put Frozen on another level than any other Disney film for me.

There are some holes in the backstory with Frozen but there are with Beauty and the Beast and neither bothers me a bit.  A good movie will sweep you up so you don’t mind those leaps.  Again, I’m just sharing my OPINION, so if it differs from yours, that’s awesome.

The thing I like about the backstory with Elsa is that unlike Ariel (who I think she mirrors in many ways) Elsa is told if she messes up or rebels, she will kill her sister.  That’s entirely different than Ariel’s grotto being destroyed or other threats.  This keeps her hidden and fearful and it is empowering when she finally does ‘let it go’! At least it was for me. Can you imagine what a burden it is to worry what makes you, you could kill someone? And then to finally be free from that burden?

A couple things that make Frozen special is it is the first Disney princess movie with 2 princesses and I think that is great.  It’s nice to have 2 characters to enjoy and I like both story arcs (again just my OPINION!).  We even get Disney’s first Queen! Elsa is actually coronated as Queen, which I think is part of what makes her such a compelling character.  She’s got power both ostensibly and inside her own body.

I know some people don’t like the ending.  Fair enough but I thought it was pure truth.  I have 3 sisters and the struggle of Anna to try and understand her sister I really related too.  I also related to Elsa and her struggle to be her true self.  When they save each other I thought it was moving.

I also enjoy Kristoff and find him a likable, sarcastic, funny character.  His interactions with Sven are very funny.  I like Olaf and find him funnier than Maximus and Pascal to be honest.  Part of that is Josh Gad’s endearing vocal performance.  He also experiences more character growth than many Disney sidekicks- going from the goofy snowman who likes summer, to the one who is willing to melt for a friend.

I know people like to hate on Frozen, but I love it.  I really do.

But I also know people that are very tough on Tangled, and I love that too.

What’s wrong with liking both?  I like most Disney movies for goodness sakes.  In many ways I feel the two movies compliment each other well.  I think they are kind of this generations Little Mermaid (Frozen) and Beauty and the Beast (Tangled).  I think it is great girls have both stories to dive into just like I did as a little girl.  Neither movie has done damage or been bad for my nieces or other little girls to watch.  In fact, they have had  a great time with both.

So I refuse to pick a side.  I’m team ‘I love Disney Princess Movies’.  What’s it too you!

I already know a bunch of you are Team Tangled.  That’s cool. Feel free to explain why but try to be respectful.  Remember- neither is Norm of the North! 🙂

Did the Right Film Win? 2013 Animated Oscars

Hi guys!  We are up to 2013 in my series on the Animated Oscars and I have a special treat for you! Queen Elsa has come to visit to review all 5 films!

elsa2I admit in my review for the Disney Canon of Frozen I was a little defensive and perhaps overly concerned with trolls.  This time I took a different approach and just decided to have fun with it. I know people feel all kinds of ways about Frozen and I explained it as best as I could.   But there are plenty of great animated films for everyone so hopefully you can enjoy hearing my thoughts on one I enjoy.

The other 4 films are also worth seeing (no Shark Tale skunks in this year!).

Ernest and Celestine- Done by some of the same team that did The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville.  This is a watercolor sketchbook style story about an unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear.  They kind of become bandits and the friendship evolves over time and then when both are put on trial they teach their societies something important about love, labeling and racism.  A real gem of an animated film (and can also be very funny).

Despicable Me 2- I think the Despicable Me movies are just ok and I wasn’t a big fan of Minions, so I wasn’t sure what I’d think of Despicable Me 2 on the rewatch.  I think the disappointment of Minions actually made me appreciate this film even more.  It has a lot of solid laughs, which didn’t happen in Minions.  I really like seeing Gru with the 3 little girls and being an overprotective Dad.  The Minions are also funnier in small doses than the main attraction.  It’s no masterpiece but a decent comedy for kids.

The Wind Rises- The strongest competition for Frozen.  A great film that just gives us the life of a man and we decide what we think of him and his dreams.  It is a story about hope and how a dream can carry you through tough times.  It is a magic-free film from Miyazaki about the life of a airplane designer named Jiro during World War II.  It made my top 50 animated countdown so clearly I love it.   It goes without saying the animation is stunning.

The Croods-  This was a new one for me from Dreamworks.  I’d heard bad things about the film and you know what? I actually enjoyed it.  I liked it was about a family and thought the script was pretty funny.  I liked how the created new animals and world for them to meet.  It made it unpredictable and surprising.  I liked the voice cast especially Nicholas Cage who has a freak-out even animated!  It’s not a masterpiece but liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

I’d still give the Oscar to Frozen because I think it has the best characters, music, story and everything else.  One of my favorite animated films from Disney.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  🙂

Frozen Fever Review

Spoiler if you don’t want to know anything about Frozen Fever than don’t read on.

frozen feverI was asked by frequent commenter Richard (check out his blog at https://velociraptor256.wordpress.com/)  what I thought of the Frozen short before Cinderella, Frozen Fever, so I figured I might as well tell all of you.

I don’t think it will convince anyone that is on the ‘Frozen Sucks Train’ to get off but for fans they will really enjoy it.  I enjoyed it. It’s not a Pixar short or something like that or as lovely as Feast but there was a lot to like.

frozen fever2Basically it’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa is trying to make it a perfect day for her sister who never got a birthday party with Elsa and the castle being closed off. I thought it was lovely that Elsa wants to do something nice for her sister.

I also loved the design of Elsa’s new dress!

frozen fever3Kristoff and Olaf are back and they are a lot of fun helping to get set up for the party.

frozen fever7The problem is that Elsa has a cold which makes her sneeze snowbabies but she pushes on with the party (could be describing the last 2 weeks of my life!).

frozen fever5The problem is she’s collecting snowbabies at the rate I’m collecting tissues. It kind of felt like Gremlins on ice!

frozen fever 8Eventually Anna has to put a stop to it and let her sister know she can rest.

I’m sure someone will find something snarky to say about it but I thought it was a sweet little moment for the sisters, enjoyed seeing Olaf and Kristoff and the song ‘Making Today a Perfect Day’ by the Lopez’s was great.

Frozen Fever combined with the recent season of Once Upon a Time make me excited for Frozen 2.  I think with 2 lead female characters there is a lot you can do with the world and I’m excited to see what they come up with.

That said, it’s nothing new or groundbreaking as we’ve gotten used to seeing in a lot of animated shorts these days.  I’d give it a B.

What do you think of Frozen Fever? Keep comments clean and respectful.

Snow Day Movies

Best Snow Day MoviesSo I’ve heard of this little thing called Snowmogeddon that many of you are experiencing.  It is gorgeous here in Utah so go figure! As many of you are stuck inside with travel restrictions I thought I would help you out and suggest some great movies for watching on a snow day.  I figure you either want something you can cozy up with, something long or something cold.

For some reason I always think of making popcorn, hot cocoa and brownies when there is a blizzard outside.  Yum!

I am also specifically not picking any Christmas movies  because most people don’t watch those in January.

Here we go!

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy-

lord of the ringsWhat better for a day stuck inside than a good trilogy and it’s hard to top Lord of the Rings.  You could even watch the extended editions with all that time.  What Peter Jackson did truly fits the word epic. They hit every movie lover need- great action, beautiful worlds, good performances and a battle against evil that has real heart at the core. When you get to the final scene with Samwise, Frodo, Gollum and the ring it is so satisfying.

2. Up

up_posterPerfect time to watch a movie about a floating house when you are stuck in the house!  I can’t think of a time when I wouldn’t want to watch Up.  It’s sweet, funny and touching.  I love the opening sequence more than any other piece of filmmaking I’ve ever seen.  I love that a character passes away yet her presence is felt throughout the film.  It’s a reminder to us that those we love and have lost are still a part of our lives. It’s also very funny and has some nifty action, a good villain, great voice performances and a perfect score.

3. Shining

shiningGot a little cabin fever?  I can’t think of a more appropriate and terrifying movie than Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.  It is the only horror movie I like because it is about a man going insane not some outside force attacking.  The artistry is a huge step above the typical horror movie and there is a lot of symbolism that can keep you thinking.  Plus, great performances from all involved.

4. 101 Dalmatians

101 dalmations

My tails froze and my nose is froze and my ears are froze and my toes are froze

Of course I have to include a Disney and I almost went with Lady and the Tramp because that is a very cozy movie but I decided on 101 Dalmatians because it is warm, funny and has a lot of scenes in the snow. Cruella is one of Disney’s best villains and the dogs get really close to getting caught many times.  The scene getting into the van makes me always hold my breath.  Cruella’s plan is so outrageous it also gives us some great laughs.  One of my favorites and a rare time where the sketch style is actually a benefit to all those spotted puppies.

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

ferrisWhat is a snow day but an unexpected day off, so this is a perfect film for the occasion.  Ferris’ antics are obviously over the top but there is a real heart to the film which I actually find quite moving.  There is a theory that the whole day is planned by Ferris because Cameron is going to commit suicide and it is all set up to get him to the moment with the car and confronting his father.  I don’t know if that is true or not but it makes sense.  It’s one of those rare pictures which balances comedy, great writing, likable performances, 4th wall jokes and pretty intense drama. I like it more each time I see it.

6.  Frozen

Frozen-movie-posterHow could I not put it in?  Let the cold never bother you anyway and watch one of Disney’s most satisfying movies and one of the best musicals in a long time.  I love the relationship between the sisters as I have 3 sisters and trying to figure out what’s in their heads is really hard.  I thought the ending worked and the villain twist surprised me, which is hard to do in a fairytale.  They also used just enough of Olaf to be funny without overdoing it.  I know it has its detractors but I love it!

7. Pride and Prejudice

pride and prejudice

Technically this is not a movie but a miniseries but I figure you have 6 hours when snowed in why not watch Colin Firth stare longingly into Lizzie’s eyes…Sigh?  This is the standard by which all Jane Austen adaptations are measured.  Andrew Davies is such a great director for period pieces and the whole cast is engaging with the exception of Susannah Harker who is a rather blank Jane.  I love Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie and of course Colin Firth with the staring, eloquence, and a little dip in the lake we won’t soon forget.  Other great miniseries to watch are North and South (my favorite book), Wives and Daughters, Little Dorrit, Downton Abbey, Persuasion/Emma/Sense and Sensibility.  They are all great!

8. Groundhog Day-

groundhog day

It’s only a few days away from Groundhog Day so why not watch a hilarious comedy about the holiday? Bill Murray is at his best as a cranky weatherman named Phil who is forced to cover the groundhog day ceremonies in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  Then he lives that aggravating day over and over again.  It is funny but there is also a nice heart to the story where he learns to see people in a new way including Andie MacDowell as the love interest.  He starts looking at her very cynically but as the days continue he understands her and starts to think a little less selfishly.  Terrific writing and directing by the great Harold Ramis.

9. Fargo-

Fargo_movieposter

I admit the ending I have to look away.  It’s pretty bloody but aside from that a perfect mystery set in cold Fargo, North Dakota. William H Macy is great as the man who’s plan begins to unravel.  Steve Buscemi is so creepy as one of the kidnappers. But the real star is Frances McDormand as the pregnant sheriff Marge who is one of the most likable characters in recent memory.  She is smarter than everyone else in the room but everyone discounts her because of her sex, way of speaking and being pregnant.  It makes you root for her and smile at the same time. Great direction by the Coen Brothers making the cold landscape of Fargo practically a character in the story.

10. 7 Brides for 7 Brothers

seven bridesA classic musical directed by Stanley Donnen and starring Jane Powell and Howard Keel as a couple who marry on first sight which gives Keel’s backwoods brothers a bad idea for getting their own brides.  It is silly and over-the-top premise but it works almost in spite of itself.  The engaging cast of mostly dancers helps keep it likable and light.  It also has some of the best dancing in any Hollywood movie of its era. The barn raising scene alone is amazing.  And it is a perfect musical to watch in a blizzard because the girls get snowed in by an avalanche!

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There are a lot of other movies I could have picked.  What are some of your favorites? Please share in the comments and stay warm!

Babysitting and Disney

I had an interesting experience yesterday.  As most of you know I am single and all of my 5 nieces live many miles away 😦 so my access to little kids in my life is relatively small.  Most of the time when I watch animation I have to guess what little kids like my nieces might think about it or ask them over the phone.  I wish they lived closer and I could take them with me to the theater but it is not the case!

10407216_10152620515897239_416405874589811306_n

Anyway, yesterday I got the opportunity to babysit for a friend at church who is moving and needed the kids to be away for the day so they could pack up and clean.  I don’t have that much living space in my house and unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for going to the park or outside activities so we were limited.  We did a lot of drawing.  The older girl who was 4 I think seriously drew for 4 hours maybe more.  It was impressive.

But there was still entertaining the youngest girl.  We made cookies and after that I didn’t have a whole lot else to do with little kids at my house besides stick on my Disney library.  Both of their reactions were surprising. And I know 4 movies is a bit garish for one day but my house is small and I really don’t have much to entertain kids beyond drawing and making cookies so go easy on me!

First thing we saw was a Mickey Mouse Christmas Movie called Mickeys Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.  The cover looked bad but it actually was pretty good.  It is basically a whole bunch of shorts narrated by Mickey and Donald who is in a grumpy mood.  It was amazing how the minute Mickey came on screen the little girl lit up and gleefully said ‘It’s Mickey!’.  She loved the film. The final segment on Mickey’s Christmas Carol was a little much for her but she didn’t hate it.

Mickey's_Magical_ChristmasThen I put in Jungle Book thinking they would love it.  What surprised me is that both of them were not engaged at all.  I thought they would love the music and the simple story but I ended up drawing  with both as it played.  It didn’t capture either girls attention at all like Mickey.  Even Bare Necessities they were not into.

1967_80sRR_JUNGLEBOOK

Then I put on Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  I figured it would be a slam dunk.  Again, surprisingly it didn’t really seem to hold their interest that much although they liked it better than Jungle Book.  Once Tigger came on the screen they liked it much better but before that it didn’t do much for them.

The_Many_Adventures_of_Winnie_the_Pooh

Then next I put on Frozen and I’m not kidding you the littlest girl was sitting with her back away from the TV when the opening chords to Frozen Heart came on and she lit up, a huge smile on her face.  Lana stopped drawing and came in the room right away.  They loved it! I love Frozen but I have never watched it with little girls and was amazed at how much they loved it. They knew every line to every song and sang along with gusto.  It was so much more to use the pun animated than any of the other choices I had played.  Call it recency bias but 2 little girls have spoken and Frozen was definitely the favorite.

Frozen-movie-poster

Of the movies these children liked Frozen, Mickey’s Magical Christmas, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Jungle Book in that order.  Isn’t that surprising (I keep using that word but don’t know any other way to say it?).  Obviously this is only 2 kids and only 4 films but it was interesting to me nonetheless. What have you guys found in your families/kids in your life?  Like I said, I don’t have many in my life, so always interesting to see how actual kids respond to these films that I love. What do they like and does it ever surprise you?  Do they like things that you don’t? I’d love to know.

By the way Ben Affleck better watch out because my Dark Knight is pretty awesome… 😉

dark knight

Most Rewatchable Disney Canon Films

I will be seeing Big Hero 6 in the next 3 hours! Oh boy!

I was talking with a friend about Robin Hood and told her despite its problems it is one of the most rewatchable Disney’s.  What I mean by that is some movies are masterpieces but more weighty than the kind of thing I want to watch over and over again .

So what are those movies that I don’t mind repeat and frequent rewatching?  What’s the one that if I’m feeling like a movie that will entertain but not challenge me what do I pick?  I will add that I seem to have a unique high tolerance for repetition.  Other people tire of music, movies, food, books and I just don’t.  If it is something I like than I like it forever and repeatedly.

That said, some films like The Lion King I love but the intensity makes it tough to rewatch again and again.

I will also say that all of the Pixar movies with the exception of Brave (yes even Cars 2) are very rewatchable.   That’s why I’ve struggled to write up reviews of Pixar ,movies . How many ways can I say masterpiece?

pixar

 

Here goes in no particular order:

1.  Tangled- romantic comedies are probably my favorite genre to rewatch.  Tangled is funny, light, joyous, beautiful and a terrific villain.

Tangled_rapunzel_poster_20

2. Robin Hood- Maybe not the most ambitious Disney film but the humor makes it very rewatchable.  I love the voice performances and while it is a bit too long it is so much fun I enjoy rewatching it.

robin hood poster

3. Jungle Book- I hate the ending but other than that it is charming, funny, and the music is the true star.  It clips along so well with moments of real heart.  It is certainly up there in the movies I’ve seen the most.

1967_80sRR_JUNGLEBOOK

4. Emperor’s New Groove- Again not the most ambitious but so full of laughs that it is great to rewatch.  Comedies are often the best for rewatching as we don’t always feel up to an intense emotional experience.

emperors poster

5. Aladdin- Another comedy makes the list but Aladdin is so much fun with the manic energy of Robin Williams.  Every time I see it I spot a new impression or moment I had missed before.  It will entertain both boys and girls equally and it is just one I wouldn’t mind watching on most any day.

aladdin poster

6. Frozen- I can see many of you roll your eyes because you are sick of this movie.  I repeat I don’t get sick of movies.  If I like them I like them and I like Frozen.  I could listen to the music all day and the humor is great, pacing a lot of fun and I just enjoy watching it most any day.

Frozen-movie-poster

7. Lady and the Tramp- sweet, simple, romantic and with some tension and laughs.  Just something so pleasant I can’t think of a time when I would not enjoy watching it. As the poster says the ‘happiest motion picture’ from early Disney.

Lady-and-tramp-1955-poster

8. 101 Dalmatians- A lot of of humor with Cruella,  fun lively story, lots of great characters.  Dry with with Horace and Jasper.  Always at the top of my rewatch list.

101 dalmations

9. Lilo and Stitch- Probably my most emotional film on this list but it is so lovingly told and Lilo is such a real kid I am drawn to the picture despite my dislike for Stitch.  Maybe part of it is I find the Hawaiian local and music so relaxing it’s an easy rewatch for me..  It brings back many happy memories.

lilo and stitch poster

10. Mulan- Another movie with a lot of humor, romance, heart, and excitement.  Just thoroughly entertaining and not too deep or morose like other less rewatchable films.

Movie_poster_mulanHonorable Mentions- Beauty and the Beast although it feels a little long for a frequent rewatch, Little Mermaid because of my nostalgia for it, and Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which is probably the most rewatchable for little one’s.

 

Off to see Big Hero 6!!!!

Movie 53: Frozen

Frozen-poster

There will be spoilers in this review so if by some miracle you haven’t seen the movie stop reading and watch it. (I personally don’t care about spoilers but to some that is a big deal)

Here we go!  The big controversial post . It was so big, it seems you either love it or hate it, and I am on the loving it side! Let’s get cold and talk some FROZEN!

Make sure to look at my initial review after seeing it in 2013.  At the time I thought all the songs ran together like a Sondheim musical without a standout cabaret like number.  Boy was I wrong on that one!

But I also said in my review

“It is worth your money and will be an experience that will stick with them forever just like the princess movies stuck with me.  Plus, these are strong, independent women who come to their own rescue without the need of Prince Charming.  Love that.”

I still like that. I think in many ways Frozen is the new Little Mermaid.  It’s about a girl who is told by her parents she has to live a certain way, a way that isn’t right for her.  She learns through the movie to be herself and that her parents were wrong.   The only difference is Ariel is never led to believe her ambitions will hurt anyone but herself.  They do end up hurting other people, but Ariel is never fearful of that.  From the get-go Elsa almost kills her sister and the fear that could happen again causes her to be paralyzed into not living her life.  In a way she is brainwashed into believing she is wrong and bad.  Ariel is rebelling but Elsa cannot rebel because people will die.

But the appeal in the characters of Ariel and Elsa is similar.  Both feel uncomfortable in their own skin and both break free through the course of their movies.  They both have freedom anthem songs and they both greatly appeal to young girls for that reason.

Before writing this post I asked my twitter and facebook friends why their daughters liked Frozen.  Some of the responses:

“My 11 year old loves the new songs, the twist they put on Hans and when Elsa saved Anna by unfreezing her with the power of love”

Another says

“My son loves Sven.  He is 3.  Whenever he sees a moose or cow anywhere he will say ”There’s Sven”

Another

“My oldest 5 says she likes the movie because the princesses are the good guys…she likes how they win”

So that gives you an idea of some of the appeal to youngsters.

Because I’ve seen this reaction from the kids in my life it has seriously bummed me out to see the negative backlash around Frozen.  It makes me sad because I was allowed to love The Little Mermaid and nobody said I was stupid or it was awful.  I had never even heard of anyone not liking Little Mermaid till a few years ago.  It all goes back to my Content, Content, Content post.  If you don’t care for it fine but do not make little girls feel badly because they do like it.  Youtube is especially brutal.  Every video of little girls singing Let It Go has so many hateful comments.  Get a life people.

I’ve felt very defensive of the movie because of these girls and boys who love it.  So, in the comment section if you hate it please try to keep the discourse to a respectful level as we have done so far on the blog.  I will try to let you guys discuss and not get too involved.

The Production-

On the blu-ray there is a cool featurette about the history of The Snow Queen at Disney.  Evidently in 1940 there was a plan to make a package film of the works of Hans Christen Andersen but it was eventually scrapped.

Disney's_-The_Snow_Queen-
Early Concept Art

Evidently pitches for The Snow Queen happened after The Little Mermaid in the 90s and again in 2002 by exec Harvey Fierstein when it was rejected by the studio.

When John Lasseter was made CCO after the purchase of Pixar by Disney he assigned Chris Buck of Tarzan fame to begin working on the Snow Queen.  Buck decided:

“he wanted to do something different on the definition of love”

Josh Gad was evidently involved early on when it was closer to the original story but in 2010 the concept was rejected again.

After the success of Tangled, they picked up the project again and in December 2011 Disney announced Frozen and gave themselves under 2 years to complete.  Quite the ambitious project but I guess with so much groundwork being done on story and ideas that helped.

Immediately song writers for Avenue Q,  Kristen Anderson- Lopez and Robert Lopez, were brought on board and the idea of the ‘frozen heart’ was developed with the songs.

They had a challenge of creating a fairytale movie without a traditional villain.  Pixar’s Brave tried to do this but much less successfully.  We had to always keep our heart open to Elsa.  Buck said of writing “That was a concept and the phrase…an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart”

Jennifer Lee from Wreck-it Ralph was brought in as co-director and she said “Anna was going to save Elsa.  We didn’t know how or why?”   Lee then went on to rewrite the script again and with only 17 months left till it’s release.  (Pretty amazing what they pulled off).

I guess in the original script Elsa was in fact more ‘evil from the start’ and didn’t want Anna to get back to Hans.  Anna was also more brooding and resentful about her spot as the second daughter.

Then the Lopez’s wrote Let it Go and the song was so powerful they rewrote the script again with Elsa as a more nuanced character.

“Forget villain. Just what it would feel like. And this concept of letting out who she is[,] that she’s kept to herself for so long[,] and she’s alone and free, but then the sadness of the fact that the last moment is she’s alone..”

Then they decided to switch things up again and make Hans duplicitous and a sociopath type character.  This had certainly never been done with Disney.  Every character had been pretty obviously bad from the start even if the characters don’t see it such as Clayton in Tarzan or Radcliffe in Pocahontas.

2012 they got the voice talent on board and went with Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, and Broadway superstar Idina Menzel.  In my opinion Frozen has the best singers in a Disney musical bar none.

That’s only a handful of the details out there.  They did amazing things with the set designs, backdrops, story etc.  I personally find them all fascinating but most importantly there is a definite sense of teamwork with Frozen because it was created under such time constraints all facets were working together at the same time.  Beauty and the Beast was very similar.

And all that teamwork produced something very special.  Something a lot of people responded to in a way a movie hadn’t done in a long time.  With on demand and high def the days of people going to movies 12+ times were kind of passed us but Frozen had that kind of success and it made over a billion dollars.  It stayed in the top 10 until March which was the same time it was released on DVD!

A Storybook-

I thought it would be fun to do something different for the story portion.  I wanted to tell you about the story but also explain why it was different and why people responded to it.  (I’ve been thinking about this review the whole time writing the blog).  I was at Costco and found this ‘Busy Book’ and I think it does a good job explaining each of the character’s appeal, story and why they are different. SONY DSC

ELSA

First we have Elsa

SONY DSCSONY DSCThat sums up Elsa pretty well.  Worried she will do harm she hides her powers and then runs away causing the freeze.

ANNA-

Then there is Anna

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Anna really is all of the adjectives loving, energetic, fearless optimist.  She is a really complex character who is stupid yet brave and combined with Elsa they are a great team.  She also has great romantic comedy banter with Hans at the beginning and Kristoff as they search for Elsa.

OLAF-

Olaf is our fun snowman who I think is in the movie just the right amount to remain funny.

SONY DSC SONY DSCOlaf is big-hearted and willing to sacrifice himself for his friends.  A terrific character.

KRISTOFF-

Anna meets Kristoff and he is not a fan of hers at first.  They have a lovely romantic banter.  He is a simple guy and wants to sell his ice in peace.

SONY DSC SONY DSCKristoff is the pleasant side of Elsa.  Kind of the character that is allowed to be who he is and isn’t stymied by his parents (or trolls!).  He prefers to be alone but also has a ‘very kind heart’.  I love Kristoff. He will tell you what he thinks even if you don’t want to hear it.  Love that.

SVEN-

Then we have Kristoff’s friend Sven who I am so glad they did not make him a talking reindeer.

 SONY DSCSONY DSCSven could have been a throw-away character but they give him a lot of humor and heart.

HANS-

Finally we have our villain who again doesn’t start as a villain, Hans

SONY DSC SONY DSC

THE SONGS and more Story

Let’s talk for a second about the songs, which I LOVE!

We start out with a very strong introductory song called Heart and it introduces us to the theme of ice and a frozen heart.  The choral work is beautiful.  Reminds me a lot of The Lion King intro or Hunchback of Notre Dame choral work.

We then get our introduction to Anna and Elsa.  This involves Elsa hurts Anna with her magic winter powers.  The trolls tell the family that they must shut magic out and hide it for everyone’s safety and until she can control it.

This is a bit of a plothole because why not explain to the family that love is the antidote?  Surely she could work on that instead of being just shut in?  But I put that along with Gothel telling Rapunzel her actual birthday or the Beast being 11 when the spell was cast.  Somethings have to be in order for the plot to start, so not a major stumbling block for me.

Anyway, Elsa shuts Anna out because her parents tell her to.  We then get a great song of storytelling and character development with Do You Want to Build a Snowman.  The girls parents die and all along Elsa follows orders and keeps away from her sister to keep Anna safe.

The day for Elsa’s coronation comes and Anna is excited to finally be opening the doors.   Elsa is naturally nervous.  So we get a song called For the First Time.  Kristen Bell is wonderful in this song.

The ball comes and Anna meets Hans and falls in love with him and they sing a very funny song- very well sung by Kristen Bell and Santino Fontana. It pokes fun at the instant love tropes used in many previous Disney movies.

Anna and Hans ask Elsa for her blessing and she refuses causing them to fight and her powers are revealed.  Elsa runs away and Anna goes after her.

Elsa realizes now everyone knows she might as well Let it Go! I don’t know if any of you have ever had a secret and then it is finally out but I have and it feels great.  It’s out there and you can be you!

Anna meets Kristoff and Sven and together they meet Olaf Elsa’s snowman creation.  He is a wonderful character and in the movie just enough to not get annoying.  His song is well done by Josh Gad.  Turns out he dreams of summer.

Anna and Elsa meet but Anna is unable to convince her to come back and Elsa doesn’t want to because she can’t face all the people and doesn’t know how to bring back summer.  In an accident she strikes Anna in the heart and tells her to leave.  This is all very exciting!

In probably the weakest section Kristoff takes Anna to meet his parents (although Olaf is very funny in these scenes).   Turns out he was raised by the trolls from the beginning of the picture and they want Anna to fall in love with their fixer upper.

It’s not the best song but I don’t hate it and it is well sung by Broadway veteran Maia Wilson.  I can certainly think of comic relief songs that are far worse.

The trolls tell Anna she must have an act of true love to reverse the spell.  They all assume it must be a kiss and head back to find Hans.  Unfortunately he is a true villain and has captured Elsa and refuses to kiss Anna, in an attempt to claim her throne.

I don’t think Disney has ever had a villain who has been so duplicitous.  It is very effective and genuinely surprised me.  I thought Hans was going to be a match for Elsa but no.

Finally we get our ending where Anna is frozen and Elsa devastated but it turns out her love for Anna is the act needed to break the magic.

To me the ending was just about perfect.

Some claim this is ‘false feminism’ but I disagree.  The point of Frozen was not to make a feminist picture.  It was to show a different type of love.  Whether it’s the love of friendship Olaf shows, the loyalty Kristoff shows or the sisterly love between Elsa and Anna the film does an excellent example of showing the power of each kind of love.  It’s not trying to be a female empowerment film.  It could have as easily been about two brothers loving each other.

The fact that some people cheered it for not having a Prince Charming moment does not mean that was the main point of the ending.  The filmmakers are not responsible for every person’s response.  They were trying to make a movie about different types of love.  Whether that is especially feminist or not is up for debate.  I thought it was refreshing and moving.  Most of the love in my life has been through friendship and I have always been very close to my 3 sisters so I related to the emotion very well.

Movie Review/Conclusion-

I watched Frozen every day this week, so 4 times before writing this review.  I have a high tolerance for repetition.  If I like it, I like it on the 100th airing as much as on the 1st.  Seriously it does not damper from over-exposure like it does for others.  I don’t know why but that’s just the way I am.  So for me, the popularity of Frozen has no effect in dampening my enthusiasm.

I love it’s story of a girl who is told she can’t be who she is, that she is dangerous, and then her eyes become open and she becomes empowered.  It is the Little Mermaid for girls of today and I love seeing that.  I love young girls have an anthem in Let it Go like I had Part of Your World.  That’s a great thing.

I think the story is a lot of fun.  I love the ending.  I totally buy them focusing on a new type of love that we haven’t seen in a Disney movie.  Whether it is feminist or not I don’t really care.  It’s the love of sisters and I certainly relate to that.  I love the surprise in the villain, which I think is very difficult to do in a fairy tale.  Movies like Treasure Planet look beautiful but fail to surprise me.  Frozen did just that.

I think the comic relief is in just enough and there is real heart to it as opposed to say Trashing the Camp segments of Tarzan which are much more grating than In Summer or Fixer Upper.  All the singing is the best in any Disney film.  It really elevates even so-so numbers.

I loved the world they created.  Elsa’s castle is gorgeous.  The costumes and character designs look great.  Even Elsa’s hair is cool.  Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf aren’t stock characters but have nuances we haven’t seen in a Disney film.  Kristoff is kind of a loner and glad to be so which is refreshing.  Anna is very interesting and complex.  She is naive, silly, impetuous, free spirit but  in a realistic, sweet way.  She is allowed to make mistakes in the script and can even be sarcastic.

Elsa is this brainwashed girl who grows throughout the film.  She is a villain for a bit but you always like her so she’s not the villain.  It is very well written.  Most Disney movies have one heroine and I liked there are 2 and together Anna and Elsa balance themselves out well.

Like I said, I know there is tons of backlash but this is my blog and my opinion and I love Frozen.  I think it is a terrific movie with great characters, songs, story and animation.  I am sure there will be tons of people who feel differently and please share but remember to be respectful and keep the language clean.  I worked really hard on this post so please actually read my thoughts before responding.

Thanks and GO FROZEN!!!

Overall Grade/Conclusion- A+