Before I get into any details I want to give a small warning to all you parents out there. If you take your kids to this movie you aren’t going to see a typical colorful, animal-talking, animated comedy. This is more of an animated musical with a semi-serious tone reminiscent of many classical fairy tales such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.
Now, maybe a lot of you enjoy musicals, but I’m just a moderate fan of them and I’d like to know from the start if that’s what I’m getting into. Never-the-less, that didn’t ruin the movie by any means and it really felt quite suitable by the end.
Reviewing animated films from a Christian perspective is a little tougher than normal films for obvious reasons. Sometimes the material just isn’t there, but that was not the case in Frozen. I’ll keep this as spoiler free as possible while still trying to highlight some very cool underlying Christian elements. Frozen is the story of two sisters, Anna and Elsa, raised in the beautiful kingdom of Arendelle who, because of Elsa’s magical powers to produce and control the frozen elements, have been secluded from the world and kept apart from one another since they were very young. But when the time comes for Elsa’s coronation as Queen of Arendelle, their secluded lives are forced into the limelight. Needless to say, their lack of experience in dealing with other people in any way leads to some unfortunate knee-jerk decisions and the exposure of Elsa’s powers.
From the time she was very young, Elsa was told to keep her feelings under control and hidden from view. Her feelings and emotions drove her powers to new heights and had caused pain in the past. “Just don’t feel” she says to herself numerous times. Like a dog grown accustomed to regular beatings, Elsa never lets herself open up, never let herself feel anything and always cowered away from contact with anyone. Her emotional walls were built and established from the time she was very young. A lot of people today put up similar walls to protect themselves from the pain of rejection, disappointment or loss of a loved one. The first generation of Christians knew this type of pain all too well. Many of them were ridiculed, beaten and even killed for their faith in Jesus and it would have been easy for them to put up walls and block off their feelings. But look at what James tells them to do, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Contrary to the road of gloom and solitude that Elsa, and many today choose, Christians are to embrace their hardships, their trials, and learn endurance from them. Not surprisingly, this scriptural advice is good for all people, not just Christians. How many motivational quotes can you rattle off the top of your head right now which direct you to this same truth? God means for us to learn something from the difficult times in life, the trials we are presented with. They build character, they produce endurance and give us strength. Queen Elsa would have been served well with such advice at a younger age.
As I said, this is an animated film with a somewhat serious tone overall. However, you shouldn’t interpret that as meaning it isn’t funny. In fact, my five year old son and three year old daughter laughed more at this movie than probably any other animated flick this year. And trust me, we’ve seen them all! Nearly all of that laughter in Frozen was due to the hilarious snowman whom I’m sure all your kids took notice of in the trailers. Olaf the snowman, created by Queen Elsa in a bit of a fit, is voiced by Josh Gad and has a perfectly innocent and unassuming nature to him, while also nailing every moment of satire. He longs for the summer months, but is quick-witted enough to poke some fun at Anna (Kristen Bell) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). He really holds the movie together and pushes it forward during one or two “where are we going with this” moments after the first act. He was a refreshing addition to the film and, for my money, was a far better character with higher comedic value than a few certain short yellow guys from a certain animated sequel earlier this year.
In the search for her older sister, Anna runs into an ice-farmer named Kristoff. Kristoff brings some moderation and wisdom to the otherwise frantic Anna, and of course catches her eyes a slight bit with his wavy blonde locks and endearing friendship with his pet elk. Anna has already pledged her love to another man (the reasons for which are a sermon on its own) but the chemistry between Anna and Kristoff is obvious. This is a fairly typical Disney-inspired love relationship; neither has anything particularly in common with the other, one is royalty and the other is common, yet their paths cross. Imagine Tangled, but with snow and a goofy elk instead of a valiant horse.
Anna finds her sister in her own little fortress of solitude where she has seemingly shrugged off all previous concerns of avoiding her feelings. Elsa really is all over the place emotionally in this movie. One minute she’s calm and avoiding contact, the next she’s embracing her powers and using them against those who mean her harm. She can’t seem to find that happy medium, deal with her abilities and be content with her life. This type of polar behavior of course causes problems for Elsa, and it’s a good lesson for us all; being content. We all have things that we want in our lives that we’ll never get. We all have jobs, possessions, friendships, etc. that fall short of what we wish they would be. A key in all this is learning to be content in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. Paul had this to say, “…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Philippians 4:11, 12). How was Paul able to be so content no matter the situation? He had the peace of Christ ruling in his heart (Col. 3:15). Next time you find yourself unhappy or disappointed in how things are turning out for you, ask yourself; does the peace of Christ rule in your heart?
There are a couple of interesting twists at the end of this film which I won’t go into great detail on. One is something that you’ll likely see coming from near the beginning of the movie, but the timing of it comes late enough that you almost start to think it won’t happen. The other involves true love. It’s not a spoiler to say that this is an act of self-sacrifice. There are three or four characters at the end which you would believe are capable of it. What I really appreciated was how it kept being referenced as “true love”. Self-sacrificial love is true love in its most raw and selfless form. It is the type of love that husbands are called to have for their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and it is the type of love that God has for us all. “By this the love of God was manifested in us; that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:9-11) God sent his Son, and Jesus sacrificed himself for all of us in order that we might be saved by grace through faith in Him. He opened the door for all mankind to be freed from death to life, in Him.
My Rating: 4/5
In my opinion, Frozen is second only to Monsters University in animated movies this year. It doesn’t have all the flashy colors and talking animals we find in most animated films today, but there is a depth and connection in the story that is difficult for animated films to accomplish. Each character is wonderfully voiced by a cast in which Kristen Bell is probably the best known name. I wouldn’t consider her an “A-lister”, which just goes to show that quality beats voice recognition. The biggest complaint I have is really from a marketing standpoint in that I had no idea this was a musical. Also, it is pretty heavy on the singing for the first 2/3 of the movie, but by the final act it nearly vanishes. Frozen is plenty of fun for the whole family and there are a wealth of teachable moments for your kiddo’s, if you wish to apply anything they’ve just spent 2 hours watching 🙂