Today’s five-year-olds weren’t born when the original Frozen movie came out in 2013. As anybody older than five will remember, the movie was everywhere for the following year (“Let it Go” ranked #19 on officialcharts.com’s list of most-streamed songs for 2014).
“Frozen II” lacks that sense of spectacle so present in the first film, yet it satisfies a slightly older audience with additional humor and a darker plot that alludes to colonization and imperialism. The sequel also offers a satisfying explanation for some issues brushed over in the first movie.
After a quick flashback to the popular heroines’ childhoods, the sequel picks up where the first film left off: Elsa (Idina Menzel) rules the kingdom of Arendelle, living in the castle alongside her younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Anna’s love interest Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Kristoff’s reindeer Sven. When Elsa starts hearing strange voices and a strange catastrophe strikes her community, she decides she has no choice but to embark on an adventure to discover the truths about her past and the history of her kingdom.
It was easy to find oneself a bit confused about everything that had happened to the sisters in the first movie, yet this was all clarified in an extremely funny 30-second-recap provided by Olaf (Josh Gad), everyone’s favorite talking snowman.
Unfortunately, the music in “Frozen II” contained none of the catchiness or memorability of Frozen’s hits “Let it Go” or “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?.” “Show Yourself,” which was clearly intended to be this movie’s “Let it Go,” had none of the punch of the original song, and only one musical moment in the movie remained in my memory upon leaving the theater.
After being left behind in the woods by Anna, Kristoff spends a hilarious three minutes singing his heart out about being “lost in the woods.” The already comedic lyrics were emphasized by ridiculous animation and choreography and the scene had every age group in the audience rollicking with laughter.
Throughout the movie, Kristoff serves as an antithesis to toxic masculinity. His relationship with Anna is among the healthiest for any Disney movie, and he expresses his feelings without limiting Anna in any way.
The character of Olaf proved to be arguably even more important comedic relief in this film than in the first through his ability to appeal to the variety of ages in the audience. Certain moments, like his opening song about growing older, had the parents and teenagers in stitches, while Olaf repeatedly running into a wall was all it took to make the preschoolers cackle.
However, the film becomes surprisingly dark as the sisters uncover a few family secrets and then have to deal with their consequences, emphasizing the side of this movie that is also designed for slightly older children.
Despite a highly predictable plotline, “Frozen II” takes us back to elementary school with cute characters and simple humor, yet a more complex acknowledgment of the consequences of colonialism’s impact on indigenous people and land is present in the movie as well. The examination of the correct course of action to remedy a wrong done by one’s ancestors sticks with an older audience even in this seemingly simple Disney movie.