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It’s Okay To Like Disney Princesses Again: A Review of ‘Frozen’

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Frozen (2013)
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Written by Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and Shane Morris
102 min.

Spoiler-free.

When I reviewed How To Train Your Dragon, I drew a line in some imaginary sand separating it from the cynically produced schlock that gets dumped on the kid demographic these days. As much as I love that movie though, I have to admit that it only seems so great because everything else is so bad. For a long time, CG movies were too annoying to even endure, Pixar’s output aside. But now Pixar sucks too. Go ahead, admit it. They haven’t made a great movie since Wall-E, and everything since has been worse than what came before it—Monsters University in particular is downright abysmal.

Strangely enough, as Pixar has declined, Disney Animation has experienced a resurgence. Bolt was way better than anyone expected, and, for the most part, Tangled feels about as effortless as any Disney 90’s hit did. Wreck-It Ralph was terrible, and The Princess and the Frog was a bit too paint-by-numbers, but whatever—all upward trends have their occasional dips. Now we have Frozen, which, despite its stupid title, is without a doubt the peak of this new renaissance. I have a feeling this all has something to do with Pixar legend John Lasseter’s appointment as Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios following Disney’s buyout of Pixar in 2006, but I’ll leave that speculation for someone more informed and just get back to Frozen.
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A Blank Stare Is Worth A Thousand Words

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There’s a small moment in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation that’s stuck with me more than the rest of the movie (a movie which is little else besides small memorable moments). It’s the morning when Bill Murray’s character Bob is supposed to leave Tokyo, but he’s all tore up because he’s fallen for the young, idle Charlotte, who’ll stay in Tokyo after he’s gone. Whomever that group of Japanese suits is that’s been hauling from him from job to job wants a picture with him (because he’s a movie star I guess) so they all line up. But when they go to take the photo, Murray’s smile fades and his gaze wanders to watch Charlotte walk to the elevator. The look on his face is packed with enough longing and conflict and anguish to fill a sushi boat—yet his expression is pretty bare. It’s kind of a frown, but not exactly. He looks more tired than anything. It calls to mind the zombie mimicking instructions from Shaun of the Dead: “Vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who’s lost a bet.” It’s also sad as hell. It’s not the realization that they’ll never see each other again that gets to me, it’s that damned stare.
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