‘Frozen Fever’ Review: More is Much Less
Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella was released in theaters today, and it’s already poised to be a huge hit, striking hard with the little girl crowd. In my own review of Cinderella, I posited that it will become a regular staple of slumber parties for any girls 14 and under. Lovely colors, a brave heroine, and a dreamy Prince Charming all cater directly to the little girl demographic.
Since this film so so powerfully little-girl oriented, it should make perfect logical sense that Disney should include an little extra helping of Frozen – one of Disney’s overwhelmingly popular hits – beforehand. Cinderella is preceded by a five-minute short film called Frozen Fever, a film that follows up on Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and all of your favorite characters from Frozen. It takes place after the events of Frozen, as Elsa (Idina Menzel) gears up to throw the perfect birthday party for Anna (Kristen Bell), despite having a terrible cold.
It’s also terrible.
I perhaps might clarify to my readers that I was not keen on Frozen when it was first released, and the ubiquity of its merchandise has only soured me on the film further. I felt that whatever overly-lauded “subversive” elements Frozen may have possessed (i.e. It’s a story about sisters rather than a love story! Even though it still has a love story!), it’s subversion still felt like a 100% safe studio calculation. Subverting the “Disney Princess” brand is, ironically enough, still part of its brand. What’s more, the film is still about pretty white women who are royalty. Further still, the characters are all shrill. The one barn-burning musical number didn’t make up for the rest of the film.
So the prospect of seeing more Frozen was not a compelling one for me. Frozen Fever, despite my prejudice, however, only proves that Disney has nothing else to say about these characters. We have the same cast, the same composer, the same characters, and great animation, and yet we have a little nothing of a film at the end of the day. Once Anna and Else became friends again, their lives – we now see – have descended into doting bland bourgeois gift-giving, and squirrely worry over everyday planning. Anna and Elsa both come across as bored rich suburban moms whose only ambition is to display their wealth through gift orgies. Frozen Fever is a celebration of the very kind of conspicuous consumerism that Disney is always smearing the landscape with.
Olaf, the talking snowman, was certainly conceived not as an organic part of the Frozen story – his function in Frozen is, we all must acknowledge, pusillanimous – but as the handy Disney Sidekick invented to sell toys. Frozen Fever, to do us one better, has included dozens upon dozens of tiny smiling baby Olaf-like snowmen that appear in the air every time Elsa sneezes. The first time it happens, it’s cute. The 15th time it happens, you begin to picture those little snowmen on a shelf at your local Disney Store.
Disney recently announced that they will be making a theatrical sequel to Frozen. If Frozen Fever is any indicator as to what they can do with these characters, then we should perhaps all dread Frozen 2. Now that the sisters have made up, we have nothing to say about them. They’re not rich, exciting, or interesting characters, and have evolved into grown women who behave like hopped-up nine-year-olds. Their interests are cake and a vague slumber-party-ready version of sororal affection that only exists in TV commercials. They could barely make it through one film. An additional five minutes of Anna and Else have only proven that they have outstayed their welcome.
Also, a nitpicky detail for good measure: Elsa uses her magical freezing powers to make a green flowery dress. How does that work?