This week, my wife and I took the kids out to see “Frozen II,” and I have to admit- it was a pretty good movie. Not because the movie had catchy Disney tunes, nor because it had boundless action scenes, but because the movie has a strong moral message, and one of the best played “all is lost” moments I’ve seen in a while.
To start, a quick recap of what happens- here’s where spoilers are going to happen, so stop reading now if you don’t want that happening to you.
We are given a foreshadow of where the movie is headed right away with a musical number from Anna and Elsa’s mom about a river that holds all the memories. This river becomes central to the plot, but not the moral center of the movie, which is the literal idea of, “do the next right thing” which is voiced by their mother and father, as well as their fathers personal bodyguard who has been trapped behind a wall of magical mist for 34 years with their nature loving enemies. As the movie progresses we find out that the nature spirits (earth, air, fire, and water) have sealed off the forest after some great faux pas has been committed, which resulted from Anna and Elsa’s granddad getting into a fight with the nature people after he gifted them a dam.
But that, too, is but a sideshow to the real plot line- the growth of all of our favorite characters (but especially Anna) from the original movie. And again, this is heavily foreshadowed via some typical Disney musical numbers about growth, and living in the present as best you can because NOTHING is certain and every moment is a precious gift. It’s heavy handed in some regards, but in this instance I’m going to forgive it. Especially given the Bohemian Rhapsody reference, and Olaf’s song about not getting what’s going on but understanding it’ll all make sense when he’s older- which is an absolute shout out to the parent’s about the fact that their kids are going to miss what’s really going on.
After our faves get into the mist shrouded northern forest, they are forced to follow their own paths against their will after meeting the warring parties. A C3PO shout out is easy to miss- but it’s one of the funnest moments in the entire movie- so pay attention. Elsa has to go to the river of the north (I can’t recall what its real name is) and discovers that her grandfather is the reason for the mist and the problems after he tried to first ruin the northern forest peoples' way of life, and then murder their leader. This sets up the all is lost moment that hammers home the movies moral center. In discovering this information, Elsa has “gone too far” in her quest for the truth and freezes solid (dies of a frozen heart I presume) after sending the memory via snow-mail to Anna.
Anna gets it while trapped in a cave with Olaf. Anna, with little chance of escape, learns of her grandfather’s treachery which destroys her knowledge of what her people stand for. Then, Olaf dies in her arms (in typical Disney magic death fashion after pointing to the exit in typical Olaf fashion) which informs her that Elsa is dead. The Entire first half of the movie is Anna trying like hell to protect Elsa, and now the one person she has been following around is GONE. Her family’s history is a lie, she is totally alone in a cave, she’s lost her sister and her best friend, and she alone can save the day- by destroying her child hood home. This leads to a song about “doing the next right thing” where we see this young woman- broken down to the very core of her being- have to get up off her butt, dig down, and keep moving in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Anna isn’t so damned good that she can do anything- she tells us in the song that all she wants to do is curl up and quit, that in a way there is no reason for her to go on because her reason for moving forward has just been stripped from her. It’s that reality that forces Anna to grow- and it’s this growth that acts to illustrate the real moral center of the movie. Anna is forced to realize that regardless of the trials and tribulations or the tragedies that befall her, she has to “do the next right thing” anyway. The loss of her sister and of what she thought was her families’ legacy can’t be justified unless she rights the wrong. The only way she can do that is to put her own pain aside and put one foot in front of the other.
In one short song, Anna turns from a blossoming young lady into a matured young woman who's drive is to "do the next right thing." It’s perhaps the best message I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. One I had to learn the hard way. One I hope my kids pick up on sooner rather than later in this easy, entertaining package. I knew where the movie was going when this hit, but even so, it left me moved. Disney got this one right, and I have to give them some serious credit (and perhaps a few more theater dollars to go see it again with my wife- and some more money when we buy the DVD).
I won’t spoil any more the movie for you. Suffice to say if you haven’t seen it yet, you should. Maybe you’ll disagree with me about the movie being a good one- I think you’re wrong if that’s the case. It’s a solid film because the story is a sideshow that propels the real story which centers around our bumbling princess. Was it as entertaining as the first film? Maybe, maybe not. But the core message is far more potent and much better delivered. This to me puts it in the five star category, and has already earned it a place of honor in our DVD collection.