FROZEN 2 is possibly the most mature — and possibly even dark — feature to ever come out of the house of mouse and it’s a refreshing and welcome shake-up for the ever-growing catalog of films. The themes are complex, the songs are incredible, the character evolutions are pointed. As we saw in the twist ending from 2013, this franchise isn’t going to rely on easy, off-the-shelf, themes for its inspiration and that trend continues here in the sequel. We had the opportunity recently to sit with cast and filmmakers to get more insights on the project.
Sure, you’ll get some slapstick. Some fluff. And some incredible music. But there’s more here to explore.
Perseverance, change, courage, adventure, and resilience are just some of the “one word” descriptions that press conference participants provided when asked to describe the new adventure. Josh Gad (Olaf) added another word, “residuals” before refining his choice to “growth.” And “growth” really is the heart of what’s going on in FROZEN 2.
While any good story features a plot that forces characters to grow, filmmakers here had more in mind than just giving the Queen of Arendelle and her cohorts new adventures on which to chew. Instead, directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck set out not just to continue raising the bar for Walt Disney Animation Studios but to also raise the bar for viewers themselves.
Meet Prince Sincere
Toxic masculinity is one of the themes tackled but not at all in a way that you expect — at no point is this a hate fest about men. Instead, Disney takes a more positive approach and does it with more subtlety in a way that even kids should pick up on without even realizing that they’re witnessing a progressive shift in cultural dynamics.
Kristen Bell (Anna) commented, “There’s one moment where [Anna] is in distress, and [Kristoff] swoops in and picks her up and it’s in the midst of battle and he doesn’t say ‘I’ve got you’ and start taking over. [Instead], he swoops her up and very quickly looks at her and says, ‘I’m here. What do you need?'” It’s definitely one of those “Yes!” moments where you can see the trust, respect and admiration that Kristoff shows to Anna and reinforces that it’s not just the dashing hero who saves the day, he can also work to support the daring heroine, as well.
“He’s Prince Sincere,” echoed Evan Rachel Wood (Queen Iduna), “not Prince Charming.”
Another point in the film that continues to work against decades of misogynist ingratiation sticks a little more sappy saccharine when Anna apologizes to Kristoff for seemingly not being supportive with their relationship to which he answers “It’s ok, my love is not fragile.”
Kristoff is not only supportive here but also not afraid to share honest thoughts about his emotions. There’s not a lot of musicals that feature male characters singing about tender romantic emotions and that’s because it continues to strain against current cultural norms. This is a sticking point that songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez related candidly during the press conference when writing songs for male characters in their careers; it’s very challenging to find that balance.
There’s a line in Kristoff’s big musical number, “You feel what you feel, and your feelings are real,” which is a notion Anderson-Lopez said she hoped sticks with boys. Instead of pushing feelings away, embrace and understand them them so as to grow from them.
Pretty lofty goals set out from a musical sequel with a singing snowman!
See it for Yourself
FROZEN 2 opens in theaters November 22, 2019.