I’m a little late to the “Frozen” train but the whole family is now on fully onboard, including putting on the soundtrack on repeat and pre-ordering the Blu Ray DVD, because what else signifies an act of true love if not that. I’ve been in love with Idina Menzel’s voice for a long time, but the movie’s revelation was that Kristen Bell is as much of a powerhouse vocal talent. Unlike all the other main voices of Elsa, Christophe (Jonathan Groff), and Hans (Santino Fontana), Bell hasn’t been on Broadway or in a musical for well over a decade concentrating on TV and film, yet, she carried that film. But, like the rest of the planet, my favorite is the movie’s torch song. Here are the top “Let it Go” covers and here that range from the astounding Christine Bianco imitating of different singers (amazing!) to one featuring Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock to an oddly African-themed sequence where that little girl, like about 10 other little kid singing prodigies, really tears it up. Though one of my favorites may still be the rendition by Bob Herzog, a traffic reporter for a local station in Ohio because I’m a sucker for loving parents and people who carry a sense of humor into their workplaces. (I can only assume he’s loving because he says he knows the song so well due to one of his four kids.) Here it is on Youtube.
That said, what’s up with the last few seconds of “Let it Go”?
As Slate’s Dana Stevens, Beth Greenfield over on Yahoo Shine, and quite a few others point out, if there’s any female transformation in pop media, it’s always encased in the same old cliche for women: get hot with “hot” having a very narrow definition. I don’t have any issues with a coming-of-age including sexual awakening, because that’s what happens when people come of age. However, Elsa, while morphing into her authentic self, suddenly dons a beauty pageant contestant persona with a pageant walk. No issues with beauty pageant contestants here (go Nina Davluri!) but one type of beauty is what’s often associate with a “successful makeover,” a “coming-of-age” in Disney and other movies from teen flicks like “She’s All That” to even serious adult fare like “Mirror with Two Faces.”
While many viewers may not take it that seriously, those moments are noticed by parents and kids alike. My hub and I weren’t the only parents who looked at each other when Elsa became Miss. Arendelle, ladies and gentleman!! Actually the worst offense of those moments was that it took people out of the story. The Elsa, of the pageant sashay and makeup, isn’t hinted at earlier nor is she ever referenced again. Whereas her sister, Anna, did want to fall in love, to meet “the one” as she sings in “For the First Time in Forever.” So when Anna falls for the first hot guy she meets once out of her sheltered life, it makes sense. Her journey in terms of romantic love and sexuality is a consistent thread. Elsa’s isn’t and so it’s out of nowhere and goes back into nowhere. Plus, why did she get all sexy when she just planned on living in isolation?
It’s also jarring because it doesn’t follow the magic rules set in the story. We all buy Elsa has these powers. What we can’t buy is when a story’s rules aren’t followed. In all good magic stories, magic has rules. Even the most fantastical of fantasy adventures have rules. So where did Elsa suddenly get the magic to change outfits? Unless it’s made of ice and snow, which it’s not. She never did this before and she never does it again.
Granted, “Frozen” has more than a few story loopholes — who handled the seemingly thriving kingdom after the parent’s died since two minors were not yet in charge? why did Anna, a rich princess with plenty of resources, go into a polar vortex with just a cloak and no coat, supplies and yet had money for the supplies she later does buy? We can all put those aside because there is a part of us which enjoys the simplicity of a moral fairytale without the logistics being addressed too much. But, when there is an element which takes a viewer out of the story — like the adults all looking at each other in the midst of a movie — then something has gone awry.
For “Frozen,” I doubt those moments were in the script and they were probably more of an animation/directorial/visual decision. As Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the composers of the song put it (Broadway veterans who’s favorite Disney soundtrack, like me, is “Little Mermaid”), they wanted a transformation on the inside and out, “Elsa’s Bad Ass Song” as they put it. And it was bad ass, sashaying aside.
Which just shows you: as a writer, you may have no control over the final product (alas) but writers, especially beginning ones, don’t have the luxury of making mistakes with loopholes and jarring elements.
As for “Frozen” and its torch song, even those moments don’t ruin it. It’s wonderful. Let it go!