Let’s be real. If you have a child that likes Disney, chances are, you’re going to see Frozen 2 in theaters. So the question is not, should you see Frozen 2? It’s more like, is Frozen 2 the type of movie you’ll want to watch with your kid(s) over and over again? My daughter is 4 ½ and is Elsa and Anna obsessed. She saw Frozen for the first time this year and at least once a week, she puts on her shimmery Elsa dress and blonde braid extension and belts out “Let It Go” in the backyard, all while waving her hands in a frenzy. (She’s building her imaginary ice palace of course.) So yeah. I knew we were destined to see Frozen 2. But the original movie is so darn perfect, I wondered how the sequel would stack up against it.
Overall, Frozen 2 is darker in tone than its predecessor. This is why if you have a young child, like mine, you might want to prepare them before they see the film. More on that later. In some ways, Frozen 2 reminds me of Star Wars. I know, shocking. Both franchises delve into myths, and just like The Empire Strikes Back deals with more complicated emotional themes, so does Frozen 2.
In this sequel, Elsa has embraced her powers and is living happily ever after with her sister Anna in their kingdom of Arendelle. But as Frozen 2 screenwriter Jennifer Lee said, “‘Frozen 2’ is the day after happily ever after. Life gets in the way. It throws you curve balls. So, this is about learning to fight for your place in the world, do what’s right—all of the grown-up things you have to do.” Elsa realizes something in her new life is missing and it’s calling to her. Literally. A singing voice is calling to her and beckoning Elsa to discover who she really is and where her magical powers came from.
The original Frozen film was released in 2013 so there are many kids that grew up with the franchise. 6 years later and some of these fans are now 10, 13, and 16 years old, which are kind of the perfect ages for this new Frozen film. At times, Elsa feels like a typical teenager who is trying to find her place in the world, assert her independence, and figure out exactly who she wants to be. It’s a relatable journey that both parents and kids can understand.
The music reflects this moody tone like in Elsa’s catchy new anthem, “Into the Unknown.” It starts with a singular piano, just like “Let It Go,” but it’s set in a minor key. While “Let It Go” feels triumphant, “Into the Unknown” sounds haunting, a little bit dangerous, yet there’s an underlying determination that is belted out by the extraordinary Idina Menzel. Anna’s song, “The Next Right Thing,” is vulnerable and emotional and shows why Kristen Bell is as phenomenal an actor as she is a singer. This time around, Jonathan Groff gets to his own solo song in Kristoff’s epic power ballad, “Lost In the Woods.” It’s brilliantly emo in an 80’s rocker kind of way. Even Olaf’s hysterical number, “When I Am Older,”(sung by the always hilarious Josh Gad) has an undertone of danger to it. And if you get the deluxe edition of the Frozen 2 soundtrack, you’ll hear Panic! At the Disco, Kacey Musgraves, and Weezer doing covers of the new songs—again, all delightfully moody artists that know how to tap into their inner angst.
In general the music isn’t as bright or Disney-fied as Frozen, but it’s not supposed to be. The songs reflect a more grown up sensibility. While Frozen’s songs had themes of naivety and innocence, Frozen 2’s music has themes of fear, uncertainty, and bravery. Songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who returned to write Frozen 2’s songs, really lean in to their musical theatre roots so the soundtrack feels like listening to a Broadway show. In fact, we’ve been playing the new soundtrack on repeat and I’ve found myself listening to some of the songs even when I’m alone in the car. They’re just that good.
What I really enjoyed most about Frozen 2 is how, like Frozen, Anna and Elsa prove they are capable of rescuing themselves. They aren’t afraid to face danger and embark on an epic adventure, but like any good hero, sometimes, they need a little help. There was one moment that struck me in the film that was unlike anything I’ve seen in a Disney film before. Not to give anything away, but there is a moment when Kristoff offers to help Anna. He says something to the effect of, “I’m here to support you. What do you need?” I appreciated this moment because Anna wasn’t a damsel in distress and Kristoff wasn’t there to fight her battles. He was there to offer his support, but it was Anna who would decide what she needed. This small moment is why I love the Frozen franchise. All of the heroes and villains reflect the best (and worst) sides of humanity. From the films, children can learn the value of being self-reliant, the importance of doing what is right (even when it’s difficult), and see that love can offer strength during tough times.
As I mentioned earlier, the film is a little darker than the original, mainly because it deals with the death of Anna and Elsa’s parents. If your child is very young and you haven’t talked with them about death, you may want to wait to watch the film when they’re a little older. Even though my daughter understands the concept of death, that part of the storyline went a little over her head. Perhaps it was because she was too busy enjoying eating her popcorn out of a bucket. That being said, Frozen 2 isn’t any “scarier” than say, Moana. So if they’ve seen Moana restore the heart of Te Fiti, they’ll do fine in the enchanted forest beyond Arendelle.
It was fun to watch our four heroes (Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff) go on an epic and mysterious adventure. The actors all have such great chemistry together. I’d love to see them team up again to complete the Frozen trilogy. The movie also has some hilarious moments that are geared towards an older audience, so it’s entertaining for the adults in the room. My daughter kept whispering, “mama, why do you keep laughing so much?”
There are also some moments that might make you cry. I found myself discreetly wiping away some moisture from my eyes. So is this the type of movie you’ll watch with your kid(s) over and over again? Yes, but we probably won’t be watching it on repeat until she’s a little older. Since it’s a a little heavier emotionally than Frozen, my daughter may want to skip those scenes and only watch her favorite parts. But as she gets older, she’ll start to understand the emotional complexity of the film and appreciate that her heroes risk everything to learn more about themselves and their past. In the meantime, my daughter will enjoy belting out “Into the Unknown” in the backyard. And I’ll enjoy singing “Lost In the Woods” at the karaoke bar.