Olaf. They lost the Olaf-factor. I'm not drawing direct comparisons between Frozen and any previous Disney movie, because you just can't. Times have changed, kids have changed, adults have changed. Yes, there is a journey. I mean there HAS to be a journey of some description! Yes, there is slapstick comedy, with the opening Mickey Mouse sketch providing suitable hilarity for the young-uns, and Anna's 'King Hit' at the end coaxed a guffaw out of the young crowd. And of course there is love. Love conquers all right? It is the foundation, the backbone of any good kids animated movie and this one is so distinctly coloured by it you wonder if you were ever so naiive as a kid. You were.
Back to Olaf. There is no real direct precursor to his character. Maybe Sid from Ice Age is the closest competitor. He acts as a sort of comedic narrator, ensuring that the adults are fully entertained and the kids are fully informed. He is that x factor that Disney movies have been lacking. He is the acid.
Let me explain. Go back and watch Beauty and the Beast. A bunch of household items come to life, with French and British accents, dancing? The Lion King, with a boar singing hakuna matata? And The Muppets, period. Script writers in the early 90s were on acid, and that is why those movies had such wonder and intrigue. Unfortunately, Olaf is all that remains of those times, and he is relegated to bit part player. He stumbles around the movie like a loveable alcoholic does at his local on Meat Raffle Mondays, completely in his element, every punch line hitting its mark, everyone in the audience helpless to the woo he is pitching.
For the adults in the audience, and I hesitantly count myself among them, he is the saving grace. But this isn't aimed at us, and it would be insane of me to review it as a jaded, unemployed 25 year old with stupid hair. This is a brilliant film, and Disney has brought the magic back to its productions. They've combined everything that is tried and tested with kids movies. There is magic, there is song, there is a wonderful journey, a blatant theme and the most euphoric of happy endings that comes just before a tumultuous few song-less minutes. And, there is even one hell of a twist. In fact I had absolutely no idea it was coming, it blindsided me like a Tony Abbott election backflip (sorry Tony, used you again!).
The characters are so loveable it's almost sinful. Anna is the true hero of the film, piloting the rag tag group of back ups through a maze of tricky situations and dangerous circumstances. I was always curious about where the story was heading to next. It begins in a total whirlwind of activity and action, in the first 20 minutes you've rushed through about 20 years of occurrences. They set the scene, but the scene is always well contained. It doesn't stray far at all from it's start point, Arendelle. It lacks that real sinister nature that movies like Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story 3 held. The antihero nature of Elsa proves to be no more disquieting than the odd outburst of magical anger. The Duke of Weselton provides slight fodder for fear mongers, but nothing out of the ordinary. Not once do I sense that my young compatriots in the audience fear for the life of Elsa, Anna or any of the main characters until very late in the movie. This gives it a more accessible nature, but means it lacks the tension to be truly engaging.
It's truly funny too. It doesn't hit its comedic straps until just before Olaf is introduced, but Anna thaws (sorry) to become a real classic female animated character. She is goofy and approachable, and delivers one-liners that betray her visual presence as a beautiful, high-class princess. 'Foot-size doesn't matter'. Thank god for that! Kristoff plays the role of slightly daft yet brawny heart-throb to perfection, and engages in his own brand of dead pan humour that plays wonderfully off Anna's quirkiness. Olaf is the leading light here though. His song about summer is such a joy, we revel in his curiously innocent nature. I say curiously because he displays clear intelligence in the ways of the world, proclaiming to be somewhat of a love expert and providing us at the end of the film with a nice simple wrap up of how the issue of eternal winter will be solved. He is an enigma.
This is a truly fun movie. The singing feels tacked on, but for kids it just makes the magic all that more wonderous. Remember when you first read Harry Potter and you used every phallic shaped object as a wand? Kids still love that! They want to be able to control the weather, to shoot ice from their fingers, to create winter wonderlands. Frozen is just that, a giatn wonderland of fun for kids to sink their teeth in to. And for us adults? Well, Olaf awaits..