Pixar's loss of John Lasseter's direct involvement in their day-to-day operations hasn't done them any favors (see my reviews of Monsters University and Brave); however, his influence on Disney as a whole looks to be unmistakable. Unmistakably good, at that. Whereas the last couple of Pixar movies have descended to fairly typical Disney fare, Frozen rises towards the kind of film we haven't seen from Pixar since Toy Story 3 (a movie that made me cry, and I don't cry at movies very often). It's not as good as TS3, but it's definitely the best Disney Animation movie in a good long while.
In an effort to avoid spoilers, I'll just say that the movie is delightful on so many levels. Olaf steals every scene he's in, and my kids loved him. Seriously, my daughter especially has not stopped talking about him, and both of the younger ones have been singing as much of his "puddle" song as they can remember. My daughter, who is less interested in movies than the boys, would have turned right around and seen it again. [And we'd (my daughter and I) planned to see Desolation of Smaug together (because the boys (and my wife) were too disappointed with the first one to want to go see the second one), but, when we walked out of the theater from Frozen, my daughter said, "I don't want to go see The Hobbit; I want to see Frozen again," which we're not actually going to do (because I'll just buy here the DVD), but, now, I have no one to see The Hobbit with (which I'm only going to see because I feel compelled to do so).]
The animation in the movie was, in a word, incredible, especially the ice and especially especially the ice bridge. The songs are good (and who knew Kristen Bell could sing? Okay, so, well, maybe lots of people, but I didn't know, so I was surprised to see that she had performed her own songs), and, as I've already implied, the song by Olaf was really catchy.
The best parts of the movie, however, can't be talked about without being spoilery: You've been warned.
The death of the parents at the beginning of the movie is pretty typical for Disney. I'm not quite sure why all of their young heroes have to be orphans of some type, but it's almost always the case. Possibly, for Frozen, it's there to help you feel as if you're in a typical Disney film (I kind of doubt it), but, whatever the reason, you know when the parents are leaving on their trip that they're not coming back. Of course, that's what sets up the problems for the rest of the movie. Elsa has no one to help her cope with her powers and grows up in isolation because of it.
One of the best moments is between Anna and Kristoff as he chastises her for attempting to marry someone (Hans) that she had just met that day. It's very amusing, because the immediate True Love thing is so endemic in Disney movies, so it's refreshing to see it handled like this in this movie. In fact, the catalyst of the whole thing is Elsa (now the Queen) refusing to allow the marriage between Anna and Hans because they had only just met. There's even a comment from Kristoff to Anna where he is saying "no" to her about something (no, I don't remember exactly what) because he doesn't trust her judgement. All of this is a nice break from that Disney cliche.
And then there's the whole thing with True Love's Kiss that they also turn on its head, and that was great to see, too. And I won't say more than that, because I don't want to give everything away. Let's just say that the movie ended with both Anna and Elsa growing as characters, something that Brave, unfortunately, lacked.
At any rate, it's a very enjoyable movie and one that I hope is signaling a new direction for Disney. Disney Princesses are great and all that, but it's good to have some that don't need to get rescued.
Also, Alan Tudyk was great. I didn't even realize that was him until I saw his name in the credits. He's a great voice actor and under-appreciated as an actor in general.