The Reel: Disney’s ‘Frozen’ is a watered down ‘Wicked’

Ben Conniff

In Disney’s “Frozen,” the biggest laughs come from Olaf (Josh Gad), an adorable snowman who longs for nothing more than to experience the heat of summer.

He’s blissfully unaware that snow doesn’t typically hold up in beach weather.

Whether he’s reassembling his body parts after falling off a cliff or expressing his feeling that “some people are worth melting for,” Olaf is “Frozen”’s biggest treat.

I can only imagine the number of plush toys flying off the gift shop shelves at Disneyland.

But much like those toys, “Frozen” is an assembly of multiple, better executed source materials.

Namely, it’s a re-heated version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” crossed with Broadway’s “Wicked.”

Both star Idina Menzel as a flawed leading lady who goes AWOL in fear of rejection and alienation.

Also like “Wicked,” this version has a bubbly counterpart to Menzel.

Glinda tries to bring Elphaba back down to earth in “Wicked.” In “Frozen,” Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) pursues Elphab — sorry, Queen Elsa (Menzel) — in an attempt to bring her back home and end the winter that Elsa’s plagued their Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle with.

The film earns major points for strong animation, from Walt Disney’s in-house Animation Studios division, probably the most spectacular work I’ve seen in a Disney movie that wasn’t made by Pixar.

Crystalline snowflakes are gorgeously detailed, and the scenes inside the kingdom’s glacial castle feel as if you’ve been placed inside a massive and delicate chandelier.

All the while, the icy conditions on screen made me want to watch “Frozen” with my jacket on.

The script from Jennifer Lee (“Wreck-It Ralph”) is full of breezy, witty dialogue with enough gags to please both kids and grown-ups.

The music, from Broadway veteran Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, is not as strong as Alan Menken’s in “Tangled” or “Beauty and the Beast” or any of the myriad of Disney films he’s worked on in the past.

It sounds too poppy, but at the same time, many of the numbers are tailor-made for the Broadway stage.

“Let It Go,” sung in the film by Menzel, sounds as if it were written to rival her rousing “Defying Gravity” number in “Wicked.”

Together with spectacular visuals, production values and colorful characters, “Frozen” is begging to be adapted into the next big Broadway musical.

Like a romp in the new fallen snow, “Frozen” is fun while it lasts but is quickly forgotten after the thaw of leaving the theater.

For a more imaginative fairy tale, go watch 2010’s Tangled instead.