A Completely Unsolicited Review of Frozen — Feminist Edition

I’ll get the gushing out of the way first: I love this movie. I love just about everything about this movie: it’s gorgeous, it’s funny, it’s moving, the soundtrack is amazing, the voice acting is delightful. I will also tell you right upfront: I was crying about 10 minutes into it. It hit me where I live as a mom, as a sister, and as a mom to daughters.

And what I loved and appreciated most about the movie was how girl-centric it was. Whether or not this will be a trend going forward, this is the first animated film I have seen where the girls are front and center*. The prince doesn’t ride to the rescue (quite the opposite in fact); a kiss doesn’t save the day. Frozen brings new meaning to “sisters doing it for themselves.” And I couldn’t be happier about that, especially as I took five little girls (little? They were 9, 8, 7, 7, and 6 — is that little still? Can it be little still?) to see it last Saturday.

The most striking theme for me revolved around Elsa. What her parents do to her prior to their untimely death is unconscionable in my opinion. “…be the good girl you have to be/ Conceal, don’t feel” — it’s a terrible message to give a little girl who has no control over what she is able to do.

And we, as a society, do it every day to our flesh-and-blood girls. “Be a good girl,” we tell them. “Be nice. Be quiet. Don’t be yourself.” We tell girls and women to just shush. Especially when it comes to social media and the Internet.

And it’s got to stop (or, as I put it in this post, “Down with Nice Girls!” ). For more reference points, read some Rachel Simmons (my take on her book The Curse of the Good Girl is here).

So when Elsa loses control and then takes control (or tries to), I was excited to see what embracing her power would mean.

I also found the sister relationship true to life (and heartbreaking): older sister shutting out younger sister. I’m sure I was guilty of it, and I see Flora doing it to Kate. And while I can’t make Flora act a certain way toward Kate, I hope that I can encourage them to stay close. I don’t know how Dr. Sis feels, but I like to think that we are pretty good friends now. My parents always stressed that family was the most important thing. This movie pretty much says the same.

[spoiler alert]

The other theme I liked seems like a direct contradiction to what Disney has portrayed all these years. It takes the idea of a knight in shining armor and turns it directly on its head. Apparently, some parents were very troubled by this, but I for one cheered. What teenage girl hasn’t fallen in love alarmingly fast? I’m sure my girls will too. Maybe this movie will come to mind when they find out their ‘true love’ isn’t. I certainly didn’t have to mop up any tears when Hans revealed his true motivation.

Do I think my daughters and their friends took any of these lessons away from Frozen? Probably not. When I asked about Hans’ betrayal, Flora and Kate both just shrugged. “He was the bad guy,” Flora said. Frankly, their favorite character was Olaf, the snowman who likes warm hugs.

Anyway, I would heartily recommend Frozen. Not only is it incredibly well done and entertaining, you might just learn a thing or two about yourself, just like Elsa and Anna do.

*If you want to cite Pixar’s Brave to me, go right ahead. I have issues with that movie, although I think it’s beautiful to look at and funny and entertaining. And I sobbed the last half hour.