Happily Ever After Doesn’t Come Easy in ‘Frozen 2’

Life goes on after happily after ever, as we see in Disney’s “Frozen II.” Three years after the events of “Frozen,” Elsa (Idina Menzel), the royal lady who possesses a magical ability to create and manipulate ice and snow, is now the Queen of the fictional Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle, living peacefully in her castle with her younger sister, Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Sven (Frank Welker), Kristoff’s beloved reindeer companion. Rounding out the gang is the precocious snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), who now has a layer of permafrost to keep from melting into a puddle. This should be the happiest time of Elsa’s life, but a mysterious, musical voice (Aurora) disturbs her tranquility, and what turns out to be a call to action leads her right into an enchanted forest.

The plot of “Frozen II” is ambitious and a bit convoluted at times, but the gist of it is this: When their father, King Agnarr (Alfred Molina), was a boy, his father King Runeard (Jeremy Sisto), betrayed the natives of the enchanted forest, the Northuldra tribe, and now Elsa has to right the wrongs of the past in order to restore harmony. There’s a lesson to be had here about the lasting effects of colonialism and the pain it causes multiple generations. Although Anna and the others accompany her into the forest, Elsa must undertake a large part of the journey on her own, which causes tension between her and her non-magical sister. The animation is at its most striking in these solo scenes, as Elsa becomes one with nature, seeking an elusive fifth spirit, the first four being earth, wind, fire, and, of course, water.

Although “Frozen II” fails to reach the high bar set by its predecessor when it comes to music, it contains multiple quality tracks that are sure to infiltrate households with small children in the coming weeks. The most popular one will be the inspiring “Into the Unknown,” Elsa’s song about coming to terms with her own power. Adults who lived through the nineties will kick a get out of “Lost in the Woods,” Kristoff’s ballad, shown in a sequence done with the style of an old-school R&B music video.

Despite rumors floating around about the possibility of Elsa becoming Disney’s first LGBTQ princess, there is no romantic storyline for her in the film, although she does have great chemistry with Honeymaren (Rachel Matthews), a member of Northuldra dedicated to peace. Disney may have failed to pull the trigger on a controversial love story, but it’s still rather significant that Elsa is a princess without a prince, committed to her kingdom and her quest for independence and personal fulfillment. Meanwhile, Anna has to come to terms with her feelings of inadequacy after her sister leaves her behind (mostly for her safety), as well as some communication problems in her relationship with Kristoff, who is having trouble finding the right moment to propose. 

While much of “Frozen II” is dedicated to female empowerment and the strengths of sisterhood, one cannot ignore Olaf, the lovable snowman and scene-stealer. Kids will relate to his struggles as he deals with the limitations and fears that come with being young, which is exemplified in his catchy number “When I Am Older.” He provides much comic relief with his musings and one-liners, such as when he asks fellow youngsters how they deal with the “growing complexity of thoughts that come with maturity.” 

Frozen II” opens Nov. 22 in theaters nationwide.