The sequel to Disney’s most lucrative (non-Pixar non-2D animated) movie ever is here! It’s mostly more of the same – there’s Queen Elsa, her sister Princess Anna with her boyfriend Kristoff and his trusty reindeer Sven, Plus the obligatory funny sidekick Olaf the Snowman. We have new songs, one or two truly great and the rest mostly passable, but the kids will love them and sing for months to come for our ears to fall off. Basically, another piece of solid post-Renaissance Disney animation from the fairytale genre.
And they gave Elsa a girlfriend. Which automatically makes this a ★★★★★ 10/10 indisputable Movie of the Year.
The first “Frozen” is a movie that more than any other made me realize how perception can change over time. Watching it several times in the last years (I have a daughter, so of course I did) made me coin another term in my ongoing glossary of rating movies: the Rating Delta. “Frozen” is a 7/10, “will recommend it to the fans of the genre” movie with a Delta of -3, which means it’s now actually a 4/10, “meh, but has it’s moments”.
Originally I liked the movie – not as much as “Tangled”, but still – and truly loved some of the twists of the formula in it. I loved how it made fun of the everpresent Disney trope of Love At First Sight and also how in the end this wasn’t about a romantic love, but one between sisters. Unfortunately, with subsequent viewings some cracks appeared in my perception of the movie. The sibling love motif is still fantastic, but the meta-textual commentary of how ridiculous it is for cartoon characters to fall in love in such short time is kinda undercut when you realize it’s still exactly what happens with Anna and Kristoff. Then I realized how far-fetched the plot twist with the actual Big Bad of the story is. I loved it at first (“Whoa! A Disney princess animation SURPRISED ME!”), but later I realized his actions from before The Reveal often don’t make sense.
Also, Elsa’s parents are just terrible people, while this Scandinavian mountain country is surprisingly unprepared for a winter. I know it’s sudden, but don’t they have blankets and, I don’t know, firewood at all? So many world-building inconsistencies and Fridge Logic moments break my suspension of disbelief every time I re-watch “Frozen”. Plus, everything happens so quickly. I can’t help thinking this would be a much better movie if the search for Elsa took not one day, but months or years even…
And finally, some of the elements – a couple of songs, the comic relief characters, the obligatory quirky song of Olaf – reek too much of committee-mandated inputs placed in the movie just to satisfy some Disney musical checklist. “Frozen” for me will forever be an example of a cynical and calculated movie.
And the sequel is all that once again: still entertaining and competent in that committee-driven way. But Elsa has a girlfriend now, so, yeah. 10 out of 10, Movie of the Decade.
At first I approached the “Is Elsa a lesbian?” take on “Frozen” with reserve. “It would be great,” I thought, “but I wouldn’t read too much into it.” But that was before I finally re-watched it in English – having previously only watched it dubbed in my native Polish – and hearing the original “Let It Go” for the first time (in Polish she sings something along the lines of “I have this power”). Watching it in English made me one hundred percent convinced that yes, of course, obviously the movie is about a woman having hard time to accept who she really is and driven to depression by the society forcing her to wear a mask.
So I naturally jumped on the bandwagon and despite how everyone around me convinced me this would never happen, I had my reasons to hope. Disney had started testing waters with LGBTQ+ representation before and some small cracks already appeared in that deeply conservative brick wall. And I’m not talking about the sad 90s sitcom misrepresentation of Le Fou in that atrocity that was “live action” “Beauty and the Beast”. No. I’m talking about these guys:
Meet Bucky and Pronk Oryx-Antlerton, Judy Hopps’ neighbours at the Grand Pangolin Arms in the capital city of Zootopia. They’re loud, they’re not gonna apologize for it, and they’re voiced by the directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush. I love “Zootopia” so much I’m gonna have to one day list all the reasons why it’s great, but the Antlertons are two of them. I’ve seen it numerous times as well, also with my daughter (I’m happy to report she’s seen this more times than “Frozen”) and for some time I was thinking “Wait… Are they a… gay couple?” They’re both clearly male, of different species, yet they’re living together, clearly in an emotional relationship, as is heard through the walls… You can’t imagine how happy I was to have my suspicions confirmed by the directors themselves (Personal bonus points: one is an Oryx and the other a Kudu; at that time in my company I was in a team called Oryx and working closely with a sister team called Kudu. Our relationship was often loud as well 😉
So, here you are. Forget Le Fou (along with the whole wretched movie, while you’re at it), “Zootopia” is the first animated Disney feature for kids where an actual gay married couple appears for everyone to see! The dam is broken!
That’s why I had this glimmer of hope that against all odds, Disney, that giant profit-obsessed corporation might actually have the gargantuan audacity to risk all that conservative outrage (and even potentially the income from censorship-happy China who might say “no thanks” to this altogether) by actually involving the name, face and voice of their most popular animated feature ever in an actual, no-bullshit non-straight relationship right in the front and center of the long awaited sequel.
Because while it may seem ridiculous in the time when such progressive works like “Sense8”, “Bonding” or “Sex Education” are literally swarming on Netflix and masterpieces like “Call Me By Your Name” and “Moonlight” receive the highest praise and awards we are patting Disney on the back for one, ONE non-straight character in their movie… But it’s not just any other character in any other movie, is it? It’s Elsa. Queen fricken Elsa of Arrendelle. The Sister of Anna. The Maker of Snowmen. The “Let It Go” Elsa, quoted in songs sung by girls all around the world for years now, visible on every piece of merchandising imaginable. And now she has a girlfriend for all to see.
Ten out of ten. Movie of the fucking Century.
And even if the subsequent viewings (and there will be subsequent viewings, because it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT MOVIE IN HISTORY, and of course I’ll be taking my daughter with me) I’ll notice the second “Frozen” has a negative Rating Delta as well, even if I start noticing more and more of the cynical seams of committee-driven design, if I learn Elsa’s relationship was also a calculated decision… You know what that would mean?
It would mean that now, in 2019, the year of fascism rearing its ugly head in various places around the world, of predisent Drumpf attempting to diminish or even erase the LGBTQ+ people overseas (and let’s not even begin to talk about the situation in Poland…), some executive at Disney, this profit-driven American entertainment empire, added some numbers in their Excel spreadsheet and it turned out that representation is actually profitable! And this means something is actually changing in the world for the better.
Either way, I’m so proud of Disney to have the courage to #giveElsaAGirlfriend.