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Frozen — A Multi-Generational Review

Published in ChicagoNow, December 11, 2013

Based on an enthusiastic review by my seven and four year old grandchildren in Indiana (less so their baby brother who gave it “one pacifier down” and failed to fall asleep as planned), I went with my three granddaughters in town to see Frozen. Being both a sucker for Disney films and a lover of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, I expected to enjoy it, and I did!

What surprised me, however, was talking about it later with my daughters and grandkids. So here is a multi-generational assessment of Frozen through the lens of three generations’ eyes.

When I was growing up, I was a fan of Archie comics (boy, am I ever old). The burning question back them was, “Are you a Betty or a Veronica?” Betty was the sweet and devoted girl-next-door, the cute and perky type. Veronica was edgy, exotic, wealthy, and beautiful, the unattainable and not-so-nice type. Of course, I was a Betty.

So there was no doubt in Frozen that I would prefer the cute, plucky, devoted sister, Anna. After all, she’s clever, ditzy, and funny. And there was no doubt in my mind, in typical Disney fashion, that love would conquer all. The only question for me was which guy would it be. My daughters laughed at my expectation for the ending. I guess I feel happy that, as sisters and modern young women, they never shared my question of which guy. In fact, they easily guessed the ending. I won’t give it away but I felt good about the fact that it was obvious to them.

It was my grandchildren’s answer to the “Betty or Veronica” question that really surprised me — no one chose my beloved Anna. They were Elsa fans all the way. When I asked them to explain their choice, my 4-year-old grandson said, “Because she had magic powers.” Guess I should be happy a strong woman does not intimidate him.

The 7-year-olds, both still in the throes of “Disney Princess-itis” and eager to purchase all merchandise related to the film, had more nuanced reactions. Aside from agreeing that she had a much better dress (sigh), they admired Elsa for being smart, strong, magical, and powerful. It didn’t matter that Elsa had a frozen heart and no suitors. She could build a magnificent crystal palace and live on her own. And, as one of them pointed out, she had a better singing voice than Anna (kudos to Idina Menzel and apologies to Kristin Bell, who did a fine job but is no Broadway star). And both of my granddaughters thought the ending was the only one that made sense.

I guess if you care to go back to the original Andersen fairy tale of 1845, The Snow Queen, a devotee of that seven part tale with its religious and moral overtones and almost no connection to the Disney version (although there was a reindeer) would not have been “a fan of” Frozen. But sticking with the current movie review, I think the reactions of three generations tell me something about changing attitudes.

So now I will ask young girls, “Are you an Anna or an Elsa?” And I guess I’ll feel glad if they choose the latter.


by Laurie Levy
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