Disney's Newest Princesses Aren't Afraid to Wear a Dress
Every Friday after Thanksgiving, my mom, dad, brother and myself have this tradition of going to the movies and seeing whatever Disney concoction is out.
My brother is now twenty-four and I am clocking in at the ripe ol’ age of twenty, which effectively makes us the oldest people in this four o’clock showing who are still accompanied by their parents. Matt is dressed in a batman t-shirt, eating a pretzel without salt, and I am rocking a pair of corduroy overalls, sipping on a half-coke-half-cherry Icee with a bendy straw. So, although our elongated torsos allow us to rest our feet firmly on theatre floor as opposed to the suspended appendages of our younger moviegoing compatriots, our fashion senses and culinary palates are quite comparable.
This year’s insta-classic is Frozen, a film which gives us, not one, but two heroines.
It is the latest installment in a push by Disney to offer strong female-centric storylines. Last year there was Pixar’s Brave, which debuted a wonderfully redheaded princess that was meant to subvert to norms of the “princess” archetype. She ate with her hands, refused to wear a tiara and was pretty proficient with a bow. But where Brave seemed forced, Frozen is effortless.
It understands that a dress does not a damsel make. It’s protagonists can rock some updos and still be dynamic characters. They can long for true love but this search does not wholly define them. Frozen exemplifies that femininity and strong female leads are not meant to be mutually exclusive.
There is a social obsession with princesses. There is an endless onslaught of online quizzes meant to answer that interminable question of which Disney princess you most resemble. There are countless illustrated reworkings of Snow White, Belle and Cinderella, making them everything from Brooklyn hipsters to gender-bent businessmen.
Disney, almost single-handedly, brought the princess into the cultural vernacular, and it is very difficult to renounce your past without seeming like an advantageous phony. Ask anyone whose has ever worn camouflage cargo shorts– you can never forsake your past but you can sure as heck poke fun at it.
Frozen expertly derives humor from the better-known fairytale tropes, but does not completely discount our inherent attraction to these types of stories. Stories on which the Disney empire has been built.
There is a Prince Charming, but he isn’t a prince; instead, he is an ice vendor. He doesn’t ride a top a steed, but loafs around on the gosh dang cutest reindeer this side of Christmas Tree Lane. There was a lot of talk of true love but it didn’t come in the form of a kiss; it was found in a sisterly embrace.
I mean, I could give you an Internet-friendly top ten list of the reasons why it is a good movie for girls and another on why boys are gonna dig it too (and I have written my fair share of lists), but a numerically condensed translation of such a beautiful story would be a disservice to the film. Bottom line is that Frozen is just a good movie.
I am sure there were long and PowerPoint-heavy meetings about merchandising prospects and the opportunities for ancillary entertainment ventures and on the dimensions of the tiara, but I am gonna choose to be a little less cynical this evening and disregard such prospects for a more idealistic evaluation:
Frozen doesn’t attempt to appeal to any one person and, in doing so, it will appeal to most. It doesn’t favor any one quadrant over the next. Frozen doesn’t pander for certain type of laugh.
A funny thing about laughter–whether from a boy or a girl, an eight year-old or a twenty year-old—is that it kinda all starts to sound the same when discharged together.
To me, there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting in a matinee of an animated feature, surrounded by kids, cause kids get it. They laugh when they think its funny and they won’t when it’s not. They are the toughest critics around, and when they like a movie you’ll know because you’ll hear it. And, man, did I hear it.
As my family was walking out of the theatre I asked my mom how she liked the movie. She told me she loved it but then added, “Naturally the parents had to die, though.”
I mean, we had to know it was a Disney movie somehow.