MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘Frozen II’ a sure bet for families, but not as strong as original

Frozen II / Walt Disney

If “Let It Go” left your ears bleeding, wait until you get a load of the soundtrack for the sequel “Frozen II,” which is poised to dominant the box office for the rest of the month if not your heart, soul, and pocket book with all the licensed material that is already clogging the aisles of big box stores across America.

If I had not been watching the actual film, I would have thought the songs were meant to parody the original movie, which hauled in $1.27 billion at the worldwide box office following its 2013 release. Box Office Mojo is projecting a $100 million dollar plus weekend for “Frozen II,” and it is expected to become Disney’s sixth billion-dollar grossing film of 2019. “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker,” which opens Dec. 20, is expected to be the seventh.

Don’t get me wrong. Idina Menzel, the voice of Elsa, has a truly beautiful singing instrument, but she unleashes several banshee wails on the theme song “Into the Unknown” that would uncurl Robert Plant’s chest hairs.

There’s also an awful rock ballad for the woodsman character Kristoff, sung by Jonathan Groff, called “Lost in the Woods” that might have the bands Chicago and Air Supply fighting over which has the right to file suit first. The only question would be whether the winner would sue for plagiarism, defamation or both.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Frozen II(PG) 1 hr. 44 min (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Towne, Skylight
  • Midway(PG-13) 2 hr. 18 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Bentonville Skylight
  • 21 Bridges(R) 1 hr. 40 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood(PG) 1 hr. 49 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Springdale, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Skylight

I did enjoy the irony and humor of the song “When I Am Older,” sung by Josh Gad as Olaf the sentient snowman, who makes more sense in his silliness than much of the metaphysical mumbo jumbo that burdens the plot of the sequel like a pair of cement shoes.

The story delves deeper into the origin of Elsa’s powers, which are spirit based and part of the four foundational powers of the film’s fairy-tale universe — Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

When Elsa begins to hear a strange voice singing to her, she’s compelled to travel north, and of course, her sister Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell; Kristoff, and Olaf follow along to protect the mighty ice-powered Queen of Arendelle.

It seems the elementals are angry and on the warpath after soldiers from Arendelle tricked the Northuldra tribe years ago into allowing Arendelle to damn up a body of water, which is wreaking havoc on the natural order of things. With Elsa tripped out after an encounter with the elementals, it’s basically up to non-powered Anna to figure out how to save the day. Elsa does return to form with enough time remaining to pull off an icy stunt that saves her evacuated kingdom from a wall of water.

I’m usually a big fan of Disney’s animated films including the original “Frozen,” but for whatever reason, this movie clearly wasn’t for me, but I have to report that the kids in my screening seemed to really enjoy the movie — laughing, giggling, and cutely repeating funny lines throughout the movie. I got a kick out hearing their laughter and overall enjoyment.

I also haven’t mentioned that esthetically the movie is a gorgeous, lush work of animation of the highest power. It truly is a feast for the eyes.

While the film, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, won’t go down as one of my personal Disney favorites, the laughs and animation probably make it the best bang for a family’s bucks currently in the theater.

(PG) 1 hr. 44 min
Grade: B-

Classic Corner – Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday / YouTube

With the holiday season all but upon us, it’s only appropriate to take a look back at a movie where getting away from it all is central to the plot. That’s definitely the case with the 1953 romantic-comedy “Roman Holiday.”

Like so many other films over the years, the movie, which was nominated for seven Oscars and won three, benefitted from producer-director William Wyler’s first choices not being available for the leading roles. Wyler originally envisioned Cary Grant for the part of reporter Joe Bradley and Elizabeth Taylor and Jean Simmons for the role of princess Ann, but he settled for Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in her American film debut.

Now, that’s my kind of settling.

As marvelous as Grant, Taylor, and Simmons were, I can’t imagine them or anyone else doing a better job than Peck and Hepburn in the roles. Their chemistry was simply perfect in the film, whose plot has been reworked scores of times for the big and small screen. If not for the pattern set by screen writers Dalton Trumbo and John Dighton, I’m not sure the Hallmark Channel would have thrived the way it has.

Hepburn plays Ann, a princess of an unnamed nation, who is on diplomatic display in Rome. Feeling too tied down by her royal duties, she runs away to experience Rome like a commoner would.

When she falls asleep on a bench, reporter Joe Bradley (Peck) finds her, believes she is drunk, and platonically takes her in for the night not realizing who she is. When he discovers her identity, he attempts to take advantage of the situation by escorting her around Rome, so that he can later write a tell-all article for his news organization. However, he did not bargain for being so enchanted by the lovely princess.

The film takes a few other twists and turns that I won’t reveal, but it’s quite fun to watch the two at first resist and then fall in love on their Roman Holiday.

The film not only made a star out of Hepburn but helped her to her Best Actress Oscar. Peck, whose contract called for lead billing in the film, was so enamored by her work that he asked Wyler to make her the co-lead.

Peck is no slouch in the film. It’s one of his best comedic performances, and he shows his skill by giving great support to Hepburn in a role that you would think was written specifically for her, if you didn’t know better.

It’s a terrific modern-day fairy tale that set the standard for many movies that followed.