Overthinking Frozen

When Disney’s Frozen came out, at first people loved it. But as the popularity, ahem, snowballed, the next reaction was to nitpick at it and find reasons to dislike it.

This annoyed me, but I didn’t bother to argue with anybody because that would mean reiterating the same argument every day over and over.

Anyway, I’ve had sick kids all week. That means renting piles of videos off Amazon and watching them as many times as possible. The sick ones alternate between Frozen and Cars. So it’s kind of a split between Pixar and Disney.

frozen_princess_by_artgerm-d7517b4
Frozen princess by Artgerm

I’ve had time to think about all those old complaints about Frozen’s plot. And since I’m sitting here just waiting for somebody else to start puking, I figured I might as well rant about it on the ol’ blog.

Since everybody and their dog has seen Frozen by now, I’m going to assume that the following isn’t spoilers. But if you haven’t seen it, spoilers ahead.

The main complaint people make about Frozen is the plot twist with Prince Hans turning evil. “It wasn’t foreshadowed,” they whine. “There was no reason for him to turn evil. It was an arbitrary plot decision.”

Sure, it was a heck of a twist, especially since Hans had appeared to be doing the right thing until then. But I’d like to argue that Hans’s betrayal was foreshadowed. It’s mentioned early on that he has about 13 older brothers. Applying a single brain cell shows that he won’t be king. He’ll be lucky to be a lesser duke or something.

Hans doesn’t even decide to take over until it’s clear that Elsa can’t be stopped and Anna can’t be saved. Then he coldly stages a very quiet coup. Why not? The monarchy of this kingdom is doomed, and his tiny relationship with Anna is enough to give him the political standing he needs to be accepted by the local nobles and be crowned king.

It’s a shock in the movie, but then, it’s also a Pixar standard twist. Watching it, I actually laughed when Hans did his heel-turn.

In Monsters Inc, we’re set up to think that Randal, the lizard-like chameleon monster, is the bad guy. Heel turn! The kindly old CEO of Monsters Inc is the one funding Randal’s evil deeds.

In Toy Story 2, we’re set up to see Al as the antagonist. Heel-turn! It’s actually the kindly old prospector who is in league with Al.

In Toy Story 3, we’re led to believe that Ken is the villain of a ring of toy thugs. Heel-turn! It’s actually the kindly old teddy bear running the show.

Starting to see the pattern?

PixarVillains
I notice some of the heel-turn villains are missing.

Pixar did this particular plot twist so often that audiences were getting bored, so they had to try different formulas in movies like Brave and Up. (Although in Up, the kindly old man explorer who Carl adores is–heel-turn!–the bad guy.)

I think where Frozen got into trouble was that it was Disney, not Pixar. Despite most of the Pixar talent migrating to Disney, people didn’t expect the standard Pixar plot twist in a Disney movie. And Hans was the handsome love-interest spoof, not a kindly old man. We were set up to expect the Duke of Weaseltown to be the bad guy. Whoops, Pixar standard plot twist happened.

So, when people whine about Frozen’s plot twist with Hans being bad, go watch a bunch of Pixar instead. None of those other heel-turns had much foreshadowing, either, unless you knew exactly what to look for. It gets pretty predictable, really.

Well, I’m off to watch Tangled. At least we know from the start that her witchy stepmom is the villain.

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