What bugged me most in Frozen was Olaf, the snowman. I know Disney movies need to have something silly, even infantile at times, to keep the youngest audience members entertained, but it crosses a line in some of the films and Olaf was an example of that for me. Too much silliness for a fairly serious movie.
Compounding that, his animation didn’t match the other characters who, while highly stylized, were rendered to be very realistic. Didn’t match it at all. Obviously he’s an integral part of the script/story, but I constantly felt like a completely different team created him - a team that had never seen any of the work on the other characters or even the overall look of the film.
As the movie progressed, I became increasingly immune to him, but I still didn’t like him. It was only when he said, “I don’t have a skull. Or bones,” that I was okay.
When Disney changed in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, they began to add more and more of these silly and cutesy elements. In their very best films - Beauty and the Beast, for example - they were there, but were not glaringly out of place the way I felt Olaf was. In the worst films, they can make it unbearable for me.
Olaf wasn’t unbearable, and like I said there are many, many good things about Frozen. The animation is beautiful. Some of the songs were really good - especially when Elsa and Anna were singing together. The presentation of gender roles was great. Anna’s rejection of “a man to save her” was especially good. The idea that love conquers fear - while overly romantic and idealistic - is a good take-home for the kids.
Incidentally, after reading a half dozen articles last night - both hysterical Christians who can never think about children without thinking about sex, as well as thoughtful, well-reasoned pieces by gender studies professors - I actually agree that there was a pretty strong agenda built into the dialogue, the songs, the story, and the aesthetics of the film. But since that agenda is teaching kids to be decent human beings, I’m perfectly fine with it. It actually reminded me of those lines from Beauty and the Beast in “The Mob Song” when the villagers sing:
Praise the Lord and here we go!
We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns!
Bring your knives!
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives
We’ll kill the Beast!
Howard Ashman, who was slowing dying at the time, was candid that the song was about AIDS hysteria and how easily public perception and fear can be turned to a frenzy by one hateful voice.
I just didn’t like Olaf or anything about him, and, for me, his presence and presentation kept my overall enjoyment and appreciation of the film significantly lower than it could have been.