Channeling one’s inner five year-old girl isn’t much help when considering the thin charms of “Frozen 2.”
It plays like an animated musical built around forgettable tunes and impressive animated effects that were cooked up before the script was decided on. And that script, by co-director Jennifer Lee? Undercooked, with heaping helpings of self-help speak shoved into tiny tots’ faces.
Odd moments of Josh Gad‘s giggly magic snowman Olaf — who breaks into pointless, random laughs, just like your stoner roomie in college — and a couple of funny tunes, including a proposal song rendered into a “Bohemian Rhapsody” with reindeer backing lovesick suitor Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), don’t break the visually and emotionally flat spell this Journey to Nowhere casts.
Magical Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) and her mortal spitfire of a younger sister Anna (Kristen Bell) have the run of Arendelle. But a song their dead mother sang them about a river “which holds the answers” and a troubled land “as north as you can go,” a place hidden by a menacing, magical mist, sticks in their minds.
An ancient betrayal and wrongs never made right won’t touch Arendelle, right? Even if “nothing is permanent.”
The snowman doesn’t fret about such things. He’s too busy making age jokes, the “OK, Boomer” cracks of a fairytale jester — to the sisters.
“I can’t wait until I’m ancient and I can worry about important things.”
But there’s a voice only Elsa hears, a siren’s call of warning. When a cataclysm strikes the kingdom, she resolves to find closure, to visit the mist and venture, in song, “into the UNknoooooooown!”
Anna won’t be left behind. That leaves poor Kristoff with a ring and no right moment to pop the question. One of the few lightly amusing bits here is how he repeatedly says the wrong thing, and she blows up that wrong thing into self-criticism and a Federal case.
Just as in real life.
Their collective mission on this vague quest is to “Do the next right thing.” Olaf’s mission is to entertain one and all with his vast knowledge of trivia — “Did you know that wombats poop squares?”
Anything to get him off his endless collection of Tony Robbins “self-actualizing” quips.
The land of Northuldra (If any Northuldrans want to correct my spelling of their homeland, have at it.) is a place and a people of perpetual fall. So we’re really NOT in “Frozen” territory here at all, are we?
The songs, by by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez of “Frozen” and “Coco” fame, include a folk lullaby, a couple a classic rock-tinged tunes including that “Lost in the Woods” tribute to Queen. And one with a lyric unique to the entire history of animated films for children.
“Hello darkness, I’m ready to succumb.”
Welcoming the end of the movie, where the tunes place so few demands on the Great Menzel and plucky Ms. Bell is one thing, but welcoming death?
There are new “Earth Giants” (rock monsters) to fear. And there’s a new critter, a fire-gecko, for the plush toy crowd.
Yeah, it’ll earn a cool $billion. But seriously, if “Frozen” was lukewarm mush to anyone over the age of eight, “Frozen 2” is mush that’s melted.
MPAA Rating: PG for action/peril and some thematic elements
Cast: The voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Evan Rachel Wood, Sterling K. Brown, Alfred Molina, Jeremy Sisto and Martha Plimpton
Credits: Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, script by Jennifer Lee, A Walt Disney release.
Running time: 1:43