Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Wright Words: Disney's 'Frozen' and why we won't 'Let It Go'

By Jason F. Wright, For the Deseret News

Published: Tue, March 11 5:00 a.m. MDT

 Elsa in \

Elsa in "Frozen.

(Disney)

Last week, my family hosted a few good friends for dinner. At some point during the banter between pizza and brownies, one of our guests abruptly changed topics. “So, I’ve been meaning to ask, what’s all this fuss about 'Frozen'?”

These friends don’t have yet have children and, believe it or not, hadn’t heard much besides hype about Disney’s megahit movie.

I smiled at my kids across the table and had them confess how many times they’d each seen it. By the time we got to my 15-year-old daughter, it began to feel like a support group.

"Hi, my name is Jadi, and I've seen Disney’s ‘Frozen’ seven times."

"Hi, Jadi," we answered in unison.

Her mother and I admitted it’s not just the kids with a hankering for the film. I’ve seen it four times and my wife has seen it three.

Even my mother has seen it, and the last movie she saw starred Charlie Chaplin.

Then it happened — our guests made a mistake that might haunt them forever.

They asked for a quick recap.

Taking turns and marching one major scene at a time, we offered a rundown of the story that would have made Walt himself proud. We even sang each song when we hit its respective spot in the plot.

I can’t be sure, but I think my gang was much more entertained than our pizza pals.

An hour later, we said our goodbyes and promised to do it again sometime soon, though after our little show it’s debatable whether they will accept another invitation.

Since that night, my wife and I have speculated on why we’ve made the film a family favorite.

And, clearly, why we’re not the only ones.

You probably know that "Frozen" has been a massive global hit, hauling in nearly $400 million domesticly and more than $1 billion worldwide, according to boxofficemojo.com. It's won two Academy Awards and spawned thousands of covers of its Oscar-winning lead track "Let It Go."

The production and its messages have also been sliced, diced and analyzed more than any movie since the Zapruder film.

Why do so many seem stuck on "Frozen"? Why after 16 weeks is the movie running in the top 10 and dominating so many playground and conference room conversations?

Could it be because it's clean, entertaining and inspirational?

In an industry that generates so much product not suitable for younger eyes, and many would argue for any audiences with eyeballs period, "Frozen" stands out for its purity.

While Disney has been making hefty deposits each Monday morning with this family-friendly film, the rest of Hollywood has been releasing a flood of R-rated films for adults. Perhaps the most ballyhooed is "The Wolf of Wall Street," with its graphic sex and 506 creative uses of the f-word.

The film was one of the most critically acclaimed of 2013 and has earned less than a third as much as "Frozen."

Sadly, even many children's movies these days are filled to the rim with potty jokes and, in some cases, even sexual innuendo. According to Screenit.com, a popular website offering movie reviews for parents, "Frozen" scores better in the categories of sex/nudity and profanity than any animated movie in more than two years.

Even if money trumps content, Hollywood might want to pay more attention.

In 2013, the highest grossing R-rated film was only the 15th highest grossing overall, according to Screenit.com. The all-time numbers favor family-friendly fare, too. Mel Gibson’s "Passion of The Christ" is the highest grossing R-rated film in history, and it’s only number 25 overall. You have to drop all the way to 61 to find another R-rated flick.

Isn’t it obvious that audiences are hungry for uplifting entertainment?

Now more than ever, in a weak and wary economy, with consumers carefully measuring their money, moviegoers seem to want films that are both high quality and entertaining for all ages. Sure, there are exceptions, like the "Hangover" movies or the occasional breakout slasher film, but the numbers don’t lie.

So, why is "Frozen" thawing hearts and wallets around the world? Maybe, just maybe, in our chaotic world where sex, profanity and bad news dominate reality, this 102-minute fantasy treasure lets us escape to an unapologetically hopeful place where talking snowmen are real and the jokes don’t require you to cover your children's eyes.

On March 18, "Frozen" will be released on DVD and you can bet the Wrights will be at the front of the line with plans for an evening viewing party.

Want to join us?

Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and his latest, "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at jwright@deseretnews.com, applevalleybarndance.com or jasonfwright.com

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1. Anonymous User
ARLINGTON, VA,
March 11, 2014

Or you could buy a digital copy on Amazon.com 2 weeks ago and save yourself the wait....

2. caf
Bountiful, UT,
March 11, 2014

It was also refreshing to see true love was not "new love" but "worked for love" of family.

3. Scott H
Ogden, UT,
March 11, 2014

Frozen's popularity goes beyond its clean nature, although, that certainly has something to do with the film's success. Frozen's writing, directing, animation, voice acting, and music are exceptional. Piles of less engaging but clean family friendly films have flopped. Audiences favor morally excellent films, but only when they also offer high entertainment quality.

Many of Hollywood's creative types are less interested in satisfying the masses than they are in creating content that satisfies their inner muse and that appeals to their Hollywood peers. They openly deride filmmakers that "pander to the masses." You can see what is in these people's hearts by the content they create.

4. Hutterite
American Fork, UT,
March 11, 2014

Don't read it too deep. It's making somebody some money.

5. CAGirl
, ,
March 11, 2014

I dislike being a damper on this "Frozen" conversation, but I did not like this movie. The talking snowman was ridiculous. Disney likes to throw in some buffoonery in most of its movies for children, and that got really tiresome. The "Let It Go" song leaves me cold. I simply don't understand its popularity. However, the animation was outstanding.