Frozen 2 opens this weekend and it sounds as if Disney is going for broke with the wokeness this time around. You may recall that the big twist in the first Frozen movie was that the damsel in distress was rescued by true love from her sister instead of from a handsome prince. I guess the creators wanted to really top that on the second outing and it sounds like they did. Slate described the storyline as a ‘bizarre’ tale about reparations. (From here on out there are some major spoilers so stop reading if you care about that.)
The story involves having Elsa, Anna, and the gang travel north into a mystic area where a tribe called the Northuldran live. Decades earlier Anna and Elsa’s grandfather had presented the tribes with a gift of peace: a dam. But in returning to the area the sisters discover some ugly family history:
It turns out that the generosity of the sisters’ grandfather was actually an act of sabotage meant to harm the tribe’s lands. The grandfather then attacked a Northuldra leader in cold blood when his real plan was found out…
When Anna discovers that her royal ancestors, just like probably every royal ancestor ever, committed brutalities against their neighbors, the newly radicalized princess decides to destroy the dam to make things right with the tribe—even though it means flooding Arendelle…
The idea that we should be willing to annihilate any and all current institutions (including the only home some people have known!) to correct historical atrocities sure is, uh, lofty. Framing reparations in this zero-sum way feels both simplistic and possibly counterproductive toward actual justice.
Frozen was loosely modeled after Norway but the new movie sounds like a slightly altered version of America’s history with Native Americans. Slate says it’s not completely clear that’s the point but it will likely be interpreted that way:
Frozen 2 is an American movie written and directed by Americans for a largely American audience, so it’s probably inevitable that some portion of the audience will see the Northuldra as stand-ins for Native Americans and Elsa and Anna’s multiracial Arendelle as present-day America.
I’ve always been fascinated by the far-left folks who want to demand that we recognize America exists on “stolen land.” They seem to get a real emotional boost out of saying things like that, and then they head home to wherever they live (mom’s basement?) and carry on as if they own the place. As hypocritical as that is, it’s ultimately more sensible than the plot of this movie.
Over at National Review, Kyle Smith concluded:
It appears the writing staff are a gang of eager progressives who are so blinded by guilt about America’s past that they didn’t see the huge problem they created for themselves. Sometimes the Left’s enthusiasm for making amends for ancient iniquity looks like random punishment directed at innocent living people. Disney typically contents itself with selling a sort of mushy be-nice liberalism, but Frozen II may presage a turn to storylines that celebrate extremism. Are you ready for Woke Disney?
I thought Disney was woke enough already. But according to Smith, the other problem is that the movie just isn’t very good. He says none of the songs are really very catchy this time:
The would-be showstoppers this time aren’t even showpausers. The bright Broadway verve of the first movie’s ingenious songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez is almost entirely absent; this time the Lopezes give us plodding, generic soft-rock ballads that sound like they were written to provide album filler for Celine Dion. One of these numbers in particular, Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods,” seeks to spoof the sound of, say, a 1986 power ballad by Chicago, but since it isn’t clever it just lies there.
Currently it has a surprisingly low 75% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes but the huge success of the first film means this is guaranteed to make a gazillion dollars on opening weekend. So in this case going woke likely won’t result in going broke. That’s a shame but most of the woke elements will go over the heads of the core audience of six-year-old girls anyway.
No doubt this will prompt a bunch of elementary school teachers to launch discussions of colonialism in class, but after school the kids will get picked up by their moms and the teachers will get in their cars and drive home and all of them will carry on as if they own the place.