Family Film: Cinderella (2015) & Frozen Fever Reviews

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Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring:
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Holliday Grainger
Derek Jacobi
Ben Chaplin
Sophie McShera
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Don’t be a bitch & you might snag a prince. It helps if you’re really pretty, though.

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Okay – I’m going to review family films in a slightly different way from now on so that you don’t think I’m taking them too seriously. Would I watch as many kids movies if I didn’t have a kid? Of course not! But I’d still watch some, especially from Disney/Pixar. I may be all grown-up (physically, at least) but I do still love the Disney classics & I see Pixar movies such as Toy Story & WALL-E (an all-time favorite movie of mine) as brilliant filmmaking just as worthy of recognition, not just “movies for kids”. So here are my thoughts as well as my daughter’s & husband’s thoughts on the live-action Cinderella remake (and the Frozen Fever short).

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I enjoyed Cinderella much more than I was expecting. I was happy that Branagh kept this very traditional instead of trying to make it more “modern” (the big, puffy blue dress is as fairytale as you can get!) & he stayed quite faithful to the 1950 Disney film. There were only a couple of changes: one involving the slipper, which I think worked better in the 1950 film & one involving the addition of Cinderella’s mother, which I really liked about this adaptation – it was great to see Cinderella’s relationship with her mother as well as with her father.

I’m not going to go much into that whole argument of “are Disney Princess movies damaging to young girls as they’ll think that all that’s important in life is being pretty & snagging a rich guy?”. Absolute bullshit. As long as you teach your kids right from wrong & reality from fantasy, they won’t be forever damaged by watching a harmless Disney film. The original Disney Princess movies are OLD (like me!) and I & other women my age grew up with them and most of us have ended up pretty well adjusted (well, I have my crazy moments but Disney certainly isn’t to blame). Let’s worry more about the boys playing Grand Theft Auto & girls thinking that The Kardashians are “reality” and that that’s the way they should live life. At least Cinderella actually worked. While singing! And making cute outfits for mice. And keeping her ass covered. And not being a superficial bitch even though she was hot. I’m going off on one of my tangents now so, my point is, CHILL. I’d love to live in a world where Disney movies were the biggest thing we had to worry about when it came to raising our kids. Some of their values may be outdated, especially when it comes to the roles of women, but they always tried to teach kids the right sort of morals & had their heart in the right place.

The unfortunate thing with this Cinderella remake is that I think they managed to make Cinderella herself have even less personality than she did in the 1950 film. I know they’re really pushing the “always be kind & brave” thing in this one so I AM glad that she stays kind-hearted & true to herself but, taking out the classic songs from the original (especially the amazing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo“, one of My Top Ten Disney Songs), leaves this live action remake far inferior as it’s basically the same movie again but without the catchy songs. (FYI – Helena Bonham Carter does at least sing the song through the credits). Oh! And can I just point out that that big, puffy, ostentatious blue dress may get all the attention in this movie but Cinderella’s wedding dress is absolutely stunning! Wow. SPOILER if you’d like the dress to be a surprise but I have to include a picture of it:

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Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. As I said, I’m not one of these “this movie gives girls unrealistic expectations blah blah blah!” moms. Everyone knows this story & it stays very faithful to the original Disney film. Nothing in it will do anyone any harm (in my opinion) but my kid did loudly proclaim “That’s THREE people who died now!” toward the end so, as usual with a typical Disney movie, you may get some “death talk” with your kid but every parent has to deal with death questions from their kids anyway.

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Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
Yes. I like all the Disney classics & wanted to see how they’d handle this live adaptation. However, if it wasn’t for the Frozen Fever short before the film, I’d probably have waited to watch it at home instead of in the cinema/theater.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

My daughter really liked this. Of course she did – she’s six. She loves Disney movies, as to be expected. However, she’s never been too overly crazy about any of the Disney Princess movies until the phenomenon that is FROZEN came along. (Her two favorite movies are Frozen and Star Wars so you can’t accuse me of just raising a Disney Princess). She currently claims to like this live-action version of Cinderella better than the original because she “liked the lizards and the golden carriage” but you know kids – she’s just saying that since it’s more recent in her mind. Trust me – the original is far superior. 😉

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Favorite Part:
The entire Fairy Godmother “transformation” scene & the bit where Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest.

Least Favorite Part:
Slight Spoiler:
“When the stepmother smashed the glass slipper.”

Overall Attention Level:
85%. She seemed very tired, though, so I think it could have been higher. However, her attention level was at 100% during the Cinderella transformation scene with the Fairy Godmother.

The Kid’s Rating: 8/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:

Did Cinderella’s hair, shoulders and chest REALLY need vajazzling? It would have been more timeless without…

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Frozen Fever (2015)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Running time: 7 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Elsa overcompensates by preparing to throw Anna the best birthday party ever since she was such a cold-hearted bitch for years & didn’t even want to build a snowman with her. But she refuses to invite Hans or John Travolta.

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I loved Frozen Fever! It’s totally adorable plus, of course, I loved seeing how happy it made my daughter which always makes me have extra affection for something. I’m not really going to say anything more about this short, however, as I enjoyed it FAR more not knowing anything about it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think loads of pictures have been released online anyway, spoiling the short’s most adorably sneezy surprise. Avoid knowing anything about this one beforehand if you can. It’s very sweet & maintains the same sense of humor as the original film.

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. Unless you’re offended by adorable cuteness.

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
YES! I personally really like Frozen & wanted to see this more than I wanted to see Cinderella.

My Rating: 8/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

She’s a young girl so, duh – she absolutely loved this. Those who don’t have kids may not realize just how crazy little girls are for Frozen. It’s bizarre! They’ve latched onto Frozen in a way far beyond other girl-aimed films of recent years such as Tangled or Brave. Elsa mania is everywhere!!! And I’m okay with that – I think it’s the strongest Disney film in years & more deserving of the hysteria than a lot of other kids films for girls lately. This is just like the movie with all the favorite characters included so there’s no way that kids who love Frozen won’t love Frozen Fever.

Overall Attention Level:
100%.

The Kid’s Rating: 10/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:
“What happens when she sharts?”

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Frozen (2013) Review

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Frozen (2013)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad
Santino Fontana

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
After Elsa accidentally leaves her kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter due to her uncontrollable secret powers that create ice & snow, her sister Anna must find where she has gone into hiding to see if they can find a way to save their kingdom.

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My Opinion:

Finally – a return to the traditional sort of Disney(fied) fairy tale that I grew up on. I loved Frozen! Loved it loved it loved it! 🙂

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Where do I start? Well, I’m going to try to stay spoiler free so I’ll just talk about some of the things I liked about Frozen. First of all, it’s a great opening. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high so early in the film but the introduction of the sisters, Anna & Elsa, is fantastic! It’s like all the best classic Disney openings/introductions to the main characters. Sweet, tragic, magical & musical – all that usual good Disney stuff! And the song Anna sings is lovely & really touching. There are some great songs in this. But I’ll come back to the music later…

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Before we’re introduced to the sisters, however, we actually first meet one of the main male characters (Kristoff) while a bunch of manly men sing a manly song. I know Disney took this same sort of angle with Tangled – they didn’t want it seen as another “Disney Princess” movie so they gave the guy a bigger role and gave it the non-girly name of Tangled instead of Rapunzel. I think this works much better in Frozen, though. The sisters are very much the stars here but there’s PLENTY for boys to like in this one as well whereas I still saw Tangled as just another Princess movie. You can easily take an entire family of all ages to Frozen. Girls will like the sisters, boys will like Kristoff & his reindeer, and ALL kids (and adults!) will LOVE Olaf. Honestly – The adults in the cinema were laughing at Olaf even louder than the kids were. He’s hilarious. I love Olaf! I already loved him before even seeing Frozen as his big musical number (In Summer) was available on YouTube. Check it out if you’re unsure about if you want to see Frozen or not & you may be convinced to go.

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Going back to the music, Frozen has some instant classics. The songs were written by husband & wife Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. I don’t make it to nearly as many musicals as I’d like to but the only one I’ve WANTED to see in a long time is The Book Of Mormon while one of the only ones I HAVE seen is Avenue Q, which I loved. I was surprised to find out that the guy who wrote the songs for these two musicals had done the songs for Frozen. So, yeah – I guess the guy responsible for “The Internet Is For Porn” wrote the great songs in Frozen. Makes sense – there’s a funny sense of humor in the lyrics of songs such as Olaf’s In Summer & another song called Fixer Upper but the main “numbers” such as For The First Time In Forever and Let It Go are surely Oscar contenders & will long be remembered with other Disney classics.

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What else? The story – I loved it. I don’t know the original Hans Christian Andersen story but, hey – this is a Disney adaptation so I’m sure it bears little resemblance to the source material. I really wasn’t quite sure how they’d end it which was nice as kids’ films are always so predictable (and I thought it was a very satisfying ending). The look of the film was beautiful – the colors used & all that frozen snow & ice… I can see this being a film that families watch every winter. And it may sound stupid and girly but Anna & Elsa had the greatest dresses! Anna is often in greens while Elsa is in blue and it was great that it wasn’t all girly pink & purple colors going on in this. And… as I’m mostly of Norwegian heritage, I’ve always loved anything with a Scandinavian look. I mean, a guy in the film even mentioned lutefisk. And look at Anna’s main outfit and her cool boots:

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Finally, the most important thing in a Disney movie is the characters. They can have a great story and great songs but if they don’t get the characters right, they might as well not bother. Frozen is already nearly perfect in every other way and, luckily, the characters are just as perfect.

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Kristoff is a loveable oaf and his relationship with his best friend, reindeer Sven, is funny. It was also fun watching Sven constantly trying to eat Olaf’s carrot nose. Speaking of the hilariously entertaining Olaf, you already know how I feel about him but I loved the sisters most of all and their story & their relationship felt quite unique compared to the what we’ve seen in other Disney films. I liked their very different personalities & I can see Anna ending up pretty high on my list of my Top Disney Princesses (if/when she’s officially added). Anna is sweet & little dorky with such a childlike charm that you can’t help but like her.

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Summary:

After a good couple decades of some very disappointing Disney films (other than The Lion King & Beauty And The Beast & everything made by the brilliant Pixar which Disney can now claim as its own), we’ve finally been given an instant classic that will stand the test of time just like those from Disney’s good old days. Magical & beautiful, a great story, classic songs, strong female characters, lots of genuinely funny humor & hilarious characters – Frozen gets everything so incredibly right. Thank you, Disney! You’re back! 🙂

My Rating: 8.5/10

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