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Frozen ***1/2

 Is it worth $15 (3D)? Yes

There’s a reason girls become enamored with Disney princesses, and the reason is this: Disney is better than everyone else in the world at creating heroines who get to do cool things and sing wonderful songs and save magical kingdoms. The princesses are fantasies that couldn’t possibly exist, but the idea that they can be real is too intoxicating and effervescent for little girls to know what to do with themselves.

“Frozen” now wonderfully adds to the list of Disney heroines, and this time there are two princesses your daughters will want to be next Halloween. In the kingdom of Arendelle, Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel) is born with the magical power to create snow and ice. However, when she’s unable to control it and nearly kills her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa is forced to live in solitude. 

Years later, after Anna’s mind is wiped clean of nearly dying at her sister’s hand, Elsa loses control of her abilities when she’s crowned queen. Snow, ice and frost encapsulate Arendelle during its otherwise hot and busy summer, leaving Anna to venture into the frozen forest to find her sister and talk some sense into her. Unprepared for the cold, Anna is helped along by an ice salesman named Kristoff (Jonathan Goff), his trusty reindeer, Sven, and a silly snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad).

It is a compliment to write that the movie could easily be adapted into a Broadway musical and lose little of its appeal. The film features original songs from husband-and-wife songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Tony Award winner Robert Lopez (“Avenue Q”), and the songs, in a word, are splendid. Menzel’s “Let It Go,” sung when Elsa first abdicates her throne to live in the mountains, is rousing, beautiful, emotional and chilling (pun intended), a true showstopper in a film full of quality work. Other notable songs are “For The First Time In Forever” sung by Menzel and Bell, and “In Summer,” in which snowman Olaf cutely pontificates about how much he’d love the summer.

Writer/directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s touching story also features ample laughs and exciting action sequences full of imagination. What’s more, the sweeping, colorful visuals look cool and crisp in 3D. Whether it’s the interior of the castle, high up in the snowy mountains or the glistening ice, the production design is lush and gorgeous and the animation is superb.

Pixar may be the reigning king of cartoons, but the talented folks at Disney Animation are not far behind. Given that the studio created both feature-length animation and animated musicals with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, its enduring legacy and influence is notable. Recently, “Tangled” (2010) was absolutely fantastic and “Wreck-It-Ralph” (2012) was a box office smash; now “Frozen” is the best animated film of its year, meaning the studio doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. And we the audience, gratefully, get to enjoy every moment.

Did you know?

An original Disney Animation short entitled “Get A Horse,” which begins in the style of the Mickey Mouse shorts of the late 1920s and then takes a modern twist, precedes “Frozen.” The short is absolutely delightful, so don’t be late to the movie!

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