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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Frozen 2 -- the sequel to Disney's 2013 blockbuster -- continues the adventures of Arendelle's magical Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel); her kind sister, Anna (Kristen Bell); and everyone's favorite snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad). This time around, the characters undertake a dangerous journey to a mysterious enchanted forest, hoping to discover the source of Elsa's powers. The sisters learn more about their parents' deaths and backgrounds; thanks to several flashbacks, viewers may feel even sadder about the orphans' loss. While there's lots of humor (thanks, Olaf!) and -- of course -- big musical numbers, the sequel is ultimately a bit more intense than the original. Expect perilous (though never graphic) scenes of elemental spirits chasing and attacking Arendelle/the main characters with wind, water, fire, and more. There are also chases, battle scenes with swords, dark secrets, and -- spoiler alert! -- a couple of upsetting (but temporary) deaths. Underlining everything are positive messages about sisterhood, empowerment, acceptance, tolerance, perseverance, and true love, and both Anna and Elsa are examples of strong women who lead confidently and communicate with and support each other.
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What's the story?
FROZEN 2 opens with a flashback to the king (voiced by Alfred Molina) and queen (Evan Rachel Wood) of Arendelle telling young Elsa and Anna a bedtime story about a magical enchanted forest and the indigenous people of Northuldra who live there, along with the elemental spirits of air, water, fire, and earth. In the present, Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) starts getting distracted by a siren call that only she can hear. While Anna (Kristen Bell) worries for her sister, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) prepares to propose to Anna, and beloved snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), secure with permafrost, matures enough to have an existential crisis. As the voice's pull gets stronger, Elsa realizes that elemental magic is hurting her kingdom, so she sets out to find the long-hidden forest accompanied by Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf. Once they get there, they encounter a long-missing group of Northuldrans and Arendelle soldiers, who've been trapped for decades. Elsa must figure out how to use her powers to save Arendelle and restore peace with what's left of the Northuldrans. And, of course, Anna refuses to let her do it alone -- even if that means (accidentally) leaving Kristoff behind.
Is it any good?
This charming musical sequel again elevates sisterhood, empowerment, love, and acceptance -- while introducing catchy new songs that are sure to please young Elsa and Anna fans. The storyline in Frozen 2 is less straightforward than in the original: There are multiple character arcs, and the youngest viewers may not understand one of the Northuldra plot points (it's reminiscent of an ugly aspect of U.S. history concerning Native Americans). But there are several musical interludes (it feels like even more than in the first movie) and enough humor to keep viewers happy and satisfied. No longer awestruck by everything around him, Olaf is maturing in a hilariously philosophical way. He wonders about the meaning of the universe and his place in it and at times comes off like a clever, angsty teen (audiences may think of Groot more than once in this film). Of the new characters, Wood is a standout as the girls' mother, as is Sterling K. Brown as a veteran Arendelle soldier.
The music (again co-composed and written by spouses Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) doesn't include an obvious successor to the once ubiquitous "Let It Go," although "Into the Unknown" features the same emotional crescendo of Menzel's stunning voice. Several of the songs sound similar, but that's to be expected from composers who hit the jackpot with a particular musical style. Groff's Kristoff finally gets his big solo, "Lost in the Woods," which is presented in the style of an '80s power ballad video and should elicit more than a few laughs from Gen X and older parents. Anna's song "The Next Right Thing" is compelling and bittersweet, and Olaf's "When I'm Older" has the comical tone audiences expect from the adorable snowman. The romance here is already established, so that subplot is more about Kristoff wondering whether Anna wants marriage as much as he does, when she's so preoccupied with her sister's well-being. While fans shouldn't expect the exact same kind of magic as in the original, Frozen 2 is a fitting tribute to Elsa and Anna's promise to protect and defend each other -- and their kingdom.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the tone/intensity of Frozen 2 compares with the original. How much violence can younger viewers handle? Are the scenes of characters in danger or getting hurt too upsetting?
Which songs did you like most in the sequel? Do any of them compare to "Let It Go"? Do you prefer movies with musical numbers or those without?
What does it mean to "do the next right thing"? How does that idea help the characters in the story? How do you know what the next right thing is?
How do Anna and Elsa compare to other Disney princesses? Are they stronger examples of positive gender representation? Why or why not?
- In theaters: November 22, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: February 11, 2020
- Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff
- Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action/peril and some thematic elements
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: August 14, 2020
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