JENEÉ OSTERHELDT

Disney’s ‘Frozen’ warms my heart

Updated: 2014-02-03T20:41:05Z

By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT

The Kansas City Star

The countdown to Oscar is on, and movie buffs are on a mad dash to see the nine best picture nominees.

“Philomena”? “Nebraska”? “Dallas Buyers Club”? Those are on my list. But on a frigid Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, I sat in a theater full of kids to see a different Academy Award nominee: “Frozen.” The sing-a-long version.

I’d yet to see it, because, well, I was too busy being a grown-up and watching movies like “12 Years a Slave” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

But we should never neglect our inner child. As I sipped on my Icee and watched the story of Elsa, born with frosty magic, and her little sister, Anna, I found myself humming along while the kids in the front row sang their hearts out. The music is perfection. I’m talking “The Little Mermaid” under the sea but on ice perfection.

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” sung by Anna (Kristen Bell) is as infectious as they come. The crowd didn’t sing like some big theater chorus, but you could hear them chiming in during the hooks. Every now and then, you could even catch a few fans, like the boy down our row, giving it their “Idol” all.

“It’s the best soundtrack since ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ” says Liza Bautista, the matriarch of the family I tagged along with. She, her daughter and granddaughter saw it for the second time. “I would see it again. It’s funny and it’s not too mushy.”

The Blu-ray and DVD come out next month, but Disney is in the middle of a moment. I’m talking about “The Lion King” kind of moment. For years, critics have said that while Pixar’s fortunes rose, the house that Mickey built lost its magic.

But “Frozen” is spicing, or icing, things up. There are already plans for a Broadway musical. It won the Golden Globe for best animated feature and is a favorite to win the Oscar in that category March 2 (it’s also up for best song, “Let It Go”). Over the weekend, “Frozen” won five prestigious Annie awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society.

And it’s not thawing out of the box office anytime soon. “Frozen” came in second this weekend, adding $9.3 million to its icy reign (it hasn’t left the top five since it debuted Thanksgiving week). It’s Disney’s highest-grossing animated feature ($865 million worldwide), surpassing “The Lion King” (in inflated dollars). And it’s only the fourth animated film soundtrack to ever to slide in at Billboard’s top spot.

Hence, the sing-along.

What sets “Frozen” apart is the music and plot. Like “Brave,” it strays away from the boy-saves-girl storyline. Yes, there’s a prince and not one, but two princesses. But at its core, the true love in this film is between the sisters. It’s about getting over your insecurities, letting go of secrets and sacrificing for those you love. Sisterhood. It made me want to pick up my phone and call my big sister.

I don’t say this often, but I’d see this movie twice.

I know, we’re in the season of serious cinema and Oscar’s best films. But if your taste is vast enough to see “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle,” I think you can warm up to “Frozen.”

Jeneé Osterheldt’s column runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. To reach her, call 816-234-4380 or send email to josterheldt@kcstar.com. “ Like” her page on Facebook and never miss a column. You also can follow her at Twitter.com/jeneeinkc.

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