The Dinglehopper

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Frozen Friday: Snowgeeking Out

Frozen Fever Poster

Disney rolled out all kinds of promotional material for its Frozen Fever short this week, which premiered last night with early showings of Cinderella. While we won’t be seeing it until this weekend, we’ve had a lot of fun showing it all off to our toddler. The poster above revealed the snowgies, Disney Animation’s answer to Studio Ghibli’s kodama.

These adorable little mischief makers are apparently a symptom of Elsa’s illness and keen to cause trouble on Anna’s birthday. Our toddler already loves them. Which could be trouble.

Frozen Fever Snowgies Merch

They also released the transitional animation with Olaf adopting a glass slipper for a nose.

The new song, “Making Today a Perfect Day,” pulled straight from the short, went live on iTunes Thursday morning. And it’s already been posted on YouTube several times.

But let’s be honest, as exciting as the seven minute short is, it’s been a bit overshadowed by the official announcement of Frozen 2!

The company revealed plans during the Walt Disney Co.’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday from San Francisco.

The rest of us learned yesterday morning via this adorable tweet from Princess Anna herself…


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Frozen Friday: Fever Featurette

FROZEN FEVER

Last week Disney Animation Studios released several stills from the upcoming short, “Frozen Fever,” set to premiere with Kenneth Branagh’s live action retelling of Cinderella on March 13th. Elsa and Kristoff plan a birthday party for Anna, but on the day of the celebration, the Queen catches, ahem, cold.

Frozen Fevers

The stills show Olaf stuffing some chocolate in his face.  Elsa models her Spring dress with the floral imagery we saw when early merchandise related to the short was leaked. There’s a portrait seemingly inspired by Awkward Family Photos. In a nice callback to Frozen, Anna’s Coronation Day bedhead is apparently normal. But I think my favorite is the hand painted “Happy Birthday” hung in the courtyard that’ll resonate with young viewers and inspire some hands on party prep at home.

This week a brief featurette with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Check it out and catch a few more glimpses of the thing kids will be crazy about this year.


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Frozen Friday: Missed Bricks for Christmas

Frozen is coming to Lego, but sadly not in time for Christmas.  The Telegraph reported at the beginning of the month that the new Frozen sets would be available in the Nordic and Baltic regions next week, but they wouldn’t hit stores in the United States and the UK until January. Apparently even guaranteed sales couldn’t advance the toy giant’s timetable.

“It’s not so important for us with Frozen,” said Lego CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp. “It is definitely across all categories a very strong property, a wonderful movie, but for us, it’s a minor thing.”

Lego Ice Castle

Two of the sets have been previewed so far. Set 41062 LEGO Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Palace will include Anna, Elsa, and Olaf among its 292 pieces.  And 14001 Olaf is a fifty two piece set aimed at younger builders.

It’s certainly possible that intrepid fans will be able to find these, and others, in time for the holidays from third party resellers. Prices will be inflated and the instructions might be incomprehensible, though.

Lego Olaf


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Early Observations About “Shattered Sight”

@OED’s Word of the Day yesterday was Maleficent! First recorded in 1678.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

Frozen

Of course Anna finds hitting someone in the face and trapping someone in a net romantic. Oh my gosh, why didn’t they get married right there!?!

David: “I’m callin’ you iceman. And you’re from Arendelle!  Whattaya doin’ sellin’ ice? The whole place is Frozen!”

Regina’s self imposeDYWTBASd imprisonment offers another opportunity to show the iconic back to the closed doors imagery reminiscent of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” used in the early episodes of the season.

The extent of Kristoff’s worst self was more or less “I hate it here and you put off the wedding.” Raised by love experts, he’s not the hating type.

Carrot Sherbert.  The Olaf reference you’ve waited all season for.

In the end, it’s Anna’s capacity for familial love that melts Ingrid’s frozen heart. Gerda’s letter and the memories it contains turn her around, but it’s the the younger Of Arendelle sister that lays it all on the line. I’m not gonna lie, it got a little dusty in the room. And it allowed for Ingrid’s act of true love to save everyone.  Once gets it.

Song of the South

Mary Margaret: “Still wanna hold hands and sing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah?”

Written by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert, “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1947. It was Disney’s second win in the category.  The first was “When You Wish Upon a Star,” slyly referenced in the last episode.  The controversial film has never been released on home video.

Swiss Miss

Snow points out Anna’s partial resemblance to the mascot for ConAgra’s winter institution. It might be random and it might not. Disney has a long-standing relationship with the food giant going back more than sixty years. Most recently, Disney’s Peter Pan became the official mascot for their peanut butter.

swiss miss

Snow White

And she asks for a poison apple which is iconic to the show, the Disney classic, and the original Tale 53, Sneewittchen.

Home Alone

4x09 Marbles

“Welcome to the Jungle”

It gets worse here every day.  Regina quotes here favorite terrestrial poet, W. Axl Rose, when she confronts Snow White. “I wanna watch you bleed.”

101 Dalmations

Young Emma grabs a stuffed Dalmation with the claw crane at the state fair. This is a subtle reminder that Pongo actually lives in Storybrooke and sets the stage for Cruella’s entrance next week.

Bonus: The ring around its neck can be seen during 4×05 “Breaking Glass” in Emma’s treasure box.

Harry Potter

The boy who lived gets another shout out from young Emma right before her unstable foster mom tries to get her hit by a car.  She wishes she could “poof home,” or Apparate.

Once Upon a Timetrue love

David and Mary Margaret recast the events of 1×03 “Snow Falls,” or I suppose 3×21 “Snow Drifts” and 3×22 “There’s No Place Like Home.”  Series co-creator Adam Horowitz is with Anna, hitting someone in the face is romantic.  He prefers rocks, but when timey wimey goes all wibbly wobbly, you make due.

Snow also references 2×16, “The Miller’s Daughter,” the episode where she effectively tricked Regina into matricide, sullied her own heart (and now Charming’s as well) and set the stage for the angry Mary Margaret we’ve seen this season.

The grand prize winner, though, is 1×18 “The Stable Boy.” Kristoff calls David “stable boy” instead of scruffy looking nerf her… shepherd.  David follows up by selling Snow out with his reference to the first of her many spilled secrets.  And during the climax of their duel, Regina calls Snow on it and she responds with, “I WAS TEN!” It’s also a good way to point out something the two queens have in common.

As usual, there are many, many more, but they seem to have done something special to close up the arc. Every episode of season four gets a visual or verbal nod, whether it’s the trunk on the beach from last week, the Kingdom Hearts door from “Smash the Mirror,” or the Any Given Sundae scene from the photo found in “Breaking Glass.”

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

With the Shattered Sight spell in full force, it was slim pickings for shipper moments. But it wasn’t completely devoid of great couple moments, even if some of them were antithetical to their normal relationships.

Kristanna

  • Kristanna fared the best of all the couples who actually talked to each other under the Shattered Sight curse. In fact, the worst Kristoff could come up with for aggravations with Anna was that she kept putting off their wedding and had a sister who brought about eternal winter. Perhaps if she hadn’t knocked him out, he would have gotten around to dishing out his Hans resentments, like: “You sang with him?!” Instead, he ultimately proved to be a pretty good guy, even when at his worst.once-upon-time_6

Snowing

  • Being the First Couple of True Love, of course the Shattered Sight curse was shown to hit them the hardest (and the funniest). Snow called Charming a fraud, and Charming called Snow a spoiled little brat. Charming complained to Anna that Snow hit him the first time they met, and Snow rebutted with the fact that Charming caught her in a net. Anna tried to point out the romance (odd though it was) in these gestures, but the spell kept them at each other until Regina arrived.
  • During the Regina-Snow fight, Charming helps Snow win, despite the curse still being in place.
  • And when the curse is broken, it is Snowing that gets the fantastic reunited kiss.tumblr_ng8rwkSe5f1u3pvl5o3_1280

 

Captain Swan

  • tumblr_ng8s7e2SHi1qdsjzio1_250Hook and Emma don’t share a single moment on screen, but even apart, their relationship gets more relationshippy. First, Hook goes to gather Henry for Gold. Henry: “I never liked you, and I like you even less now that you and my mom are together.” Hook: “Emma used that word? ‘Together’?”
  • In fact she did! When Emma goes to get the ultra-hatred unlocked from Regina, she gloats, “I wanted you to see Hook and I together and happy.”

Swan Queen

  • When Emma needs help, she goes to Regina. Sure, it’s to garner her hate like never before, but we all know how thin that line between love and hate really is.


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Frozen Friday: Spring Fever

Frozen Fever

 

When we first heard about “Frozen Fever,” a new animated short, netizens speculated that it would be attached to Kennth Branagh’s upcoming live action Cinderella.  Disney confirmed this on Wednesday and released the spiffy logo you see above. With both coming at the tail end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, I really like the fade to green toward the bottom.

Wait, what?! Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-new short “Frozen Fever,” will open in theatres on March 13, 2015, in front of the new live-action Cinderella.

Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, “Frozen Fever” features Anna’s birthday.  Elsa and Kristoff want to give her the best celebration ever, but Elsa’s ice powers may put more than just the party at risk.  Don’t worry, Olaf’s in it, too, along with a new original song by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

This pretty much means we’ll get the opportunity to see how well our toddler handles the movie theater and whether anything airing after Olaf and Anna can hold the same attention.  If you’ve missed it, here’s the trailer for Cinderella:


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Frozen-Adjacent Holiday Tunage

xmas olafIf I were Disney, I would be marketing the crap out of holiday-buffed Frozen merchandise. Put a Santa hat on that stuffed Olaf! Add a red sash and bow to that Anna doll’s green coronation gown! String some bells on that Sven plushie’s antlers! But, alas, I’m just a lowly high school English teacher.

What I can offer is some Frozen-adjacent holiday songs featuring Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel).

The first comes from Straight No Chaser, a 10-man acapella group, and features Kristen Bell. They’ve done the good deed of adding to the limited number of Christmas songs by writing “Text Me Merry Christmas.” It’s cute, funny, touching, and ever so slightly naughty. It’s video, though quite simple, matches the levity of the song and punctuates the jokes.

The second is an ol’ holiday standard made acceptable for a Disney audience through some lyric tampering–“Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” This one comes from Idina Menzel’s new holiday album and features Michael Buble as her duet partner. The vocals cannot be faulted, but I miss the sauciness of the original lyrics. The video features the amateurish dancing of children. They’re cute, but that’s about it. Weirdly, the whole video is styled like something off of Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby soundtrack, which doesn’t jive with the whitewashed lyrics and cutesy kiddos.


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Frozen Friday – A Frozen Holiday Wish

Cinderella's Castle is FrozenNot even the Magic Kingdom itself can control the power of Frozen.  “A Frozen Holiday Wish” is replacing the long running “Cinderella’s Holiday Wish” from Novermber 5th through December 31st, 2014.  While Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and the Blue Fairy used to perform the nightly show at Cinderella’s Castle, this year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf will preside over the spectacle, with Elsa transforming it into a shimmering ice palace amid the traditional fireworks.

Inside the Magic presented a breakdown of the debut show and provided this video for those of us who could not, and cannot, be there in person.  Enjoy.


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Frozen Friday: An Amazing Snowman

Disney’s merchandising machine still can’t keep up close to a year after Frozen‘s release, but book publishing seems to be an exception.

Grandma brought over An Amazing Snowman, written by Barbara Jean Hicks and illustrated by Olga T. Mosqueda, for our toddler.  It’s a big book with paper pages.  Not the sort of thing I’d normally entrust to tiny probing hands, but whatever.  What good is manna from heaven if you can’t crumple it up or tear it?  Even so, I figured we’d look at it a couple times and then put it up on the high shelf with the other grow into them books.

Someday I’ll learn that the power of this film is enough to meet any challenge.  Our toddler respected the book enough to ask that we put the dust jacket away to keep it safe.  The pages are intact despite the book never yet resting on a shelf.

The critical data are these.  The book takes place after the movie.  Olaf has his personal flurry.  It has no plot.  It’s not so much a story as a fun picture book encouraging Olaf’s open heart and vivid imagination.

I like Olaf, even as I acknowledge his oversaturation due to cross gender appeal.  I’m sure they could market Elsa shirts for boys and Kristoff costumes for girls, but I don’t expect they will.  So I’m glad the universally appealing character is worth emulating, butt jokes aside.

The illustrations are simple and beautiful.  They hooked our toddler in the end leaves with line drawings of Olaf engaging in recognizable activities patterned among dandelions parachute balls.  The dandelions are a perfect image to link the summer scenes with winter snowflakes.  We spent a couple minutes just talking about what Olaf was doing and what he was playing with.  Then we turned the page to this.  There was a lot to talk about here, too.

The book mixes up images from the movie with original text and artwork.  Pictures cleverly foreshadow and repeat for some surprising moments of recognition.  And for dedicated Disney families, there are some references to other films.

Check out the author reading to a group of kids at a Barnes & Noble event:


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Frozen Friday: Winter is Coming

Season 4 of Once Upon a Time will premiere Sunday, September 28, at 7cst on ABC with the Frozen-themed episode “A Tale of Two Sisters.”

Master storytellers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (“Lost,” “Tron: Legacy”) invite everyone to join Emma Swan, Snow White, Prince Charming, The Evil Queen, Hook and all the other resident fairy tale characters as they prepare to defend themselves against a magical force from the past that’s too dark and unpredictable even for Rumplestiltskin – The Ice Queen. – abc medianet

I say this every time, but we love Frozen here.  It’s an indellible part of our family.  Long after we’re tired of watching it, when our toddler is grown and embarrassed, we’ll unpack the memories and handle them reverently.  So it was a relief when producers Kitsis and Horowitz recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to explain that they love it, too.

Thematically we can say the first half of the season is about how you never give up on the people you love.

They confirmed that the Frozen arc would be discrete.  Season 4 will open with Elsa, but the story line will wrap up by midseason.  None of the characters will carry over into season 5.

Elizabeth Mitchell’s character is connected both to the world of Arendelle and the world of Storybrooke.  While Kitsis did not reveal exactly who she would portray, he did admit that the character was one of the two most popular speculations: Elsa’s mother or Andersen’s original Snow Queen.  My money’s still on the latter.

Fan favorite Olaf will not be a part of the show.  However, Horowitz did reveal that a fifth character from the movie had been cast.  Sven will be played by an actual reindeer.

They plan to show a realistic looking Arendelle.  There will be no musical episodes.  Like Olaf, they just wouldn’t fit.

While the first episode will be written by Horowitz and Kitsis, the second, titled “White Out,” will be written by veteran Jane Espenson.  And Sven isn’t the only surprise.  TVLine broke the news that a sixth Frozen character will be joining the cast.  Prince Hans will debut in episode 3!  Anna’s (Elizabeth Lail) one time love interest was one of the biggest surprises in any Disney movie and he practically belongs in this setting.

So far, only the casting call has gone out.  We don’t know who will play the thirteenth in line to the throne of the Southern Isles.  But we do know that he’ll have the same closely cropped hair as all of the other royals.

Set photos have begun circulating.  Georgina Haig as Elsa looks very good for someone without anime proportions.

elsa set

And we’re pretty sure Time released an unlabled image of Scott Michael Foster’s Kristoff opposite her.

Georgina Haig as Elsa

 


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Frozen Friday: Oh! Snowman Pandering!

 

olaf1 Once the credits of Frozen were scrolling and the reprise of “Let it Go” was rolling over them, I felt pretty good about the movie.  Our toddler had been attentive and engaged and learned all the names.  It didn’t hurt that we both liked it well… “Dada, dance!”

Our toddler had climbed off the couch and was, yes this was really happening, was singing along.  “Mama, sing.  Mama, dance!”  And we had a little dance party.  As if by magic, liking it well enough became the first stirrings of enduring love.

There’s really nothing worse than liking something, let alone loving it, for Gen-X.  So, independently, we both started checking out reviews and criticism; sharing articles and thoughts.  In that context I encountered the following in The Dissolve’s review.

At its worst, Frozen feels clumsy, rote, or even pandering, in the case of that superfluous singing snowman, an adorable kid-pleaser with little story function except butt jokes and physical comedy.

That’s, like, and I’m being generous here, maybe 40% true.  I’ll allow pandering kid-pleaser.  Still, we can agree that this is a Disney animated feature, right?  This bizarre misconception was echoed in several reviews.  Olaf has no function?  With respect, you weren’t paying attention.  Our toddler was.

I have to think that maybe the teaser was part of the problem.

Kids went nuts over the adorable snowman and the goofy reindeer while adults affected exasperated sighs.  I’ll admit it, that made me certain I never wanted to see the film.  Watching it again I feel differently.  Now I’m kind of impressed that they focused on the nose.

Olaf’s detachable nose illuminates the relationship between Elsa and Anna.  Mirrored scenes mark its shift.  When they’re kids, Elsa sculpts Olaf based on Anna’s silly expression and add’s the carrot nose.  Later, when she encounters the now sentient Olaf, Anna swipes a carrot from Sven’s stash and clumsily fumbles it into his face.  His greeting, “Hi, I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs,” not only defines his personality, it urgently recalls those simpler times.

That snowman is there not just to entertain kids, but to teach them how to watch the movie.  That’s not pandering; it’s edifying.  And it works.  They’ve seen the snowman at the beginning and during the “Let it Go” sequence already.  When he shows up as Kristoff and Anna are blundering through the woods, there’s grateful recognition.  I quote, “Oh!  Snowman talking!”  They’re hooked.

And that’s perfect, because Olaf is going to drive, foreshadow, and interrogate the action from then on.  That can get boring, though, hence butt jokes.  Eyes down here, kids.

But who’s the comic relief in the scene where Anna and Kristoff contemplate climbing the mountain to get to Elsa’s ice palace?  Is it Anna trying to climb in inadequate gear?  Is it Sven looking on mockingly?  It’s not Olaf.

“Hey, Sven? Not sure if this is going to solve the problem, but I found a staircase that leads exactly where you want it to go.”

Scenes like that are excellent.  They condense the action in a legitimate way.  Elsa made him right before making the stairs.  Of course he knows where they are.  Olaf picks up some authority there.  Eyes down here, again.

He also delivers a couple strangely prescient lines.  The first comes as they’re following him to the ice palace.  “I bet Elsa’s the nicest, gentlest, warmest person ever.”  “Oh, look at that.  I’ve been impaled.”  That’s basically what Anna’s headed for.  Boundless optimism and faith in her sister rewarded with a shard of ice to the heart.  Thanks for the heads up, Olaf.

olaf2

I’m a leaf on the wind.

The second warns the audience ever so subtly that their perceptions are still off.  Following a visit to the trolls, Kristoff concludes that they need to get Anna to Hans for true love’s healing kiss.  Olaf enthusiastically agrees.  “I’m coming! Let’s go kiss Hans! Who is this Hans?!”  The screen darkens and the question echoes.

I haven’t met anyone who caught that the first time through.  Olaf’s preparing the audience for a particularly nasty reveal.  On the one hand, he just doesn’t know who Hans is.  On the other, neither do you.

Once it all goes down in Arendelle, Olaf explains love to Anna and by extension to kids.  “Love is…putting someone else’s needs before yours,” is tucked in before the final action so that when Anna puts herself in front of Hans’s blade and subsequently thaws, a child can understand it.

That would be enough, probably.  But what about true love’s kiss?  Olaf uses Kristoff’s obvious, to the audience, affection as an example of love and Anna jumps to the wrong conclusion.  Olaf becomes the kindred viewer.

OLAF
No, no, no, no, no. You need to
stay by the fire and keep warm.
ANNA
I need to get to Kristoff.
OLAF
(clueless)
Why…?
(realizing)
Oh, oh, oh, I know why.

He hops around in an excited display of hope.

OLAF (CONT’D)
There’s your act of true love,
right there, riding across the
fjords like a valiant, pungent
reindeer king! Come on!

But, no, that’s not it.  Finally, just in case your toddler is two, Olaf explains what happened with Anna, how risking her life broke her curse.  In the story, it nudges Elsa into awareness.  As the story, it nudges the audience.

ELSA
…You sacrificed yourself for me?
ANNA
(weak)
…I love you.

Olaf realizes what’s happened. He’s so excited about it, he
lifts his head right off his body and exclaims–

OLAF
An act of true love will thaw a
frozen heart.

I respectfully disagree with the assertion that Olaf has no function beyond comic relief or manipulative marketing.  While he’s certainly representative of both of those things, he’s also integral to the plot and content of Frozen.  He’s essential to younger audiences for understanding the action.  He’s probably, with all his earnest functionality, helpful to understanding future stories.  And c’mon, the Olaf toys are the ones you can actually find.