Disney has had such a long winning streak with its animated comedies and musicals that it's almost possible to forgive the problems with Frozen, which opens in Los Angeles today and in wide release on Nov. 27.
Indeed, there's not a lot wrong with Frozen: The animation is state-of-the-art, the action is imaginative and the visuals are stunning.
But there's one serious problem: It's never very funny, nor is the music particularly memorable.
Two big strikes right there.
For the longest time, it didn't matter what the Disney cartoons looked like (though they never looked anything less than spectacular) because they always had scripts bursting with jokes - both verbal and visual - and songs that seemed fast-tracked to Oscar nominations.
From Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (who did everything from The Little Mermaid through Beauty and the Beast) to Elton John (who won an Oscar for The Lion King) to Phil Collins (ditto for Tarzan), the Disney musicals since 1989 have been standard-setters. No matter what else they did, you could always count on them to amuse and captivate, perhaps even touch the heart.
But Frozen is the first Disney cartoon in a long time that felt like it was working from a formula - and the seams always show. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, Frozen spends most of its time revving up for something that never seems to appear.
This review continues on my website.