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« Sondheim to Streep "Don't F*** It Up!" | Main | Spirit Award Nominations. Discuss! »
Tuesday
Nov262013

Is Frozen the Closest We Will Get to 'Wicked: The Movie'?

Glenn here, asking you to consider, if you will, a fantasy movie about two young women in a magical faraway kingdom, one of whom was born with a severe affliction. When her “powers” go wrong, everybody in their homeland believes she’s a monster. Wicked, you could say.  

That’s the plot to Disney’s new musical, Frozen. It could, of course, easily be the logline for Wicked: The Movie if the powers that be had been smart enough to get the film adaptation of the massive Tony-winning Broadway musical off the ground. The failure to do so remains baffling and there's been just too much other Oz-related product on the market lately that it would risk brand-damaging saturation to make it now. At least Les Miserables showed that film versions of famous musicals can still be hits decades after the fact so maybe we will get one someday. Until that someday occurs, however, at least we have Frozen. A film that feels so obviously indebted to Wicked (yes, despite being loosely adapted from Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen), so much so that they even cast Idina Menzel and got her to sing a big mid-film song about embracing the dark side that could have been called “Defying Gravity Part 2”.

Frozen opens tomorrow just in time for America’s Thanksgiving holiday after a one-screen release last weekend in L.A. where it made $243,390. If you don’t know, that is quite a bit of money. It’s a perfect film for families over the Thanksgiving break, as well as everyone else who just craves more musicals in their life. And really, who doesn’t?

Disney’s film is co-written and co-directed by a woman (that’d be Jennifer Lee working alongside Chris Buck who had previously helmed Tarzan and Surf’s Up) and alongside the Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse! that partners Frozen on the big screen and is also directed by a woman (Lauren MacMullen), it’s a very female-friendly day at the movies and, gosh, isn’t that something to be thankful for? And not even offensively so, either. I found Frozen to be blissfully anti-patriarchy in that its central female characters aren’t forced upon men, nor do men necessarily save the day like they almost always have in the past. Even if the film still falls into old tropes of the ruling class, it's a refreshing change of pace from damsels in distress. Jennifer Lee also wrote last year's Wreck-It Ralph with Jane Lynch voicing a particularly aggressive military leader so she's one to keep an eye out for. Of course, they risk alienating the boy audiences, but wasn’t that also said about Tangled? Frozen isn’t above jokes about bodily smells so audiences shouldn’t worry too much about whether young males will “get” a film about sisterly bonds.

Would I have preferred one more song at the end to cap off the fabulous score? Sure, but at least the songs that are there are mostly lovely. And well done to whoever hired Jonathan Groff and it’s kind of great that we haven’t heard a single word against the casting of an openly gay actor as the brutish heterosexual love interest. The film even offers Josh Gad his most likable film role yet, which is something I wouldn’t have thought conceivable after wanting to throw heavy objects at him after Love and Other Drugs and Thanks for Sharing where his appearance was toxic. His number, “In Summer” is giggly and cute and chock full of nice visual gags. Meanwhile, I definitely think they could have scored a second original song nomination with “For the First Time in Forever”. And wouldn’t it have been aces to see Kristen Bell performing on stage alongside Idina, whose divalicious “Let It Go” could very well win the category (as already discussed). It could definitely go two for two alongside a best animated feature win, as well.

Do I wish they’d gone ahead and made Wicked: The Movie? Sure, of course. Who doesn't? But since they didn’t and we’ve got Frozen instead, let’s roll (a snowman) with it. Let it go, as Princess Elsa would say, and embrace it.

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Reader Comments (16)

I think they haven't made Wicked: The Movie yet because they're afraid it will mean less people will see it on stage. I don't care and I want it now!
Again, Steve McQueen wants to direct a musical next. I'm only half-kidding!
I really want to see Frozen but that trailer...

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

James T have you seen Frozen Elsa trailer? is much better than the two first ones.

And Glenn you say that is refreshing to see a movie without a damsel in distress. I feel that every time there is a new princess movie people say this. When exactly was the last time there was a damsel in distress in a Disney movie? I am genuinely curious what you consider as damsel.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChinoiserie

James T -- if that's what they're afraid of they're dumb. Movie version of musicals have, in modern history, ALWAYS increased the box office of the play. Chicago being the most obvious example. It was about to close when the movie arrived. 11 years later it's still going strong. Mamma Mia stayed sold out after the movie was a global phenom too. Still running and selling out god help us all.

November 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Maybe it will happen if Into the Woods is a hit.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

They decided to bring LES MIZ back to the stage after the movie.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

UGH, FROZEN WAS AMAZING.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

I felt like it was VERY much like Wicked... It is not a perfect musical. Not even close. And yet, you can't help but love the bombast. "Let it Go" is simply phenomenal, but for every "Defying Gravity" you've got a "Something Bad." But the movie is so damn loveable that you can't help but overlook whatever imperfections might exist. I feel many audiences will feel this way.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Honestly, I am not a fan of Wicked, so I'm fine if Frozen is the closest they come.

However, I can't believe that "it'll take money away from the musical" is the real reason, since it's been disproved so many times. My best guess (TOTALLY SPECULATING) is that since it was producer Marc Platt's baby, it got stuck when he parted ways with Universal and started his own production company. He still says he'll be producing it, so I'm guessing he and Universal are splitting it somehow. Again, total speculation.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

McQueen wants to direct a musical? It's easy to suggest Porgy and Bess (Spike Lee is also very interested) but him with say, Sondheim's Follies as one example, could be interesting.

November 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

"The failure to [adapt Wicked] remains baffling and there's been just too much other Oz-related product on the market lately that **it would risk brand-damaging saturation** to make it now."

Since when has that stopped Hollywood? ;-)

I feel like a bit of a Scrooge saying it, but I was not a fan of Frozen. The music was generic and stylistically all over the place, the big "emotional" numbers didn't do it for me (I was heartbroken by the quiet "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" at the beginning though), and the ending seemed to defy the rules set out earlier in the film.

Josh Gad was adorable though. I need them to start making Book of Mormon into a movie immediately so that we can see him on the big screen as Arnold Cunningham. I don't care in the least if he looks closer to 40 than the missionary age of 19.

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

i would really like to see Julie Taymor direct Follies. Keep these Sondheim adaptations coming.

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMusa

"Frozen" actually gave me an idea. If they wanna make a "Wicked" movie but still have Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth play the roles, WHY NOT MAKE IT ANIMATED? Problem solved!

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

And well done to whoever hired Jonathan Groff and it’s kind of great that we haven’t heard a single word against the casting of an openly gay actor as the brutish heterosexual love interest.

It's a cartoon.

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I believe a Wicked movie is still faraway. I'm from Mexico and recently, two months back, maybe, Wicked opened here, it was nice, almost as the NY production, but in Spanish, and I heard there is a new Wicked production in Korea, so, yeah, I think it'll take a while for the movie to appear.

I did loved Frozen, though I must confess, as much as I love Idina, I loved Carmen Sarahi's version more... it felt more heartfelt and truly wanted to make me cry.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharis

Wicked never crossed my mind while I was watching Frozen, until one of my friend's posted on Facebook the parallel's and I thought...holy cow...Frozen is a Disney animated version of Wicked! A girl with strange powers...has to stay isolated and hide her powers because her family is ashamed by them. Then a powerful song midway about declaring no more being ashamed of who you are... but then once everyone knows of her power, everyone is out to get her and thinks the only way she can be controlled is if she is killed! Poor Elsa and Elphaba...they try to use their powers for good and to protect the ones they love, but it gets misconstrued as evil. It's too bad Elphaba and her sister Nessa Rose don't get the happy ending like Elsa and Anna, and that Elphaba's powers are never perceived as good and she has to stay in isolation...but guess she gets the guy in the end which is more than Elsa can say haha! Guess it's a win win :)

February 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTerb

Everybody online has been giving their two cents worth of who should and should not be in WICKED. Well, let me just tell u what I think and feel about this.

1. I REALLY hope they make it in animation

2. Elphaba- Idina Menzel
Glinda- Kelly Clarkson? (Any Suggestions)
Wizard- Joel Grey, Chris Walken, Dan Ackroyd, etc.
Madame Morrible- Cheryl Ladd, Pam Dawber, Cindy Williams, Kate Jackson, Meryl Streep, etc.
Fiyero- Zac Efron, etc.
Nessarose- Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, etc.
Doctor Dillamond- Eric Idle, etc.
3. PLEASE, HOLLYWOOD, IF U DO ANYTHING RIGHT, IT WILL BE MAKING WICKED COME TO LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternoah

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