My husband and I watched Frozen last night with the three girls I mentor, sisters ranging in age from eleven to seventeen. I knew it to be hugely popular and that last week it picked up an Oscar for best song. My students said that they loved it, so it seemed a good choice for a Friday night for the five of us. We weren’t disappointed. Actually, my husband was pleasantly surprised. He’d seen the trailer and thought it looked stupid. He also has far fewer recent Disney movies under his belt than the rest of us to bolster his confidence about engagement. The girls, of course, were quite taken with it.
I read in The New York Times last week that the songwriters wrote, “Let It Go”, the aforementioned Oscar winner, with Idina Menzel in mind. Year ago, Robin Williams was given great leeway, rightfully so, in his rendition of the genie in Aladdin. And that got me to thinking about the Disney cartoons of my youth. How many of them were written to showcase a particular singer’s voice talents, especially one who’s already won a Tony? Of course, Mary Poppins was written for Julie Andrews, but she was meant to act in it as well. My father told me when I was an adult that Don Meredith was the voice of Baloo in Jungle Book, but I don’t recall thinking as a child that a former pro football player was singing to me about “The Bare Necessities of Life.” Good thing too since my dad was mistaken. He was voiced instead by Phil Harris, a veteran Disney player.
And maybe the children these movies are made for are just as oblivious of Ms. Menzel’s triumphant turn in Wicked as they are of John Travolta flubbing her name. What they heard was a cursed queen named Elsa, making the best of a bad situation. Those buying tickets might feel better about forking over a princely sum to take the family to the movies today if a big name is attached to it. Those they’re taking probably just want to sing along. If there’s a goofy snowman in it too, all the better.
I’m participating in The Slice of Life Challenge. Won’t you join me?