They’ve watched the movie “Frozen” so many times that they’ve lost count. They were bravely belting out renditions of “Let It Go” even before they knew how to form complete sentences.
But the idea of a sequel had them on edge. What would happen to the characters they’d loved since they were tiny?
Instead of sending a grown-up reviewer to the screening of “Frozen 2,” which is in theaters Friday, we assembled a panel of ultimate Elsa and Anna experts — kids ages 3 to 9 (including my two “Frozen”-obsessed daughters).
As the lights dimmed, our popcorn-munching panel settled in.
Six years after the magical sisterhood story (and its soundtrack) became an all-consuming, incredibly enduring cultural phenomenon, these kids readied themselves for a new installment of adventure.
Three-year-old Emilia (wearing her Elsa nightgown over her clothes) gleefully announced characters’ names — out loud — as they first appeared on the screen, even giving the reindeer a shoutout (“Sven!”)
Like our young critics themselves, the characters had grown up a bit since we first saw them restore order to Elsa and Anna’s kingdom. Olaf, who announces that he now knows how to read, kept the kids laughing even as magical spirits sparked danger and the plot got a little tense.
They leaned forward in their seats when Elsa, hearing a voice that beckons her to leave home, starts singing her heart out. Idina Menzel’s voice soars yet again in Disney’s newest attempt at a “Let It Go” style super ballad, called “Into the Unknown.” (Yes, this is the tune that Alexa and Siri are likely going to be playing on repeat, to some parents’ dismay.)
“Into the Unknown” was the song that stuck in 8-year-old Libby’s head.
That, and a particularly silly musical segment in which Kristoff croons “Lost in the Woods,” over guitar riffs in a trippy montage while his reindeer buddy sings backup. (Some of the adults in the theater may have been laughing at Anna’s lovable boyfriend, but our critics were definitely laughing with him.)
“I think the funny part was when the reindeers were singing,” said Libby, who is from St. Louis Park. “It was all good.”
As the sisters and Olaf head out on their quest to learn about their family’s past and the source of Elsa’s magic, they don’t battle a particular villain. But there were plenty of moments that led a few of the young viewers to cover their eyes, peeking through their fingers.
Huge, rumbling earth giants made 5-year-old Elise became so concerned that she leapt to her feet, and didn’t sit down again until the credits rolled.
Then, she declared that she hadn’t been scared. She also said she thought the sequel was “better” than the first movie. She especially loved scenes that showed Elsa using her powers to tame a water spirit horse, which she then rode over the waves.
“I liked when Elsa crossed the sea,” she said.
“She rides on a horsie, and I want to ride on a horsie,” her little sister Emilia agreed.
At the movie’s lowest point, after Elsa discovers a sad, shameful secret and while Anna cries and sings “Hello, darkness,” Emilia grabbed the hand of the person next to her.
Libby opened her eyes wide, and looked at her mom’s face, searching for a little reassurance that it would all work out in the end. (Spoiler alert: It does.)
“I kind of, like, knew that they wouldn’t end with Elsa being dead,” Libby said.
Nine-year-old Ella from Mahtomedi admitted she was “kind of” worried, especially when the lovable Olaf’s fate seems uncertain.
In the movie, Elsa and Anna learn a lesson about doing “the next right thing.” That’s exactly how our critics thought of the movie. All six kids said they loved it as much as Olaf the snowman loves summer.
“You should go see it because it’s a really good movie,” said 9-year-old Hazel, from Edina.
She didn’t have a favorite part, saying that “it was all good.”
But how did it compare to the first one?
“I liked them both,” she said, diplomatically.
Molly was even more enthusiastic. “It was super, super good!” said the Edina 5-year-old, who wore an icy blue Elsa gown to the theater.
She found the entire movie cool, including the Arendelle sisters’ new dresses (with leggings underneath, appropriate for their adventurous journey).
Her only critique about the one-hour-and-43-minute sequel?
“The movie was too short!”