Frozen & the Fixer-Upper

I’m a dad to two little girls. Gemma is newly four, and Pippa, newly two. And, as is the trick when one has two children fairly close in age, they have reached a blessed phase in which they enjoy lots of the same things, even if they enjoy them in slightly different ways.

This past Christmas was one of those things, with both kiddos fully aware and engaged in the ecstasy of tearing through wrapped toys and watching Santa cartoons and eating cinnamon buns.

And the Disney animated movie Frozen is another one of those things.

Of course, this movie – incidentally, about two sisters who are fairly close in age – has now reached the level of OBSESSION. We’ve seen it twice in the theater. We have a YouTube playlist of the best Frozen songs on repeat, yielding at least nightly dance parties. “Olaf” regularly makes it into casual conversation around the house. On several occasions, Gemma has insisted that I call her “Princess Elsa” instead of her actual name – even when I’m praying with her before bed.

And I love the movie too, not least because it’s such a wonderful story of sisterly love, and I love how much my girls love this story about sisters loving each other. So much love! But during the second viewing, I started to appreciate something else about it.

Namely, Frozen is the first animated movie I’ve seen with so much wisdom about emotional health.

In the old days, the “moral” of princess stories revolved around good, evil, temptation, bravery, rescue, and romance. It was all quite superficial. But Frozen is different. Frozen isn’t about good guys, bad guys, and brave guys. It’s about deeper stuff like fear, safety, isolation, confusion, depression, grief, manipulation, betrayal, rage, self-actualization, and…love. But not superficial “true love’s kiss” love – deep, complicated, courageous, forgiving love.

And – **SPOILERS** – in the end, it’s not about romance at all. Well, it is – but the romance is more of an afterthought to the loyal love of a sister. And the hero doesn’t even get the boy.

Really, Frozen is about our shared human (read: emotional/spiritual) brokenness and the capacity for authentic, patient, forgiving love to bring healing. There are glimmering snow crystals of an emotionally healthy gospel throughout this wonderful animated film. Perhaps nothing says it better than the fun little number by the Trolls called “Fixer-Upper”:

We aren’t saying you can change him

‘Cause people don’t really change

We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange

People make bad choices if they’re mad or scared or stressed

But throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best

True love brings out the best

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper

That’s what it’s all about

Father, sister, brother

We need each other

To raise us up and round us out

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper

But when push comes to shove

The only fixer-upper fixer

That can fix a fixer-upper is

True

True

True

True

Love

Did you see the movie? What did you think?

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!

  • Bev Murrill

    I took two of my granddaughters and we really loved it. 
    It was such a relief to find that ‘true love’ can come packaged in a way other than romantic love, namely the handsome prince saving the beautiful girl… or occasionally, the beautiful girl saving the handsome prince. This was more life sisters doing it for themselves, and followed the recent trend in the last decade of children’s movies, a double strata of story line, one for the kids and another for the adults who take them.

    Strong story line and strong life lessons…

  • geoffholsclaw

    I loved the movie for all the reason you mentioned.  It even made fun of the “classic” Disney plots.  Great review.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    Awesome, thanks man.

  • ZoePerissos

    Dude! Loved this movie as well. I laughed as I read your breakdown, because it mirrors mine so well with my 8 and 5 year old girls. We even found the full length movie on YouTube today, and watched if twice, our 3rd and 4th viewings for those counting.
    Agree with your assessment of the depth and true story imbedded as well. So much to love from Frozen!
    Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore! (Now that’ll be in you head as it is in mine! ).

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    ZoePerissos haha that’s awesome. and dude – i wonder how long the full movie will last on youtube…


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