The animated short that runs before "Frozen" is called "Get a Horse," a hand-drawn and computer animated movie featuring the archived voice of Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse. It's a tribute to classic Disney work but with modern-day touches.
That's why it's a perfect set-up for "Frozen," which does the same thing. It plays like a movie that could have been made in the Golden Age of Disney, but it makes old themes feel fresh.
It's the story of two sister princesses. The elder, Elsa, has a special power she's long kept secret from the younger Anna: she can create winter and ice.
After a big blow-up in which Elsa accidentally lets a curse loose at a party, she flees the kingdom and leaves it in a perpetual winter. Anna goes after her, leaving her new fiance prince in charge. On the way she meets a traveling businessman named Kristoff who agrees to help her. And in true Disney fashion, there's a funny sidekick in the form of a little snowman.
You wouldn't guess it from the trailers, which focus on the goofiness of the movie, but in its short 90 minutes, "Frozen" develops deeper characters than you see in most two-hour live action movies. Part of that comes from some good original songs, which enhance the story rather than distract from it.
This is easily the best non-Pixar Disney animated movie in many years, and for that matter, it's better than anything Pixar has done since Toy Story 3.
The animation is gorgeous, the songs delightful, the characters are worth investing in, and the story is consistently surprising.
How often can you say that about one movie?