In separate interviews for the CTV NewsChannel Richard sits down with the cast of “Frozen 2,” Josh Gad who plays the snowman, and Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, as sisters Princess Anna of Arendelle and Queen Elsa of Arendelle. They talk about keeping the plot secret during the three year production and why the original film resonated with audiences.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “Frozen 2,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Marriage Story” and “Waves.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at “Frozen 2,” Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the icy charms of “Frozen 2,” Tom Hanks as television icon Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” two films from Adam Driver, “Marriage Story” and “The Report” and one of the year’s very best films, “Waves” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Frozen 2,” the highly icy sequel to one of Disney’s biggest animated hits, Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and two films from Adam Driver, “Marriage Story” and “The Report.”
If, somehow, you missed the 2013 megahit “Frozen,” and are unsure if you’ll be able to understand its sequel, worry no longer. In one of the new film’s best scenes Olaf the motor-mouthed snowman (Josh Gad) recaps the events of the original movie in a madcap and extremely high energy sequence that fills in all the gaps for the uninitiated.
The new film opens with Anna and Elsa (voiced as kids by Hadley Gannaway and Mattea Conforti), princesses of Arendelle and heiresses to the throne, hearing the story of how their father Agnarr (Alfred Molina) became king. It’s a grim fairy tale about an unprovoked attack by the Northuldra people, a battle that resulted in the death of their grandfather. Agnarr escaped but the enchanted forest, home to the Northuldra, became enshrouded by a magical mist, sealing it off from the rest of the world.
Cut to years later. Elsa, (Idina Menzel) is now Queen, a cryokinetic with the awesome power to manifest ice and snow. From her perch in Arendelle’s castle she hears a mysterious signal coming from the enchanted forest. Convinced she has woken the spirits that live within, she hightails it to the magical land to find the source of the voice. Along for the ride are Anna (Kristen Bell), her beau Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven and the chatty snowman Olaf. “Did you know and enchanted forest is a place of transformation?” says Olaf. “I don’t know what that means but I can’t wait to see what it does to each one of us.”
On the journey into the woods Elsa and Anna not only meet the forest’s denizens—Earth Giants, fire toads and a tribe of people who have been trapped in the timberland since the terrible battle—but also learn the truth about their shared family history. When they aren’t warbling a raft of new power pop ballads by the Oscar-winning Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the sisters must make a decision that could affect the lives of everyone in Arendelle.
“Frozen 2” doesn’t have the same kind of icy wonder the original gave audiences but even as a warmed-over sequel it impresses. Advances in CGI animation allow for an even more cinematic approach than the original. Elsa riding an ice horse is into a raging sea is a stand-out image in a movie filled with fantasy sequences and fun character realization. It is pure eye candy that should entrance young viewers. Adults may get a laugh out of “Lost in the Woods,” a duet between Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and Sven that mimics 1980s power pop music videos.
The plot, an overly complicated story involving primeval forces, stymied marriage proposals and family secrets, feels over-stuffed and occasionally meandering but it does contain good messages for kids. In their travels to the north country Elsa and Anna learn the importance of the primal forcers of air, fire, water and earth in a subplot laden with ideas of respecting indigenous people, environmentalism and doing what is right for everyone.
Ultimately the success of “Frozen 2” boils down to the characters and the songs. Olaf has the most fun with his outing “When I Am Older,” but it’s Menzel’s powerhouse vocals on “Into the Unknown” that provide the film’s emotional high point. It’s also the closest thing to a “Let it Go” style number on the soundtrack.
Olaf, Sven and Kristoff are solid supporting characters but it’s Elsa and Anna who make the biggest impression. Directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee maintain and double down on the first film’s sense of empowerment. These are women who can look after themselves, who are self-sufficient and that re-modelling of the Disney princess tradition is a big part of the franchise’s appeal.
“Frozen 2” is a worthy follow-up to the original even if it feels simultaneously bursting at the seams with plot and visuals and less ambitious.
“The Meddler,” a new Susan Sarandon movie, has a lot in common with its main character. Like the overbearing mother she plays in the film, the movie is frequently kind and sweet but also often exasperating.
Sarandon is Marnie Minervini, the recently widowed mother of a newly single daughter Lori (Rose Byrne). After the death of her beloved husband Joey Marnie moves across country from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be closer to her screenwriting daughter. She’s the kind of mom who drops by unexpectedly, who makes an appointment with her daughter’s therapist to snoop on her life (“Call me and remind me to tell you what your therapist said.”) and constantly mentions Lori’s former flame, actor Jacob (Jason Ritter). When Lori suggests Marni get a hobby, mom, not-so-helpfully says, “Maybe you could be my hobby.”
Fed up, Rose takes a job in New York, leaving her mom with the words, “I need to get a life of my own and so do you.” Marnie replaces her late husband and absent daughter with Apple Store employee Freddy (Jerrod Carmichael) and friend-of-a-friend Jillian (Cecily Strong), strangers she wins over with kindness and money. Blind to the fact that she can’t move on with her own life until she stops meddling in the lives of others, she almost pushes away Zipper, a charming ex-cop played by J.K. Simmons.
“The Meddler” is Sarandon’s movie. She is in virtually every frame and when she isn’t on camera her presence is felt. She hands in an amiably comedic performance— occasionally touching, occasionally frustrating—that makes the most of the script. The story is more a star showcase than a revealing look at mother-daughter relationships. MucThe Rainbow Kid, h is said, but nothing is revealed. Sarandon paints a flamboyant picture of a woman adjusting to a new kind of life, complete with a few crowd-pleasing laughs and a hankie moment or two, but this is an agreeable paint-by-numbers look at family relations, not a finely etched masterpiece.
“You know what this is like?” asks Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) in the new dramedy “About Alex.” “It’s like one of those 80s movies with a big group of people.”
Bang on Sarah. In fact, it’s exactly like ”The Big Chill” with new names and faces.
The movie begins with the title character Alex (Jason Ritter) soaking in a tub, texting a Romeo & Juliet quote– “ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”—to his friends before taking a razor blade to his wrists. The news of his suicide attempt quickly spread to his closest, although mostly estranged, friends from college.
Coming together in an upstate New York house to support and comfort their old friend each brings with them their own issues.
Sarah is insecure, stuck living in the past. Ben and Siri (Nate Parker and Maggie Grace) have been together for years, but may be torn apart by job opportunities on opposite coasts, while Isaac’s (Max Minghella) young girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy) is an unwelcome newcomer in this group while Josh’s (Max Greenfield) abrasiveness is the sand in the Vaseline that opens old wounds.
“About Alex” leans heavily on “The Big Chill” and similar college-reunion movies for its basic structure, but ups the navel-gazing quotient. These aren’t the self-obsessed Boomers of yesteryear, they’re the self-reflective Millennials of today. Faced with uncertain futures and an unsettled present. Not too different from their cinematic predecessors, but their reactions to their situation isn’t formed by the turbulent 1960s or the Vietnam War but by social media filtered through a quarter-life crisis.
Much of cultural the substance of “After Alex” is keenly observed by the engaging cast–“[People] don’t talk about anything [today], says Josh. “They just reference things. ‘I had a great weekend. I went to this wedding. It was a lot like Wedding Crashers, but meets Memento.”—but as good as the performances are, by the end of the film the story descends into melodrama which underscores the overall unoriginality of the script.