It’s Frozember! Each day this month, Rotoscopers is celebrating Frozen, all in anticipation of Frozen 2, arriving in theaters November 22.
“The cold never bothered me,” Elsa proclaims, clearly in an eye-roll-worthy callback to a well-known lyric in her signature song, “Let It Go.” But as if to add insult to injury, Elsa then turns, looks into the camera, and addresses the audience. “Get it?” she asks. Yikes. Oh, and she’s also a LEGO. Cry me a frozen river.
This was my only context for LEGO Frozen Northern Lights, an animated special from 2016. This was the clip featured prominently in the TV ad for the project, and as much I love Frozen, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch what I assumed was a sleigh wreck.
Three years later, upon actually watching the proceedings, my heart is surprisingly thawed. This thing is adorable. How could I have written it off? (Ok, ok, I perfectly understand how, but just hear me out.)
For context, LEGO Frozen Northern Lights was a project developed in 2016 as a multimedia narrative. A new story taking place after Frozen saw Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven venturing to the Northern Lights. The story unfolded first as a book series, and then as a collection of animated shorts that were eventually compiled into a half-hour television special that aired on Disney Channel during the 2016 holiday season.
Here’s the real kicker: the entire original voice cast returned for this. This is the real-deal Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad voicing their iconic characters, not their substitutes that sometimes take the reins for consumer products media.
While the special was developed as an official LEGO production, its animation isn’t in the same style as The LEGO Movie. Yes, every character appears in LEGO form, but their movements are less fluid and more stocky. You’d think this would lead to clunky animation, but (perhaps in thanks to its snowy aesthetic) this actually gives off a charming appeal akin to stop-motion Rankin-Bass Christmas specials.
LEGO Frozen Northern Lights is by no means groundbreaking, though it does have a quirkiness to it that makes it endearing if approached with the right mindset. The tone is silly, sometimes even referencing pop culture (like when Olaf, flying through the air, says, “Look! I’m defying gravity”). This contrasts with the more weighty, timeless feel of Frozen (or even of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, for that matter, by comparison).
It’s definitely worth a watch if you’re a Frozen fan. Lucky for all of us, all four shorts (which follow in sequential order to comprise the animated special) are posted by Disney on YouTube.