Out kids have not stopped singing all the songs from the latest Disney offering since before they even saw the movie. Frozen has topped the charts as a movie and as a soundtrack, even inspiring a release singalong version (you can practice here).
What impresses me more than all of this is the about-face that Disney has taken. Okay, yes - the princesses are still beautiful and in flowy gowns - but in Frozen, Disney redefines TRUE LOVE. Perhaps in part because this is the first Disney movie to be co-written and co-directed by a woman, Jennifer Lee.
This movie actually helps us and our kids understand romance, friendship, singleness and the responsibility that comes with them.
1. True Love isn't found in a day
The movie starts out on the classic Disney track, with Ana, our protagonist, longing for love - wondering if she will meet "the one" on the first day she's allowed to meet the public. Our hopes rise with hers, hoping this endearing princess will not be disappointed. And sure enough, by the day's end she is engaged to Prince Hans, a man she just met. Hans stands by Ana's side as she tries to save the town and her sister Elsa.
Everything is going just as we would expect. When Ana's heart is accidentally frozen by her sister, only an act of true love will save. Immediately everyone assumes that she must get to Hans so that he can kiss her - True Love's Kiss. I guess they were all raised on Disney films too.
Okay - spoiler alert.
This is where Disney derails the romance train. When Ana finally makes it to Hans, he doesn't kiss her. Hans ends up being the villain, interested in Ana only to get to the crown. He leaves Ana freeze to death and tries to kill Queen Elsa.
Moral of the story - get engaged to the man you just met and he may let you freeze to death.
2. True Love isn't limited to romantic relationships
I see this movie as Disney seeking to rewrite the story of romance that they have fed to us for years. Perhaps its even an apology.
In the end, Else and Ana are both saved by an act of true love. True love being the self sacrificing action of a sister. The 'romantic feelings' of 'true love' are not to be trusted. There is a true love much deeper that we will have to rely on if we are looking for true happiness.
3. You can be single and happy
Yes, this is still Disney.
Elsa rises above her fears and then above her self-preoccupied freedom to realize that she can live out her life in loving service to others, without the need for romance or fear. For once Disney shows us that we don't need to find 'the One' to be complete. This is a huge step forward for the acceptance of the single person in our society.
4. In a relationship, romance is only a taste of True Love
Ana learns not to fall headlong into romance just because "Love is an Open Door". Of course, she does find her real "true love" in the socially awkward but still very handsome Kristoff, but at least she seems to be letting that develop a little slower. Though she may not have considered him "her type" at first, she begins to see that love is better than romance.
5. True Love is a journey that is complicated
We learn that true love goes beyond our feelings, forcing us to face our own fears. To also take responsibility for our actions, learning why we respond and react the way we do to others and learn to love instead. Maybe this is why I love the "Fixer Upper" song in the movie - are we all a fixer upper? Married or single, we can apply this to our lives.
When the initial euphoria of a romantic relationship wears off, we are tempted to consider that we got the wrong person. This is where true love starts; where we truly learn how to love.
"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility," Leo Tolstoy.
When we find that we are single without romance, we are tempted to buy into the old lie of Disney; you need "the one" to complete you. The reality is we need others and true love, but not necessarily "the one".
"Ana's armed only with love, and that's all she needs... Her journey is about learning what love is", says Lee in this interview.
I think we can all say the same.