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Evolved iceman? Kristoff steps up in ‘Frozen II’

Movie Review

The Associated Press

Picture this: A princess is in distress. It looks bad. Her dashing young man rides up in the nick of time and says, “Here I am to save you, my dear!” Actually, he doesn’t. He just says, “I’m here. Whaddya need?” She has a plan, and off they go.

This little exchange between Kristoff and Anna may not be the showiest in “Frozen II,” the long-awaited sequel to that little 2013 Disney movie that won two Oscars, broke box office records and caused countless young girls (and boys) to find their inner belting voice.

But if you’re a parent looking for your young girl or boy to learn good relationship behavior, they could do well to watch Kristoff, who has now become probably the most evolved iceman this side of Arendelle or all of Scandinavia or maybe the entire European Union, pre- or post-Brexit.

Not that a man is the answer to Elsa and Anna’s problems. As in the first movie, the sisters are still doing it for themselves. And they’re wearing the pants — literally. Gowns give way to more practical attire, even a royal wetsuit.

But, folks: Kristoff has the best song, too. Sorry, Elsa! You sound great — because you’re Idina Menzel, duh. But “Lost in the Woods,” sung by the effortlessly lovable Jonathan Groff, might just be the true heir to “Let it Go,” at least in terms of its addictiveness. An angsty love ballad, performed in retro glam rock style with intentionally cheesy music video moves, a reindeer chorus and Kristoff’s blond mane blowing in the wind . . . what’s not to love? “You’re my only landmark, so I’m lost in the woods,” he sings. Sigh.

It’s a highlight of the film. The rest, you ask? Well, it’s got quality, and it’s got quantity (HOW many animators are listed in those closing credits?) It just doesn’t have the exciting, lightning-in-a-bottle feel that the wonderful original had. Perhaps that was too much to ask.

Certainly, the main characters, who have aged three years (though we humans have aged twice that — drat!) are in good voice, led by Menzel’s majestic Elsa and Kristen Bell’s spunky Anna. Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad) is back, too, and he’s learned how to read, and he has questions. (And nerve! At one point he channels an “American Idol” judge and pronounces Elsa’s singing “a little pitchy.”)

And if it all seems less effortless, more workmanlike than the first film, with a very complex storyline that will definitely be harder to follow for younger fans, there’s plenty to like, especially the lush visuals. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck give us an animated ocean that looks incredibly real.

“Frozen 2,” a Walt Disney Studios release, has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. Running time: 103 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.