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Frozen II ruins good 'conspiracy' theory

by Courtney Lanning | December 6, 2019 at 1:59 a.m.

Frozen II is dominating at the box office, and it deserves to. It's a fantastic movie, if not quite as good as the original. But then again, what sequels are superior to their predecessors? It's a rare trait. Empire Strikes Back was superior to A New Hope. Spiderman 2 was superior to Spiderman.

For the most part, good sequels bring a new idea or two to the table, expand the story of the original in a logical direction and introduce interesting new characters. You know, everything The Matrix sequels failed to do.

And I'd argue Frozen II checks all of those boxes. There's a reason the movie has made more than $85 million. On the surface, it's a good movie that earned lots of money. But underneath, the movie erased a so-called "conspiracy" theory that made the original a little extra fun.

I feel like "conspiracy" theories in movies have really grown with the invention of the web and platforms where people can talk about them, places like Reddit. These are just details in the movies that other people might not notice but fans obsess over. And you get some really wild theories, like Kevin's father in Home Alone was in the Mob. That's how he could afford a giant house and Paris vacation for his entire family.

Was Peter McCalister actually in the Mob? Probably not. But you can see how these things get started. Animated movies tend to have their own set of "conspiracy" theories, like the tiny crack seen in Nemo's egg explaining his "lucky" fin in Finding Nemo.

The original Frozen came with a great cameo and subsequent "conspiracy" theory of its own. You may recall Frozen came out in 2013, but three years before that, Tangled was released. Well, if you look closely in the background when "For the First Time in Forever" is sung in Frozen, you can see Rapunzel and Flinn.

Regular viewers will argue it's just a cute little easter egg the animators threw in, but "conspiracy" theorists were quick to get to work. If Rapunzel and Flinn attended Elsa's coronation, it's probably because they're royal representatives on a diplomatic visit from Corona (the kingdom in Tangled). And if Arendelle (the kingdom in Frozen) has diplomatic ties to Corona, it would make sense if royals from each kingdom visited each other.

Time for a little geography lesson. You might want to grab your globe for this paragraph. Arendelle is supposed to be set on the Norwegian coast. The original Rapunzel story (on which Tangled is based) is set in Germany. These countries are only separated by the North Sea.

In Frozen (spoilers to follow), Elsa and Anna's parents are lost at sea when their ship goes down. The "conspiracy" theory goes that they were sailing to Corona to attend the wedding of Rapunzel and Flinn, which would explain why they later attended the coronation of Queen Elsa.

Of course, Disney has never come close to confirming this "conspiracy" theory. And why would it? As far as the company is concerned, the Rapunzel cameo in Frozen is just that, a simple cameo.

And if you're willing to accept that explanation without even the slightest amount of curiosity in this "conspiracy" theory, you'd probably be best served by glancing from this article over to another. If you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, though, and how Disney filled the hole with Frozen II, continue on.

There's another layer to the "conspiracy" theory, tying in 1989's The Little Mermaid. Some have speculated the wrecked ship Ariel is exploring at the start of the movie is actually the very one that went down with Elsa's and Anna's parents on it. Why? Because The Little Mermaid is set off the coast of Denmark, which, if you still have your globe out, is directly between Germany and Norway.

It's right where their ship could have gone down when Elsa and Anna were teenagers, leading to Elsa being crowned queen on her 21st birthday. Now ... did Disney plan all of this back in 1989, that it would one day release movies based on Rapunzel and The Snow Queen and connect them to The Little Mermaid? Probably not.

But that's the thing about "conspiracy" theories. They just have to make a little sense. They only have to be plausible enough for you to go, "No way. Well ... actually ..."

And all of this leads to my "conspiracy" theory in Frozen II that ruins the theory from the first movie. There's one scene in particular (minor spoilers to follow) in the sequel that when I saw it, I muttered to myself, "The only reason this exists is to kill the "conspiracy" theory from the first movie."

In Frozen II, Elsa, Anna, and the gang are heading farther north (hypothetically in Norway) when they come across the ship their parents sank on. This part got kind of confusing for me, signaling how unnecessary it was. It was my understanding that they came across the ship in an area where it washed ashore or the water had receded or some such.

They don't find any bodies in the surprisingly empty ship (if you think Disney isn't that dark, go re-watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame), and Elsa reconstructs an ice statue of her parents embracing as the ship went down. I guess it's some new ability she discovered where she can make ice statues of things that happened in the past because "water has memory."

I don't have any problem with that ability existing. I rather like powerful Elsa just using her magic and getting stuff done. But this whole scene feels confusing and unnecessary. They find a map on the ship and figure out it went down while Elsa's parents were looking for more information about her ice powers, rather than on the way to attend Rapunzel's wedding.

It's difficult for me to express how utterly pointless this scene is. We, the audience, didn't need to know what Elsa's and Anna's parents were doing when their ship went down at sea. We learned they drowned in the first movie, and that's a good enough explanation. Dead parents, it's kind of a Disney trope. No animated Disney hero/heroine can have both parents alive and happy in the movie. What are you, insane?

We got by just fine without seeing what happened to Belle's mother or Dumbo's father. Some characters got parents in later films, like Aladdin's father, and that's OK. But generally, in Disney cartoons, you get no parents, or you get one parent. And the audience doesn't get to ask questions. We've had this routine for decades.

You can make the argument finding this ship provides the sisters with a map, but that could have very easily popped up in any other convenient location. While we're in "conspiracy" land, I can picture Bob Iger walking into Walt Disney Animation Studios with a stack of cocktail napkins he'd sketched on.

In my vision, he slaps them down in front of the animators and yells, "Add this scene with the ship! I'm tired of being asked about Tangled and The Little Mermaid!" Then the animators quickly shoehorn it in to make him happy and end the "conspiracy" theory once and for all. Did this actually happen? Unlikely. But then again, this is "conspiracy" theory territory. Anything is possible.

On the off chance Disney hires some goons to whack me for discovering this and publishing it in a column, I just want my readers to know I still believe in and desire Tron 3, even if it came as a Disney+ exclusive.

Next time, hopefully, Disney will let fans keep their "conspiracy" theories alive instead of stomping them out like all the material that got lumped into Star Wars Legends. Otherwise, we could have spent a few more paragraphs discussing how Elsa's and Anna's parents survived the shipwreck and washed ashore on a jungle island with their infant son Tarzan. Later, they'd be eaten by the leopard Sabor.

So ... no matter which "conspiracy" theory you go with, the bottom line through all of them is Elsa's and Anna's parents are dead. And it wasn't pleasant. Aren't "conspiracy" theories fun?

MovieStyle on 12/06/2019

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