I am trying to decide if this is better or worse than Pocahontas. That isn't as bad as many might take it because I do think at a minimum Pocahontas has a really strong set of songs. But both stories concern the interaction between a white European group and an indigenous population where the indigenous population is portrayed as somewhat magical and especially connected to nature. While this is nominally a positive portrait, it nevertheless is a problematic portrait. One issue with Frozen 2 is that I, and presumptively most Americans, have no real historical knowledge about interactions with indigenous populations of Northern Norway/Sweden...after all, we think of the Scandinavian countries as a place where "white" people ARE indigenous. So inevitably I read the themes more in line with the Native American cause. And here I have to decide if the film's being pretty decisive on where blame lies is enough to make up for a predictably safe Disney ending.
And maybe here like others, it comes down to the music. Good music in a musical papers over a lot of sins. I think Frozen 2's songs are largely decent, though none would break into the top-3 from Frozen of Let It Go, Love Is An Open Door and For the First Time In Forever. I don't think it matches up to Pocahontas' slate of songs. So I'd say the songs neither doom nor save it. Probably what does keep it mostly afloat is just goodwill toward these characters and the comedic sense in the script.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
For a film that is at least on paper one bound for commercial success, given people's affection for Fred Rogers and for Tom Hanks, this is a formally bold project. There are a few moments where it feels like The Truman Show, with Lloyd (Matthew Rhys) a misanthropic journalist feeling something is just not quite right about this world of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood that seems too kind to be real. He keeps looking for the "but" underlying everything. If the film explores the Mr. Rogers Effect through how Lloyd processes his own personal trauma and baggage, I couldn't help but think about the state of America, and the need for similar treatment of our political psyche. The question is who has the presence and the empathy to help us process our pain. This is a film that feels a bit longer than its run time, something I'd probably say about the TV show, because it has a slower, quieter, gentler nature. This suits a man working through family issues much more than big political questions of life and death. But like Rogers' wife notes here, she hates the term saint, because that implies that it is something that comes supernaturally rather than something that is worked toward with effort every day. One hopes this movie can at least give those watching it a little extra patience to work through things.