[Interview] How An Eighties-inspired Power Ballad in ‘FROZEN 2’ Battles Toxic Masculinity

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Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Fans of the first FROZEN! Be prepared to rejoice: your beloved hero, Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff) has got his own song in directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s FROZEN 2. And not just a sliver of one. An entire song.

Kristoff’s scene-stealing number is an 80’s power ballad inspired by the likes of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and Chicago’s “The Glory of Love.” Groff, at the film’s recent Los Angeles press conference, shared what it was like to be approached to sing through this carefully curated moment in the narrative.

“Bobby [Lopez], Kristin [Anderson-Lopez], Jennifer [Lee] and Chris [Buck] had come to me and said, “We want Kristoff to have a song.” I thought that was so sweet of them to say. But I thought, “How does a mountain man break into a song?”

He expounded,

“Often times, its girls singing about pining after a man – the frustration of not being able to express it, or the man has left and now they’re alone. In this FROZEN, like the first, in many ways, it reversed that. Here is a man pining after a woman, trying to come to terms with his emotions and sing about it.”

Songwriter Bobby Lopez later added,

“We had it down to two ideas. Maybe we could give him a SNOW WHITE, “I’m Wishing” song.”

Songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez further explained its importance in the sequel.

“We struggle with many projects where men being able to sing an “I Want” song is very, very hard unless they are orphans, or new to the country. It’s hard for a man to sit down and [sings to the tune of THE LITTLE MERMAID’s “Part of Your World”] “Here’s who I am. Here’s what I want.” In order to thread the needle of allowing us to have a fun moment, where we’ve been in the woods and learned some really heavy things, we needed a moment of fun, but didn’t want to lose the tether to real emotion and real problems of transformation.”

Switching up the expected doesn’t exclusively happen within the notes of the original songs in FROZEN 2. It’s also found in subtle, yet profound moments in the dialogue. Bell highlighted,

“We talk about female empowerment, but I feel that the representation Jonathan gives for the guys is out of this world. There’s so subliminal a line [that he has]. There’s one moment where Anna is in distress and he swoops in and picks her up, in the midst of battle. He doesn’t say, “I’ve got you,” and start taking over. He swoops her up and very quickly says, “I’m here. What do you need?” It’s mind-blowing.”

Evan Rachel Wood quickly chimed in,

“Those few lines that you said were everything. He’s Prince Sincere, not Prince Charming.”

Bell added,

“The other one is when Anna apologizes to him for something and he says, “It’s okay. My love is not fragile.” The example of an egoless love like that is just really profound. I think people are going to be excited as to how the men are represented.”

Anderson-Lopez elucidated,

“When [it’s] said, “You feel what you feel and your feelings are real,” if that one message comes across to boys, that the boys get to feel empowered and  get to feel their feelings in a big 80’s power ballad kind of way, then we’ve done a little in the war against toxic masculinity.”

FROZEN 2 opens on November 22.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.