'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

A 'Frozen' Treat



Stating “From the makers of Wreck-It Ralph” is probably not the best way to introduce the world to Walt Disney Animation Studio’s new flick, Frozen. Not that Ralph was bad, but it wasn’t great. Frozen on the other hand is incredible! Remember how much hoopla the studio received when they made Beauty and the Beast? It was even nominated for an Oscar. It’s not too hard to fathom more such talk for this movie which is destined to become a classic.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Frozen is a Broadway musical in animated form. Like other modern Disney greats, just as much time and care went into creating the music and score as did the story and animation. The movie features eight original songs from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Kristin is known for the work with Winnie the Pooh and Robert with Broadway’s The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q, which is an odd mix up, but together, the music turns out perfectly.

Frozen is a tale of two princesses, Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the older one who discovers at a very young age that she has the power to create her own winter weather patterns. While some may call this a gift, Elsa’s parents consider it a curse after young Anna accidentally gets hurt. To protect their children, the well-meaning parents discourage Elsa from using her powers, lock the palace gates to keep the townspeople out and separate the girls. For years poor Elsa keeps her freezing powers a secret, but on Coronation Day, when she is to be crowned queen, she lets her powers slip.

Meanwhile, happy-go-lucky Anna falls for the first boy she sees, Hans, the prince from a neighboring village. As in the Disney fashion, the two plan a wedding right after their first meeting. When the pair announce their engagement to Elsa, she loses control and everyone sees that she has magical weather powers. Some fear that she is a monster sent to destroy the people of Arendelle. More scared than angry, Elsa runs away from the village turning it into a winter wonderland in the process. As she hides in the mountains, she embraces her powers and creates her own beautiful castle that will once again shut the world out.

With the help of Kristoff, an ice dealer, Anna sets off to find her sister and hopefully talk her out of her winter-making frenzy. Along the way they meet Olaf, a snowman who is bright as his cousin Frosty. He is a gentle and tender-hearted fellow who dreams of summer.

Although labled as a comedy adventure, Frozen has a very deep emotional foundation that will have kids and adults alike discussing it well after the movie is over. It’s a story of fear, love, bitterness, and knowing when to shut some people out and when to let others in. It’s not your typical fairy tale story. Without spoiling the story, there are some messages throughout the film that Christian parents will appreciate as well.

Every detail of this feature is beautiful. The characters are so likeable, toy merchandise will be flying off the shelves in a few short days. Trust me. I overhead two little girls pretending to be the royal sisters on their way out of the movie’s press screening.

The soundtrack is even a cut above the usual Disney flick. This is partially due to the incredible voice talent. Kristen Bell is charming as the spunky Anna and she can really sing! She is joined by Broadway’s modern legend, Idina Menzel as Elsa, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff and Josh Gad is the lovable Olaf.

Even at its’ silliest, the film never feels like a “children’s” movie but is totally appropriate for the whole family or even a fun “date night” movie. Yes, it is that good. While it isn’t needed, the 3D version is icing on the cake. And if that isn’t enough, the flick begins with a brand new Mickey Mouse short that looks and feels like a really old one. Get a Horse even features Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey. The first part of the cartoon is in black and white, flat and scratchy. Then, out of nowhere, one of the characters busts through the movie screen and is seen in full color and in 3D! The cartoon continues in both flat black and white and vivid color 3D.

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