From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

Disney's new animated musical, "Frozen," is loosely based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, "The Snow Queen." But the connection is so loose, you'll hardly the original. Like many animated pictures these days, "Frozen" takes a lot of liberties with its source material, mostly to make jokes.

In a moment, NPR's Elizabeth Blair will discuss the jokes with the jokers themselves. But first, critic Bob Mondello looks at how many other sources "Frozen" borrows from while trying to build a better snowman.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: With eight original songs, "Frozen" is a full-fledged musical. And since nearly all its voices hail from Broadway, it's easy to imagine that the composers had one eye fixed on a future stage incarnation from its opening number...


MONDELLO: "Lion King," right? Then there's a "Beauty and the Beast"-style tour of the town. And when the plot kicks in with two sisters - one sweet, the other with a dark side - I'll bet I'm not the only one thinking "Wicked," especially with the older sister, Elsa, played by Broadway's Idina Menzel, who even has a power ballad when she decides to defy gravity and use her magical powers.


IDINA MENZEL: (As Elsa) (Singing) Let it go. Let it go. And I'll rise like the break of dawn. Let it go.

MONDELLO: What Elsa's letting go is the power to turn the whole world into ice. And the way she unleashes that power had me thinking less about Broadway than about movies, starting with "Carrie," because it's at a palace ball - think the prom - when an angry Elsa first turns into the snow queen, shooting jagged icicles from her fingers.


MENZEL: (As Elsa) I said enough.

MONDELLO: Then she runs out into the street and the whole harbor turns to ice, just like New York's harbor did in "Day After Tomorrow."


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As character) It's completely frozen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As character) Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold, cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: After which, she zips off to an ice castle that might as well be Superman's retreat or maybe a frost-bitten Oz, which is appropriate because to find her, her sister sets off to see the snow queen, picking up three sidekicks on the way - a hunk who will discover he always had a heart...


SANTINO FONTANA: (As Hans) (Singing) I mean, it's crazy...

KRISTEN BELL: (As Anna) What?

FONTANA: (As Hans) (Singing) We finish each other's...

BELL: (As Anna) Sandwiches.

FONTANA: (As Hans) That's what I was going to say.

MONDELLO: ...a snowman who needs a brain.


JOSH GAD: (As Olaf) Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle. But put me in summer and I'll be a...

MONDELLO: ...and a carrot-loving rather than cowardly reindeer. Together, they'll dance with minion-like trolls...


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) He's just a bit of a fixer upper.

MONDELLO: ...race through a vampire-free but still dangerous forest at twilight...


BELL: (As Anna) What are they?

FONTANA: (As Hans) Wolves.

BELL: (As Anna) Wolves?

FONTANA: (As Hans) Whoa.

MONDELLO: ...and fight with an angry snow hulk. None of which has anything to do with the Hans Christian Andersen "Snow Queen," but you know what, it's still pretty chill. I mean, why wouldn't it be? Tried and true material, with Disney princesses carefully reconsidered for 2013, possibly because after 52 Mouse House animated features, this is the first to be co-directed by a woman. Fifty-third time's the charm, right?

Oh, and speaking of the Mouse House, "Frozen" is being released with a terrific Mickey Mouse short called "Get A Horse" that looks at first like a black-and-white cartoon from the 1930s then bursts into color and 3-D in a bit of screen-shattering cleverness that Buster Keaton would recognize from his movie "Sherlock, Jr." Is that a steal? A tribute? Whatever. It's great fun. I'm Bob Mondello.

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