LOS ANGELES, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Frozen shook up the Disney princess formula by showing that its leads don't need romance or to be perfect. Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, didn't need romance. And Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell, wasn't perfect.
The sequel shows Elsa has been living happily as the Queen of Arendelle for three years with her sister, Anna, Anna's boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and their snowman Olaf (Josh Gad). Elsa begins to hear a melodic siren call to leave her kingdom.
Visiting the Enchanted Forest reveals to Anna and Elsa there was more to the history of Arendelle than their parents, who died in a shipwreck, ever told them. Learning their own origin story comes with responsibility, and Bell approves of giving young viewers that message.
"I think that in order to evolve, you have to learn from history," Bell said at a press conference for Frozen II. "I think in order to learn from history, you have to know it. So I think that that subliminal current of wanting to know origin stories comes from wanting betterment for humanity by learning from the past."
It is no longer winter in Arendelle, but Elsa used her powers to give Olaf a permafrost so he can survive the warmer seasons. Even with that year-round magic, Olaf begins to sense nothing lasts forever. That theme hit close to home for Gad as he shared a personal story of his oldest daughter, Ava.
"My oldest child one day was sitting at the table. She was laughing, and all of a sudden tears started streaming down her face," Gad said at the press conference. "She looked at me and my wife and she goes, 'What if I don't want to grow up?' and she started crying. It was so unbelievable because I think we all have that experience as kids. It's so traumatic you just forget about it."
Gad related Ava's existential crisis to Olaf's. In the first Frozen, Olaf was just a snowman whom Anna and Elsa had to prevent from walking into the sunlight and melting. In Frozen II, he's thinking for himself.
"In this movie, he's almost gone from like toddler to fully grown child where now he's starting to ask those questions that don't always have easy answers," Gad said. "From a comedic perspective, it gave me so much to play with. More importantly, from an emotional arc, it was just such a beautiful journey of that moment in life when you start to realize that maybe the world isn't just raindrops and lollipops and roses."
Frozen fans have waited six years to see Frozen 2. There have been shorts like Frozen Fever and Olaf's Frozen Adventure to tide them over, but for the cast and filmmakers, they've pretty much continued working on Frozen projects. Menzel still performs Frozen songs in her stage shows.
"From my perspective, getting to go out on stage, it has never really ended from Frozen I to II because I'm singing the music from it all the time all over the world," Menzel said.
"[I] look out into an audience and seeing people of all ages really singing this music and reminding me how they've been touched by it and how they've learned to celebrate that thing inside them that makes them feel extraordinary in the world."
Frozen taught viewers that love was more powerful than fear because fear kept Elsa hidden and love unleashed her full powers. It showed that the Disney princess did not need a man to feel loved and fulfilled. Moving forward from those lessons, Bell hopes Frozen II satisfies fans but challenges them to try new things.
"It's that feeling between purpose and fulfillment and drive," Bell said. "I hope that when people leave, they feel fulfilled, but they also feel like stepping into their unknown might be exciting."
In Frozen, Kristoff proved to be a better companion because he wasn't trying to fill a void in Anna. In Frozen II, he gets to express himself in a song, "Lost in the Woods." Groff, who claimed he was never shy about expressing himself, hopes to spread that message through the film.
"I would dress up as Mary Poppins," Groff revealed. "My mom allowed me, when I was 3, to go in full drag. I had great parents in that way, but I hope that kids come and see this movie and, like Kristen just said, have the opportunity to really feel like they can express themselves."
Frozen II is in theaters Friday.