‘BoJack Horseman’ interweaves past with present for poignant season four

bojack

It’s been a year since BoJack left his Hollywoo life behind and, subsequently, left us to wonder how the show would follow the genius of season three, which pushed our favorite antihero to a new devastating brink with his costar’s overdose. But season four does the seemingly impossible – by intertwining the past with present, BoJack Horseman produces its most searing season to date.

When we last saw BoJack, he was fleeing Hollywoo in search of…something. Happiness. Acceptance. The ability to feel good about himself, perhaps. His search leads him to The Old Sugarman Place, which belonged to his grandfather and where he and his mother both spent their childhood summers. He fixes up the rundown house as flashbacks of a particularly life-changing summer during his mother’s childhood play, often interweaved with the present day as ghostly images. This is the first demonstration of this season’s peculiar relationship with time – the season covers the longest time span of any other, leaving each character drastically changed by its end.

BoJack meets Hollyhock, a teenage girl who pulls him back to reality and out of his self-deprecating cycle of needing help, looking for help and rejecting help. He’s still haunted by his part in Sarah Lynn’s death and the harm he caused Penny and Charlotte, but Hollyhock gives him a reason to be responsible, to be present, to simply be. It’s not the first time BoJack has shown promise, but it is the most hopeful I’ve been that he will, somehow, eventually, one day get better.

And since BoJack Horseman isn’t just about the titular horse, each member of the gang goes through their own hardships. Season four picks up in the midst of Mr. Peanutbutter’s campaign for governor, which puts a strain on his marriage to a less-than-thrilled Diane. Todd is coming to terms with his sexual identity and meets with other asexuals. Princess Carolyn is still trying to have it all – career, relationship, family. BoJack’s mother Beatrice, a scathing secondary character despised by fans since season one, is the most present (er, physically, at least) she has ever been, much to his chagrin.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 2.14.59 PM

It is Beatrice, of all people, who is the most devastating character of the new season. Through the show’s manipulation of time, we learn how she became so coldhearted and cruel toward BoJack. Episode 11, “Time’s Arrow,” is dedicated solely to Beatrice as we jump between scenes of her childhood, adolescence and marriage to BoJack’s father Butterscotch and is one of the most poignant episodes of the series – I’d equate it to season one’s “Downer Ending.”

But in true BoJack fashion, there is still the “loosely related wacky misadventures.” In episode seven, “The Underground”, the main characters (plus Jessica Biel) become trapped underground for days after a fracking accident and must build a new society in order to govern and survive their underground world. It’s reminiscent of season three’s “Brrap Brrap Pew Pew” (a personal favorite of mine) and season two’s “Chickens.” Todd is still finding new ventures to pursue, this time in a terrifying dentist/clown mash-up business that goes terribly awry.

In season four, BoJack Horseman challenged itself. Its ambition and gusto have solidified it as one of the best seasons of 2017 TV and leaves us all waiting impatiently for season five – when this damn horse cartoon will make us cry yet again.

The wit and wisdom of “BoJack Horseman”

Imagine the typical ’90s family sitcom: a lovable, sweater-wearing single father of three adorable children, who teaches those children important values like family, loyalty and honesty.

Now imagine that, after nine seasons of being the hottest show of the decade, the sitcom is canceled, the child stars become forgotten drug addicts and the amiable father character never gets another big role.

This is the story of BoJack Horseman.

BoJack (voiced by Will Arnett) is the washed-up, has-been star of the ’90s hit “Horsin’ Around.” He lives in a “Hollywoo” mansion and does nothing but sit around, get drunk and watch episodes of his old show again and again with Todd (Aaron Paul), a slacker who lives on BoJack’s couch.

Oh, and BoJack Horseman is also a literal horse-man.

Netflix’s newest animated original show, “BoJack Horseman,” puts humans and anthropomorphic animals side-by-side — Penguin Books is run by actual penguins, Navy SEALs are actual seals, and there’s BoJack’s feline agent and on-again-off-again girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), whose office’s hold music is a song from the Broadway musical “Cats.”

BoJack wants to make a comeback to social relevancy by writing a tell-all memoir. The only problem is, he is awful at writing (and, really, responsibility in general). Frustrated, the penguin publishers hire a ghostwriter, Diane (Alison Brie), to whom he dictates his life.

The jokes of “BoJack Horseman” come at you fast, much like Arnett’s previous comedy “Arrested Development.” Whether it’s spoofing Beyoncé lyrics, making fun of broadcast journalism (MSNBSea, in place of MSNBC, complete with a whale as an anchor) or one of the many, many animal puns, you’ll miss a joke or two or five if you blink. Each time you watch, you’ll catch a gag that slipped past you before. There’s even a Buzzfeed article “136 Hidden Jokes You Probably Missed On ‘BoJack Horseman.’”

But be warned. While astonishingly clever and smart, “BoJack Horseman” is also unabashedly crude. There are jokes about Afghanistan, the World Trade Center attacks and the Holocaust. There’s a pop song called “Prickly Muffin,” and a former child star who is heavily addicted to drugs. One episode is titled “BoJack Hates the Troops.” In another episode, BoJack tells someone “Get cancer, jerkwad,” and — spoiler alert — he eventually does.

Watch at your own risk.

But underneath the banter and cringe-worthy jokes, there is a darkness to BoJack. He is sad, self-loathing and terrified of being alone. Despite the tough, uncaring façade he has built for himself, BoJack isn’t the jerk he first seems to be. He’s relatable.

BoJack is lonely. He falls in love with the girlfriend of his lifelong frenemy, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), an obnoxious golden retriever of below-average intelligence. He is dissatisfied with his life, and wishes he had chosen a different path without “Horsin’ Around.” His parents abused him, and his childhood hero, Secretariat, committed suicide. In a column, Vulture named “BoJack Horseman” the “funniest show about depression ever.”

As the season develops, the laughs don’t stop, but the underlying ideas and concepts become heavier. BoJack, who is notorious for his public social missteps and substance abuse, finds himself asking: “Am I a good person?”

It’s not only BoJack who is facing hardships. His ghostwriter Diane worries she isn’t making a difference with her work. His agent Princess Carolyn realizes the only thing she has in her life is her job. His TV daughter Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal) struggles to come to terms that her time in the spotlight has ended as she’s gotten older.

I watched the entire first season of “BoJack Horseman” in one afternoon. Since that day, I’ve sporadically watched episodes two or three more times. On some level, I think we can all relate to the show. Maybe not the whole “I’m not socially relevant anymore so I’m going to turn to hard drugs,” or the “My life is ruined because my hit TV show was canceled,” aspect, but the longing for connections with other people, wanting to be a “good” person and having the fear that your life is passing you by and you’re not doing the things you want.

As Diane says on the season finale, “That’s the problem with life. Either you know what you want, and you don’t get what you want; or you get what you want, and then you don’t know what you want.”

It’s not just another stupid animated comedy.

Read it on the MOVE website here.

Review: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you.

That’s the premise behind “The Fault in Our Stars.” Based off the acclaimed and universally-obsessed-over book by John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars” is more than another teen love drama. It’s a story about cancer, love, and pain that demands to be felt.

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a teenage girl who has been battling cancer since she was diagnosed at 13. She has to breathe from a tube and haul an oxygen tank everywhere she goes, as using stairs and standing for too long make her short of breath.

After her parents suspect Hazel of being depressed, they make her go to a support group for kids with cancer. It is here where Hazel meets Augustus “Gus” Waters (Ansel Elgort), an 18-year-old boy in remission. The two get to talking, sparks fly, and, despite Hazel’s hesitance about hurting Gus with her inevitable death, the two fall madly in love.

The genius of “The Fault in Our Stars,” lies with its risk to be funny while telling a sad story. You’ll laugh at the banter between Gus and Hazel, the goofy persona of fellow cancer victim Isaac (Nat Wolff), and the way the characters poke fun at their disease (as Gus says to Hazel’s father, “I didn’t cut this guy off for the hell of it,” motioning to his amputated leg he lost to his cancer).

A Fault In Our Stars

Following up amazing performances in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now, Woodley is never better. As Hazel Grace, she is witty, sweet, and heartbreaking. You won’t be able to take your eyes off her. Opposite her Divergent co-star Elgort, the two are a match made in heaven.

“The Fault in Our Stars” isn’t just another cancer movie comprised of sad scenes and cliché. The story is lively, the characters bright, and the love poignant. The soundtrack, featuring songs from Ed Sheeran, M83, and Kodaline among others, breathes life and beauty into the film.

But, you must remember, this is a cancer movie — it’s not all laughs.

The audible squeals, giggles and applause from the audience slowly turn into suffocating silence and broken cries of “why?” and “no!” By the film’s conclusion you will find yourself bawling into your popcorn (or, in the my case, smuggled-in chocolates), surrounded by loud sobbing and nose-blowing noises from the packed theater. You will leave feeling broken but complete at the same time.

It lives up to its hype.

“The Walking Dead” Season 4: the season that was strongly “eh.”

“The Walking Dead” — the only show on basic cable television where I can get my post-apocalyptic zombie fix.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been a girl obsessed. I binge-watched the first two seasons within the first week I had my Netflix account. My parents would frequently come home from work to find me standing on the couch, flailing my arms and screaming obscenities at the TV.

When season 3 started I devotedly live-tweeted each episode and had heated discussions with my friends the next day at school. And last February, I paid $45 to go to The Walking Dead Live in Kansas City — a live panel with Greg Nicotero, Lauren Cohan, Michael Rooker, and (*fangirls hopelessly*) Norman Reedus, Daryl Dixon himself.

For me, “The Walking Dead” is a pretty big deal.

When season 4 began last fall I was ecstatic. I finally had friends to watch and obsess over the show with, and I couldn’t have been happier.

But when compared to past seasons, season 4 is just “eh.”

Season 4 picked up a while after season 3 ended. The group has grown after refugees from Woodberry were taken in. They have their own system for growing food, gathering water, eliminating walkers who build up around the perimeter, and just surviving. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, until the zombie flu hits, the Governor attacks, and the group is forced to flee their prison sanctuary and becomes divided.

There are a lot of things wrong with season 4. The main thing I had a problem with throughout the first half of the season was that the anonymous characters taken in from Woodberry were the only ones to get picked off by the zombie flu and other disasters. When the first person succumbed to the zombie flu and attacked the group from within the prison, I was yawning. It was painfully obvious that the core characters — Glen, Maggie, Rick, Carol, etc. — would emerge unscathed and all the newbies would be killed. This is exactly what happened, and it continued to be the case for all of season 4 — by the finale, the only newbie that’s still alive and well is Bob. the The only long-standing cast member to perish this season was Hershel during the midseason finale.

Season 4 didn’t hesitate in returning the Governor. But, interestingly, the show dedicated a number of episodes to what happened to him after the fall of Woodberry. Gov. Phil goes through some “character development,” maybe trying to make the audience sympathize with him, before returning to his cold-blooded ways and manipulating a gang of people he meets on the road to attack the prison.

“The Walking Dead” stalled the inevitable — everything in the episodes focusing on the Governor and leading up to the prison raid simply did not need to be made. In fact, the entire first half of season 4 was more or less irrelevant. The midseason finale, where the prison is destroyed and Gov. Phil finally gets what’s coming to him, was the season 3 finale we were denied.

Photo courtesy amctv.com
Photo courtesy amctv.com

Despite its lags, especially throughout 4A, season 4 had its share of strengths and events that will be remembered as pinnacle moments of the show. The one that stands out the most: Lizzie murdering her sister, Mika.

From the moment she was introduced, Lizzie was one of the most intriguing characters of the season. She was sick, she wasn’t wired right, she regarded walkers as people, just “different,” and even went as far as calling them her “friends.”

Photo courtesy amctv.com
Photo courtesy amctv.com

The episode where Lizzie finally snapped and killed her sister so she would come back as a walker was without a doubt the strongest episode of the season. The last 20 minutes are brutal and end with Carol having to, for lack of a better term, “put down” Lizzie to insure the safety of baby Judith, to whom Lizzie was a huge threat.

As Carol said, “She can’t be around people.”

Season 4 focused largely on character development and explored the dynamics that exist between the adults and children. It shows the differences in perception from the adults, who are adjusting to the new post-apocalyptic world, and the children who are growing up in it and who have few, and perhaps fading, memories of the world before the walkers.

Starting in season 3, the show has shifted from humans-vs-zombies to humans-vs-humans. This was continued throughout season 4 — the main threats to the group being the Governor, the redneck group Daryl fleetingly joins, Lizzie’s psychosis, and Terminus.

The walkers are stupid, slow, and easy to get rid of with a simple stab or shot to the brain. Humans are a different story.

As is the tradition of “The Walking Dead,” the season finale broke records — 15.7 million viewers tuned in to last night’s episode. The season ended on the biggest cliffhanger of the series, with most of the gang trapped in a boxcar in Terminus, a trap which lures in people with the promise of sanctuary. (So, Terminus is a bad place. Who knew? “Those who arrive survive” totally didn’t sound too good to be true. I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm here.)

Season 4 leaves a lot of unanswered questions. What is the agenda behind Terminus? Are the people there cannibals? What’s going to happen to Carol, Tyreese, and Judith who are still out on the road heading to Terminus? Will they too be imprisoned? Now that most of the Woodberry characters have long since perished, who will be killed off next? And for god’s sake, where is Beth?

Though this season was my least favorite of the 4, season 5 has been set up to be packed with action. Rick Grimes, it’s time to prove that Terminus messed with the wrong people.

Review: ‘Divergent’

Divergent

In a futuristic Chicago there live four factions, where the citizens are categorized according to their personalities: Candor (honesty), Amity (kindness), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (bravery). Each faction performs specific roles for society and are forbidden to interact with anyone outside their group. Upon reaching a certain age, the city’s youth are given a personality test, which determines which faction they should join. Everything is peaceful and well within the walls of the city — that is, until Tris takes the aptitude test.

Enter, Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley). Tris is Divergent — someone who does not fit completely into the requirements of one faction. Tris is a danger to society. Her existence threatens to overthrow what has been in place for as long as anyone can remember. Because of this, Tris must hide her inconclusive test results and not let anybody know she is a Divergent.

“Divergent” is nothing original. But what separates the film from most movies based on YA books (think, “Immortal Instruments,” “Vampire Academy,” “Beautiful Creatures,” etc.) — it doesn’t suck.

Maybe the success rests with the exceptional cast. Following her strong performances in “The Descendants” (which earned her a Golden Globe nomination) and “The Spectacular Now,” (and overlooking her stint as a pregnant teen in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,”) Woodley shines as Tris. She’s strong, beautiful, brave, determined, but is still afraid and doubtful of herself. She’s a gem.

Alongside Woodley is the gorgeous and talented Theo James. James brings just the right amount of irresistible, come-hitherness to Four, one of Tris’ mentors. Kate Winslet is despicably wicked as Jeanine, the Erudite leader with a diabolical plot, and Miles Teller is the douche bag you’ll love to roll your eyes at.

Or maybe it’s because of the intriguing, sci-fi distopian setting. The country has been ravaged by a mysterious war, which led to the construction of a wall around the city’s barriers and complete isolation from the outside war. What caused the war? Who was it between? What is life like outside the Chicago barrier? A potential sequel or two will (hopefully) answer these lingering questions.

“Divergent” is no “Hunger Games,” but it provides entertainment — mouthwatering man candy, steamy romance scenes, kick-ass action sequences, strong female characters, and a “don’t be afraid to think for yourself” theme. What else could you want out of a YA novel adaptation?

For the Win: The 86th Academy Awards

Two days ago was the 86th Academy Awards— my own personal holiday/Super Bowl/favorite television event ever.

The picture that single-handedly, at over 1 million retweets, broke the retweet record and temporarily crashed Twitter's website. Fun fact: it is now also my Facebook cover photo.
The picture that single-handedly, at over 1 million retweets, broke the retweet record and temporarily crashed Twitter’s website. Fun fact: it is now also my Facebook cover photo.

You can read about the pizza, the selfies, and, oh yeah, the awards and my pre-Oscars predictions on the MOVE website.

Good Book, Bad Movie: Top 5 Worst Book-to-Movie Adaptations

This past weekend I went to the movie theater. No, I did not see “The Lego Movie,” which has taken the world by storm these last couple of days. (97% on Rotten Tomatoes? Can it really be that good? I think I’ll wait until it’s on Redbox). Instead, I  saw “Vampire Academy.”

“But Claudia, why would you do that?” you might be wondering. “‘Vampire Academy?’ It looks awful! Horrendous! ‘Twilight’ minus the sparkling!” And yeah, it pretty much was. I wrote a review of it for my movie column, which you can read here.

As explained in my column, I decided to see “Vampire Academy” simply because I owed it to my 14 year-old self. I went through a phase where I obsessed over teen paranormal romance novels, as every young girl does. And one of my very favorite book series was Richelle Mead’s vampire romance. I loved everything about it- Rose’s snark, Lissa and Christian’s unconventional relationship, and don’t even get me started on Dimitri; I was in love with that hunky Russian guardian. “Vampire Academy” was a quality series. And as with many book-to-movie adaptations, the film fell flat on its face.

So in honor of Hollywood’s latest fail to adapt a popular book series, I’ve decided to take a walk down memory lane and remember all the books that I love and the movies that completely crushed them into the ground.

1. “Eragon” (20th Century Fox, 2006)

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Every time I think of “Eragon,” I feel so sorry for little sixth-grade Claudia. In the course of the school year I devoured Christopher Paolini’s first two novels (the only ones that were published at the time), “Eragon” and “Eldest,” and I thought they were absolutely brilliant. Fantasy, romance, adventure, mystery, battles, dragons, magic- what more could you ask for from a story? When the movie finally came to theaters, I was shaking with excitement. I went to the theater with my dad, all giddy and bouncing in anticipation…and then my hopes and dreams were destroyed.

It was god-awful. The acting was horrendous, the story was watered down almost beyond recognition, and Hollywood almost killed off Saphira and barely mentioned Angela. No. No no no. A part of my childhood died that day. And to make things worse, I didn’t have the emotional strength to express my dissatisfaction over the film, thus my parents assumed that I liked it and ended up giving it to me on DVD as a present. So now I own it. And every time I see it sitting among my other DVDs as I’m searching for a movie to watch, I vomit in my mouth a little.

2. “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” (Universal Studios, 2009)

Universal Pictures
Universal Studios

I found Darren Shan’s “Cirque Du Freak” series almost accidentally. I remember I was at Borders, glancing over the shelves, when the first book, “A Living Nightmare,” caught my eye. I opened it, sat down, and read the preface. That’s all it took- I was hooked. After that day, I read the 12-book series in record time. It captivated me- “Cirque Du Freak” was unique, unpredictable, void of all clichés. I loved it so much that I even wrote fan fiction and made slideshows of fan art in my spare time. (Sixth-grade Claudia had a lot of spare time, okay?)

When I learned it was going to be made into a movie, I was thrilled. But, as with “Eragon,” I was only to be disappointed. Let’s be real- this movie was doomed for failure the moment that John C. Reilly was cast to play the sexy, mysterious, bad ass vampire Larten Crepsley (my favorite character of the series). To be honest, I can’t remember much of the movie, which is probably for the best. I remember a train wreck of the plot being completely changed and awful acting, but no specifics. I have successfully pushed the traumatic experience out of my mind, and I am perfectly okay with that.

I don't even know what's going on here. Why, Hollywood? WHY?
I don’t even know what’s going on here. Why, Hollywood? WHY?

3. “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” (20th Century Fox, 2010)

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Oh Logan Lerman, where did you go wrong? You can do so much better! Where is the charmingly awkward Charlie from “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” that we all fell in love with?

To be fair, Logan Lerman is probably the best thing about this adaptation of Rick Riordan’s popular children’s series. The acting was blah, there were changes to the plot that I had strong feelings against, etc. It just didn’t do it for me, okay? I also had a hard time adjusting to Annabeth’s hair being brown.

"ANNABETH IS A BLONDE! A BLONDE!" -me, internally.
“ANNABETH IS A BLONDE! A BLONDE!” -me, internally.

But seriously, how hard is it to dye your hair? And why is she finally blonde in the sequel, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters?” I must not have been the only one who freaked out over this seemingly-infinitesimal detail. (It’s a big deal, guys).

4. “The Golden Compass” (New Line Cinema, 2007)

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

With a cast including Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Ian McKellan, and Sam Elliott, “The Golden Compass” should have been a hell of a lot better than it was. Yes, the animation is pretty impressive. Yes, Philip Pullman’s fantasy story of a parallel universe is nothing short of stellar. But “The Golden Compass” ended up as one big train wreck.

What went wrong? Well, it could be the fact that the big-name actors get remarkably little screen time compared to the “star,” Dakota Blue Richards, who portrays (or, tries to portray) Lyra. It was pitiful to watch the poor girl. The Catholics got upset because it was “anti-Catholic.” If they were going to get upset, it should have been because it was an utter piece of crap. And it ended on what is quite possibly the most boring cliffhanger (Lyra looking out to the horizon, urging her enemies to “just try to stop us”) for a sequel that will never be made.

5. “The City of Ember” (20th Century Fox, 2008)

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

“The City of Ember” wasn’t awful. It was just simply extremely forgettable.

Nothing was “wrong” with it, per say. I am a huge Saoirse Ronan fan (“Hanna,” “The Lovely Bones,” “Atonement,”) and Billy Murray, who plays the mayor of Ember, can do no wrong. The reason I have included “The City Of Ember” on this list is simple: it did not even come close to doing the novel justice.

Jeanne DuPrau’s story is phenomenal. I read “The City of Ember” multiple times throughout elementary school, and I will always associate the story with my childhood. The film adaptation just fell flat. It was fine, but nothing that impressive. Eh.

P.S., what’s up with the giant moths and moles, Hollywood? DO NOT ADD THINGS TO SOMETHING THAT IS ALREADY PERFECT!

Review: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Walt Disney Pictures

Ever since I can remember I have been surrounded by films such as The Aristocats, Winnie the Pooh (my absolute favorite- I have the tattoo to prove it), The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, etc. etc. etc. I had Disney bed sets and costumes and too many stuffed animals to keep up with. I have multiple soundtracks and Disney’s Greatest Hits compilation albums, numerous coloring books, and Disney Princess Candy Land. I grew up with Disney.

I’m telling you this, dear reader, to give you a fair warning before you continue so kindly reading: I am biased. This review is filled with complete and utter bias.

From the moment I first saw the trailer to Saving Mr. Banks over the summer I instantly started excitedly rambling to my friends, parents, and anyone else who would listen about this film I had not yet seen. “It’s going to win Oscars,” I said. “Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, how could this not be amazing?” And after it’s been playing in theaters for nearly a month, tonight I finally went out and saw Saving Mr. Banks. 

And it was everything I thought it would be.

The film is the true story of how Walt Disney, played by the always marvelous Hanks, convinces P. L. Travers to let him turn her Mary Poppins children’s books into the movie we all know and love. Travers, portrayed superbly by Thompson, is a piece of work. She’s stubborn and stuck-up, making her interactions with Disney and his poor employees hilariously awkward as the two parties try to reach a compromise that will more or less please them both.

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is full of heart. As Disney tries to reason with the demands Travers has regarding the movie (such as no animation, no singing, and absolutely no color red), the emotional connection Travers maintains with her character Mary Poppins is revealed to the audience through heartbreaking flashbacks of a troubled childhood and father who is more or less Mr. Banks himself. Just try not to cry.

Thompson has already achieved a Golden Globe nomination for her role. And she, along with Hanks, are bound to get Oscar nods as well.

It’s pure and simple: this is a film Disney fans like myself have dreamed about. It’s pure magic.

Is Disney ‘Frozen?’

Frozen

Life during winter break is dull. For almost two weeks I’ve been doing nothing but binge-watching Breaking Bad and desperately trying to finish reading Under the Dome before I return to Columbia in mid-January. When I do leave the house, chances are it’s going to be for the movie theater. Coming into break I made a list of nine movies I wanted to see over these next five weeks of boredom. On that list- Dallas Buyers Club, Catching Fire (for a second time), American Hustle, Anchorman 2, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr. Banks, and the topic of today’s post: Frozen.

Yesterday I finally ventured out and saw Frozen, Disney’s latest animated film loosely based on the fairy tale The Snow Queen. The movie follows Anna and Elsa, sisters and princess of the kingdom Arendelle. All is well for the sisters until an accident causes Elsa to fear the power she holds to manipulate ice and snow, leading her to shut out all those close to her and essentially live her life in isolation. Despite her attempts over the years to control her powers, Elsa’s secret gets out the day of her coronation and she accidentally plunges the kingdom into an eternal winter. Fearing hurting those around her, she flees into the mountains and it’s up to Anna, with a little help from mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, to save the frozen land of Arendelle.

When I first saw the Frozen trailer over the summer, I thought it looked god-awful. Horrible. Atrocious. I told my friends, “This looks just like Tangled, but in Norway and with an obnoxious snow man.” I had no intention of seeing it. But when it finally did come out at the end of November, I heard nothing but good things about it, which sparked my curiosity.

Let’s get one thing straight: Frozen is not a bad movie. It’s filled with catchy songs, goofy characters, and beautiful animation. I was wrong about it being awful, but it’s nowhere near Disney’s best. It’s a cute story; it’s just the same story that Disney always seems to be falling back on.

Look back on the three most recent Disney princess movies: Tangled, Brave, and now Frozen. All are good movies, I’d even call Tangled fantastic, but it’s all too clear that all three of these films tell the same story.

1. Each follows a princess who somehow feels isolated. In Tangled, the isolation is obvious with Rapunzel being locked up in a tower with only a chameleon for company. The isolation is apparent in Frozen as well, with a disgruntled Anna living in a castle whose doors are perpetually closed to everyone. In Brave, Merida’s mother tells her exactly how she should act, making her feel invisible, misunderstood, and, well, isolated.

2. In Tangled and Frozen, the princess goes on an adventure across the kingdom with a guy that she eventually falls in love with. I get it, I get it, everybody loves a love story. But please, try to change it up a little. This is where I have to applaud Brave– the romantic interest is taken out of the formula.

3. There is always a last minute save. At the end of Tangled, Brave, and Frozen, there is a point where things are not looking good for the characters. Whether it’s when Eugene/Flynn nearly dies after Gothel stabs him, when the sun rises and Merida’s mother still hasn’t turned back into a human, or when Anna’s frozen heart turns her into an ice statue, there’s always a moment of bleakness where the other characters are crying and everything looks hopeless. But this is Disney, and unhappy endings don’t exist. Just as everything seems hopeless, the power of true love swoops in and saves the day, saving the lives of the precious characters and restoring everything to how it should be.

Again, I’m not trying to bash on Disney or on these three movies, I honestly think that Tangled is the last truly great Disney movie made. But Disney seems frozen on this specific formula of movie-making.

So to you, Disney, I implore you: in the future, please change things up a little. Move away from the princesses. Ditch the “true love saves everything at the last second always” mentality. I want to see something different.