On this day ten years ago, Wreck It Ralph was released in theaters. Wreck It Ralph marked the beginning of the incredible career of Jennifer Lee, the writer and director of some of Disney’s most beloved films.
Jennifer Lee is best known for her work on animated Disney films. Her career began when a former classmate at the Columbia film school asked her to join the writing team for Wreck It Ralph for what was supposed to be eight weeks, though she ended up staying until Wreck It Ralph (2012) was finished. Her success working on Wreck It Ralph earned her a job writing Frozen (2013), which she later signed on to co-direct with Chris Buck. With Frozen, Jennifer made history as the first female director of a Walt Disney Animation Studios film, as well as the first female director to earn more than $1 billion in box office revenue.
Jennifer’s contribution to Frozen was innumerable; she transformed the film from action-adventure to more of a musical-comedy, a characteristic which is one of the main reasons it’s so beloved. It is also clear that Elsa and Anna became their wonderful selves because Jennifer harnessed her own spirit, and that of her daughter, Agatha, in creating them. Of Frozen, FF2 contributor Nicole Ackman says, “Lee’s clever dialogue and the way that the two leads interact together perfectly recreates a sisterly dynamic.” Jennifer’s influence made Frozen one of the most beloved Disney films, and films in general, of its time.
In 2018, Jennifer was named Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, a position which she more than earned.
It is honorable for screenwriter Jennifer Lee to give kids the option of asking questions.
Jennifer later went on to write and co-direct Frozen II (2019). As Nicole Ackman states, “Frozen II demonstrates how Lee has grown as a director and writer and is even better than Frozen.” Frozen II gives more backstory to Elsa and Anna, and sees both of them growing into themselves as Anna becomes more of a leader and Elsa fully embraces herself and her past. The film is also more of a direct social commentary than the first one; in the words of FF2 contributor Brigid Presecky, “Although the story itself can delve into dark, complicated themes – some that will have to be explained to children later – it is honorable for screenwriter Jennifer Lee to give kids the option of asking questions.”
Jennifer’s contribution to Frozen and to all of her films has had an immeasurable effect on so many young people, and the charm and loveable nature of her films means that they will have a continued impact for generations to come.
© Julia Lasker (11/02/22) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Nicole Ackman’s celebration of Jennifer Lee here.
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Frozen here.
Read Brigid Presecky’s review of Frozen II here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo: Jennifer Lee. © Disney, All Rights Reserved.
Bottom Photo: Jennifer Lee in the studio. © Disney, All Rights Reserved.