'Frozen 2' and its message on dealing with overwhelming pressure by doing 'The Next Right Thing' is the best advice on mental health
Spoiler alert for Frozen 2
Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) was underserved for a lot of the first half of ‘Frozen 2’, which placed more of a focus on Elsa’s (Idina Menzel) journey, and the introduction of new concepts and a larger world beyond Arendelle. Events conspire, however, to place an incredible burden of responsibility on Anna’s shoulders with none of her family and friends by her side to help prop herself up. Alone in the dark, with no one to turn to, Anna is nearly crushed beneath the weight of all she’s been forced to bear. It’s through the song “The Next Right Thing” that she finds the strength to move forward, and it’s that song that contains one of the movie’s most inspiring messages about dealing with pressure.
Special note should be made of Kristen Bell’s performance in the scene leading up to the song. She has been separated from Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and her sister, Elsa. Her one remaining ally, Olaf, disintegrates as Elsa has been lost to Ahtohallan - Anna loses both Olaf and Elsa in one cruel blow. Topped with that is the knowledge that her grandfather was responsible for the woes of the Northuldra tribe and the breaking of the peace. Alone in the depths of a dark cave, Anna almost gives up entirely. “Hello darkness, I’m ready to succumb,” she whispers, in a trembling voice.
A voice inside her won’t let her do so, however. A voice that doesn’t sugarcoat how dark the situation is. “You are lost. Hope is gone,” acknowledges Anna’s inner voice, but it lights a way forward. “You must go on,” she sings, as quiet music begins to swell, “and do the next right thing.” It’s not much much of an answer, and it’s in no way removes the darkness surrounded Anna’s heart. What it does, however, is light a path forward, and in some situations that is exactly what’s needed to inspire. Anna has always been strong, and this moment reflects that. The advice given to her by Grand Pabbie (Ciaran Hines) at the beginning of the movie comes back to her in her worst moment and shows her how to find her own way out of the dark.
It’s advice that does not place undue pressure on her - “Take a step. Step again. It is all that I can to do the next right thing.” It’s a practice that’s growing to be increasingly common advice from mental health professionals - the concept of “chunking”, or breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks. It’s a way of dealing with the pressures of stress, or anxiety, that has made seemingly insurmountable goals seem possible.
The first movie established that Anna gains much strength from the bond she has with her sister. In ‘Frozen 2’, however, the scenes that the movie seems to have reserved for Anna gives her her own strength that’s beyond the support of her loved ones and gives her an identity separate from them. “The Next Right Thing” is also one of those rare songs that both inspires and provides invaluable practical advice. “Into the Unknown” may be the song everyone’s talking about, but “The Next Right Thing” deserves its own recognition.