Olaf's Frozen Adventure
’Twas the night before yesterday, and it was then when I finally ventured into a certain featurette clouded by controversy: Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.
Before I get into my thoughts on it, allow me to share its history with you.
Originally conceived as a full on television special, someone at Disney decided at the last minute to upscale it as a theatrical featurette to be shown alongside Coco…possibly because they hoped that it would attract more of the Frozen crowd and capitalize on its success, and maybe because its themes of tradition would go hand-in-hand with the traditional themes of Coco.
Ironically, however, this pair-up was met with extensive backlash, with some saying that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was awful, unlike Coco, or that it was okay, but didn’t belong in theaters, or - and this was the majority of the opinions shared on the matter - that it was unexpected, too long, and that it distracted from the experience that was Coco.
My take on this? I think the reason for this whole backlash wasn’t so much on what the featurette did, but rather on what was missing on the promotional material. If you look at the poster for the featurette, to name one, you’d see that there was at least some promotion for Coco snuck into it. The promotional material for Coco over this featurette? Not so much.
And here’s what else seemed strange: the idea of attaching what was supposed to be a television special from the get-go with a high-scale, thematically rich motion picture like Coco. I consider that the equivalent of, say, attaching How the Grinch Stole Christmas in theaters with Doctor Zhivago. Unless they’re given the right side-by-side promotion, an intermission (we need more of those), and a more fruitful reason for the featurette’s inclusion in theaters, wouldn’t that be considered a pretty heavy load for some people?
But now, onto my actual thoughts on the featurette. I’ll start by saying…it is NOT as bad as people say it is. Better on its own? Yes. However, I feel that this featurette carries a lot of charm on account of the simplicity of its narrative.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure chronicles the beginning of the holiday season for the citizens of Arandelle. When Olaf finds out that Anna and Elsa hasn’t thought of what tradition they ever had, if any, he and Sven, the reindeer, set out on a mission to provide Anna and Elsa the proper tradition that was missing between them for so long.
Now, I didn’t see this in theaters with Coco. I did see Coco, and it is one of the most BEAUTIFUL animated films my family and I have ever seen. I just saw this when it first aired on ABC, just like how it was intended to.
The special takes place after the events of Frozen, the movie, and even though the focus was on Olaf and Sven - that would unassumingly lead to a lot of comedic hijinks from both of them - the subplot concerning Anna and Elsa was a very strong, heartfelt look on the aftereffects they had from the events from the film. This featurette also does a surprisingly thoughtful look at just how traditions are celebrated through Olaf learning about the multiple traditions celebrated among the Arendelle residents, from Christmas to Hannukah and so forth. And without giving away the ending, I’ll say that by the time Anna and Elsa do find their tradition, it also hit home the message of which ones are the most special and worth celebrating depending on the individual people, Anna and Elsa especially. Well, it DID lean a little more towards the Christmas side, but it was still a very subtle home run.
Some of the jokes are pretty good, too. Like one involved Olaf visiting Oaken from the film and how his traditions involved lounging around in the steaming hot tubs with his family. Olaf seemed to be enjoying it, but ending up leaving as a a molten and - what else can I say? - ‘frozen’ snowman.
There was another one that I thought was…surreal, to say the least. During Olaf’s visits, he was treated with a fruitcake - a steaming fruitcake, mind you - and when he eats the fruitcake whole, it ended up quickly going through to his other end since he was made of snow. ‘That went right through me,’ he reacted. I don’t know how to react to this kind of toilet humor, but it did feel a little clever and surprisingly harmless.
All in all, I’d say that this featurette is good, mostly for Frozen fans. Good for families, good for some adults, and ESPECIALLY good for the kids. This featurette may obviously be very light in terms of story and complexity compared to Coco and even Frozen itself, but with a thoughtful message and even a couple toe-tapping songs, it still stands as a nice little condoment to add to the holiday cheer. It just felt a LOT better as a TV special than it would have as a theatrical featurette.
Originally published on Facebook, December 24, 2017