In defense of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

It’s safe to say the reception for Disney’s new Frozen short Olaf’s Frozen Adventure has been a little frosty.

The 22-minute mini-sequel debuted in America in front of Pixar’s Coco, playing between the trailers and the main feature. However its lengthy runtime angered many cinema-goers prompting a swift backlash, and now the short is being removed from Coco in American cinemas altogether.

This was always part of the plan according to Disney who had advertised that OFA (as absolutely no-one is calling it) would play in front of Coco only “for a limited time beginning Nov. 22”. But is OFA really the hate-worthy, “interminable” affront to cinema that deserves a liberal dousing with anti-freeze? Or was it just a simple misjudgement by Disney?

OFA played in UK cinemas attached to a reissue of the original film on the weekend of 25-26 November. As dutiful cinema-loving parents we took our Frozen-loving two-year-old to see one of her favourite movies on the big screen for the first time.

First Look at Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
First Look at Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

She’s a big fan of Frozen Fever, the 7-minute short attached to Cinderella, so the opportunity to see more of her favourite characters was sure to be a big hit.

OFA sees Elsa and Anna celebrating what seems to be their first Christmas together since the events of the film. The sisters soon discover that years apart have stifled the chance for their own Christmas traditions to develop naturally. Olaf sets off into Arendelle seeking out Christmas traditions for the sisters to adopt for themselves, and the snowman voiced by Josh Gad finds himself embroiled in a bit of a hullabaloo.

Boasting four catchy new songs performed by the original cast (Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff) and a heart-warming look at the importance of family at Christmas, OFA is a festive treat that went down a storm with the sold-out cinema audience we saw it with, including our little one who was captivated by Olaf’s capering. The song ‘That Time of Year’ is a particular highlight that will likely endure for many Christmases to come, in our household at least.

Reading between the lines, it seems the problem American audiences have been having with it is simply that they weren’t expecting it. 22-minutes can seem like an eternity, particularly when younger audiences can usually only manage sitting still for 90-100 minutes max. Disney and Pixar have a long tradition of offering shorts ahead of their features, and many have gone on to become award-winners in their own rights, but it seems OFA simply wasn’t short enough.

Even attached to Frozen – an already long-running 102 minutes it seemed a bit on the lengthy side, and you could feel a general sense of unrest as the runtime was pushed into the two-hour mark.

Many have also questioned the motives of the films too, with one writer saying its theme of preserving Christmas traditions “read as a dog-whistle for the “Stop saying ‘Happy Holidays’” conservatives”. That’s one way of reading it, but a rather “bah humbug” cynical one if you ask me.

Judged on its own merits Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is inoffensive family fun, and far from being an affront. We’re sure it’ll find its own fans when enjoyed in isolation.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure arrives on Sky Cinema on Christmas Day.

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