The Frozen machine has never felt more marketably mechanical than it does in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.
Directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers, the 21-minute ‘short’ was originally commissioned for television but has found its way onto big screens. Ostensibly, this is with the film having cinematic quality, but it seems more likely that the switch is due to internal fears that Coco’s Mexico-set Day of the Dead festival plot would struggle to attract audiences. Unlike in America, where the spin-off has been slipped in front of the new Pixar film, in the UK Olaf’s Frozen Adventure has been granted its own micro-run, packaged with a re-release of the original blockbuster.
Set during the first Christmas in forever – or, at least, since the events of Frozen – the featurette sees Anna and Elsa (Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel) plan a celebration of the sort Arendelle hasn’t experienced since the passing of their parents. When the townspeople all disappear, however, to enjoy their own family Christmases, the sisters forlornly realise that they do not themselves have any such traditions. Ever the ray of (ironic) sunshine, Olaf the snowman (Josh Gad) thus makes it his mission to bring back Christmas to the royal household by finding some traditions of his own.
In much the same vein as Frozen Fever, the short before this one, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure offers little but sweet riffs on its billion dollar parent. This time, though, it’s harder to maintain interest. A reel of new songs, from Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson, never quite catch light as the Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez ones did, lacking energy and coming across forced, as opposed to organic.
The same can be said of pretty much everything in the short; it’s imitative rather than innovative. Whilst it’s a treat to re-visit the loveable characters, still wonderfully animated, and pleasant to explore more of their world, this is all very superficial. It’s hard not to be left feeling a touch fed up that they’re still banging on about that time they ‘opened up the gates’. Move on – we already have.
Frozen fanatics are sure to have fun with the adventure, but, beyond beautiful animation, Olaf really isn’t cinematic and really is forgettable.