Olaf's Frozen Adventure Will Die As It Lived


Counterbalancing everyone’s love for Pixar’s Coco—a sweet tale about a Mexican boy named Miguel which has proven a chart-topper at the box office internationally—is everyone’s hatred for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the Frozen spin-off “short” stuck on between the trailers and the feature film audiences actually paid to see.

The 22-minute clip, following the efforts of Olaf the snowman to preserve the Christmas tradition for hit Frozen moms Elsa and Anna, was smacked onto the beginning of Coco without warning, at least until the internet began publishing guides on when to show up for Coco to avoid it. As Coco continues on its smash theatrical run, Olaf’s Long Muhfucking Frozen-Ass Antics will be removed from its run by December 8, allowing you to arrive at your normally scheduled showtime rather than 30 minutes late, just in time to see a short doc with the creators of Coco unnecessarily explaining to you how much work they put into animating the movie (which I have never seen before an animated film starring white characters, just saying!).

According to EW, Olaf was always scheduled to get the boot after a limited release, but its unpopularity can’t have helped—the fact that audiences and critics loathe it, because it sucks. Olaf, for those uninitiated in the ways of Frozen, is a bucktoothed snowman with a carrot nose, and while his charm is fathomable in the original (I have not seen), in the short he is a cad whose enthusiasm for maintaining an arbitrary notion of the Christmas tradition is only superseded in annoying plot points by several terrible songs crammed in to a negligible amount of time.

Olaf’s Christmas Adventure felt like an affront from another perspective. Some believe Coco is not, perhaps, the total triumph for animated diversity and celebration of Mexico that many tout it to be, and that it unfairly gives Disney, a conglomerate, jurisdiction and copyright over an indigenous tradition. But in the world of American-made children’s films, where the bar is exceedingly low, it’s the rare picture that celebrates people of color, and focuses on a cultural tradition that illuminates, however surface, its meaning to an entire country and its diaspora. In it, aspiring musician Miguel, voiced by tiny angel Anthony Gonzalez, crosses over to the realm where the dead live on Dia de Muertos, meeting up with his ancestors and searching for his own purpose; while there, he learns valuable lessons in both self-determination and the importance of family. In doing so, the film celebrates specifically Mexican cultural tradition and figures (including María “La Doña” Felix, Frida Kahlo, Pedro Infante), generally absent from American forms of media that are this mainstream. (The Disney theme song, to my groan/chagrin/extremely mild satisfaction, was even played by mariachis in the opening credits.)

That all of this happened in the context of the current political moment was not overlooked, whether by the film—a rather uncomfortable, unsettling scene placed customs/border patrol between the lands of the living and dead—or by Disney/Pixar, whose pairing with its Frozen clip felt cynical at best. On one hand, it was probably seen as a decent business bet to pair a spin-off from one of its most successful films with a new one (although in 2014 The Book of Life already proved the Dia de Muertos/guitar guy formula could be lucrative).

Tonally, though, it felt more like a capitalist offering to the moment, a concession to the presumptive masses of Trump voters who might be intimidated by the feature film’s brownness and Mexicanness and sabor. That Frozen, based on a Hans Christian Andersen novel and set in the snow-white fictional Norwegian-inspired town of Arendelle, was used to lure audiences in was enough, but the fact that it was about “preserving Christmas tradition” read as a dog-whistle for the “Stop saying ‘Happy Holidays’” conservatives, the milk hors d’oeuvres that audiences could keep around and revisit should this pro-Mexico film prove just too god damn spicy for y’all. The notion of mediocrity as a crucial tenet of cultural whiteness was in its DNA, too, as Elsa and freakin’ Anna belted out song after terrible song to the magic of this Christian holiday—unlike the pagan-rooted holiday in the film it precedes.

In short, I hated Olaf! Adios, you little sniveling snowman! Coco shall thrive on her own!

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