Mercifully pared down compared to the strange occurrence that was the 20-minute Olaf’s Frozen Adventure that preceded Pixar’s Coco
in theaters, Once Upon a Snowman does everything a fluffy, moderately-forgettable short should do. It arrives, gives you a sugar high, and then whips away with a whistle.Once Upon a Snowman is basically a seven-minute blur of light and noise that “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”s the lovable Olaf right as he’s transformed into a living entity by Elsa and then follows him while he exists in the periphery during a few minutes from the first Frozen film.
During the “Let It Go” number, which will never be supplanted no matter how hard Frozen 2’s “Into the Unknown” tries, Elsa’s magic awakens her childhood snowman. Fumbling about in his new surroundings, struggling with full sentience, and wanting to know his purpose (and name), Olaf experiences a mini-existential “born, never asked” crisis. The story’s a cute distraction that kids will enjoy, though it adds nothing to the overall saga. This is literally a “behind the scenes” of the wolf chase from the original movie.
With the delay of Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney+ has been on the ropes, content-wise, for a hefty stretch. A quick hit designed to keep the Frozen IP relevant and in rotation, Once Upon a Snowman is the first Frozen content created expressly for the steaming site so it makes for a nice, familiar appetizer before marquee series The Mandalorian returns.
And Olaf (Josh Gad), as a character, is at his best on his own at just around this runtime. Best to not go longer than this if you’re aim is optimal Olaf effectiveness. He chats with Oaken (Chris Williams), gets a starter nose (a sausage), runs from a hungry wolf pack, and then learns the true meaning of…Olaf, I guess. If you watch the trailer you’ve already seen a sixth of this. It’s a perfectly okay-ish achievement.
The 10 Best Holiday Movies on Disney Plus