That’s right. Rather than make Frozen fans wait until 2019 for Frozen 2, they’re releasing a bite-sized little treat just in time for the holiday season. Well, honestly, it’s not as bite-sized as perhaps one would expect. It actually has four original songs and runs at a decent-length: 21 minutes.
What’s more, rather than having kingdom-ending stakes on hand, this short brings things to a much more personal level. What’s essentially at stake here is pretty much the holiday spirit. Yeah, it’s not exactly super gripping stuff in terms of stakes, but it definitely still manages to capture that Disney magic.
LRM had a chance to attend a screening and Q&A with Olaf’s Frozen Adventure directors Stevie Wermers-Skeoton and Kevin Deters, as well as producer Roy Conli and star Josh Gad. It’s been a while since we’ve seen these characters in a short, and audiences will likely enjoy the opportunity time to spend with these beloved character. This time around, like in the previous birthday short, we get to see them take on something a bit more relatable than a never-ending winter.
“The cool thing about the ‘Frozen’ universe is that it’s all about family,” producer Roy Conli says. “We all rallied around the themes of family and holiday traditions–and the fact that our families are made up of more than just our relatives. The idea of welcoming our friends and loved ones into our inner circles really resonated with all of us.”
What is perhaps most interesting to us, however, isn’t necessarily the message, so much as the underlying reason as to why having a good Christmas matter so much:
“‘And Anna and Elsa only recently reunited after being separated for most of their lives. We wondered how they might approach their first holiday together,’ says co-director Stevie Wermers-Skeoton.”
“‘We all have our own family traditions during the holidays, so the theme is really relatable,’ adds Deters. ‘But we realized that Anna and Elsa would never have had the chance to create any traditions of their own, which casts a shadow on what they thought would be a huge holiday celebration.'”
Speaking to the sisters’ inability to spend holidays together in the past, producer Roy Conli says, “Elsa feels guilty about this because it was her inability to control her powers that brought on their separation.”
So again, while the whole “saving Christmas” aspect isn’t the strongest backbone, it’s strengthened by the original Frozen film, which shows off sort of a broken and fragmented relationship between sisters. To see the sisters along this path to repairing their relationship is more rewarding than one would expect, even if it comes in the form of small, seemingly inconsequential stuff like the holiday season.
But of course, we can’t go this far without at least mentioning Olaf. Played by Josh Gad, they continue his childishly naive portrayal of the character.
Speaking about the character and why they opted to go with him, Deters says:
“He’s guileless, he loves everybody, he’s very happy, and as storytellers, we thought ‘oh gosh, what are we going to do to create a nice dramatic story with a character like that?’ We realized that he is a bit of a little child and that was our doorway into it. Then we started talking about different sort of relatable thematic ideas that could resonate.”
Of course, all of this led to the story above, all from the perspective of the childlike Olaf. To sell the performance, Gad pulls from a very understandable place:
“My 3-year-old will say whatever she wants with no filter,” he says. “It’s so pure and wonderful.”
All in all, it makes for a fun short. One that’s lighthearted enough to make an audience happy, but with enough underlying backbone to give it an extra bit of heft.
But will it be enough to entice audiences who loved Frozen? This isn’t something that’s lost on the talent involved.
“‘Not a day goes by where I don’t wonder ‘how did this become the biggest animated movie of all time?’ Gad says. ‘At its core, it’s a movie about siblings. It’s a very universal thing. Any of us who have grown up with brothers or sisters, having two daughters, seeing it through the prism of their eyes, it’s amazing to see how important Anna and Elsa’s journey is to them.'”
Of course, Frozen is well know for its music, and as mentioned above, audiences will see four new songs in this featurette. However, singing wasn’t always the easiest for Gad:
“‘It’s difficult when they keep writing it as high as they keep writing it,’ he laughs. ‘Bobby Lopez, who wrote Book of Mormon, which I did with him, he would always write it like an octave higher than I deserve to sing it, and carried that tradition over to Frozen. So when the brilliant songwriters Kate [Anderson] and Elyssa [Samsel] did this, I was like, oh great, they’ve been speaking to Bobby and Kristen [Anderson Lopez]. And it is hard. Especially [the song “It’s My Favorite Time of Year”]. Papa doesn’t want to sing that! It’s tricky to get back into that mode and keep the voice bright and Olaf-y.'”
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure screen in front of Coco on November 22, 2017.
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SOURCES: Screening Q&A, Geeks of Doom