There’s an interesting continuity going on in the Disney “Frozen” world. In the “Frozen Fever” short (2015), Elsa (Idina Menzel) catches cold and nearly ruins the birthday party for Anna (Kristen Bell). And, in “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” which opens in front of Pixar’s “Coco” (a first for Disney), there are no holiday traditions to embrace during their first Christmas together, also thanks to Elsa’s curse.
Clearly, there are emotional loose ends being tied up between the sibling princesses, which will presumably allow them to be better prepared to confront whatever threat awaits them in “Frozen 2” (November 27, 2009).
Meanwhile, Olaf (Josh Gad) continues to evolve as the child-like snowman in the 21-minute featurette (originally intended as an ABC holiday special). But with its eye-popping animation and emphasis on family and tradition, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” makes the perfect opener for “Coco,” which embraces similar thematic territory during Día de los Muertos.
Prep & Landing for Olaf
With Anna and Elsa at a loss for resurrecting Christmas in the palace, Olaf goes on a mission to borrow the best traditions from Arendelle. The result is a rollicking musical spectacle with four new original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (“Between the Lines”).
Directed by the Emmy-winning team of Stevie Wermers-Skelton & Kevin Deters (“Prep & Landing”) and produced by Oscar winner Roy Conli (“Big Hero 6”) “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” definitely offered more to play with at 21 minutes.
“Olaf is maturing and becoming more self aware,” said Deters. “And just being a kid at Christmas time, the spectacle of it all helped ground him and realize that he has no traditions or knowledge of what’s going on.”
Even though the “Frozen Christmas” filmmakers were part of the Story Trust on “Frozen,” they still had to cope with how many rules were part of the “Frozen” world. Still, nothing was too hard and fast as long as it served the narrative. “I think the nice thing that Stevie and Kevin were able to do was craft that emotion about Olaf wanting to ensure [Anna and Elsa’s] happiness,” said Conli.
And the “Frozen” team offered some valuable assistance. “[Director] Jenn [Lee] came up with this gag for Elsa, where she opens a box filled with satin gloves,” said Wermers-Skelton.
Added Conli: “The sets and costumes were new and all the characters had to be revised. The wonderful thing about doing that is that the look actually improves. We also did a lot of subsurface scattering for the snow, which required a lot of light bounce.”
Speaking of snow, Mike Giaimo, the production designer who provides continuity on all of the “Frozen” movie projects, said the look of the snow here was very different. “Overall, this show probably has more of a romantic feel than ‘Frozen’ for many reasons. The season, for one, sets the tone. And in ‘Frozen,’ all of the snow in Elsa’s ice magic was on the extreme side. But here they wanted beautiful snowfall.”