If ever there was a breakout character from Frozen, the Disney animated juggernaut that bestrode the world when it first came out in 2013, it is the very much alive garrulously exuberant to a fault snowman Olaf (voiced with a boisterous of childlike wonder by Josh Gad) whose sheer presence in any subsequent film such as Frozen 2 or shorts is enough to make your day ridiculously better.
He has found himself used again and again by Disney who know a popular character when they see one, and to date, they have played to the character’s multitudinously likeable strengths, employing him to discover the many strange delights of Christmas in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure or discovering life in the very first moments of his existence in Once Upon a Snowman.
He is a delight and his exuberance is on full display in Olaf Presents, a series of 5 x three-minute shorts in which he re-tells classic Disney stories – Moana, Tangled, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin very much in the entertainingly anarchic style that made his recounting of the events in Frozen such a joy to watch in the sequel.
Granted that was a clever expositional device to get people up to speed with the first film mere minutes after being plunged into the second, but the same energy is very much on display in Olaf Presents, which was released on the recently-staged inaugural Disney+ Day.
The key ingredient is that Olaf, being the joyously seditious figure he is – he doesn’t deliberately seek to question or undermine things but the sheer shortness of his life to date means he approaches things and therefore has a wholly different perspective to the rest of us which comes in handy if you want an excuse to have some fun with much-loved iconic stories.
Take Aladdin which, like its four short film stablemates is stuffed to the genie-summoning lamp rafters with pithily hilarious asides such as Olaf musing about Jasmine has to go on the run when, well, everything is quite fixable – “Oh Jasmine! If only your dad had full authority to literally change of the rules he came up in the first place!”
The mirth continues when Aladdin, fresh from leaping about on buildings, says “Do you want someone to enter a cave for what seems like a shady deal?” or when he realises that the genie won’t do any of the cool stuff like bring people back to life.
It’s gloriously, charmingly irreverent and it works a treat, giving Disney the chance to gently poke at its stories without harming them one iota; think of Olaf Presents as a cutesy version of the Honest Trailers from Screen Junkies.
True they are over before you can blink but that’s fine – what happens in those three brilliantly-written and perfectly performed minutes will lift your day, make you love Olaf even more (is that possible? Yes, yes it is ), and send you racing to watch those five wonderful films all over again which is, of course, the point.