The previously untold origins of Olaf, the innocent and insightful, summer-loving snowman who melted hearts in the Academy Award®-winning 2013 Disney animated feature, Frozen, and its acclaimed 2019 sequel, are revealed in the all-new Walt Disney Animation Studios animated short, Once Upon a Snowman. The film follows Olaf’s first steps as he comes to life and searches for his identity in the snowy mountains outside Arendelle. (synopsis via Disney Plus)
If you ever had a feeling that there was more you needed to know about sweet, adorable Olaf but weren’t sure what to ask, Disney has come to your hesitant, unarticulated rescue.
Once Upon a Snowman mostly seamlessly melds the loveliest sentient snowman ever’s journey from existential identity crisis, sans carrot no less, to a strong sense of “I need a nose” self into the action of 2013’s Frozen, leaving you loving him even more – is that even possible? Spoiler alert: IT IS – and with a completist sense of what was going on up in the snowy reaches of Arendelle in the first zeitgeist-swamping film.
Josh Gad once again brings a comedically-rich, improvisation-heavy vibe to Olaf whose way with a passing line is unsurpassed such as when his initial giddy enthusiasm that he is alive tempered by the fact that he has does not, in fact, have hoped-for circus skills.
“I can juggle! No, I CANNOT.”
It’s one small giddily joyous moment in a short film full of them, proving that you can never have too much of Olaf who, quite apart from figuring out that Oaken’s trading post name, “Wandering Oakens” is an anagram of “Naked Norwegians” and falling in love with summer through a stereoscope which is offered as a nose possibility, is just so excited to be alive from the very first moment he tumbles down a slope and collides with a tree, mere moments after his creation by Elsa (Idina Menzel) while she’s singing “Let It Go”.
The joy of Once Upon a Snowman is simply that we get to spend a lot more time with Olaf, whose appeal, says co-director and writer Dan Abraham, comes down to one simply but extraordinarily important thing:
“Olaf has this overwhelming optimism and sincerity about him. And that just never gets old. It’s something that we all sort of aspire to and sometimes fall short … But Olaf is always there charging ahead with just this eternal optimism and sweetness that I think is a part of all of us, but maybe we wish we had more of.” (LA Times)