Though the Frozen films may be on hiatus, Olaf is still more than willing to tell us some stories.
In Disney+’s new series of shorts Olaf Presents, the beloved snowman does his best to recreate the magic of some of Disney’s most well-known animated films. From The Little Mermaid to Tangled, Olaf (voiced once again by Josh Gad) takes a few moments to take on the roles of mermaid, genie, lion king and many, many more as he speedily recalls the tales that defined a generation using his unique voice and vision.
Directed by veteran Disney animator Hyrum Osmond, Olaf Presents is silly, (very) brief but ultimately fun addition to the Disney+ canon. Designed as additional content for ‘Disney+ Day’, Olaf continues in the vein of rapid storytelling that marked his role in Frozen 2. Recounting the events of the first Frozen adventure, Olaf’s interpretation of the story added a certain level of goofiness and self-awareness to the Frozen franchise and Osmond and Gad clearly want to do the same here. By poking fun at other major Disney franchises such as Moana, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and more, Disney injects a little bit of meta-humour into their greatest hits and, frankly, it works well.
Although the shorts are extremely… well… short at only 2 minutes each, Gad definitely brings the energy and enthusiasm that one would hope for this sort of project. Having shown up in a number of projects as the lovable snowman (like the Lego Frozen project?), Gad is now synonymous with the character and clearly enjoys embellishing the role. (Seriously, whereas it can be easy to substitute voice actors, it’s actually hard to imagine anyone else as Olaf at this point.)
Admittedly, there’s very little to Olaf Presents by way of character arc or development of any kind. However, the project does serve as a gentle reminder of the fact that stories are shaped by perspective. Despite the fact that Olaf sticks closely to the original tales, his own unique brand of humour does shape the way that the events are presented. In Aladdin, he points out the silliness of the Sultan’s inability to change his own laws. In The Lion King, he points out the irony of Mufasa’s leadership over the animals while he still needs to eat. He even mocks Flynn’s overuse of the ‘smolder’ in his interpretation of Tangled. In this way, Disney does lean into the notion that the meaning of these stories can be affected by who tells the tale. Olaf’s innocence and unique take provide a different window into the stories that we have grown up with. Even if it’s done with silliness in view, that’s an interesting suggestion about the way we understand the world.
However, while the power of perspective is certainly an important aspect of these shorts, the ultimate goal of these tales is strictly entertainment. Olaf’s silliness and enthusiasm are infectious, even within these brief mini-tales. After all, who doesn’t love a good story, especially one that help us ‘see the light’ in a new way.
Olaf Presents is now playing on Disney+.