It's hard to believe it has only been seven years since we were introduced to Elsa (Idina Menzel; Rent), Anna (Kristen Bell; The Good Place), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff; Hamilton: An American Musical), and Olaf (Josh Gad; Beauty and the Beast) in Disney's blockbuster, animated film, Frozen. In a short time, the franchise has grown to epic proportions with a new ride in Norway at Epcot Center, incredible amounts of merchandising, a breakfast cereal, a sequel which also did very well at the box office, two television specials, and an animated short. This week a second short, Once Upon a Snowman, comes to the streaming service, Disney+.
Touted as a "midquel", one could argue that Once Upon a Snowman is an origin story of sorts. The seven-minute-long short takes place during Frozen and ends before Frozen Fever, Olaf's Frozen Adventure, and Frozen II. As the story opens it starts with a familiar scene – Elsa singing Let It Go as she creates an ice castle and brings Olaf the Snowman to life. Literally tossed aside, this little creator journeys to a small shop in the forest of Arendelle looking for his identity and his nose. He also crosses paths with Anna and Kristoff but won't actually meet them until later.
What Olaf does find in that shop is his love for summer (oh the irony) and nose, made out of …you guessed it, summer sausage. While Olaf loves his newfound facial feature, he discovers that so do the wolves who start chasing him down a slippery slope (literally – as they slide down snow and ice on the side of a mountain). In the background, we see glimpses of the original Frozen film paralleling Once upon a Snowman as Olaf comes to life. As the credits pop onto the screen we see Olaf meeting Anna and Kristoff for the first time.
While Once Upon a Snowman is over rather quickly, it manages to pack quite a bit into the story. As per usual, the animation is sharp and detailed, but I would expect no less from Disney. The story is quite cute and there are funny moments for both children and adults to enjoy. Of course, there are several jokes that will go over kids' heads and are put in solely for mom and dad. The music, as expected, is from Frozen so it is something we have heard before.
Parents be warned, even though Once Upon a Snowman is under ten minutes, your child will want to watch it over and over again so be prepared to have it on repeat for at least a few weeks. Luckily, Olaf is adorable, and Josh Gad once again lends his vocal talents to this loveable creature.