Olaf's Frozen Adventure is a 2017 computer-animated short film directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. It is the third theatrical installment in the Frozen franchise, and follows Frozen (2013) and Frozen Fever. It stars Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad.
It's the first holiday season since Queen Elsa of Arendelle reopened the gates, but she and Princess Anna find that they never had a holiday tradition of their own due to being separated for so long. Determined to save the holiday for his friends, Olaf, with help from Sven, sets off to comb Arendelle in search of the perfect family tradition.
Originally announced as a half-hour TV special for ABC, Olaf's Frozen Adventure was released theatrically in front of Pixar's animated feature Coco for a 2-week limited engagement. It clocks in at 21 minutes long, three times the length of most of the shorts that play before Disney/Pixar features, and it is Disney's first featurette-length theatrical short since 1990's The Prince and the Pauper. It marked the first time that a Disney short ran in front of a Pixar film rather than Pixar making one of its own shorts. Later on the original plans resurfaced, and it did get an airing on ABC shortly after the end of its theatrical run, making it both a TV special and a theatrical featurette (though not part of the Coco home media releases).
Olaf's Frozen Adventure contains examples of:
- Absentee Actor:
- Ignoring the Lego shorts, which are non-canon, this is the first non-literary installment in the Frozen franchise where Prince Hans doesn't make an appearance of any kind.
- Marshmallow has made several appearances in the books, but this is the first film where he does not appear in.
- Amusing Injuries: Olaf melting is now Played for Laughs. It helps that he simply needs to be frozen again to revive.
- Anachronic Order: Word of God is that the previous short, Frozen Fever, is set one year after the film. Since Anna mentions this is their first Christmas together, that means the events of this short are set before that one.
- An Aesop: What you do to make an event special is not as important as who you are doing it with.
- Art Shift: Towards the end of "That Time Of Year", the animation shifts to knitted patterns that move almost like old school video game bitmaps.
- Aside Glance: Right after Kristoff chides Sven to help find Olaf, after he's been miming like crazy, Sven looks directly at the camera with a look of "Oh, brother."
- Award-Bait Song: The end finale song "When We're Together".
- Bait-and-Switch: The story opens with Olaf trying to jump out at various servants to scream "Surprise!" only to be told by said servant, "Not yet, Olaf". The third servant is shown carrying an Olaf-shaped wrapped present, and putting it down on the pile other presents...only for Olaf to then pop in from the right side of the frame.
- Black Comedy:
- The way Olaf describes tree decoration borders on this, by stating that one kills a tree and puts stuff all over its corpse.
- Olaf, a snow man, going into a sauna and melting. This after the original movie made a big deal about how him being exposed to summer would melt/kill him... Luckily, even though he apparently melts into a bucket, he's just fine after refreezing outside.
- Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Olaf eats a fruitcake straight from the oven, and it comes right out his backside, prompting the comment "Well, that went right through me."
- Break the Cutie: Poor Olaf. He goes at the task of saving his friends' Christmas with all his characteristic goofy optimism and cheer, but he loses most of the "traditions" he collected to an accident, gets savaged by wolves struggling to hold on to the last (and worst) one, and then has it stolen by a hawk anyway. At that point, he just sits down and lets himself get snowed over.
- Brick Joke: A hawk steals a loaf of fruitcake from Olaf. The bird then drops it on Olaf during the last scene.
- Cerebus Retcon: "The Ballad of Flemmingrad (Traditional Version)" from the soundtrack release reveals that the ballad that Kristoff sings to try and cheer up the sisters is a tragedy about a beloved troll who got stuck in a crevice while running away from hostile humans and ended up becoming a rock permanently.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Many of the people Olaf interviews during his song can be seen in the Yule Bell crowd (and elsewhere). To give just one example, all four members of the cut down a tree and decorate its corpse family are visible at the front of the crowd, with the father singing All the joy! enthusiastically as part of the chorus.
- Chekhov's Gift: During the Christmases when the sisters were distant, Anna would slip a reminder of Olaf (drawings, straw figures, etc.) under Elsa's door. Elsa kept Anna's gifts, and finding them in the attic towards the end of the special reminds both sisters that Olaf has always been a Christmas tradition.
- Christmas Carolers: One family is trying to hide from a group of particularly obnoxious ones.
- Christmas Miracle: The fruitcake finally came back!
- Christmas Special: This is the first Christmas celebrated at the castle since Anna's accident.
- Comically Missing the Point: Sven attempts to tell Kristoff that Olaf's in trouble by making a portrait of a screaming Olaf out of a carrot and other vegetables. Kristoff just thinks he's suggesting ingredients for the Flemmy stew. Anna and Elsa seem to understand the message perfectly.
- Continuity Nod:
- Anna and Elsa are shown ice skating together again, as they did at the end of the first movie, and Anna seems to have improved since last time.
- The moss "cape" and headdress Kristoff wears resembles the one the trolls dressed him up in during "Fixer-Upper".
- Olaf hangs out with Oaken and his family in their sauna.
- The contents in Elsa's trunk consists of rows of satin gloves. Before her powers were exposed, she often wore gloves in an attempt to keep them hidden.
- Kristoff's sled gets destroyed when it goes off the cliff with a fiery explosion occurring after it hits the ground, just like in the first movie.
- Olaf enters the forest where the wolves attacked Anna and Kristoff in the first movie, and he barely manages to escape these wolves now.
- We see Elsa hesitate before knocking on Anna's bedroom door, in similar fashion to Anna's hesitation in knocking when she arrived at Elsa's ice palace.
- When Olaf uses a candy cane as his nose in place of his usual carrot, his eyes go candy-striped and he describes his reaction as a sugar rush. This calls back to when he first received his carrot nose in the original movie, where he described feeling a "head rush."
- Crazy Cat Lady: The grandmother at one family's home who knits pajamas for the kittens:Family: We knit scarves and sweaters, and we wear our matching mittens,
Grandmother: Don't forget the jammies that I knitted for my kittens
- Dark Reprise: Elsa reprises "Ring In The Season" in a sad, gloomy manner as she reminisces the Christmases she celebrated when younger. Olaf later sings a sad reprise of "That Time of Year" upon thinking his tradition hunt was for nothing and decides to stay lost.
- A Day in the Limelight: Olaf and Sven have bigger roles here than in other installments of the franchise. This short is dedicated to them looking for Holiday traditions for the royal family to now celebrate.
- Didn't Think This Through: Christmas Eve, the most tradition-bound holiday of all, may just be the absolute worst day of the year to throw a surprise party. A universal response of, "thanks, but I already have plans" was pretty much inevitable.
- Dope Slap: The wife punches the husband in the back of the head when Olaf records that they cut down a tree and dress its corpse with candles, horrifying their children.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: The titular adventure hinges on Olaf's belief that he can just find someone else's holiday tradition so Anna and Elsa can mimic it. He doesn't realize that a family tradition is a personal thing by nature.
- Dreaming of a White Christmas: This winter isn't caused by Elsa's powers, so it's just a snowy time for Christmas, Hanukkah, and St. Lucia's Day.
- Extremely Short Timespan: The special is set over the course of one entire day.
- Everyone Hates Fruitcakes: Olaf eats a fruitcake that literally goes right through him. Initially averted in that Olaf eagerly eats it rather than hates it. Played straight later on when the hawk who stole it returns it untouched. Olaf also asks, Can I leave this fruitcake here? to somebody in an outhouse, whose face we see for a split-second. This person understandably gives a no, because Olaf still has it later.
- Forced into Their Sunday Best: Kristoff is uncomfortable by the formal attire he has to wear for the Yule Bell ceremony. As he's escorting Sven and the Yule Bell into the courtyard, he can be seen tugging at his shirt collar. He's quick to ditch the jacket in favor of his troll headdress.
- Foreshadowing: Does a ton of it for the animated feature that followed it in theaters:
- Holiday tradition plays a huge part of the story in both animations.
- "Breaking and entering is okay if it's for tradition"; Miguel breaks into Ernesto de la Cruz' tomb, which ultimately does play into tradition twice: The first time he tries stealing the guitar in there in order to connect with his family's musical roots, and when he returns he uses the guitar to help Coco remember her father.
- The resolution of the film involves personal, long lost family traditions winning the day.
- Foreign Queasine: Nobody seems very keen on Kristoff's traditional trollish fungus stew, and even he admits that it doesn't look very appetizing. The plot intervenes before anybody gets to find out whether he's right about it tasting better than it looks.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: A close look at Sir Jorgen Bjorgen will lead one to notice that his "cape" is made from one of Elsa's old cyan gloves.
- Funny Background Event: While Elsa and Anna sing "When We're Together", Olaf tries to drink hot chocolate. It melts through the back of his head and spills on the floor.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Elsa has a childhood penguin doll, Sir Jorgen Bjorgen, who was a great listener. She even made a cape for him from one of her gloves.
- Grand Staircase Entrance: Elsa makes a lesser version of her entry from the movie, being shown coming down a staircase while using her ice magic to add frost to the wreath trimmings on the railings.
- G-Rated Drug: When Olaf uses a candy cane as his nose in place of his usual carrot, his eyes go candy-striped and weird. He describes it afterwards as a sugar rush.
- Happy Holidays Dress:
- Elsa's blue velvet dress is based on her ice dress, but even more overtly winter-themed. The snowflake designs are larger and stand out more, and the neckline has a trim of fluffy white fur. If anything, it's almost a cross between her ice dress and the dress of the original Snow Queen.
- Anna's dress is more subtly fancy, such as the motif of bells and goats embroidered on her skirt.
- Hollywood Cuisine: After the Yule Bell has been rung, everyone heads back to their homes to celebrate their respective traditions:Anna: Whoa-whoa-whoa! Hold on! Going so soon?
Mother: The yule bell rang, I must get home for my family's holiday tradition: rolling the lefse.note
Man: Ours is putting out porridge for the tomte.note
Twin women: We're making traditional wart stobble bockels!
Olaf: And I'm going to filet the crème de la cringly-cronka! That's a thing, right?
- Ice Palace: While it's nowhere near Elsa's ice palace on the North Mountain, Elsa has adorned the castle in Arendelle with some new ice decor, including a new snowflake on the tallest spire, new snowflake sculptures in the fountains and decorative ice on exterior railings.
- Indestructible Edible: A loaf of fruit cake surviving a series of misadventures unscathed.
- Innocently Insensitive: Mr. Olsen and his wife pass on the offer of entering the castle because they don't want to intrude on Anna and Elsa's traditions, which makes them realize they have none.
- It's All My Fault: Elsa blames herself for her family not having a family tradition because they never spent time together after the gates were closed.
- It Was with You All Along: While Olaf sets out to find a tradition for their family by looking to see what other people did, Anna and Elsa find one in Elsa's old trunk - and the tradition is Olaf.Anna had made an "Olaf" gift every Christmas growing up, creating a tradition herself.
- I Will Find You: Elsa and Anna go searching for Olaf after he gets lost.
- Jumping Out of a Cake: Olaf jumps out of a kransekake to surprise Anna, with some of the lower layers getting stuck around his midsection while his head comes off.
- Jump Scare: Elsa is looking for Anna in the attic, when Anna pops up out of a trunk, but with a blanket over her, so she looks like a dark brown mass appearing out of nowhere. After a downplayed Scare Chord, Elsa does a quick Gasp! until Anna reveals herself wearing her old viking hat, sorcerer's cloak and dragon hand puppets.
- Lighter and Softer: While it has some dark moments, this special is more lighthearted and optimistic than the feature films. In contrast to the first movie, there's no death or betrayal in this story, or kingdom-wide levels of danger.
- Limited Wardrobe: All of the gloves in Elsa's trunk are identical.
- List Song: During "That Time of Year", the various citizens of Arendelle list off the different traditions each family has.
- Match Cut: Several times.
- Used when transitioning out of Elsa's flashback to the Yule Bell ceremonies the family oversaw when she and Anna were kids.
- Anna and Elsa's flashback of sending mementos of Olaf is changed back to the present with the sisters in the exact same spot.
- One during "When We're Together" as the scene changes from Anna and Elsa traversing the mountains to skating on the ice.
- Mickey Mousing: Anna rings a group of small bells on a table at the end of her first solo of "Ring in the Season" that fit with the bridge to Elsa's solo.
- Naked People Are Funny: Olaf joins Oaken and his family in their sauna. The humans have towels on... at least at first.Olaf: Nothing like taking your coals off once in a while, you know what I mean?
Oaken: Here's a sauna for your friends!
- Later, when heading back to the castle, Oaken even agrees to give Olaf his towel along with the sauna:
Olaf: Thank you, Mr. Wandering Oaken. Oh, one last thing: Would it be possible to get one of those awkwardly revealing, yet tastefully traditional towels your family's so fond of wearing?
Oaken: Take mine, yeah? [Oaken tosses his towel at Olaf]
Olaf: Oh, it's still warm!
- Narrative Shapeshifting: When he tries to tell Kristoff that Olaf is in danger, Sven gets buck teeth and a round belly to represent the snowman, and sharp fangs while doing the wolves.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers show Anna and Elsa reacting in disgust to the fruitcake going through Olaf, when really, theyre reacting to Kristoffs sculpture of Flemmy the Fungus Troll and Kristoff licking its forehead. The fruitcake scene doesn't even involve them.
- No Flow in CGI: Averted even more than the original film. Elsa and Anna's dresses flow more naturally with their movements, up to the hairs on Elsa's fur collar.
- Norse by Norsewest: The various Scandinavian holiday cultures explored throughout Arendelle as Olaf goes on his quest to discover some family traditions for Anna and Elsa to celebrate.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Elsa's new gown is a gorgeous dark blue, covered in diamond-shaped ice crystals with a white fur lining around the collar. Yet since Clothes Make the Legend, it's still cut like her Iconic Outfit. Anna's holiday dress is a little less elegant, but still equally fashionable.
- Pretty in Mink: Both of the royal sisters' holiday outfits have white fur trim.
- Reality Ensues:
- When the Yule Bell is rung, everyone goes home instead of staying for the surprise party due to most people having personal and family traditions and plans already formed by the time the holidays arrive.
- Anna is dressed warmly and Elsa isnt; Anna has rosy cheeks and Elsa doesnt, since Anna is still vulnerable to cold and Elsa is not.
- Santa Claus: Olaf describes him as a guy committing breaking-and-entering, but it's okay when done for Christmas.
- Sarcasm Mode: Olaf says "That sounds safe" when talking about hanging stockings over the fireplace.
- Series Continuity Error: Olaf is missing the personal snow cloud that Elsa made for him at the end of Frozen. While this may not be a problem for him outdoors since it's wintertime, that doesn't explain why he doesn't have it when he's inside the castle.note
- Shout-Out: To a few other Disney properties:
- Sick and Wrong: Kristoff shows his Flemingrad holiday tradition (making a statue of a troll who died fleeing from humans, then licking its forehead and making a wish). Elsa gags at the sight. Olaf whispers to Anna, "You're a princess. You don't have to settle". When Kristoff tries to get them to try his Flemmy stew (which smells of wet fur but is a real crowdpleaser), the sisters wisely pass:Anna: No thanks, we're good!Elsa: Had a big breakfast. [laughs nervously]
- Timmy in a Well: After Olaf gets lost in the wolf-infested forest, Sven rushes back to the castle to get help. Kristoff cannot decipher what the reindeer is trying to say, even when he uses a carrot and some twigs to make himself look like Olaf and does an elaborate pantomime. Anna and Elsa are able to decipher Sven's message rather easily.
- Trailers Always Spoil: All promos of the special spoil the final moments of it, from when Olaf goes missing and everyone celebrates in the forest.
- True Blue Femininity: Both Elsa's and Anna's Christmas dresses are blue based, with Anna's being a light blue and Elsa's being a much darker shade.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: "That Time of Year" is full of these, but taken Up to Eleven as the scenes change every two to three syllables.
- Understatement: Olaf says that the destruction to Kristoff's sled and all the traditions within it is a bit of a setback. And he says this after admitting he's not going to sugarcoat it!
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Oaken puts a sauna on Sven & Olaf's sled, as a Christmas present to Elsa and Anna. He does it with the best intentions, but that sauna is what causes Olaf to end up in a life-threatening situation with the wolves in the forest.
- Walk Into Camera Obstruction: During "Ring in the Season", Elsa and Anna spin around before Anna's body changes the scene.
- Welcome to My World: Elsa says it when Anna opens Elsa's old trunk to see, as Anna just joked, rows and rows of gloves.
- Wingding Eyes: When Olaf replaces his carrot nose with a candy cane, his eyes turn into purple spirals as he experiences a sugar rush.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Olaf gets so upset about supposedly failing Anna and Elsa that he doesn't even want to go home to them so they need to find him and tell him that he is their Christmas tradition.
- You Have to Have Jews: One of the families Olaf visits is celebrating Hanukkah - they have a menorah and demonstrate how to spin a dreidel.
'Cause when we're together, I could stay forever
And when we're together, it's my favorite time of year