Ever since he first appeared on screens in Frozen, Olaf has been a star. Voiced by Josh Gad, Olaf is the childlike snowman, obsessed with summer who stole the show from Elsa and Anna back in 2013. A featured player again in Frozen II, Disney has finally given Olaf his own vehicle in the short Once Upon a Snowman.
Set during Frozen, Once Upon a Snowman follows Olaf as he takes his awkward first steps after being brought to life by Elsa. Taking cues from Back to the Future and Forrest Gump, Once Upon a Snowman shows audiences scenes from Frozen but from a brand new perspective.
We see Olaf’s journey to meet Anna and what happened to him along the way. This 7-minute short adds context to the original film while expanding Olaf’s story and demonstrating, once again, that Disney is a master storyteller.
Once Upon a Snowman Review
Frozen has always been one of the more ‘magical’ Disney properties but from the moment Olaf is brought to life by Elsa’s cloak, Once Upon a Snowman is pure, unadulterated magic. This is largely due to Olaf as a character. It’s impossible not to find him endearing and watching as he takes his first awkward steps towards discovering who he is, it’s impossible not to fall in love.
Once Upon a Snowman is also truly funny. Josh Gad’s voice acting is simply wonderful and his delivery manages to keep the story moving at its brisk pace, while taking enough time to make each beat land.
Early on, as Olaf is wandering through the forest, he realises he’s made of snow and is also walking on snow. He pauses to wonder what that means before shaking off the weirdness and pressing forward. It’s a sweet, funny little moment that encapsulates Olaf as a character and this short brilliantly.
Another great scene is Olaf trying to find a nose. With Anna having purchased the last carrots from Wandering Oaken’s, Olaf is left with whatever he can find. A cute montage ensues before Oaken suggests a ‘summer sausage,’ perfect for the summer obsessed Olaf.
Well, except that it attractst the attention of some nearby wolves, directly impacting events of Frozen.
The way Olaf is integrated and woven through the first act of Frozen is great and his story fits in without a single hiccup. Nothing in Once Upon a Snowman feels shoehorned or awkward which is a real testament to the writers.
The throughline of Once Upon a Snowman is Olaf’s quest to discover who he is. Having been born out of snow, he’s completely innocent and totally unaware of the world he lives in. He’s a quick learner but it’s not until the end of his journey that he figures out who he is and what his name is.
The childlike innocence of Olaf, the pureness and relatability of his journey and the laughs along the way are something we sorely need right now. Kudos to Disney for finding a way to bring a little light into people’s lives and for finding a way to round out Olaf’s story and expanding the world of Frozen.
While watching Once Upon a Snowman I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face but right at the end, I couldn’t stop my eyes from leaking. Olaf, remembering being built by Anna and Elsa, remembering his name and that he likes warm hugs will bring even the most stoneyhearted amongst us to tears.
“My name is Olaf, and I like warm hugs.”
Once Upon a Snowman may only be 7-minutes long but it’ll make your entire day better.
Once Upon a Snowman is now streaming on Disney+.