You’ve heard the hype: Pixar’s Coco is an animation triumph that does authentic artistic justice to Mexican culture. The Dia de los Muertos-centered tale opened to rave reviews from fans, critics, and the Latino community at large. It’s the first film ever to cross one billion pesos in Mexico, and won the New York Film Critics Circle award for best animated film. So, you decide to see what all the fuss is about for yourself. The trailers wrap up, and next thing you know you’re watching… Olaf’s Frozen Adventure?
No, you didn’t accidentally sit down in the wrong theater. Like some strangely shared wide-awake nightmare, families expecting to see Coco have first been “treated” to the Frozen animated short. Predictably, moviegoers were outraged. Criticisms ranged from Disney trying to give Coco “white appeal” to the fact that this short is anything but short; Olaf’s Frozen Adventure clocks in at twenty-two minutes. Pixar films traditionally have an animated short proceed them, but none have ever run longer than seven minutes. I’m particularly attached to La Luna, which ran with 2012’s Brave. Still, favorite shorts aside, that’s a forty-two minute wait when you factor in trailers just to see the movie you actually bought tickets for.
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Then there’s the whole “white appeal” accusation. NPR West arts correspondent Mandelit del Barco called Coco a “love letter to Mexico” in her review. Pixar artists spent six years in Mexico hunting for inspiration. They hired cultural consultants for every aspect of the film and an almost all-Latino cast. Given all that, I have to agree with her. But del Barco also noted how the film is “rebellious, even subversive, for celebrating Mexican culture in the current political climate.” Did Disney include Olaf’s Frozen Adventure as some sort of middle-America buffer? Here’s John Lasseter’s explanation from back in June:
“When we put shorts in front of features, I always love to have shorts that contrast, that aren’t about the same subject or setting or environment, but with this, both stories are incredibly emotional and so much about family that they really fit. And both celebrate two completely different holidays, so I think that was also fun to put them together.”
Bit of an odd contradiction to say he likes how different they are but also enjoys how the two fit. I’d also like to note that this is the first non-Pixar short to proceed one of their films. For a pairing meant to celebrate tradition, it feels suspiciously odd breaking one in the process.
Thankfully, the House of Mouse has caved to all the public backlash; Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will end its theatrical run this Friday. Despite Lasseter’s claim that it was “too cinematic to not inhabit the big screen,” it really isn’t. Look, I’m not the biggest fan of Frozen by any stretch. The animation is subpar by Disney standards, with a predictable story and fanbase who won’t stop singing “Let It Go” in spite of our bleeding ears. At least we got this hilarious Breaking Bad parody as a consolation prize.
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Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is just more of the same so, if you loved Frozen, you’ll adore it. For those of you who fit into that category, you have until December 8th unless Disney goes back to the original ABC holiday special plan. If you endured that commercialized nonsense like I did, go see Coco again but in Spanish! Gael García Bernal (Hector) and Alanna Ubach (Mama Imelda) did bilingual voice acting for the film, and Pixar reanimated all the mouth movements for Spanish dubbing. It’s incredible! Everyone else, see this movie—you can thank me later.
I suppose it’s ironic that the Mexico and Norway pavilions are right next to one another in Epcot’s World Showcase. Right now, they feel literally half-a-world away. Guess Disney’s just going to have to let it go.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will no longer be in theaters starting December 8th, and not a day too soon.