Olaf Presents is the latest in Disney’s obsession with rehashing and recycling the bottomless financial well of its animated films. Despite the lingering question of what exactly is the goal or purpose of the mini-series, it does manage to be genuinely delightful. Josh Gad’s Olaf of the Frozen franchise fame is a golden nugget of a character and is special enough that his overuse and excessive commercialization can be forgiven enough to truly enjoy this series. With its home on Disney+ within the complete collection of the films, the talking snowman “presents” places it in a much-needed external context. Instead of being a cute, but empty isolated concept, it feels much more like a worthy piece of the larger animated Disney film tapestry.
With each episode sporting a runtime of under two minutes, the length of each mini-story is perfect. It’s enough to get a laugh, but it ends almost exactly when it starts to get old. In fact, everything about Olaf Presents is miniature. The writing comes in super abrupt chunks and the editing emphasizes it. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it narrative sections combined with the harsh edit to the next one to two-second section is quite funny. Gad is as triumphant as the silly sidekick as ever, and it’s one of those rare castings that seem irreplaceable. Gad and Olaf in Olaf Presents only need to find a way to be funny in micro-bursts, and they can do that on repeat in this series.
Much of the humor comes from Olaf’s more removed takes on some of Disney’s most classic animated movies. He describes scenes or plot points in ways that the “ordinary” person might. The dark, dramatic, and detailed description of Mufasa’s death in The Lion King that emphasizes just how brutal the famous scene actually is is a perfect example. Our goofy snowman surely makes people think, “Look! He’s saying what we’ve always thought!”
Poking fun at its own films is a refreshing move from Disney at least. The mini-series is able to call out some outdated, overly corny, or otherwise laughable themes and storylines that work best for older movies, such as 1989’s The Little Mermaid. It is interesting, though, how Olaf Presents can make an audience laugh at the absurdities in Disney movies by taking cues from the Frankenstein’s Monster of Disney movies’ culmination of their absurdities.
The series is a nice way to promote classic films by using a more recent but future classic as a vehicle to reintroduce them either to a younger audience who did not grow up on some of the older animated classics or to an older audience that has left them behind. The presentations are undoubtedly far less enjoyable—if at all—to a person who hasn’t seen the movie being presented. So, to that extent, it’s unclear if Olaf Presents can persuade a newbie to scroll to another part of Disney+ to watch a feature-length film for context.
Olaf Presents is honestly a funny, cute, and amusing collection of bite-sized episodes for the Disney animated film fan. Olaf’s humor will not disappoint his fan base and it’s surely more than enough to make Olaf-indifferent audiences laugh. Poking fun at classic, and even more recent, movies for about a minute and a half proves to be entertaining. However, those who aren’t already familiar with the movies may not get much out of the series. While the series is a blatant recycling project that highlights ongoing Disney’s death grip on its iconic properties, the fact that Olaf Presents finds itself as a tiny piece within the Disney+ platform makes it feel like a more inspired addition to the conglomerate.
Olaf Presents premieres exclusively on Disney+ on Nov. 12.