Why was it such a misfit?

Let's travel back to a time when Frozen ruled the Earth. While Disney movies are usually popular, Frozen was on another level -- the kind of seismic cultural phenomenon that happens only under the bluest of moons. As far as a generation of kids were concerned, the art of cinema had reached its peak with Frozen and anything else was inferior. This was the only movie they ever needed and they could just in theory watch it repeatedly for the rest of their lives. It all seemed unstoppable.

Then Olaf's Frozen Adventure came out.

The half-hour special was originally intended to premiere on television, but since Frozen was so huge, and Disney had no short to put before the Pixar movie Coco that Christmas, they figured no one would mind if Olaf's Frozen Adventure played before it instead. It would be a nice surprise for fans starved for new content (for years, it was only the original movie, Frozen Fever, and NSFW fanfiction). There was only one problem: since it was actually a TV special, the whole thing was 21 minutes long without commercials. The average moviegoer, who came to see Coco, had no warning of this.

The minutes passed....eight, eleven, fifteen. The "short" was still playing. Theater goers tapped their feet, drummed their fingers on the armrests, and wondered when Olaf was going to go away so they could see the flick they paid for. When they exited, they gushed over Coco and thought it ranked among Pixar's best. but the response to Olaf's Frozen Adventure was not nearly as glowing. And for the first time, the buzz around Frozen started turning negative.

Kids had seen Frozen a thousand times but they had chosen to press "PLAY" those thousand times, of their own free will. This one was forced on them. They came for something else, they wanted something else, and because of Frozen they couldn't get it immediately. Now Frozen was staring to feel like the guest that was staying a little too long. Public outcry was so bad, Disney had to step in and forcibly remove the special from prints of Coco after the first two weeks.

Post-Olaf's Frozen Adventure, I started seeing less Elsa and Anna toys choking up store aisles. The movie's influence began waning. By the time the actual sequel, Frozen II, appeared in theaters two years later, it was far too late. The blunder from 2017 had done its damage. It didn't perform nearly as well.

The special made its proper intended television debut that December, but it was branded with instant Misfit status. It should have no problem remaining on TV for the next twenty years, but it will always be remembered as a Golden Goose Killer and a huge blunder for the Disney corporation.

So! How is it?

We open this one with Olaf sneaking around Arendelle Castle, hiding in things and yelling "SURPRIIIISE!" in people's faces as he bursts out. This is certainly annoying, especially for the servants carrying stacks of 10,000 plates, but no one seems to mind. Olaf was actually told to yell "surprise" at some point that day, and he's just getting his practice.

For you see, this will be the first Christmas in a long time where the citizens of Arendelle will be invited directly into the castle for a holiday party with tons of scrumptious free food. They just don't know it yet. It's been tradition to kick off the Christmas season in the region by raising the Yule Bell high atop the castle and ringing it. Everyone gathers to see it happen, and this year they'll get an unexpected bonus.

The bell rises, Elsa and Anna have a song about it (as they do about everything), a loud clang is heard throughout the kingdom, and then Olaf throws open the front doors and yells "SURPRISE!"

He's greeted with the sight of everyone's backs as they walk away.

Seems they didn't think this plan through very well. Not only did no one expect a party, they aren't prepared for it, and they have no time for it. Olaf tries to explain what they're missing, but the Arendellians dismiss him and point out they have their own traditions they perform after the bell rings. They all have to get home to do whatever it is they do.

This would bother most people, but Olaf is the most naive being in the universe and it takes a heck of a lot to crush him. This isn't nearly enough. "So the SURPRISE...was that no one came!" he says with a weird grin. It just makes sense!

Kristoff approaches and says to the sisters, "Ah, who needs them? We can throw our own party just fine. We can kick it off with a tradition from my own region, that I share with the trolls in the woods." He explains that every year the trolls dress up an effigy of one of their beloved elders, cover it in grass and lichen, and give it a wet kiss. Kristoff now has half his face covered in the junk, and is wondering why Elsa and Anna aren't joining in. The expressions on their faces say why.

Olaf leans in from off-frame toward Anna and whispers, "You're a princess, you don't have to settle." WOW, that was funny. Not every line out of Olaf works, but every now and then he hits a homer.

"Everyone has their own traditions!" observes Olaf as he and the royal siblings walk back into the empty ballroom. "I can't wait to see what YOUR traditions are!" Elsa's expression freezes.

Her family doesn't actually HAVE a tradition, and it's because they never did anything together after she was locked up for being Dangerously Snowy. She feels that this is all her fault, and walks away with a dour expression. Olaf doesn't like seeing Elsa sad, and immediately comes up with an idea to lift her spirits back up, which he shares with Sven.

He'll travel all over Arendelle, looking for the BEST Christmas tradition ever, and introduce it to Elsa and Anna. They'll adopt it immediately and stop being sad and stuff! "ARE YOU WITH ME?" he shouts. Sven high-fives Olaf's branch in approval, which knocks it across the stable. "Ow!" Olaf utters without changing face.

Olaf isn't kidding. His plan is ambitious enough that he has to visit EVERY single house in Arendelle -- fortunately, the country doesn't seem to be that big, so he's able to do it within one day. He observes how each family celebrates the holidays, collects one item from each ritual, and piles it all in the sled Sven is pulling. All the while, he constantly makes observations that could easily be taken as sarcastic if anybody but Olaf was saying them. "You hang long socks directly above a roaring fireplace? THAT sounds safe!" "You murder a tree, drag it home and decorate its corpse? I LOVE IT!"

The last house Olaf visits is that of a large jolly man wearing only a towel. He says in HIS family, the tradition is to sit in a sauna all day. Participating in that activity has the results you'd think it would for Olaf, but he's made of stronger magic than Frosty and is able to reassemble himself once the man throws him outside in a bucket. I still can't believe they thought they could pull off "killing" him in Frozen II. Maybe the very little kids would buy it, but everyone else was just checking their watch for when he'd bounce back.

Olaf asks for one item from the family. He gets his own sauna, which barely fits in the sled....AND the man's towel, fresh off his crotch. "Ooo, still warm!" Olaf informs us.

All done! Olaf cheerfully sings his own variant of "Jingle Bells" from the top of his junk pile while Sven pulls the sled back toward the castle. At the same time, he's swinging his crotch towel around. Just as he gets to the verse "our plan has zero flaws, I see nothing going wrong," the towel slips from his branchy hand and knocks open the sauna door. A hot rock bounces out and lands in his hand where the towel was. "AAAA!" Olaf exclaims. He throws the rock, but it ricochets off a squirrel's head and back onto the sled, where it ignites a fire. Of course Olaf doesn't notice until it's right in front of his face.

"Oooh, look, Sven, a screen bug for The Rise Of Skywalker! I bet it'll be the best Star Wars EVER!"

And it's NOT right in front of his face until the sled has gone out of control, careened downhill at 120 MPH, and sailed off a cliff with Olaf miraculously landing on the other side...and even at THIS point, he's oblivious, stating "hey, the fire finally went out!" Then when it's followed by an explosion, he finally gets it.

Olaf is just completely botching this, which is why it's a good thing the sisters aren't relying on him, We cut at this point back to Arendelle Castle: Interior, where Elsa and Anna are looking through storage for items from their childhood. There must be SOMETHING they can adapt into a tradition. Anna finds her old doll, pretend sorcerer's cloak, and Viking helmet (this is the only cartoon I've ever seen that accurately depicts it without horns). Elsa points out HER chest, and Anna wonders aloud "What's in THERE, stacks of your old gloves?"

It is, indeed, nothing but stacks of gloves. Anna removes her foot from her mouth.

At this point Anna frets that they'll never find anything to use as a tradition. "Or maybe we will," Elsa says, eyeing a wooden box near the corner. Anna opens it and gasps...

Olaf is still standing at the cliff, and he admits to Sven that this "is a bit of a setback." A few items DID land across the cliff with him, but all of them are broken except for a fruitcake. Figuring it'll have to do, Olaf picks it up and wanders in the direction he thinks is Arendelle Castle but is actually a wolves' den. Sounds of howling and "Oooo, PUPPIES!" echo into the distance.

Olaf may be a dummy, but Sven isn't. This snowman isn't going to survive in the wild for much longer. Sven makes a sprint for Arendelle Town, running right into Kristoff as he's cooking traditional troll stew. Despite Kristoff being established as able to communicate with Sven, he really has a hard time figuring out what Sven is trying to tell him here. Sven even pantomimes the scene by distorting his body into Olaf's shape, and Kristoff still doesn't get it.

Then there's a short pan to the open door, where Elsa and Anna stand there and say "OH NO! Olaf is lost in the open forest and he's been chased by a pack of hungry wolves!"
"Uh yeah, that's what be obviously meant," Kristoff sheepishly says.

But the wolves aren't after Olaf, they want to eat the fruitcake he's carrying (why would they eat snow anyway). Olaf can't let them have it -- it's the one tradition that survived! He races through a cave and just barely squeezes through a pile of branches before tumbling down a small hill. Olaf looks pretty beat up, but at least he saved the fruitcake, which he holds in the air trimphantly. One second later, a hawk snatches it from his hand and flies into the distance, screeching.

Olaf just has to admit he failed at this point. He sags against a tree and just waits for the falling snow to bury him.

Elsa and Anna have rounded up the entire town to search for Olaf, but they're the ones that find him. Olaf mutters through the snow mound that he was trying to find a Christmas tradition for them, but failed spectacularly, and now he's a disappointment. Of course the sisters don't agree with him. I mean, why would they hate Olaf -- they CREATED Olaf. And to prove it, they show him what's in the wooden box.

It's the blueprints of what would become Olaf. It's drawings of snowmen and straw figurines. Anna and Elsa explain their time together as little children making snowmen like Olaf was the first thing that truly connected them. OLAF is their Christmas tradition!

Having realized this, they and all the citzens of Arendelle gather together to sing the closing song, and for really the first time in the special, Elsa cuts loose with her powers and creates tons of cool stuff -- a walkway, a snazzy bow tie for Olaf, a GIGANTIC ice tree, and a table for the feast everybody passed on earlier. This time they HAVE to eat it, or it's off with their heads!

Why didn't it fit in?
Despite Olaf's Frozen Christmas being the hot sauna rock that ignited the chain reaction fire that destroyed Frozen, I don't envision it being a misfit forever -- just until the current generation cedes control of the world to the Zoomers. Then it will be regarded as a nostalgic classic. You might not consider it appointment viewing, but your kids might. It's Olaf's world...you just live in it.

And it's really not that bad either. I've covered far worse around here.

Second Opinion

We've enlisted the help of a TOP SECRET MYSTERY GUEST to provide second opinions for the next few Misfits.

Here's what he thought of this one...

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