Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017)

Olafs frozen adventure

Olaf’s 21 minute quest to find a holiday tradition.

It was around the second preview before Coco that I got up to use the rest room. On my way back to the theater, I noticed a sign I must have missed the second time around. The sign read that Coco would start later than normal, because the animated short, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, was nearly 21 minutes long.

I had not really cared much to see the short in the first place (I did vastly enjoy the original Frozen, but I like it so much more when the short films before a Disney/Pixar film are original pieces). Earlier in the day, a friend’s daughter said she would see Coco only because she wanted to see Olaf. To her, I say the following: this is one move from Disney I cannot support. I have seldom been more angry at the company.

It was very tempting of me to give this short film (which is far from short) my first zero rating, but I must admit I did smile at a few moments (the only one I do remember liking a bit is about fruitcake). The premise is simple: It is Christmas time in Arendel and the sisters Ana (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) set up for a big dinner, they realize no one will come since everyone has their own Christmas traditions. This is when Olaf (Josh Gad) decides to find a tradition for his friends to have together.

The movie is harmless, but with a runtime of just over 20 minutes (including four songs (which are forgettable), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is the best example of superfluous I can think of. I sat there, wondering why not just use this as a TV special? Sure enough, when I got home, I found out the film was supposed to be a TV special, but the execs and makers found the material “too theatrical”.

Uh huh.

If a movie theater (and, according to reports, the one I was at was not the only one) is letting you know that the main feature is going to start later than normal due to the “short” before hand, you made a grave mistake (it also does not help that it is not shown for critics).

It is bad enough that I had to be reminded that this was not the first short from the Frozen universe (Frozen Fever was played before 2015’s live action Cinderella). Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will be remembered for every wrong reason imaginable. I would not be surprised if they don’t even include it on the home release of Coco (which, unlike Olaf, is far more worth your money).

Still not convinced? Even the kid next to me was saying how glad he was the thing finally ended.

 

Overall: Half a Star 1/2 *

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the Beast

Tale as old as time…

Disney’s newest live action remake of an animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, is about as faithful and well done as one would be able to make from the source material (though the 1946 French film of the same name is a masterpiece in its own right). I only wish they film makers did not try to add-on to something that was already a master work of its own.

If you have not seen the original animated film from 1991 (the first movie I can remember seeing as a kid in the theaters),  I don’t know what you have been waiting for or what has stalled you. Still, there is time to see it before you see this live action flick (which I would strongly recommend). If you have, there are hardly many differences to this film, at least when it comes to plot. We meet Belle (Emma Watson, aka Hermione from the world of Harry Potter), a simple (yet “funny”, as we learn) girl in a local village in France. The only villager it seems that Belle talks to (or I should say talks to her) is the ever egocentric Gaston (Luke Evans, who is uncannily cast). Despite his many attempts, Gaston seems oblivious to the fact that Belle will never, ever wish to marry him.

She lives with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), who one day sets off on an errand and stumbles upon a castle, home to a Prince (Dan Stevens) who (in the prelude) was cursed along with his servants by an enchantress (Hattie Morahan).

 

At the castle, we meet the familiar sidekicks that we remember and love from the animated film. All are faithfully cast, lead by the candlestick Lumiere, inhabited by Ewan McGregor. There is also Sir Ian McKellen as the clock Cogsworth, Stanley Tucci as the piano Cadenza, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.

 

On the subject of casting, perhaps my favorite choice was Josh Gad (who kids will remember as Frozen’s Olaf) as Lefou, Gaston’s sidekick. Perhaps the most noticing difference between this film and the animated one is that Lefou is apparently gay. They don’t say this, but it is hinted at enough that it is hard to miss.

As for the other differences, there are a few added songs that, while nicely executed, don’t seem to be needed and just add to the run time (which I confess felt too long for me). Songs from the original are still here (my pick for the most faithful and overall best is “Be our Guest” thanks in no small part to Ewan McGregor). There is also some revealed history as to the Beast’s childhood as well as Belle’s, which does allow us to feel more intimacy between the two characters. I also enjoyed that there are more scenes that happen outside the castle, letting us see more of the kingdom.

 

Parents, it is Disney, so the film is pretty safe (aside from the whole situation with Lefou, which I know some people may  have issues with). If your kids have seen the animated film (which they should have), then they are ok.

 

Still, being a nineties kid, I can safely say the animated film is better (no offense to Emma Thompson, who did a good job here, but the title song should be sung by Angela Landsbury and no one else). As I read more online, Disney is releasing more live action versions of classic animated films, so I am aware I have to get used to that.

 

Overall: Three out of Five Stars ***