When a new Pixar film arrives, it’s usually accompanied by a charming animated short. I loved these shorts growing up—sometimes they’re even better than the feature they precede. That’s why it was so hard to watch as Disney scrapped the tradition and instead spat out a never-ending ad for Frozen merchandise last night before we all finally got to watch Coco, which was great, by the way.
That Disney ad was Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a 21-minute flatulence from the Disney Consumer Products subsidiary and Josh Gad’s bank account. But before that, there was a Coco-branded Airbnb plug marketed directly to children, suggesting that kids and parents should travel to Mexico, or just see Coco in theaters; and a trailer for Peter Rabbit, a James Corden remix of the classic that would have certainly upset Beatrix Potter. Nearly all the trailers that followed looked terrible, including a pointless-looking riff on the Bronze Age by the creators of Wallace and Gromit. All looked awful except for Paddington 2, my support for which I decline to defend.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure picks up shortly after the Frozen movie ends. The Arendelle royalty—Elsa and Anna—realize they have no Christmas traditions. This matters, because it’s Christmas time. We know it’s Christmas time because the whole village rang a bell, as is apparently the tradition in this Nordic land. The short’s titular snowman Olaf attempts to save the day, and of course he fails, because he’s a dummy.
Nearly half a dozen songs and two meowing kittens later, the snowman finally gives up. He fails so bad that he’s now lost in the snow. The townspeople are pressured to stop celebrating their own traditions with their own families to go looking for him. The short ends on a reference to the original Frozen plot, and then everything’s okay in Arendelle again. Finally the townspeople can live their lives in peace, and we eager viewers in the audience can wipe the looks of disdain off our faces and finally see Coco.
As the theater audibly shifted in their seats and chattered over the short’s credits, there was one last surprise: A stand-up with three of Coco’s creators, who generously explained the colorful lighting in a scene from Coco, the film we would have really liked to be watching by now.
As Coco unceremoniously faded in, the entire theater loudly sighed in relief. Finally, Coco. Why, Disney, was it so hard to just play the film? Why can’t you just focus on shipping Cars toys to Target and leave Pixar premieres alone?
Again, Coco was great, by the way. You should go see it. Just don’t bother to sit down until about 25 minutes or so after the showing starts.