This past weekend, I decided to take two four-year-olds — my daughter and her friend — to see Coco, Pixar's new movie. But before leaving the house, I happened to read the tweets. The many, many tweets. There were warnings, outcries, and rage-induced petitions regarding the 21-minute long Frozen "featurette" that plays before the film. It's called Olaf's Frozen Adventure, and according to those who've endured it, it's bad. Excruciating. "In addition to representing the worst elements of the crass commercialization of Christmas, the songs were lacklustre, the plotting is painfully cliched, and Olaf is annoying as shit," tweeted one viewer. Another wrote: "Even my 6yr old girl was like — "how LONG is this??!" Many said that they were so confused, restless or irritated that they almost walked out of the theatre.
Editor's Note: It seems that in Australia, Olaf's Frozen Adventure only screened before Coco during advance screenings.
Some were even offended by the decision to pair the Frozen short with Coco, and I can see why. An homage to Dia de Muertos, the Mexican holiday of remembrance for lost loved ones, Coco feels like a rare Hollywood triumph for Latino audiences who grew up being fed stereotypes of their culture on their screens.
To get the film's details just right, Coco's creative team took multiple trips to Mexico, interviewing families about their traditions and absorbing the sights and sounds of cemeteries, churches and plazas. The result, according to Latino film critics, is a gift. On Remezcla, Vanessa Erazo writes that Coco is "a blissful hug of acceptance in a time when the very existence of Latinos in this country is criminalized."
And yet — there's been speculation that Olaf's Frozen Adventure, originally meant to be a TV special for ABC, was placed in front of Coco partly because execs feared this type of feature film wouldn't sell to American audiences.
making us endure Olaf's Frozen Adventure to get to Coco is a metaphor for the Mexican American experience I just haven't figured out how yet
— JuanPartridge in a Pear Tree (@jpbrammer) November 27, 2017
If you think the bad Frozen short is going to dampen your Coco experience, skip it. Slate calculated that your best bet is to arrive about 37 minutes after your designated showing time to avoid the movie trailers, the Olaf show and the minute-ish clip in which Coco co-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina talk about how proud they are of the film.
We arrived about 30 minutes after our 10:20 AM showing time, and the women at the ticket booth made sure to warn us that if we see a Frozen movie, we should rest assured that we're indeed in the right theatre. I guess there have been a lot of complaints. One theatre chain in Mexico has stopped playing the Olaf short as groups have called for its removal on Facebook.
We caught the end of Olaf's Frozen Adventure and the few minutes we saw were — I admit — cute. (But then again, the four-year-old girls I was with are in Frozen's exact demographics, and I've already been brainwashed into complacency by hearing "Let It Go" 372 times. And yes, the new 2019 Frozen sequel is already in my brain-calendar.)
But Coco is absolutely wonderful, and you should do what you can to prepare yourself with good movie-watching vibes. That may very well mean doing some calculations to stay far, far away from the singing snowman.