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Olaf is being let go: Olaf short is being dropped from Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’

By Steve Persall
"Olaf's Frozen Adventure" is a 21-minute (!!!) short that has been shown before Coco. It won't be after Friday. (Disney Pixar)

Winter is still weeks away but everyone’s favorite snowman is already melting from view.

In a cruel twist on Frozen’s showstopper, Olaf is being let go.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the 21-minute animated "short" preceding Disney-Pixar’s Coco in theaters won’t be part of the show starting Friday.

Disney claims that was always the plan. If so, a limited run ending Dec. 7 wasn’t made clear in Coco’s advertising. Neither was the featurette’s running time.

For some parents, Olaf’s departure isn’t a moment too soon.

It isn’t just that the Tolkien-length ’toon starring Josh Gad’s voice plays like an informercial for Frozen 2, due in 2019, or an ABC-TV special that wouldn’t cost anything to see.

It’s that making children sit through 15-20 minutes of trailers then 21 minutes of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure before getting to Coco leads to restlessness. Coco then runs nearly two hours. Try keeping 3-D glasses on a preschooler that long.

RELATED: ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Tales of frustrated parents soon emerged on social media. As one parent, Odie Henderson (@odienator), tweeted: "A father with his kids sitting in front of me turned to me in a panic. ‘Is this Coco?’ he asked, I told him it was, but he left when his kids started crying ‘where’s Coco? Where’s Coco?’ This short is almost as bad as LAVA too."

People walked out at my screening. One guy turned and asked me if he were in the right theater with his kids. I told him yes, but his kids were so upset there was no COCO onscreen that he left. I hated the short. Hated it.

— Odie Henderson (@odienator) November 30, 2017

Critics weren’t shown Olaf’s Frozen Adventure before Coco screenings for review, a sound decision. (We’re preschoolers like that.) As such, the short doesn’t have a RottenTomatoes.com score; it’s audience rating is only 36 percent positive.

Alissa Wilkinson of Vox.com poses another reason for audience backlash, noting Coco is Pixar’s first story set in Mexico with an entirely nonwhite cast. It’s a "landmark," and already Mexico’s top-grossing film ever.

"But combining it with Olaf’s Frozen Adventure," Wilkinson wrote, "which takes place in a fictional country based on Norway and stars two lily-white girls, has been interpreted by some as an attempt to make white audiences more interested in a film starring nonwhite characters. Whether or not that’s true, the optics were pretty bad."

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will return, not to theaters but perhaps the television slot for which it was intended. Maybe on DVD although at 21 minutes long, we’ve already seen the director’s cut and extras.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.