Ever since the 7 dwarfs and Jiminy Cricket, one of the highlights of any Disney film is the adorable sidekicks. In some cases, like in Aladdin with Genie, these characters even steal the show from the main characters. While I don’t know if Olaf from Frozen is on a Genie level, I do think he deserves a lot more credit as a quality sidekick than he is usually given. He actually matters to the story in a way that few sidekicks do and he is funny and gentle making a nice contrast to both Anna and Elsa.
Naive but Sweet
Olaf is, of course, created by Elsa from her magical powers at the beginning of the film. He is an innocent and free-spirited snowman who dreams of someday relaxing on the beach to his heart’s content. The naive enthusiasm with which he sings ‘In Summer’ is enough to cement him as a likable, engaging sidekick (and not many sidekicks get their own song so that’s unique).
Some Good Laughs
It also doesn’t hurt that Olaf is voiced by veteran Broadway actor Josh Gad who brings his singing chops and sense of comic timing to the role. One of my favorite interactions is when Anna’s hair is getting whiter:
Kristoff: Your hair, it’s turning white!
Anna: Does it look bad?
Olaf: You hesitated.
The sense of awkwardness he brings to the scene always makes me laugh. I also like when he tells Anna to run from Kristoff and the trolls “Because I love you, Anna, I insist you run… Why aren’t you running?”
A Standout Character
But what makes Olaf a standout character is what he has to teach Anna. Elsa technically created him when she was very young so Olaf likely had a chance to watch people and get an idea of what love really is. When Anna is betrayed by Hans, she thinks her one true love has abandoned her and there is no hope to be saved. This is where Olaf teaches her an important lesson:
Anna: I don’t even know what love is.
Olaf: That’s okay I do. Love… is… putting someone else’s needs before yours. Like, you know, how Kristoff brought you back here to Hans and left you forever.
Anna: Kristoff… loves me?
Olaf: Wow, you really don’t know anything about love, do you?
What a sweet and tender definition of love; it teaches Anna that true love isn’t about flashy songs or having weird things in common but it is about sacrifice and caring about the other person’s needs more than your own wants.
Olaf continues and gives us one of the most iconic moments of Frozen:
Anna: Olaf, you’re melting!
Olaf: Some people are worth melting for
Then Anna gets it, realizing she needs to find Kristoff and Elsa to break the curse. Without Olaf, there is no happy ending, no reunion between the sisters, no break from the eternal winter for Arrendelle. His words to Anna are essential to the story and there aren’t that many sidekicks you can say that about.
One of the Best
In the end, Olaf does everything you want a Disney sidekick to do: he’s funny, sweet and snarky, and, even better, he actually has something to teach our lead characters about love and hope. This makes him one of the best in all the Disney canon. It will be great to see what what the next stage of his journey entails in Frozen 2.
What do you think of Olaf? How does he compare to other famous Disney sidekicks in your eyes? Share with us in the comments section!
Rachel is a rottentomatoes approved film critic that has loved animation since she was a little girl belting out songs from 'The Little Mermaid'. She reviews as many films as she can each year and loves interviewing actors, directors, and anyone with an interesting story to tell. Rachel is the founder of the popular Hallmarkies Podcast, and the Rachel's Reviews podcast/youtube channel, which covers all things animated including a monthly Talking Disney and Obscure Animation show.