Olaf first appeared in the world of Frozen as a snowman Anna and Elsa built together in their childhood. Now, as seen in the 2013 film's sequel, the wintry goofball is in the midst of an existential crisis. “This will all make sense when I am older,” he sings in Frozen 2's "When I Am Older" after a series of peculiar events start transpiring in the enchanted forest. “Cuz when you’re older, absolutely everything makes sense,” he imagines during the crescendo of the song.
Throughout the first film and now Frozen 2, Olaf might be easily written off as comedic relief but, historically, he has had some of the most moving moments in Frozen. “We don’t write for kids,” writer and producer Jennifer Lee tells Bustle. Instead, Lee and her writing partners Chris Buck, Marc Smith pride themselves on writing "complex, messy, and real" characters that the audience can relate to. "They make mistakes, they lead with their passion, and they struggle just like all of us."
Struggling indeed, the new film features Olaf in the midst of some big revelations. Between family charade nights and epic quests through the unknown, Olaf is grappling with the fact that he is growing up and he feels he has so much more to learn about the world around him and focuses his attention on soaking up as many facts as possible. At the beginning of Anna and Elsa’s big adventure into the unknown, Olaf gets separated from the pack. Alone in the enchanted forest, he comforts himself with song (in typical Frozen fashion).
The forest is filled with mystery and striking autumnal beauty but it is also host to a series of strange events and happenings. The wind spirit, Gale, begins swirling and twirling around Olaf. As she hurls things his way and he’s getting spun around hectically he settles on the conclusion that soon, when he is grown up, everything will make sense.
It is a sentiment that hits hard for anyone in the audience. What person, at some point in their life, hasn't wondered what it actually means to grow up? Or hoped, begged, and pleaded that answers would come with age For Olaf, growing up means the world at large starts to make sense.
For most of us, this question of growing up does not have such a simple answer. Adulthood is not so much a destination but a process, though this thought process doesn't necessarily keep Olaf from spiraling from one existential question to the next: What happens when we die? What is our purpose? How do we know when we are grown? How does water work?
“You can see the innocence of a little kid [in him]," producer Chris Buck tells Bustle. "Olaf will say things in the moment — he is not saying them to be mean, he can just be [brutally honest] at times... Even he has his own quirks and flaws.”
However prone to impalement and accidents Olaf may be, he is also one of the most grounding forces throughout all of Anna and Elsa’s adventures. He says it like it is and it is no coincidence that he reappeared in Anna’s life when she was feeling lost and alone. While the sequel finds Olaf pondering what it actually means to grow up, he is as loyal and eternally there for his family than ever. What could be more grown up than that?