The Snowman [2013 Neil Wrischnik and Kelly Wilson Short Film] Review


AKA: N/A
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Year Released: 2013
Distributor: Unlicensed
Origin: USA
Running Time: 4 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: All Ages
Related Films/Series: Frozen, Frozen Fever, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Frozen II (see fun facts)
For Fans Of: Frozen, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, The Snowman in July, The Angry Birds Movie
Notes:
-The Snowman is free to stream on YouTube.
Fun Facts:
-The Snowman was directed by Neil Wrischnik and Kelly Wilson. This is their debut animated work. Wrischnik has also worked on the graphics for two of the Skylanders games as well as Front Mission Evolved.

-This short animated film has been featured in the San Francisco International Festival, Palo Alto International Festival, and Films Streams among others.

-Controversy Alert: Despite having completely different screenplays, The Snowman was actually plagiarized by Disney when it came to Frozen’s teaser trailer with Olaf and Sven. The creators sued Disney and they settled out of court. Since I’m counting settlements as an admission of guilt on Mickey Mouse’s part, I put the Frozen franchise in the Related Films/Series section! Major thanks to DBMoviesBlog for making me aware of this plagiarism controversy.

December is here. Come to think of it, I haven’t covered that many Winter-themed movies or series. The only prominent one that comes to mind would be my collab review of Tokyo Godfathers with Ashley Capes since that movie takes place during the Christmas season. Truth be told, I saw a little short film months before I made this review and it’s so obvious why I watched it. Don’t worry, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but expect my typical film buff rage later on as I’ve been wont to do with reviews of this nature. Anyways, this would also be a change of pace by covering something more family-friendly this time around since I seem to review movies that are suitable for older audiences more often than not.

Winter is coming, so I thought I would review this snow-filled short film. Wow, way to use a reference from a show that TOTALLY isn’t PG or anything like that.

The Snowman is a little animated film project that involves what’s in the title, obviously. He’s just living his life and minding his own business until some annoying bird rips his carrot nose from his face. The carrot slides down the slope onto the frozen lake. On the other side involves a colony of rabbits who clearly have a case of the munchies. That snowman isn’t having it as he goes down the hill, but the bunnies are building a wood bridge to cross the ice. How will this living snow creature get his nose back without the rabbits getting a free snack in this Winter landscape?

2020 has been infuriating and tragic enough, so watching this animated short was a stress reliever even though I wouldn’t actively watch something like this on any other occasion. I was impressed with the scoring and incidental music. The light symphonies and sleigh bells really fit the atmosphere. Since it’s a silent film, the music really speaks for itself when the characters don’t speak up at all. Each note fit the scenes quite effortlessly. The Snowman is quite an innocuous watch, but it can be a godsend. You could show this to all ages with no reservations. I’ve seen multiple cartoons rated TV-G or TV-Y that had more offensive content than this. While I certainly prefer my media to be edgy and mature, I can still appreciate tamer works if the films or series have effort put into it. The story is very straightforward and doesn’t need any deep thought behind it, but I wouldn’t call it stupid or mindless which is a plus. The ending was certainly pleasant and surprisingly not preachy in it’s approach or morals despite being a more simple work. The coloration in the animation was fine as it uses cool colors that fit right with the tone and backgrounds of the film. The Snowman is certainly a pleasant short watch. Of course, nothing involving this short film would make me irate or upset.

I hate to reuse a joke from La Maison Noir: The Gift and the Curse, but it’s as good a time as any to bust out with a Disney parody song. 1-2-3! Sing with me! Do you want to steal a short film?

Are you serious, Disney? Do I have to keep calling you out on your thievery much less other Hollywood studios?

Disney in all of their infinite wisdom when promoting Frozen came up with this teaser trailer that doesn’t feature footage from the actual movie. Olaf the snowman loses his carrot nose and it ends up on the ice while Sven the reindeer sees it as free food. Both of them try to get the carrot from opposite sides of a frozen lake. Sure, their methods to try to get this vegetable are different than in The Snowman nor does Frozen rip off The Snowman’s storyline, but it’s the same plot between both the trailer and the short film. The Snowman came out earlier the same year Frozen did, so that timing is very crazy. Neil Wrischnik and Kelly Wilson decided to sue the House of Mouse and got an undisclosed amount of money for their troubles. This really caught my eye because that company almost NEVER loses intellectual property cases and The Snowman would be the 2nd piece of media I’ve reviewed where the original creators won against Hollywood with the other being the Yojimbo and Sanjuro movies when Akira Kurosawa sued the thieves who made the Fistful of Dollars series (they swapped the samurai for cowboys, let’s be honest). If anyone knows anything about me and the stuff I cover on Iridium Eye, one will correctly predict what I’m going to type out next.

So, Disney and fans of that company…The Frozen franchise had to pay off some little-known creators since they stole their work for a teeny tiny teaser trailer in regards to their precious Animated Canon, but Mickey Mouse doesn’t have the decency to own up what they did when they made Atlantis: The Lost Empire or especially all the plagiarism that went into The Lion King?!? You Disney fans have NO RIGHT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT WHAT IS OR ISN’T A RIPOFF! Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy Wrischnik and Wilson got paid for their work, but I’m furious about the clear double standards about what is or isn’t a work of theft in their eyes. You have documented evidence of Disney stealing characters and some of the storylines from Nadia: Secret of Blue Water when they made Atlantis and I made 6 reviews so far involving all the things The Lion King stole from with 4 installments from Kimba the White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo, the music documentary The Lion’s Share which was about the Mbube/The Lion Sleeps Tonight plagiarism court case, and Petite Noir’s La Maison Noir long-form music video that Beyonce robbed from to make the “Spirit” music video for the 2019 not-live action remake. I promise you Atlantis and TLK ripped off from Nadia and those other works respectively harder than Frozen did with The Snowman. You know dang good and well that if those situations were reversed, then Disney would sue the ever-loving keisters off anyone who would DARE steal their works. Shoot, Disney might as well be saying “I guess we’ll credit these two nobodies for their snowman short, but no way we’re going to acknowledge those stupid anime directors or those African musician idiots!” with their actions (freaking corporate bullies…). Sad part is I could see some executives making dog whistle remarks like that. The (alleged) Happiest Place on Earth has no right suing anyone when it comes to intellectual property and I’m sick of people giving free passes for that conglomerate for doing those things lest they “betray their childhoods”. That’s BS logic right there.

Oh, you want to complain about others stealing storylines, Disney? You can’t talk!

Want to curb others from trademarking things when you’ve trademarked public domain character names as well as phrases from languages/cultures you don’t own? You can’t talk!

Want to sue the pants off anyone who makes characters just like yours? You can’t talk (I’m sure Claw from Kimba the White Lion would have every right in the universe to say that if this villainous lion wasn’t fictional)!

How about the fans of your company bashing anyone for calling anything a rip-off that’s even remotely like a Disney movie? YOU! CAN’T! FREAKING! TALK!

In the name of Ousmane Sembene, Yoshitoshi ABe, and Jafar Panahi, I can’t stand the worst parts of that fandom. Okay, I just need a breather before I can continue. [Inhales, then exhales] Alright. I’m ready now.

The Snowman does melt a bit for me. This is clearly a flash animated work. It is serviceable, but some of the movements get choppy from time to time. Granted, if this was Disney doing this, it would be a demo cut, let’s be honest here. While the simplistic story works for younger viewers, I could see adults finding it to be too predictable and too soft which I won’t argue with that. I don’t expect an entire feature-length film to have a storyline to dominate it’s whole run time, this could’ve used at least 30 seconds to a minute extra like a brief epilogue with the characters. If you take out the credits, it would be a three minute watch. It certainly doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, but I’ve heated up food in the microwave for longer. The character designs did feel a bit overly simplistic. Besides one of the rabbits being obese, the rest of them looked alike. The bird at the beginning looked very generic and cartoony even for this movie. Let’s keep it real that The Snowman isn’t a deep short film at all. If you’re looking for something along the lines of a Ghibli or Cartoon Saloon movie, then I would suggest looking elsewhere.

This short film was pleasant, but nothing too spectacular. There’s certainly a place for light entertainment like this. It’s a good family-friendly short film for anyone to watch. I wish the animation would be improved and to be just a tiny bit longer. I might have given The Snowman a 4 or 5 in any other circumstances. However, I’m adding an extra point just because Frozen’s teaser trailer stole the concept from this independent short film and also for Disney not doing the same thing or more when it comes to their other properties that were tied to harsher as well as more obvious forms of thievery.

No, Elsa. I will NEVER let it go when it comes to legitimate plagiarism cases or with the grandiose hubris and hypocrisy that comes from the castle Walt built.

Adjustable Point System:
Add 1-2 points if you like simple stories.
Subtract 1-3 points if you prefer more depth in your animation.
Subtract 2-5 points if you’re a Frozen stan.

Pros:
-Nice easy-to-follow story
-Charming music and sound design
-The fact two small creators got money from Disney makes this better in hindsight

Cons:
-Animation drops in quality
-Can be overly simplistic
-Basic character designs

Final Score: 6/10 points

Content Warning: The Snowman might be one of the tamest things I’ve ever review on Iridium Eye. This is safe for all ages. The worst thing that happens is one of the rabbits almost drowns and/or freezes in a broken patch of ice, but he’s rescued. I’ve seen G-rated movies that were way more offensive, including from Disney.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos and videos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. he Snowman is property of Neil Wrischnik and Kelly Wilson. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Neil Wrischnik and Kelly Wilson.

6 comments

  1. I’ve got nothing else to say here other then how insane this all is. I’m sure the makers of The Snowman got a huge payday, but Disney is just going to continue to be ridiculous about this aren’t they? Gah. Come on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally understandable for feeling that way. I was shocked when I found out this. Sure, I was never a Frozen fan to begin with, but this was poor form even if it was just the teaser trailer instead of the real movie. I wouldn’t be surprised if the creators of The Snowman got a ton of money (it may or may not be hush money, but you never know). They certainly were ridiculous especially when you contrast The Snowman with Kimba or Nadia. Come on, Mickey Mouse! You can throw settlement cheddar at these animators but not credit Tezuka or Anno respectively for those OTHER Disney movies?

      Like

      • I know I’m a bad person for saying this, but I do admit that one of a very few highlights of our current situation is watching Disney suffer a bit. It’s probably bad, but Disney has gotten so exhausting.

        Tezuka productions somehow having more money would be wonderful so I would be up for them making more things.. Same with Anno because I’m sure he has creative projects in his mind we don’t know about.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe I’m not the right person to say this to given my documented criticism of the House of Mouse, but I do share those sentiments. Disney has been so exhausting with the overexposure, corporate buyouts, and whatever.

        Yeah, seriously. I would like to see them make more anime projects like adapting other manga of his or modernizing some of their other works. I’m not even a hardcore Anno fan, but even I would support him making more projects with his previous works or some new screenplays.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I imagine this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pSZ4qeLEgs being Disney’s Anthem (yes I used a Pokémon Version) like it’s their corporate song. Just they are trying so hard to do things “better” that they forget to do their own thing.

    The more I find out about them the more I lose respect for them. I do like the Mandalorian but.. the foundations of that are outside of Disney. I am waiting for when Disney inevitably gets so big and it steals from itself.. and one department or sub studio sues the other! That would be grant!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was a nice video with the custom Pokemon animation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was their corporate anthem next to “When You Wish Upon a Star”. That or interpreting “Part of Your World” whenever they buy out another company. I get they’ve got a higher budget than other studios, but all the production quality in the world doesn’t equal a good movie. Come to think of it, most of their movies in the animated canon are adaptations or remakes of other stories anyway and that’s only talking about the public domain stuff or the things they bought the rights for.

      I hear you right there. It’s like there’s more dirt that’s uncovered every year. Just the stuff I learned in 2019 alone made me hate The Lion King even more for example since I found out about that trademark issue, The Lion’s Share documentary with the music plagiarism case, or when Beyonce stole Petite Noir’s music video for the remake. I haven’t seen The Mandalorian, so I can’t tell you anything. They do rely on other properties especially Marvel and Star Wars currently. Hahaha! That would be hilarious if one subsidiary sues another as the House of Mouse implodes. I’ll make sure to get some popcorn when that happens.

      Liked by 1 person

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