(As far as you know, this is a transcript of a secret audio recording at the Pixar offices in Emeryville, Calif.)
PIXAR EXEC #1: Congratulations, everybody! Coco is finished, and it’s great!
PIXAR EXEC #2: After 18 movies about toys, insects, monsters, cars, seafood, rats, robots, and several types of caucasians, the Pixar name will finally be on something about Mexicans!
PIXAR EXEC #3: Mostly dead Mexicans, but still.
PIXAR EXEC #1: Now, before we start the wrap party, some of the overlords from Disney corporate are here, probably to congratulate us.
DISNEY BOSS #1: What’s up, Pixar? How’s our favorite cash cow?
DISNEY BOSS #2: We have a pitch for you!
DISNEY BOSS #3: Well, it’s not so much a “pitch” as something we’re forcing on you.
DISNEY BOSS #1: Speaking of which, where’s John Lasseter?
PIXAR EXEC #1: Hey, come on. What do you guys want?
DISNEY BOSS #1: First of all, congratulations on all the money Coco is going to make for us.
DISNEY BOSS #2: Who knew they even had holidays in Mexico?
PIXAR EXEC #1: I think most people–
DISNEY BOSS #2: Or did you guys make this one up? “Day of the Dead”? That doesn’t sound like a real thing.
DISNEY BOSS #3: Anyway, who cares? We wanted to talk about the short that will play in front of it.
PIXAR EXEC #2: Oh, OK.
PIXAR EXEC #3: We have a few shorts in the works, but we haven’t decided which one to use.
DISNEY BOSS #1: Then we have good news.
DISNEY BOSS #2: We’ve decided for you!
DISNEY BOSS #3: It’ll be a Disney cartoon, not Pixar. And so instead of being the sort of thing that gets nominated for Best Animated Short at the Oscars, it’ll be the sort of thing that everyone hates and is never spoken of again.
DISNEY BOSS #1: Who needs the hassle of going to the Oscars?
DISNEY BOSS #2: Goodness knows we’ve stopped trying.
PIXAR EXEC #1: Well, you’re the bosses. If you say we have to put a Disney short in front of a Pixar feature, we don’t have much choice.
PIXAR EXEC #2: We know it’s only a matter of time before you make us do an animated Marvel film.
DISNEY BOSS #3: Now, now. You won’t be so reluctant when you hear what the short is.
PIXAR EXEC #3: Does it have any of the classic Disney characters?
DISNEY BOSS #1: Yes! The ones from Frozen!
PIXAR EXEC #1: That cartoon from a few years ago about the Norwegian ice sisters and a talking snowman?
DISNEY BOSS #2: You got it! Frozen is our most popular intellectual property now.
DISNEY BOSS #3: A sequel, a Broadway musical, attractions at the Disney theme parks…
DISNEY BOSS #1: We are one hundred percent in the Frozen business.
DISNEY BOSS #2: Everybody loves Elsa, the other one, and the funny snowman!
PIXAR EXEC #1: Fine. So you’ve made a short cartoon featuring the Frozen characters.
PIXAR EXEC #2: And you think the best place for a Scandinavian winter story is in front of a movie about Mexican culture.
DISNEY BOSS #3: It provides balance, you know?
DISNEY BOSS #1: It’s like, before you immerse yourself in the exotic traditions of Latinos, enjoy an appetizer of the whitest people on Earth.
DISNEY BOSS #2: It’s called Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, and it checks all the boxes: references to the first Frozen, a clumsy snowman, and songs.
PIXAR EXEC #3: Songs plural?
DISNEY BOSS #2: Because Frozen was a musical.
PIXAR EXEC #3: Yeah, I remember.
PIXAR EXEC #2: It had nine songs, almost three of which were good.
PIXAR EXEC #1: Did you at least get the Oscar- and Tony-winning duo of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez to return and write the songs?
DISNEY BOSS #3: That’s cute, but what kind of budget do you think we have for throwaway cartoons that were supposed to be TV specials?
DISNEY BOSS #1: We just gave a robot a rhyming dictionary.
DISNEY BOSS #2: The results are surprisingly forgettable!
PIXAR EXEC #3: What do you mean TV special? How long is it?
PIXAR EXEC #1: Never mind that, what’s the plot?
DISNEY BOSS #1: Hoo boy, good question.
DISNEY BOSS #2: Something about Christmas.
DISNEY BOSS #1: Right. It’s the first Christmas in Frozenland since the events of the movie, and Elsa and what’s-her-name are sad when they realize they don’t have any Christmas traditions.
DISNEY BOSS #3: On account of Elsa spent their childhood years locked in her bedroom for reasons that never entirely made sense to me.
DISNEY BOSS #1: So Olaf goes out to find some holiday traditions for them —
DISNEY BOSS #2: Christmas traditions, mostly, but we open it up to everything —
DISNEY BOSS #3: Including Hanukkah!
DISNEY BOSS #2: As Walt used to say, you gotta give the Jews a polite nod now and then.
DISNEY BOSS #1: And while Olaf is going door to door confiscating the accoutrements of people’s holiday traditions —
DISNEY BOSS #2: With the intention of hauling them back to Ella and Anya so they can have traditions, because he doesn’t know what “traditions” are —
DISNEY BOSS #3: Because he’s a moron, and a snowman —
DISNEY BOSS #1: While he’s doing this, the girls are back at the castle moping around with Anna’s gay friend, who sings a song about phlegm.
PIXAR EXEC #1: This is more detail than I require.
DISNEY BOSS #1: And then the reindeer tells everyone that Olaf is lost in the forest, and the whole kingdom drops everything to search for him.
PIXAR EXEC #2: Olaf is the enchanted snowman who’s magically protected from getting hurt or dying, right?
DISNEY BOSS #1: Yes. Why do you ask?
PIXAR EXEC #1: Is there, like, a point to all this? A message? A moral?
DISNEY BOSS #1: Of course there is. We’re Disney!
DISNEY BOSS #2: It has several messages, actually.
PIXAR EXEC #1: For instance?
DISNEY BOSS #1: Well, there’s the message about how it’s funny when the snowman’s nose comes off.
DISNEY BOSS #2: And the message of how Frozen is an intellectual property that we own.
DISNEY BOSS #3: And the message that goodness knows we’ve stopped trying.
PIXAR EXEC #1: Well, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t disappointing. But at least it’s just a short.
PIXAR EXEC #2: A short, which by definition is brief. A brief delay before the feature.
PIXAR EXEC #3: Five, six, maybe eight minutes, and bam, it’s Coco time.
PIXAR EXEC #1: Let me take a long sip of my coffee while you tell us the official runtime of the short, so we can tell the theaters.
DISNEY BOSS #1: It’s 21 minutes long.
(Spit take lasting several seconds.)
DISNEY BOSS #2: It’s barely five minutes’ worth of story, but we needed it to fill up a half-hour TV slot.
PIXAR EXEC #2: What?
DISNEY BOSS #3: Oh, yeah. It was supposed to be a TV special. Would have aired on ABC around the holidays.
PIXAR EXEC #3: So why are you attaching it to Coco instead?
DISNEY BOSS #3: Honestly? Spite.
DISNEY BOSS #1: You Pixar nerds have gotten uppity lately, making films that are better Disney movies than Disney makes.
DISNEY BOSS #2: Cars movies notwithstanding. Those are very Disney.
DISNEY BOSS #1: We wanted to show you who’s boss.
DISNEY BOSS #3: You, and the audience. We control them, too, you know. After sitting through 20 minutes of previews and a “student film” that’s actually a Coke commercial, the movie they came to see is delayed another 20 minutes by corporate synergy.
DISNEY BOSS #1: And they’re going to put up with it. What are they going to do, not see the Pixar movie?
DISNEY BOSS #2: Besides, the kids will love it. Might remind them to ask for Frozen merchandise for Christmas.
DISNEY BOSS #1: Kids love everything.
DISNEY BOSS #2: They’re so dumb!
DISNEY BOSS #3: Now, as long as we’re here, let’s talk about an Iron Man cameo in Incredibles 2, which we’ll need to set up the live-action Incredibles cameos in Avengers 4.
(Spit take lasting for the remainder of the recording.)
Eric D. Snider judges shorts in Portland.