MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!!! Well, Merry Christmas Eve, if we’re being technical, but who cares? As far as I’m concerned, Christmas is a 48-hour affair. I hope your day has been merry and bright so far, and I certainly hope you’re not one of those poor souls out doing last-minute shopping. If you are…well, Godspeed. Be nice to the salespeople. I am thrilled to be done with shopping and looking forward to a matinee of Frozen, plenty of good food, and family time. I am also thrilled to be wrapping up another fun series! That’s right—this is the twelfth film in my 12 Films of Christmas series. Well, when I say “film” I’m cheating a little this time, but I think what I’ve got will suffice. For the twelfth “film” of Christmas my own childhood memories gave to me…Classic Christmas Cartoons!
7 Classic Christmas Cartoons (1964-1986)
As you can see, I’m doing something a bit different for this last post. I kept thinking of all these wonderful Christmas cartoons that I watched when I was a kid, and I intended to watch them all again and do tiny write-ups for each one, but time kind of…ran out. Heh. I didn’t get a chance to rewatch these and review them in more detail, but I still wanted to share my favorites and highlight the holly jolly that they’ve brought to generations of kiddos and grown-ups alike. So here we go!
#1: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Synopsis: “A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly: Nearly 50 years after this film’s TV debut, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still one of the best Christmas cartoons out there. Picked on for his glowing red nose, sweet little Rudolph the reindeer leaves the North Pole with an oddball prospector and an elf who wants to be a dentist. But when an encounter with the Abominable Snowman leads them to an island filled with misfit toys, Rudolph finds himself returning home to help his new friends and, to his surprise, assist Santa on his most important night. Filled with lots of fun and memorable tunes, this beautiful stop-motion animated film celebrates differences and encourages self-acceptance—wonderful messages for any generation.
#2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Synopsis: “A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly: From the wacky, brilliant mind of author Dr. Seuss comes the adventure of everybody’s favorite Christmas villain, the Grinch. Atop his hill overlooking Whoville, the Grinch, who despises cheer above all else, hatches a wicked plan to ruin the Whos’ happy holiday by disguising himself as Santa Claus, sneaking into their homes, and stealing all things Christmas-related. However, the town’s reaction to his nasty prank inspires a drastic change of heart. A sweet, poignant film with a lovable anti-hero and a ridiculously awesome theme song, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a truly unique holiday tale.
#3: Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Synopsis: “A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman’s magic hat.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly: When a magician’s discarded magical hat brings a snowman named Frosty to life, the kids of the town celebrate with a jaunt through the streets and plenty of fun in the snow. Though Frosty would love to play with his new friends all day, rising temperatures force him to face the threat of melting away. Meanwhile, the magician who lost his hat is eager to steal it back when he learns of its magical properties. A charming little tale of a group of kids and their impossible, wonderful friend, Frosty the Snowman is a timeless story for lovers of snow days and dreamers young and old.
#4: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)
Synopsis: “A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly: With a cheerful mailman narrator voiced by Fred Astaire and Kris Kringle himself voiced by Mickey Rooney, the voice cast is already pretty stellar, but this cartoon has more than a talented cast behind it. Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town is the story of how a young toymaker became the jolly Christmas figurehead we know and love today. Hoping to make the children of Sombertown a little less somber, Kris Kringle attempts to share toys with them only to be challenged by the grumpy Herr Burgermeister and the wicked Winter Warlock. This fun, magical story sheds some light on the mysterious beginnings of Santa Claus with wonderful stop-motion animation.
#5: Jack Frost (1979)
Synopsis: “The Groundhog tells the story of how, for once, Jack Frost became human, and helped a knight win his lady love.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly: Though appropriate for the holiday season, Jack Frost is actually fitting for any wintry day—perhaps even for Groundhog’s Day, since cute little Pardon-Me-Pete the Groundhog is our narrator. A beautiful stop-motion cartoon, Jack Frost shares the story of the title hero, a winter spirit who falls in love with a young woman and briefly becomes human in an attempt to win her heart. But when she is kidnapped by an evil king, Jack has to change back into his spirit form in order to save her. Jack Frost may not be the most popular film during Christmas, but with a lively hero, a fun story, and lots of lovely winter scenes, it’s still a very worthy watch.
#6: Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
Synopsis: “The classic Disney animated characters play the roles in this animated retelling of the Charles Dickens masterpiece.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly: Classic Disney characters take on classic literature. What more could you ask for? Dickens’ A Christmas Carol meets Mickey Mouse and co. in a charming version of the well-known tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly king of bah humbug. Naturally, Scrooge McDuck adopts the role of Ebenezer with Donald Duck as nephew Fred, Mickey and Minnie Mouse as Bob and Emily Cratchit, Goofy as the ghost of Jacob Marley, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and more. The cartoon characters slip into their Christmas Carol personas flawlessly. This is easily one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol for younger viewers.
#7: The Christmas Toy (1986)
Synopsis: “As the Jones family celebrates Christmas Eve, so does another part of their household: the playroom, where the toys come to life in excited anticipation of the new toys to come the next morning. Though Balthazar the bear encourages the toys to welcome the new additions with open arms, Rugby the tiger plots to make sure he remains the Jones’ favorite Christmas toy.” –www.rottentomatoes.com
The Holly Jolly: Okay, so this one isn’t actually a cartoon, but it does have puppets, so I feel like that’s close enough. This was always a favorite of mine when I was little, though I think it may be a little obscure today. A product of the Jim Henson Company, The Christmas Toy definitely has a Muppets vibe to it, particularly since most of the actors are Muppets regulars. The film’s plot is actually quite similar to the plot of Toy Story—a favorite toy fears he will lose his coveted position, so he risks it all to ensure that doesn’t happen. However, before you write it off as a copycat, I would like to point out that The Christmas Toy came first. For its time, the film was unique, charming, and surprisingly emotional. Perhaps it’s overshadowed today by the greatness of Toy Story, but I still highly recommend this one.
There they are! Hope you’ve enjoyed this list, and I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed this series! It’s been a fun little ride and a great way for me to get into the Christmas spirit. In case you missed any parts of the “song,” I’m going to list them below. I’m signing off for a few days, but again, I wish you all the very merriest Christmases! I’ll be back to ranting on here again soon, but until then I hope you relax, eat lots of good food, open some presents, and enjoy time with the people you love. That’s my plan, and I think it’s pretty foolproof. 😉
For the twelfth film of Christmas my own childhood memories/my own DVD collection/my local library gave to me…
Classic Christmas Cartoons,
Elf with Will Ferrell,
Culkin’s Home Alone,
Scrooged with Bill Murray,
a-and Arthur Christmas with Bill Nighy!
Did you sing all of that? I did. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!