Picture this: it’s December 1, the Christmas decorations have been put up, and your mother puts on a VHS of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I’m sure, for most of you, this is a memory that’s easy to conjure. Many of you now probably put these films on for your child and leave the room. Some of you haven’t touched the films in years and know very little about how they stand up. I have, and can now come to the conclusion that there are some films you should definitely rewatch during the Christmas season, and some that should be placed at the bottom of the VHS bin to collect dust.
Overall, there are some patterns I noticed between all these movies. They’re all much shorter than you remember. You expect them to take up two hours, yet when you get down to watching them you find that they’re actually only forty minutes. I thought that A Year Without A Santa Claus contained over twenty songs, but it’s actually only nine. The soundtrack barely makes up an EP. This is partially explainable by the fact that all these movies were originally made for TV. That’s right, for whatever reason these films were never shown on the silver screen.
I also found that they were almost all made by studio Rankin/Bass productions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t alert you of some of the actions of this children’s holiday movie powerhouse. Most of the operations were done in Japan, by Japanese animation studios such as Toei Animation. That’s right, the same people that did Santa Claus is Coming to Town did Sailor Moon.
Here’s what I found about the individual movies:
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (2000)
I’m sorry to all of you who got the stupid song stuck in your head just by reading the title, sung by the man with the most annoying voice in history. Who the Hell told that guy singing was the way to make a living? While in some of these other films, Santa acts a bit meanspirited, in this film he almost kills a lady. Then he decides he’s going to take her to the North Pole and never alerts the family. What the Hell Santa?! Also, besides the main theme, the rest of the songs are cringe worthy as well.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Ah yes, the film that allowed cheap holiday music TV channels like VH1 to broadcast the Peanuts theme song, even though they use the same theme song for all the other Peanuts movies as well. If you like the franchise, then you’re going to like this film, but I did not. After all, the main character is a depressed bald kid who can’t do anything right. What’s Charlie Brown going to do with his life when he grows up? Is he going to have to live off of welfare? And everyone treats him like he’s the asshole for not believing in Christmas, but I’d be upset too if I were so talentless. Maybe I’m thinking too far into this, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend this one.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
This is arguably the lamest of these movies. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just lame. Just read the book. You will get the exact same experience. This movie just feels like it was designed for people who don’t like to read, and not for people that want to see an actual, good Christmas movie.
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
I feel like people remember Frosty the Snowman the song more than they do the movie. Needless to say I didn’t hate this movie despite how much it frightened me. After all, you get this creepy magician who wants to kill Frosty throughout the entire movie. None of the other classics revolve around murder. Despite that, I did find this movie pretty harmless. The characters were decent and the overarching story was interesting, at least for 25 minutes. It certainly wasn’t my favorite of the bunch but I’d choose it over A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)
As someone who always felt a little different growing up, I was always able to relate to the characters of Rudolph and Hermey. While most Christmas movies have a theme of “Christmas is great,” this film takes the less traditional route and contains the core message that it’s okay to be different and that friendship is important. While I’ll admit the characters in this movie can be a little brutal, it’s all made up for in the ending. I would definitely give this one a watch each holiday season.
A Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
When I was a kid, I always used to look like Snow Miser while my brother looked like Heat Miser. We used to pretend we were our cartoon doppelgangers much to the distaste of my parents. I personally love this movie. It holds up well. It’s creative, it’s fun, and it does it’s job perfectly. It puts you in the Christmas spirit. That’s probably why my parents kept putting it on, and I’m glad they did.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970)
Santa Claus is Coming to Town: the film that shows Santa as young and hot. You know they could’ve made Santa less of a stud. They could’ve at least made his hair less perfect. They could’ve made Mrs. Claus less strikingly beautiful and oddly voluptuous. But they didn’t, and I’m all the happier for it. It’s a simple, beautiful little movie that does everything it needs to. The story is good. The characters are likeable. Santa is hot. What more is there to like?
Overall, this was a great experience. I re-remembered a lot of great movies as a result of having to go back over them, and they gave me a lot of nostalgia. I might not rate all of the movies highly, but I would rate the experience a 10/10.
A Modern Look at Old Christmas Classics
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